A letter to Bapu

Saurabh Paul

To

Mr. M. K. Gandhi

Somewhere in the Universe

Dear Bapu,

Wish you a very happy birthday! This is your another birthday and we are celebrating usually with a little bit of change. The state has attached your ideology with cleanliness, and motivating people to live in clean milieu. Well, this is going to be an achievable aim as price hike and banning certain commodities have minimised the availability of essential commodities, such as food for the mass. As a result, excretes will be less. Surroundings will look cleaner. Doesn’t this sound cool, Bapu?

Presently we are having a fight over the correct estimation of G.D.P. of this country. Within a couple of years, things will be as you always wanted. India will be either vegetarian country or a country where people eat less due to price hike and ban of certain food. Industries will be outnumbered by temples and ‘Saints’ will be controlling the informal economy of the country by selling their ‘natural’ and ‘desi’ products. Bapu, doesn’t this sound exciting?

Wait, I have more to offer you! Mob lynching and killing are contemporary mechanisms of political control. First, the political rulers categorise those who can be a threat to their regime and second, their cadres, popularly known as ‘bhakts’ violently treat the categorised individuals. Bapu, as I know, you would not have opposed multiculturalism and cultural diversity among people. Our democratically elected rulers are not really comfortable with diversity. They are believers of a homogeneous ‘parampara’s, and named it as ‘Bhartiya Sanskriti’.  According to the liberal intellectuals, that codified ‘parampara’ or ‘Bhartiya Sanskriti’ is a construction during the colonial rule.

Our ‘decision makers’ are interested in imposing a regional language on the entire country. They believe that the country essentially belongs to the Hindus. ‘Nationals’ and ‘Anti-Nationals’ are two primary categories installed by them. Those who are followers of ‘sanskriti’ and ‘parampara’ fall in the first category and the rest go to the other one.  Even cadres of our political administrators have problem if a Hindu, who happens to be a Bengali, eats fish and meat during Durga Puja. Their ‘parampara’ tells them to discard ‘non-veg’ foods during Navaratri and take care of others, so that, no one mistakenly consume ‘non-veg’ during that time. Moreover, they have promised to establish your fascinated dream of ‘Ram-Rajjya’. But I am afraid of their interpretation of ‘Ram-Rajjya’. Bapu, you must attend their ‘Shakha Sessions’, otherwise you may get confused.

Bapu, this is a time, when ‘democracy’ exclusively stands for the majority. Either have numbers, or fall in line. People, such as John S Mill, you are irrelevant now a day. Imposing the ‘don’ts’ of majority on the minority is a common phenomenon. Let me give you an example. As the majority do not eat the meat of a certain animal, that has already become a ‘don’t’ for the rest of the country. Majority sleep with opposite sex, therefore ‘sleeping with opposite sex’ is the ‘sanskriti’, anything else is ‘imported’, and if you choose to opt any of these ‘imported’, you may get tagged as ‘Anti National’. We are heading towards a state of complete homogeneity, glorified by radiant ‘Nationalism’.

In this juncture, your politics appears to be relevant. What should I do, when I do not have the number to mount protest? Disobey the law and stand with determination, because you do not support the state’s action and thereafter mobilise the people by your peaceful and painstaking movement against state’s coercion. Bear the pain, be steady in your determination, accept the coercion, but do not fall in line, sounds relevant today. Ransacking public property, burning vehicles, violent protest may not be successful, when your ruler interacts with you in forceful and coercive terms. As you said decades back, that if you do not agree with certain law/ action, do not follow that, accept punishment, but do not fall in the line, continue your protest ‘actively’ maintaining non-violence, is perhaps the need of this time.

On the one hand, for how long violent measures may sustain if not reciprocated by violence from the other side. On the other hand, your strong determination may mobilise those who have not yet become the blind followers of the regime. I remember your ‘change of hearts’ phrase. But certainly, ideological clarity, connection with the mass, political ethics and determination are necessary. Seriously we need to fast and shed blood to let the rulers know that we are ready to die rather fall in line. This may develop a nation-wide response (as now we have the media, though some of them are the ruler’s spokesperson), as well as an international impact.

Bapu, I think you are aware of the latest protest by undergraduate students of a ‘grand’ University. Though their protest have already challenged the ‘followers’, but what the rulers would have done, if 5000 students from at least 10 important universities and institutions would have come out on the roads of 5 important cities of the country and started ‘hunger strike till death’ in support of those protesting students. Don’t you think that would have initiated mobilisation of the mass, I mean, both the non-followers and followers of India. Well, I won’t stretch the letter anymore. At the end, please bless us, so that we can contextualise your political ideas for implementation.

With pranam,

Yours truly

Saurabh,

Somewhere in India

Saurabh Paul

 

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