I was born exactly 100 years after you and was brought up being told about your doctrines, your experiments with truth and the non-violence principle. My dad infact had your 3 monkeys as a display item always at home. As I grew up and learnt a bit more, understood life a bit more, I did question your logic sometimes, didn’t quite grasp the 3 monkeys’ message… And ofcourse got attracted to Sardar Bhagat Singh and Subhas Chandra Bose, maybe the action and mystery in their lives was more interesting in my youth. It could also be because I grew up in a Sardar household and the armed forces held a huge fascination for me.
In June 1984 the Indian army entered the Golden Temple in Amritsar.. A few hundred meters from Jallianwala Bagh. The same place where in 1919 General Dyer had fired 1650 rounds and killed 1500 innocent souls. It had pained you then, it pained many of us to see our army enter the Golden temple in free India. Your protege and true follower Pandit Nehru’s daughter was the Prime Minister. Bapu, the India that you had freed from the clutches of the British Raj was very different now …. The congress party was very different. You had said when you first met the congress leaders upon your return from South Africa, that the only way to lead India to independence, was to understand the India that is made up of lakhs of villages. But the congress party unfortunately had not listened to you for a long time by then … They completely had become a party full of sycophants, Indira whose marriage to Feroze Gandhi needed you to convince Nehru had become almost a dictator, there was no alternative and your seventh deadly sin “politics without principles” was buried deep and forgotten. Your name was misused and the many innocent Indians thought Indira was your daughter … As they still do.
And then the worst moment after the partition came upon us. In Oct 1984 Indira was shot dead by her Sikh bodyguards and in three days between Oct 30th to Nov 1st in riots, 8000 Sikhs were killed … 3000+ in Delhi alone, very close to where your eternal flame glows. This is what your beloved India stooped to. The story didn’t end there, the families are still to get justice and the perpetrators roam free. Yes I can see your tears, they are mixed in the many eyes that have never been dry since 1984. I can see Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Bhagat Singh and every other freedom fighter’s tears but Indira’s son Rajiv just drove the knife deeper into our bosoms by saying “when a big tree falls, the earth shakes”. The earth did shake at the injustice of it all, but the congress party didn’t care.
Bapu, we have sinned and flouted every one of your edicts –
Today’s India needs you, our Prime Minister has no spine, there is dynastic rule, sycophants are rewarded, the streets and minds are filthy, there is no protection for women – the Nirbhaya case and there are several other cases of inhuman behavior against women, the country is divided along every line, religious, language, caste, our neighbors attack us and we do nothing to fight back, we parade our poverty and corruption is in every breath and every act, the list is just endless. It’s a very sad nation that celebrates your birthday today. Just return to life, and infuse us with your idealism and genuine heroism.
Sometimes, I think of leaving India like many others have, especially the day the Nirbhaya incident happened … But I am unable to leave and I won’t go anywhere. This is my country and I want to work to make it a great country that it once was. Your sacrifice and the countless others who sacrificed their all to free us from foreign rule, your blood is mixed in this earth and that will help us to lift ourselves out from this morass. In a way we are fighting foreign rule, for this congress party is not for India, it’s actually against India.
I know you loved this poem from Rabindranath Tagore and this is what each of us wishes for India today… The second struggle for independence needs to start. Freedom from corruption, from crime against women, from sycophancy, from divisive politics, from impropriety in public life, from unclean minds and unclean streets… From politics without principles.
Happy birthday Bapu, don’t lose heart. We will create the India of your dreams and soon.