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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Is Hatred Essential for Nationalism? The Song of Hate has not benefited Humanity; Contemplating Gandhi in today’s India

Why do we commemorate Gandhi Jayanti but do not memorialize his teachings? Why is it essential not to talk about hatred but about spreading love- our great father of the nation- Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi strongly advocates.

The country with a population of 1.3 billion people nearly in all professions would have celebrated ‘Gandhi Jayanti’ on 2nd October, especially public service Institutions eagerly twitting, posting, and boosting about his teachings, which they have forgotten to establish in the practice of course- Ahimsa. In the excerpt from S. Irfan Habib’s Indian Nationalism, Gandhi pitied and sympathized with those dominated by thoughts, speeches, and actions of hate, antipathy, and alienation. He goes on by seeking an answer to the question, ‘Is it necessary that three hundred million people should hate one hundred thousand Englishmen?’ ‘Is it necessary to hate them as ‘others’ or ‘Aliens’?

Let me ask, holding an apparent (‘Hum Kagaz Ab Bhi Nahi Dikhayenge’) citizenship as a minority in the country to Lippmann’s ‘bewildered herd’ or ‘spectator’ of India, Why the 80% majority within this illiberal democracy should hate the 15% Muslim minority or 16% Dalits in the Hindu society? I remind you that Muslims or Dalits are not the modern Britishers to rule over the current majority nor the one forming the authoritarian government cursing, blaming, and scandalously involved in ‘Othering the Others.’ Gandhi reduced the argument of polarizing and popularizing hyper-nationalistic stances as slanderous to the dignity of greater humankind.

He says ‘if the Indians hate the Englishmen (considering them less in numbers) even for one moment, it will demean India’s value as a land known for unity and affection. Throughout his writing and speeches, Gandhi has been tapering to the British Raj and admits the blunders they did to this nation, but even then also ‘he never hated them.’  Today, the ethnocentric democrats hate humankind so much that they publicly lynch a minority, vilify activists and actors, utterly oppress, suspend and arrest oppositions, and deny dignified cremation to a Dalit victim.

Gandhi certainly not his countrymen, but would have appreciated the two-hundred prominent British citizens’ concern who have openly criticized the majoritarian decree’s tyranny on the minorities by the BJP government recently. They do not have the interest to rule on us again, anyhow. We need to scratch beneath the surface and seek the answer, ‘why have we started valuing hate so much’? ‘You have the answer, but you don’t want to accept, anyway.’

“What does a father do to a son who is inclined to do evil and become corrupted? (You wish to eliminate Terrorism from Kashmir, right? But generalize victimizing and vandalizing civilians at large). Gandhi suggests, “The father does not punish him, nor does he encourage him, but tries to correct him. That is the love of Reform.”

Gandhi says, ‘I can simply comment on what is going on during these 5 or 6 years,’ that instantly forces me to contemplate and summarise in revisiting injustices and discrimination in the past 5-6 years on minorities in Gandhi’s beloved nation. Gandhi minimizes exaggerated nationalism and encourages Non-cooperation or Satyagraha, which isn’t a psalm of a false sense of love for a corrupt son, or a blind loyalty towards the evil in father. If we closely look into the system’s treachery to Gandhi’s Ahimsa while analyzing ‘one year of disappeared and despair state of J&K,’ (knowingly a minority-Muslim-majority land), it would lead us to nothing but disheartened unemployed youth, regularizing seditions, overnight curfews, house arrest, and unconstitutional demotion of the state into Union territory.

Your minimal cognizance should realize how they have managed their work from home or ‘India going online’ while disallowed the use of 4G even during the unprecedented pandemic. Gandhi insists in the excerpt on ‘how we need to extend workable laws to find a close nexus between the governing bodies and the governed’ applying such laws to improve domestic relations if we genuinely aspire for a peaceful solution. Nonetheless, it is easy to determine a polished form of fascist ideology-action-oriented mockery on Gandhi’s imperative Ahimsa in everyday administrative-politics functioning of our Modern Fathers’ if you uncover ground realities and substantial Gandhian’ hymn of tolerance and endurance’ among the daughters and sons in Kashmir.

Gandhi unfolds ‘it is not the nationalism that is evil; it is the narrowness, selfishness, exclusiveness’ which seems plausible in the attitude of the nationalists’ journalists on television and certainly everywhere that keeps questioning Indian Muslim identity accusing without evidence on ‘corona Jihad.’ The case of ‘UPSC Jihad’ would be a form of Theodore Adorno’s Nationalist Nazi’s fanatical patriotism advocating to glorify governmental services reserved only for the so-called trustworthy ‘Native’ in-group members (Hindus, in this case) and not the Muslims considered as out-group anywhere in India. Gandhi would discredit such false love of   Reward & Reforms to the minority community.

“I must understand the weaknesses of my opponents, yet despite these vices, not hate but love them. Brute force has been handed down to us from generation to generation. We have used it and found what it has done to Europe and the world.”

When I critically relate Indian democracy to Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s remarkable observation in their book ‘How Democracies die’ explains the systematic erosion of democratic trends by sowing the seeds of authoritarianism prevalent across right-wing dominated countries. In contrast, Gandhi urges to accept opponents’ vices and voices to welcome criticism as part and parcel of free thought and expression. Levitsky and Ziblatt analyzed the right-wing wave’s deliberate act to ill-legitimize and weakened the political and ordinary opponents and then wholly disintegrate opposition, either to portray them as villains in public eyes or completely fade them away.

We now see a government anti-opposition and anti-whistle blower inside the ignorant and intellectuals’ twin-house- The Indian Parliament. Many a time, the oppositions resisted several anti-people bills and others on-road protesting for so long, who should have been acknowledged no less than a ‘conscientious politically awakened’ crowd marching miles for their socio-economic securities. I strongly consider these two Harvard political scientists pro-Gandhian in thought, stipulating how opposition should vigorously seek to preserve and avoid getting into the trap of violating set standards and norms, which is essential and constitutional.

We need not go very far to clarify the above arguments, what Gandhi would have to say while encountering the stigmatization of dissent. The authoritarian-populism has been busy validating conspiracy against Post-CAA NRC protestors where the Delhi police have dragged the social activists, academicians, and other prominent personalities responsible for Delhi riots. I m least interested in counting and pointing what percentage of the majority from which community was the most affected in the Delhi riots. Gandhi would loathe with such grave loss of lives and damages done to public properties, irrespective of percentage.

“Let alone Mussalmans, let alone Christians, Parsis, and others. The majority of us are Hindus. How should we deal with the evil that is rampant in Hinduism?”

Gandhi’s non-cooperation was a call to reinstate Khilafat in Turkey and also to discontinue Untouchability. Gandhi knew the evils of the persistent caste system and appealed not to hate the preachers and followers of Untouchability but take up individual responsibility and sufferings on their shoulders to abate Untouchability. He praises the then social protest led by young Satyagrahis of Vaikom against caste discrimination in Travancore (presently the Kottayam district) in Kerala, March 1924. Indeed, the sexist or the casteist who committed a horrendous act of raping a Dalit woman in Hatras (U.P.) and coerced cremation without family’s consent by district police-administrative machinery are equivalently subtle art of succumbing Gandhi’s teachings.

However, persistent and systematic caste-based hierarchies and targeted sexual violence by upper-caste men against Dalit and marginalized women is always a matter of great religious-political propaganda that confirms the community’s dehumanization. There is undoubtedly something wrong with the dominant class men’s moral psyche in regularizing and normalizing mental and physical violence against women (counting ten Dalit women rape in everyday India). It isn’t an end. We all know how vulnerable it has always been for the Dalits, threatened, beaten, or dared on insane and mundane arguments to ride on a decorated horse on the day of the wedding, touching a car of an upper-caste man, or killed to enter a temple. Gandhi professes, “in my humble opinion hatred is not essential for nationalism. Let there be no room for race hatred. It will kill the real national spirit.”

If we thoughtfully observe, he only wanted India’s freedom and no sufferings for ‘Others’ and other nations. Dealing with the modern complexities, what might bother Gandhi today, would be post-liberalized complications; Gandhi blames the pseudo-westernized system as a satanic version of exploiting the weaker section and promotes perpetual inequalities. He urges the democrat-consumers to avoid getting seduced by insensitive materialism, which makes them ‘good neither for them nor for humankind.’

What would bother him be poverty, unemployment, and deliberate social exclusion by exploiting the minorities (always the less heard and weak in representation), which accounts for juxtaposing to the country’s failed socio-political machinery? Gandhi never demanded freedom on the cost of disappearance and extinction of Englishmen (lesser in number, much more potent than the country’s current powerless minorities). “My country may become free-free if needed the whole country to die-so that the human race may live,”  he supported.

“My country may become free-free if needed the whole country to die-so that the human race may live” — Mahatma Gandhi.

In the end, he emphasizes, “I should be untrue to my Maker (God) if I failed to serve my people. If I do not know how to serve them, I shall never know how to serve humanity.” So, Fail not to let the people hate any religion or culture or community and weigh nationalism with your narrow self-interest to rise in power, choose the Gandhian path- The act of serving the country, the people, and service of humanity at large. Why do you want to become a failed leader? Why are you busy making hatred essential for nationalism? Betray not to Gandhi, let not hate to decide. But spread love, Gandhi is beseeching you.

-‘Is hatred Essential for Nationalism?’ (excerpt from S. Irfan Habib’s book- Indian Nationalism-The Essential Writings, published by Aleph Book Company, 2017, pp- 161-165).

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Sadaf Khalid
Sadaf Khalid
Pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Administration and a gold medalist from Aligarh Muslim University. Worked as a Policy Analyst at Aam Admi Party policy research cell, New Delhi. A young social activist for People Service Institute, Kolkata, Swasthya Sankalp, Cancer Aid Society, and building youth brigade for child rights awareness, gender sensitization, environmental policies, etc. A contributor to The Eastern Herald.



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