[Editorial Analysis] Betrayal of the Mahatma

Mains Paper 4: Ethics

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Human Values

Context

• Gandhi relinquished his primary membership of the Indian National Congress some 14 years earlier; he would always be consulted on important issues.

• Gandhi was rushing towards the garden, supported by Manu and Abha, the two-grand nieces whom he used to call his “walking sticks”.
• Godse folded his hands and said namaste.

• Gandhi stopped. Suddenly, Manu was pushed to the ground. Nathuram pumped three bullets into Gandhi’s bare chest and stomach.

• “Hey Ra…ma! Hey Ra…” — this is what Manu claimed to have heard in a feeble voice.

• A Sikh gentleman following Gandhi too confirmed that the words of prayer came out from his lips.

Gandhi was dead, his mahatmahood having been established.

• Gandhi’s physical elimination was a result of the pent-up anger and frustration of a few misguided youths over what they perceived as his policy of Muslim appeasement.

• The ultimate provocation for them was his fast that January that had forced the Nehru cabinet to release funds to the newly-formed state of Pakistan.

• Those funds were withheld out of the suspicion that Pakistan would misuse them against India.

Conflicts between opinions with Gandhi

• There were many who had disagreements with Gandhi, Subhash Bose and V D Savarkar among them.

• Even Nehru had serious difference of opinion with Gandhi.
• But to kill him needed not just difference of opinion, but a certain type of hatred borne of extreme frustration.

Strict to Ahimsa

• Gandhi was no doubt formidable and irresistible.

• Nehru once said of him: “The essence of his teaching was fearlessness and truth and action allied to these.

• Behind the language of peace and friendship, there was power and the quivering shadow of action and a determination not to submit to a wrong.”

• Gandhi had a premonition about his impending death.

• Madanlal Pahwa attempted a bomb attack on January 20 at the Birla House.

• Between that day and the fateful day, Gandhi had talked about his death dozens of times.

• But he would steadfastly refuse security.

• For him, that would have been akin to violating ahimsa. People called him “Bapu” a father-figure.

• He had immense trust in the people, unlike today’s leaders: “If my own children want to kill me, how can I stop them.”

• He was betrayed by those who called him Bapu and then eliminated physically, a heinous crime.

• Others too, who also called him Bapu and Mahatma, betrayed his principles.
• On the fateful morning, Gandhi handed over the final draft of his future plan for the Indian National Congress, disband the existing Congress organisation and flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh.

• In fact, Gandhi had called for a meeting at Sewagram in February to discuss the plan.

• Nehru categorically rejected Gandhi’s plan.

“Congress has now to govern. So it will have to function in a new way, staying within politics”, he insisted.

Conclusion

• The lure of power overtook the ideals of service. Thus came the other betrayal.

• Gandhians continue to strive for the goal of attaining “social, moral and economic independence in terms of its seven hundred thousand villages” by remaining below the radar, unlike present-day NGOs that meddle in politics.

• Gandhian ideas continue to influence societies in many parts of the country and the world.

• “Gandhi bequeathed an example of constant striving, a set of social values, and a method of resistance, one not easily applied to an India ruled by Indians”, laments Pulitzer-winning author Joseph Lelyveld in his book Great Soul.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) The category ‘Right to freedom’ in Fundamental Rights of our Constitution consists of

1. Right to form associations/union

2. Right to reside and settle in any part of India

3. Right to manage religious affairs

4. Right to life and liberty

Choose appropriate code:

a) 1, 3 and 4

b) 1 and 2 only

c) 1, 2 and 4 only

d) 2, 3 and 4 only

Correct Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) There were many who had disagreements with Gandhi but to kill him needed not just difference of opinion, but a certain type of hatred borne of extreme frustration. In this regard of this statement what are the lesson we can learn from him. Critically examine.

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