Can Gandhi terminate terror?
The question may sound grammatically inaccurate and the scholars of English would rush to kick away the word ‘can’, and bring in its place a ‘could’, knowing that the great Apostle of Peace is no more!
But I, being a bit ignorant, deny accepting that Gandhi- the Mahatma has ceased to exist.
For me, Gandhi was not a frail figure draped in loincloth, with a pair of spectacles that fell flat on earth on January 30, 1948, succumbing to the bullets of a religious chauvinist.
For me and many, I believe, Gandhi still exists. And not just on the posters in the government offices, or on the currency notes or in the various statues standing adamantly at various places around the world.
The Mahatma lives and breathes and survives in the hearts and deeds of people like Anna Hazare.
Because Gandhi was not someone made of merely flesh and blood, but a code of conduct, a way of life, and if I may dare to say - a religion, that is still followed around the globe in painfully small numbers.
So, how many of you think that Gandhi – as a religion – can be applied to abet terrorism? Anyone? I would not be surprised to find that there are really very few takers of this idea?
Because a generation that has been witness to heart wrenching terror strikes like 9/11, 26/11, etc. would find it difficult to swallow the idea of a peaceful truce with merchants of blood and terror. We saw the result of trying to broker peace with the militants when a towering man like Burhanuddin Rabbani, ex-Afghan President and the chairman of Afghan Peace Council was assassinated by a man who came in the garb of a messenger of militants. On the other hand, America, that was compelled to unleash a war on terror post 9/11 attacks, has been able to wipe out the terror associated with the names like Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and many more, though it came at the cost of trillions of dollars and millions of lives, a large chunk of them being innocent ones.
So, in today’s context, how can the philosophy of truth and non-violence raise its solemn head and talk about the peaceful means of combating terror?
To the question that how a weapon-less person or state can disarm a violent tyrant, who is hell-bent on unleashing terror, Gandhi’s answer was this:
“Behind the death dealing bomb is a human hand that releases it, and behind that is still the human heart that sets the hand in motion. And at the back of the policy of terrorism is the assumption that terrorism, if applied in sufficient force will produce the desired results, namely bend the adversary to the tyrant’s will. But supposing people make up their mind that they will never do the tyrant's will, not retaliate with the tyrant's own methods, the tyrant will not find it worth his while to go on with his terrorism.”
The Mahatma claimed that if sufficient food was given to the tyrant there will come a time, when he will have had more than surfeit. Gandhi also said that violence never resulted into anything good and even if it seemed so, it was just temporary. Only non-violence can lead to a state of permanent peace. Can we expect al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Taliban and others of this ilk to talk and reply in this Gandhian language of non-violence? No is the most obvious answer, but why can’t it be a yes. As Gandhi said, behind every bomb is an intention that has taken birth first in the heart and who knows, a change of heart could work wonders. Terrorism that’s prevalent today is mainly fanned by religious extremist feelings, a deep perception of certain people who feel that their rights have been usurped - a perception that has been propagated for so long that it has stopped being a thought and turned into a reflex and here is where the non-violent chord needs to be struck.
A thorough cleansing of the mindsets at the global level is the need of the hour. All the negative feelings like hatred, jealousy, anger and greed need to be rooted out entirely, because these are what lay the foundation of monsters of terror. Though it may take a considerable chunk of time, but given the credibility of Gandhi’s actions, in a due course of time we may see the frequency and effect of numbers like, 9/11, 26/11, declining, all thanks to the most fortunate date in the history – 2/10.
Yes, 2/10/1869, i.e. 2nd October – when Mahatma had incarnated on this very earth in flesh and blood. As Indians, we ought to be proud of being born on the same soil where a Mahatma lived and died for the sake of the nation. Simultaneously, as Indians we also have a duty to perform, to be the harbingers of non-violence and truth and all the solemn attributes that Mahatma Gandhi had imbibed in his life that turned him eternal.
Gandhi will exist forever and continue to be a beacon for us, but only if we choose to dislodge him and free him from the paintings and placards and essays like this and enshrine him into our hearts and day-to-day lives and be a part of his extended eternal life.
We can live Gandhi if we choose not to hit any
scooterwaallah who dented our newly purchased dream car; if we refuse to let anger rush through our veins when a cricket ball from the neighbourhood targeted our favourite cup of lemon tea through the windowpanes; if we can prevent ourselves from yelling at a servant who just burnt our costliest party gown while ironing it; if we manage to stop losing our cool on our driver who couldn’t get the car serviced in time and got us late in a very urgent board meeting…these could sound too trifle incidents when compared to tackling terror, but such minor steps must be taken first so that terror dies on daily basis. And may be a day will come when a man won’t kill another at a toll booth just because he demanded Rs 27. May be a day will come, when the Gandhian wave of truth, non-violence and love will sweep away all the hatred and anger, leaving a peaceful world, living with Gandhi.
So, this October 2nd, I plead to all to soak in Gandhism as much as possible and allow that day to come sooner.