January 30th: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
Yesterday: on this day in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation was assassinated. As a nation, we were shocked: how could this dastardly act be done on anyone, and particularly to Gandhi who gave of his best to the country and its people? His assassin Nathuram Godse was an RSS man. The core ideology of the RSS has always been a fascist one; with no place for the minorities in their scheme of things or for the pluralism which reflects the character of the Indian nation. Rightly enough, the then Home Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel held the RSS and its affiliate, the Hindu Mahasabha, responsible for the murder of Gandhi. On February 4th, 1948, Patel had the courage to ban the RSS naming it as an anti-national organization because of its dangerous activities which fomented divisiveness, hate and violence in different parts of the country.
Today: sixty-six years later, the RSS (the many bans on it, having been lifted) and their affiliates, are well and alive. They continue with impunity and immunity with their agenda of hate and violence. To top it all, they have decided that their protégé Narendra Modi will be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the BJP for the forthcoming National Elections 2014. That Modi presided over the killing of his own citizens (in what is known as the Gujarat Carnage of 2002) is beyond a shade of doubt; that he embodies the RSS ideology to the core, is without debate. So apart from the many problems the country is plagued with at this moment, India has also to deal with a person who constantly lies and who has virtually destroyed freedom of religion, speech and expression, in his obsession to gain power. And this, when he rules over the State which gave birth to Mahatma Gandhi!
Today: is ‘MARTYR’S DAY’ in India. We hang our heads down in shame when we remember the many other lives that have been lost all over the country because of hate and divisiveness - in Gujarat, in Orissa, in Bihar, in U.P, in Assam and in so many other parts of the country. It is also a day on which Catholics in the country observe a ‘DAY OF PEACE’. The message by Pope Francis for this celebration is entitled ‘Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace’; an unequivocal challenge for all of us to ensure fraternity in order to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace.
Tomorrow: Mahatma Gandhi reminds us that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind, so we need to have eyes and a heart for the future, a vision for a new tomorrow. Pope Francis in his Peace Day message reminds us that “the many situations of inequality, poverty and injustice, are signs not only of a profound lack of fraternity, but also of the absence of a culture of solidarity, New ideologies, characterized by rampant individualism, egocentrism and materialistic consumerism, weaken social bonds, fuelling that “throw away” mentality which leads to contempt for, and the abandonment of, the weakest and those considered “useless”. In this way human coexistence increasingly tends to resemble a mere do ut des which is both pragmatic and selfish.” And above all “Fraternity needs to be discovered, loved, experienced, proclaimed and witnessed too. But only love bestowed as a gift from God, enables us to accept and fully experience fraternity”.
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: in more ways than one, January 30th is a day on which we need to look back, do a reality check on what is happening today and above all give ourselves a firm agenda of deep hope for a new tomorrow.
Let’s make a start now!
30th January, 2014
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052