Like in the past, we visited the Indian embassy today to celebrate the Republic Day of India, it is the day when the Constitution of India was established. There is a statue of Mahatma Gandhi right in front of the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. I looked at Gandhi ji's statute and pondered on the Constitution of India and teared up because of the prevailing situation in my motherland. I have been following news stories where the assassin of the Mahatma is being glorified and systemic efforts are made to undermine the constitution of India by the leaders of the current ruling party in the country!
I stood there, gazed at the feet and the determination in them. He was certainly not about himself or his party. He was called the Father of the Nation because he had truly learned to value and accept every single member of his country regardless of their caste, socio-economic status, gender or religion. I wondered, if he is watching us, he must feel sad that the values of non-violence and secularism are not being upheld in the country. I wondered what he thinks about the violence against minors by the police in Uttar Pradesh, how he feels when the women in Shaheen Bagh are insulted and defamed, while they are protesting peacefully, how his heart hurts when the students in Jamia Millia Islamia are treated like criminals by Delhi Police or when the international media reports on substantial increase in hate crimes in the country (please click on the blue letters for more details). I was filled with a realization that Mahatma Gandhi's soul is hurting and so are hearts of his followers!
|Reflecting and in conversation with Gandhi's statue in Washington DC. 26th January 2020|
Gandhi ji helped us win freedom from Britishers in the past and today his values can help us win freedom from hatred, social discrimination and violence in the country. It is time to apologize to the great soul! Let us refocus on the teachings and values that helped gain our freedom and were so thoughtfully woven in the Constitution of India. I feel so grateful for, and proud of the millions of people, especially the students and the women of India, who are standing peacefully against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 and the looming National Register of Citizens that fundamentally attack the secular component of the Constitution of the country. Every peaceful protestor fighting for his/her rights keeps Mahatma Gandhi alive in this world!
As I paid tribute to Gandhi ji today, a poem began to emerge in my awarenesses...
Bapu, sorry, we are failing you,
Some of us are forgetting your teachings,
In the land of unity in diversity,
We are witnessing lynchings!
Erroneous discourse is hateful,
Some are even glorifying your assassin,
Sorry, we have let violence slip
in our streets, universities and our reasoning!
Sorry, our students are no more safe
if they say freedom,
Sorry, our mothers are insulted
when they say freedom!
Sorry, for some, 'azaadi'
has become a dirty word,
Sorry, communal hatred,
we couldn't curb!
But, Bapu, aren't you proud,
of the Indian youth,
Singing freedom on the streets
the sound, your soul does it soothe?
And do the women of India,
of all ages and walks of life,
give you hope,
that the Idea of India will thrive!
Bapu, 'Inquilab' is still alive,
The desire for equality is alive,
Even though there's oppression,
'Sarfaroshi ki Tamanna' is alive!
When the police charged the latthis,
With roses, those students replied,
In the rallying youth of India,
Bapu, Gandhigiri is still alive!
Jai Hind! Inquilab Zindabad!