By Binita Das
Kolkata, Jan 23 (IANS) Indians will not tolerate an atmosphere of “coercion, intimidation and bullying” any more and the upcoming general elections may bring some change, says historian and biographer Rajmohan Gandhi.
“In the last three-four months, I am seeing that the mood in the country is changing. This atmosphere of coercion, intimidation and bullying will not be tolerated by Indian people for too long. It is possible that in the coming elections we may see something really good,” the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi told IANS on the sidelines of 10th Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival here.
Rajmohan Gandhi, the biographer of Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, said anyone could make a difference.
Speaking on the issue of lynching and the fear of ‘gau rakshaks’ (cow vigilantes), Gandhi said: “Nothing can be more tragic and sad. Relatives of those who are killed are being interrogated and the ones accused of killing them are not being interrogated.”
Still, everyone must work patiently and speak up when given a chance, he said.
“Had Gandhiji and Netaji (Subhas Chandra Bose) been alive, would they have allowed this malice and ill-will to go on? A major reason for the unchecked advance of bigotry today is the silence of most important and influential persons in India,” pointed out the man who led the Indian delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1990.
Asked about patriotism and the chanting of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, Gandhi said: “If patriotism was so easy, that in six seconds one could establish themselves as patriots, then the whole world would have been full of patriots!”
According to him, patriotism is about doing something for the neighbours; it may be someone in the college, in the locality, one’s relatives or someone in the family.
Hinting at the Centre’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Campaign), Gandhi said: “Patriotism also means that if one sees some dirt, not just physical dirt (yes remove physical dirt, make India cleaner) but if one sees hatred, anger and injustice, one must remove them. If one makes the country less cruel he is a better patriot.”
As Gandhi equated patriotism with loving one’s neighbours, he was asked about his views on India-Pakistan relations.
“We should not think of Pakistan as one monolith or homogenous mass of people. One must understand Pakistan is a state with its government and is a nation of many people. Like in India, all Pakistanis are different from one another,” he opined.
(Binita Das can be contacted at [email protected])