By Asif Anwar Alig
New Delhi: A book in Hindi entitled, “Gandhi: Siyasat aur Sampardayekta [Gandhi: Politics and Communalism],’ authored by senior journalist Piyush Babele was released by Tushar Gandhi, author and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi through video conferencing at the Constitution Club of India on 22 May. The Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) Delhi published this book as one of its latest publications.
This seminal book narrates the factual story of Gandhi’s views on religion and his struggle with communalism based on what he lived, did and said. His struggle with communalism is all the more important because he defeated foreign imperialism while alive, but the communalism within India ultimately took his life.
The book further highlights the irony of how the communal forces responsible for the Hindu-Muslim conflict and the partition of India are trying to blame Gandhi for their sins. These forces are still dominant in the country and need to be countered.
The author of the book, Piyush Babele, while introducing the contents of the book, said, “The focus of the book is on communalism, and the misinformation and the propaganda being spread through social media platforms and WhatsApp, for example, like Gandhiji did Muslim appeasement and he was rather an anti-Hindu leader.
These days, many people make allegations that Gandhi justified the Moplah (Muslim) riots of 1921 and did not oppose it. “In the book, I have also tried to explain the myth entrenched in the mindset of the people regarding the role of Gandhi during the partition of India. This book also highlights the challenges India is facing today and the way forward from here,” said Mr Piyush.
After the release of the book, Tushar Gandhi, author and great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, while lauding the author’s efforts, said, “The book is very timely and vital because politics and communalism are what we are facing in the current context.
Today India is not what Nehru, Gandhi, Patel and Maulana Azad had dreamt of. Today politics of hate is dominating us, and that is why this book is significant as it reminds us of our heritage and history. The primary purpose of history is to learn lessons from the past and not to repeat mistakes, if any. We are repeating the same mistake of hatred in the past and are caught in the web of hate in the current time.
On the way forward, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi said, “In Independent India, we used to blame the British for everything and try to justify our wrongdoing under the guise of partition. Our country’s development pace after 75 years of Independence is much slower than the countries devastated during world wars, and today, they are developed nations.
If we keep repeating the wrongs of the past 75 years and thrive on politics of hatred, then we will never become a responsible nation, thus hardly moving towards progress and development.”
“On the backdrop of communalism, caste politics killed Mahatma Gandhi because Gandhi was seen as an obstacle against the politics of hatred and, above all, against the proliferation of caste politics and casteism. The upper caste people have been trying to kill Gandhi from 1934 onwards. Eventually, Gandhi was killed in 1948 while taking advantage of the situation then and pretending to be desh bhakt (nation lovers). And since then, the narrative is that the desh bhakt killed Gandhi, who was anti-nation and anti-religion,” added Tushar Gandhi.
Professor Apoorvanand, a well-known writer and academician, praised the author’s scholarly works and said, “This book speaks about what Gandhi said and dealt with during the crisis from South Africa and till his last breath. It narrates his struggle from one situation to another, depicting him as a struggling man.
The nature of communalism that we have witnessed in pre-Independence India cannot be said to be the same after Independence because today it is majoritarianism is the real threat. The challenges we face today are a big concern for non-Muslims and Muslims. Is the majority under threat or the minority?
So the real challenge is not communalism today. Instead, majoritarianism became a monstrous challenge in the current context.”
Vipin Kumar Tripathi, former professor at IIT, Delhi, lauded the efforts of the author and the IOS for bringing out an in-depth book on Gandhi at a time when speaking the truth is so dangerous that one’s premises can be raided or even bulldozed.
Mr Amit Sachdeva, founder Mahatma Award, New Delhi, said, “This book highlights how Gandhi fought British and communalism. The same communal forces are ruling us today. They never wanted that we should live in peace and enjoy communal harmony then and even today.
The seed of hatred and division sown by the British rulers is still being followed by those who want to divide us and create enmity amongst us.
While presiding over the programme, Professor M. Afzal Wani, Vice Chairman of IOS and Pro Vice Chancellor of IILM University, said Gandhi was an Idea. That idea continued in history and faced challenges from persons and systems during his time, and it continues even today.
While trying to draw a parallel of hatred against Gandhi with the hatred against the greatest of all humankind, Prophet Muhammad, he suggested researching why Prophet Muhammad is often hated. He encouraged writers and researchers to explore different topics, including sustainable development and Gandhi, who chose the path to non-violence.
The program was also addressed by Dr. Ashok Kumar Pandey, Shastri Ramachandran, Anil Nauriya and Prof Z.M Khan.