Illegitimate Indians

Some ripples were there in my school days, when as a fledgling kid we pulled out literature (some banned ones) denouncing Gandhi, and criticising likes of Nehru. Many kids talked about Gandhi gifting everything to Pakistan, Nehru donating Kashmir, and Patel should have been prime-minister. This was talk of ‘muscle-men’ and ‘angry brigade’ kind, who loved to denounce the system called ‘India’. Some carried an ‘anti-muslim’ stance, and some carried none. Some claimed to know everything and some knew nothing. But, as I moved towards academic compulsions and mugged up NCERT books, idea of Gandhi-Nehru combination in Indian history seemed to puzzle and contradict my background thoughts. When I began delving into books authored by them somewhat like ‘Munnabhai’ of Rajkumar Hirani, they gradually seem to influence me in my everyday life. Soon, I found myself in ‘Naram dal’ of school against pre-existing ‘Garam dal’. Majority would laugh at me being a Gandhian stooge, and I would attempt to walk like him undaunted, stubborn, unshaken.

As I moved from school to college days in Pune, things got a bit diluted, with a large chunk of ‘Harijan’ and ‘Ambedkar-loving’ crowd, some rationals, some radicals, some indifferent. Still, booing Gandhi was a bit of vogue in a city of Nathuram Godse, which also housed a Gandhian legacy at Aga Khan palace. My medical college had a dilapidated building, with a fading stone inscription which said, “Mahatma Gandhi was operated for appendicitis by David Sassoon in this building.” So what? I wouldn’t have been surprised if some ‘Garam Dal’ fellow would even look at it or appreciate it. After all, it was him who favoured Pakistan.

Years later, I read the entire literature on Godse including his own book, and explored the places associated with ‘Hindu Mahasabha’ in Somvar-Mangalvar-Budhwar peths of Pune (the workplace of Nathuram still exists). By this time, era of Facebook and Whatsapp had already arrived, with incessant abuses and jokes on ‘father’ (Rasthrapita) and ‘uncle’ (Chacha) of India. Sometimes, I would reply with a counter, and sometimes, I would waste my entire night on veracity of messages. Celibacy experiments of Gandhi would seem to dominate his ‘Noakhali fast’ and umpteens of ‘Satyagraha’. Nehru as a ‘socialist’, a pioneer of ‘Non-aligned movement’, and a messenger of ‘peace’ would be subdued by his relationships with ‘Lady Mountbatten’. Political and diplomatic mistakes of a novice prime-minister struggling with miseries of Partition and Bengal Famine would be equated with wilfully planned conspiracy to deprive India, as some would say.

They died years back, and we have millions of their statues in every corner, streets, parks and government offices, as if they are watching us everyday. Or, they are standing speechless, mute, defenceless. Eminent lawyers, if at all they were; Great orators, who moved nation seem paused forever.

Country was fed-up with incumbent congress, and vilification of Gandhi-Nehru came hand-in-hand. The ‘garam dal’ long lost seem to haunt me again, when somebody recently posted a ‘chappal-garlanded Gandhi’ on his Facebook page. Whatsapp would be studded with scornful and abusive literature, which people love to enjoy, like and forward. A wave to denounce the ‘father’ and ‘uncle’ has begun, a question to their legitimacy, our legitimacy. Time to ponder, before we become illegitimate Indians.

Courtesy: Google images

O rey manjhi!

Being born in a Brahmin family instilled with supremacy of ideas and thoughts since childhood, whenever I looked upon ‘dalit’ or ‘mahadalit’, there were gradual variations in my perception. Word ‘musahar’ itself seemed funny to begin with. Thank god I wasn’t a born ‘musahar’. Things changed as I moved to a congressi-style school, reading Gandhian and Nehruvian ideologies, leftist thoughts in teachers, and changing political scenario in Bihar. Soon, Brahmins were made fun of, in political rallies. In some of the speeches in school, I stood to talk about Oppression of lower class by Brahmins from centuries, receiving thunderous claps from audience. It grew to the extent that I began cursing myself being born ‘Brahmin’. What if I were born ‘musahar’? There is a lot to it.

