History India South Asia · Politics

Gandhi and Chauri Chaura, and What We Can Learn From It Today

Reproducing this from my Facebook post:

This February an important anniversary went past us without much commemoration: the withdrawal of the Non-cooperation Movement by Gandhi in Feb 1922. While many alternative theories are put forward to explain why Gandhi withdrew such a ‘successful’ anti-colonial movement (including the assumption that he was ‘protecting capitalist interests’), it is important to remember that the sudden violence committed by his followers, which caused the death of 23 persons, was the immediate reason for it. For a person so steadfastly committed to non-violence, that single ‘small’ incident in a remote village of northern India was sufficient reason to call off the colossal movement, much to the chagrin of most of the other leaders of the time.

Violence, while never being a solution to any problem, also gives birth to further perpetuating disasters. In post-Gandhi India, we have seen leaders and workers from all political parties actively committing and encouraging violence towards India’s own citizens – it was subtle until more recently, and now it has become pretty much open and direct. All of our leaders, while paying profuse lip service to Gandhi, never have shown the moral will or courage to unambiguously discourage violent followers and violent acts as Gandhi consistently did.

Indeed it is a long shot expecting political leaders to display much moral courage. What is more worrying is that we as citizens have also sadly condoned such violence and bullying due to our vested interests. For example, many Marathi folks who not too long back happily celebrated the bullying and beating of North Indians at the hands of Shiv Sainiks, are today getting an unfortunate taste of their own medicine. We so easily forget that violence will inevitably come back at us: it is self-perpetuating, never self-limiting.

So let us make a commitment, in honor of Gandhi and Chauri Chaura, that whichever political party or person we personally support, we will NEVER support any act of violence and bullying in our country, irrespective of the party or person committing it. Our leaders may not display moral courage, but we as citizens at least should – by condemning publicly such acts with as much zeal as we spread Whatsapp messages and Facebook posts about their ‘achievements’.

Otherwise peace might always elude this nation.

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