Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How India Is Assassinating Gandhi's Legacy

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

How India Is Assassinating Gandhi's Legacy

Article excerpt

On Jan. 30, 1948, my grandfather Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the great Indian leader and champion of nonviolence, fell to an assassin's bullets. Indian society has recently faced a sustained assault by people of the same ideological ilk as the man who fired those fatal shots.

India's drift away from Gandhi's ideals of nonviolence and respect for religious pluralism has been steady over the last few decades. However, events since the national election that made Narendra Modi in charge of the country last May have shown that what is now taking place is a brazen assassination of the Mahatma's legacy.

Matters have come to a point where Gandhi's assassin, Nathuram Godse, has been praised by a member of India's Parliament belonging to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A Hindu extremist organization planned to celebrate the assassination and install the assassin's statue in various parts of the country.

Prime Minister Modi - who since assuming office has both been accorded a warm welcome by President Obama and played host to him in India - was long banned from entering the United States. This was because of a horrific pogrom in 2002 that happened in the state of Gujarat (Gandhi's home province) while he was in charge.

Clearly, his electoral victory has emboldened supremacist groups across the country. This is because the Modi and the ruling party's ideological roots lie in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a vast ultranationalist outfit that positions itself as a service organization but seeks to dismantle India's secular polity in order to impose a Hindu state on India's religiously and ethnically diverse populace. (My grandfather's killer also belonged to this group.) The writings of the organization's ideologues, their sustained majoritarian and anti-minority rhetoric, and the policy positions of the outfit's political wing (the party currently governing India) have made this amply clear. …

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