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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 43 New Delhi October 12, 2019

A Gandhian Critique of the Indian State

Sunday 13 October 2019, by Arup Kumar Sen

The recent online edition of Mainstream (October 5, 2019) has carried a number of insightful articles on Gandhi, and human rights. The pertinent question that crops up in our mind is: how would Gandhi have responded to the happenings in the Kashmir Valley?

A collection of writings of M.K. Gandhi (compiled by R.K. Prabhu) was published in 1947 with the title India of My Dreams. (Navajivan Publishing House, Ahmedabad) Some of the writings of Gandhi incorporated in the book are of profound significance in understanding our time. Gandhi wrote in Young India (1920): “If India takes up the doctrine of the sword, she may gain momentary victory. Then India will cease to be the pride of my heart.” In another issue of Young India published in 1921, Gandhi extended his argument and stated his moral position: “If India makes violence her creed, and I have survived, I would not care to live in India.”

We can guess how Gandhi would have reacted to the gross human rights violations in the Kashmir Valley, particularly after the abrogation of Article 370 of our Constitution. It is pertinent in this connection to mention the statement issued by Gandhi Peace Foundation on August 15, 2019, and signed by Kumar Prashant, President, Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, and Ramchandra Rahi, President, Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, New Delhi, along with others. To put it in the words of the statement:

“Having listened to the debates on Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister’s address to the nation, and having watched subsequent developments in Kashmir, we as citizens of India inspired by the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi feel compelled to state that the government has pushed the country into a blind alley. The gun that was used to silence Kashmir is now being used as a telescope through which to see Kashmir. This is shameful, unfortunate and ominous for India...

“We must stand with the Kashmiris in their hour of crisis, which is equally our hour of crisis. Our helpless fellow-citizens who have been imprisoned must know that all right-thinking Indians share their anguish. The government must protect law and order, but it must also allow free expression at every level...”

The above discourse testifies that Gandhism is speaking in the language of human rights in contemporary India. Here lies the relevance of commemo-rating Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

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