Gandhi After 75 years of his Assassination

A2FP81 Rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London England UK at the request of Lord Irwin 1931

30th January 20 23 was the death the 75 year of the anniversary of the assassination. We are violating Gandhi’s values and principles every day. Even a film seems to be trying to assassinate Gandhi again. This assassination of Gandhi’s ideas, principles and values. Gandhi and Nehru have no place in new India inaugurated by PM Modi. Godse who killed Gandhi has emerged as a hero in new India. The film Godse aur Gandhi : Ek Yudh tries to semiotically (Play of images and narratives) make Godse equal to Gandhi and uses semiotic power as well as imagined history to present Gandhi as a villain and Godse as a Hero. The discourse that villainizes the Heroes of the freedom movement has found energy and ease in new India. A temple for the killer of Mhatma is already built in Madya Pradesh and Nathuram Godse has been converted into a cult figure. We are living at time where a discourse that justifies the murder of Mhatma Gandhi has come to reign. Using the creative power of imagination, the film that was referred above presents alternate reality wherein Gandhi survives the assassination attempt by Godse. Although the film attempts to present a clash between two ideologies, it becomes clear to the viewers which side it has kept its trump cards. One can take any ideological position but by standing for it by blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality is dangerously problematic.

The film is made by Raj Kumar Santoshi and is based on a Hindi play, Godse written by Asghar Wajahat . It gives a post-assassination life to Gandhi. Gandhi survives assassination attempt by Godse. Gandhi being non-violent, goes to meet Godse in Jail. Godse thinks that Gandhi is an enemy of Hindus and does not want to dialogue with Gandhi who believe in solving issues through discussion over ideas and not through bullets. It says that Godse did not have time to explain why he murdered Gandhi when it is well documented that Godse had twice nine hours to place his position before the Court. On the contrary, it is Gandhi who did not have opportunity to defend his case after Godse accused him of several wrong doings because by then Gandhi was already dead. Nor did Gandhian felt the need to defend Gandhi about the accusations level by Godse during his deposition in the Court. We can already find five attempts on the life of Gandhi before he was finally assassinated while the Film purports to present that it was spontaneous anger of Godse over what he views as Hindu appeasement of Gandhi. There are several other episodes in the film that are nothing but blatant falsities hiding under the cover of creative clash of two ideologies.

At a time of the 75th anniversary of his death , we may have to ask : Are we killing Mhatma Gandhi and his principles everyday? Gandhi always believed that India is a country of all its people and not just Hindus. What has happened to this reality 75 years after his assassination is crystal clear before our eyes. This beliefs are found enshrined in book , Hind Swaraj, where he writes ‘no part of the world are one nationality and one religion synonymous terms nor has it ever been in India’. Gandhi’s India is totally opposite of Hindutva and Hindu Rastra of V.D. Savarkar and Govalkar. Regarding cow slaughter Gandhi writes, ‘how can my religion be the religion of rest of Indians?’ Today unfortunately, we seem to believe that the religion of the majority has to be the religion of every Indians. Gandhi was deadly against inequality. He writes ‘I want the concentration of wealth not in the hands of a few but in the hands of all’. Unfortunately, we have huge inequality in wealth distribution in our new India. Gandhi believed in the importance of dissent. His politics was a politics of articulating dissent. He stood for national unity regardless of religion and today we have people standing for unity through one religion. What is happening to today seems to indicate that we are still assassinating Mhatma Gandhi everyday in our New India. The new India is built on a patricide that only promotes fratricide. This is why violence and fear is destroying our country.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao