Sunday, March 2, 2008

Being a part of a rising Nation

Continuing my earlier post on Gandhi, here is more discussion on the same thread : discussing whether Bhagat Singh and Nathuram were the same, and whether Nathuram didn't have any choice, and reply to some feedback on my response:

Bhagat Singh .vs. Nathuram
I think I have already mentioned what I think is the difference and I can't think of anything more to add. As to your saying, that the actions are the same, only the words are different, I would say: Which is why there are different words to refer to different kinds of actions, and the meanings often include the context, motive and the implication it would have on the listener. There are different words to refer to the actions of cutting paper, cutting trees, cutting carrots, cutting goats and cutting necks.

The inappropriateness of comparing murder and martyrdom can be seen, if you try to extend the example under comparison. What if someone had a problem with Nathruam for killing Gandhi and he wanted to finish off Nathuram's family or friends ? Does it appear ridiculous ? One might ask: why bring in family and friends here? I would say it's a valid question. A person arguing from the killer's side would say, from my viewpoint it's a passion for me, i am ready to surrender and how else will I handle the fanaticism of people like Nathuram ? Extend this kind of responses from either side and what we have would be a series of violent retaliations and there wouldn't be discussing any more, there would just be dying.

Nation building was still left...
Moreover, Bhagat Singh and Nathuram didn't operate on same terrains. I'll also use this to answer Surya's question: What alternatives did Nathuram have ? India had its teething problems but it was a free nation. It had plenty of nation-building work to do. Nathuram was just 40 when he killed Gandhi. He had a lot of years left in his life. He could have joined the national mainstream, either in politics or in whichever field of work he thought would contribute to nation-building, even the Hindutva school which he subscribed to. He did have a great passion for his country and age in his favour, he could have used it to,let's say, start his movement, even explicitly against Gandhi and take him headon at his game. Sure, it would have taken a very long time to achieve what he dreamt of as a good nation, but Gandhi himself took plenty of time to build a stature and gather momentum for his movement. Every leader, unless gifted with the hereditary couch, has to build his fort by taking his movement to the people.

Did the trees help those who came later...
For all its demerits, India did turn out to be a great democracy in the 50 years that followed. Anything would be debated, one doesn't have to go by a populist school, one indeed can start a new one. Even the populist leaders did have a couple of other senior leaders to contest their supreme hold. Jayaprakash Narayan, Morarji Desai, Rajaji, Patel all of them had serious differences with Nehru or Indira, but they collectively showed what democracy can do. Amartya Sen compliments this Indian spirit to allow diversity in discussions which India very much allowed, atleast relatively better than all of its neighbours. Nathuram could have been a part of all that, a part of India that was rising, instead of the earlier India that was :) fasting unto death. Okay, he killed Gandhi, did he achieve whatever he thought of, as nation-building dreams ? Okay he died before he achieved, did he atleast give a strong fillip to his brethren or followers to take up the daunting task of building the nation ? Whom did the killing benefit in a long-term nation-building way? This is a difference between Bhagat Singh and Nathuram. What Bhagat Singh did, gave a boost to the people who were to follow soon and take the freedom struggle seriously. It did give a jolt to the British, that we got to take Indians a helluva lot seriously, we can't kill them in a closed garden and get away with it. That there is young blood, stuff out there that takes freedom seriously.

@ the view that the rebuttal was out of context :

I did notice the direction or context the discussion was taking and had read the full thread many times over before formulating my response. May be my response didnt cover the other points raised by other members and was primarily directed at a particular post by Surya, which is why it looks like the primary issue hasnt been handled. Moreover, I would like to think that the rebuttal is as much in context or (as much out of) context as the bashing in the first place. Discussions like this do have a tendency to stray off into lanes and bylanes that might have never been thought of !!

I do have my reservations about Gandhi's life and writings, but I found that those that were mentioned here were not the ones. That's another thread, lest this thread goes out of context !

On the other points mentioned :
Agree that we should attempt to take a 360-degree view, though it's quite possible one has formed one's views, after such an attempt.
Agree that there is nothing wrong in analysing Gandhi, he was one man worth analysing over and over.
Also agree that analysis is better than idolization, particularly in the Indian context.

@ the remark by Surya that it's an Emotional Response :

I agree partially on this, though I would have loved to have heard the phrase "there are certain emotional elements in the response", instead of categorising the entire response as emotional. There are, for example, mentions about institutionalising solutions experimented at the individual level and appropriateness of using political tact in democratic choices, which are purely issue discussions.

Also, I would like to think my responses are as emotional (or as intellectual/objective) as the average of the quality of the posts on this thread, including me and everyone for the averages. On the flip side of my approach, is my tendency to write in the "I and You" style, which often gives the impression that I am "pointing out and outpouring", whereas 'You' refers to the World and 'I' refers to any average thinker (both sometimes looping back to me). I try my best to say "One does this, One does that" and so on, but sometimes, it builds up to too many ones :) . I hope to improve on this. Reading too much of Arundhati Roy is injurious to my writing style.

These two links, from Rang De Basanti, might be interesting in the discussion:
Go Ahead and Transform your Country
Violence is not the solution

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