A dalit remains a dalit for a life, may be mellowed to ‘harijan’, may be they would have a joyous clamour on Ambedkar Jayanti, may be they claim a coveted quota seat, may be they get appeased by politicos, yet a dalit remains a dalit. Like a ‘hologram’, like a ‘rubber stamp’, its his trademark, something he wouldn’t be able to change by conversion, ghar-wapasi whatever.

But, what’s wrong in being one?

When a mahadalit took over as chief-ministership in Bihar, it might have been circumstantial. He wasn’t the only one who rose from grassroots to the royal seat, prime ministers like Chandrashekhar and Narendra Modi have scaled through economic and social hardships. Its how you hold the seat, how you perform, and how you grow yourself from your caste-identity to governance? A ‘musahar’ is no more a ‘scavenging’, ‘rat-tracking’ dalit, but a chief-minister of state. His profile has changed. Even if he takes a pride in his roots, he should uplift ‘dalits’ by promoting education, creating jobs for them, and setting his success as an example. I would vote for such ‘musahar’ forever and ever.

But, there may be more to it. He may have been booed from background, when gets up to arrange a meeting. He might be rejected by his own people as a lowly ‘musahar’. His not-so-sophisticated statements, and immature thoughts were made fun of. Afterall, a dalit remains a dalit for life.

To erase the ‘rubberstamp’, and ‘dalit’ tag, probably people should reject caste-based politics. Doesn’t matter if a prime-minister or chief-minister is dalit or mahadalit or a brahmin, how he delivers in governance should matter.

Many years back, there was a man, who met a ‘musahar’, and gave up his clothes forever to stay like one. Some years ago, there was a ‘manjhi’ who alone made his way through a mountain. ‘Jaativaad’ should end in our lifetime. The day when ‘musahar’ would be a history, and people won’t celebrate a ‘black president’, but a man with credibility.

Who stopped the Ashwamedha?

He was ultra-rightist, an orthodox muslim, a man of religion, one of the most prolific emperor India ever had. A workaholic. As Abraham Eraly writes, “Aurangzeb would twist facts and concoct lies without compunction to suit his purpose and gain his goals.” He was the only Mughal who executed his brothers by legal process, which of course he must have designed in his own  way. Fearless, and strong. A theocrat, yet a great administrator. A strong campaigner, who loved to win territories, making Mughal empire most extensive in entire history.

But, what happened in Deccan ruined almost entire second half of his life. The man who never tasted failure, could not fathom the thought of losing in a place, he had excelled earlier. A disciplined mighty strongly visioned king with a religious temperament, halted by a just-another-man, who claimed himself a ‘messiah’ of people. Diamond-studded crown against home-spun turbans.

Marathas were a bunch of commoners, with a poorly composed yet a strong organisation. Their war were unconventional with nightly raids and ambushes, which a conventional political warrior failed to understand. Shivaji was termed an anarchist, a disturber of peace for entire Deccan by Aurangzeb. The mountain rat as they termed him, and lampooned him. Shivaji, in whatever capacity he had, secured the hearts of people of Deccan. He instilled faith in himself, door-by-door, people-by-people. You may fight an organised army, but there was none. How Guerrilla warfare originated is a mystery, but Aurangzeb tasted it, and it remains a communist, naxal or commoner warfare style till now.

Shivaji believed himself a ‘hero’, while Mughals snubbed him off as ‘small cog in big wheel’. He was arrested and pardoned, attended and ignored, fought and left off. But, the man was rising in background, challenging the mighty empire. He created issues out of nowhere, gaining faith of people. He became a Hindu messiah to rival a muslim emperor, and a maratha pride to instill immense faith in himself. A rebel with a difference. An anarchist, a warlord who transformed himself into a great king with diplomatic vision. His own bunch of traitors couldn’t stop him, rather he indeed halted the Mughal Ashwamedha.