‘The countdown has begun!’ That is what the RSS and the Sangh Parivar believe: the countdown to the replacing of the Indian Republic with Hindu Rashtra. Their trusted agent in power at the centre is faithfully following their diktat by engaging in razing Indian democracy to rubble as the pulverised Marad flats of Kerala.
Today, more than ever, our hard-won freedom is at stake. This free India, with its noble principles of equality and fraternity, freedom and harmony, is being bartered for enslavement to discrimination and disharmony, religious bigotry and political opportunism. It is done by those who had little or no share at all in the independence movement. Those who connived with the British and apologised to the British crown and promised to cooperate with it are making an all-out war on our secular democracy and its noble ideals.
Gandhi, the Father of the nation, who advocated non-violence and fellowship, is being replaced by Godse, Gandhi’s murderer, who advocated violence and hatred. The Hindu Mahasabha named the martyrdom anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as ‘Shaurya Day’ (Bravery Day) to give credit to Nathuram Godse. On Gandhi’s 71st death anniversary, a Hindu woman fanatic and her friends gathered in public and pumped bullets into a blood-filled effigy of Gandhiji. Such preposterous acts are done with brazen madness under the protective gaze of their political patrons.
Hindu religious monk Vivekananda proclaimed in his Chicago address in 1893 that “ I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. … if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: "Help and not fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension." But today, for the Hindutvawadi politicians, the word Muslim is anathema. That is where the difference lies between genuine followers of Hinduism and Hindutvawadis. The latter pick and choose. They favour some, not all. Only from a few countries, not from all. Universality is not in their dictionary. Discrimination is their favourite watchword.
It is amusing to listen to Prime Minister Modi’s incongruous words on the occasion of Vivekananda’s 125th Jayanti. At Belur Math in West Bengal he waxed eloquent by praising the power of the Indian youth who, he said, ‘will take India to greater heights in the 21st century.’ But, as ground reports go, BJP’s storm-troopers have been trying to quell the voices of the youth resounding on university campuses calling for freedom of expression, right to equality, protection of the constitution, etc. The shameful and condemnable act of the rightwing masked and armed musketeers gate-crashing into university campuses speaks for itself.
Because the reins of power happen to be in their hands, Modi-Shah combine is devising rules and schemes to count, recount and discount the nation’s citizens on the lines of religious identity. Indian citizens abroad can prove their identity by their Indian passport but, surprisingly, not in India. Indian citizens can vote on the authority of their voter identity card to elect their leaders to govern this nation. But, the very same leaders, after having crawled on all fours for begging votes and having claimed the electoral mandate by hook or crook, are telling the same voters to prove their identity as citizens. Your Aadhar card, with its unique number as a mandatory document, assured you as proof for securing subsidies, benefits, passport, voter ID linkage, monthly pension, Provident Fund, bank account, Digital life certificate, proof for SEBI, driving licence, Pan Card, IT return, Investments, etc. But this document, you are told by Amit Shah, will not be proof of your citizenship.
The time to liberate India has come. ‘SAVE INDIA!’, ‘SAVE THE REPUBLIC!’ These are the slogans of the day renting the air from north to south, from east to west in India. Protests, demonstrations, sit-in dharnas, silent processions, candlelight marches, public meetings, prayer sessions, recitation of the Preamble of the Constitution of India, agitation on Indian university campuses across the nation etc., are the order of the day. While the rulers are musing and fiddling, the nation is burning with anger. Students and professors, priests and pundits, writers and intellectuals, lawyers and professionals, workers and farmers, NGOs and activists, housewives and housemaids – all have joined hands on a common platform to save India’s soul as it were.
This is not a showdown. This is not just a sudden outburst of anger or frustration. This volcanic eruption has deeper implications. It is a call to save India’s soul. It is a concerted attempt to free India, to liberate our Motherland from sinister forces that keep our land in shackles. The nationwide calls of ‘azadi’ are heard in India and abroad. The fiddlers and ‘Fuehrers’ may dub these slogans as anti-national and seditious and send out their armed foot soldiers and arsenal-borne outfits to silence and suppress the men and women of conscience who call for ‘azadi.’ These are not the ‘azadi’ calls of Kashmir, but the calls of concerned citizens of India, sensible daughters and sons of the motherland!
These azadi calls are emanating from patriotic feeling, from devotion to the sacred constitution of India! Azadi from corruption and connivance, azadi from those who suppress our freedom of expression, azadi from those who attempt to turn this secular and democratic India into a theocratic entity, azadi from religious fundamentalism, azadi from lynching mobs and lying politicians, azadi from religious terrorists and unscientific thought process, azadi from unconstitutional laws and predatory lawmakers – these are calls underlining a genuine search for India’s soul.
Today, the nobility of our constitution is an aberration to the Manuwadis, and, hence, they want to rewrite it into an unscientific, mythological and communal one. B.R. Ambedkar who is considered and respected as the main architect of the constitution stands insulted today. Miscreants desecrated his statue and felled his right arm which held the book of the constitution. It was not just disrespect to Ambedkar but also an act of denouncement of the constitution.
Eminent jurist Nani Palkhivala, ‘one of the most fierce defenders of liberty and the rule of law’, said in a lecture in Bombay in 1971: “Our constitution is primarily shaped and moulded for the common man...When the preservation of the sanctity of the constitution is called the handiwork of ‘reactionary forces’, it should be clear to any thinking mind that freedom is in peril.’ When there is a nationwide call for ‘azadi’ (freedom), it is indeed a determined call to free India from reactionary forces. When Nobel laureate Amartya Sen says that India has taken ‘a quantum jump in the wrong direction’ under Modi’s government since 2014, it should apply not only to economic landslide but also to the downslide erosion of human rights perspective and egalitarian society.
We, the people of India love our constitution which has absorbed the best principles and ideals enshrined in other secular and parliamentary constitutions of different nations. Today, we have hit the streets to protect this sacred guarantee to our equality, fraternity, unity and integrity of the nation. Men and women, young and aged, have braved biting cold and faced sponsored agents of terror to say ‘No’ to the marauding forces that are announcing the death knell of a united republic. The message is clear: We, the people, are determined not to yield an inch but to wield the weapon of ahimsa and peaceful resistance to safeguard the honour and integrity of our Motherland!
(Published on 27th January 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 05)