As India remembers Mahatma Gandhi on his 143rd birth anniversary on October 2, it is extremely pertinent to recall what the Father of the Nation had said on August 15, 1947. Few know that he stayed away from the celebrations in Delhi on that day and he was in Kolkata.
As the ministers of the new government of West Bengal went to meet him to seek his blessings, a pensive Gandhi told them: “Today, you have worn on your heads a crown of thorns. The seat of power is a nasty thing. You have to remain ever wakeful on that seat. You have to be more truthful, more non-violent, more humble and more forbearing. You had been put to test during the British regime. But in a way it was no test at all. But now there will be no end to your being tested. Do not fall a prey to the lure of wealth. May God help you! You are there to serve the villages and the poor.”
Gandhiji was in pain and anguish. What he had feared 65 years ago and his warnings have proved to be so true today: Greed and corruption is all-pervasive in society. Elected representatives of the people and politicians are arrogant and lured by wealth only. They are far from being humane and no politicians bother to go to villages and serve the poor.
It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi: “Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.”
We would do well to remember this great Indian on his birthday if we only take heed of what he had said sixty five years ago. Indian democrats love to live in hope. But when will we follow Gandhi’s words in their true sense of the terms? When will we fulfill his dream India?