Vol. 75 No. 38 & 39 What Swaraj Meant To Gandhi – October .

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Established 1946Pages 20Vol. 75 No. 38 & 39October 11-18, 2020Combine IssueGandhi’s Swadeshi and OurCivilisational PandemicSudhir ChandraFrom Khairlanji to Hathras, RapeStory Repeats Itself for Dalit WomenSmruti KoppikarHathras Rape – Three PoemsThe Move Towards a De FactoUnitary StatePrabhat PatnaikOpen Letter to the Chief MinisterOf Uttar PradeshInternationalism or ExtinctionNoam ChomskyJulian Assange’s ExtraditionHearing: The Only Just OutcomeIs His FreedomMargaret FlowersUS Refuses to Recognize Cuba’sMedical Efforts As it Will ShowSocialist System WorksDaniel KovalikEditor : G. G. ParikhAssociate Editor : Neeraj JainManaging Editor : GuddiEditorial Board :B. Vivekanandan, Qurban Ali,Anil Nauriya, Sonal Shah,Amarendra Dhaneshwar,Sandeep PandeyD-15, Ganesh Prasad,Naushir Bharucha Marg,Mumbai - 400 007.Email : 1Price : Rupees FiveWhat Swaraj Meant to Gandhi –and Why the Government Wants to Burythat Vision of FreedomApoorvanandGandhi is past 150 this week.He had wanted to live for 125 years,only to lose the appetite for life inhis last years. On the occasion of his79th birthday , which was to be hislast, a well-wisher wrote, “ MayI suggest that the present situationshould not depress you?”Gandhi did not agree with him.It was not a state of depressionhe was in. What he was sayingwas a plain fact. He was perhapsnot the fittest instrument to carryout the divine purpose. Perhaps amore courageous, more far-seeingperson was wanted for the finalpurpose.“If I had the impertinence todeclare my wish to live 125 years,I must have the humility, underchanged circumstances, openly toshed that wish,” he wrote. “I havedone no more, no less. This has notbeen done in a spirit of depression.The more apt term, perhaps, ishelplessness.”The fires of hatred raged aroundhim and he felt helpless, defeated byhis own people. His dearest dream ofHindu-Muslim unity lay shattered.The untruth of the claim of Ahimsahad bared itself and he had to admitthat what he and his country peoplehad practised was not non-violenceat all. What should he live for? Acountry or nation without the Britishbut defined by the desire to colonise“the other’’ was not a land he wouldhave wished to live in.An innate egalitarianismGandhi had nothing against theBritish. He had in fact wept whenhe learnt that London was bombedby the Germans. London had shapedhim. It had taken him to the Gitaand it was here that he understoodthat vegetarianism was not only amatter of faith, there was a scientificbasis to it too. He internalised thepoetry of the Bible and developed aunique religious frame in which theSermon on the Mount could shareplace with the Gita. What made youtruly civilised was your striving andability to make the other feel equalto you and feel confident to keep herhead high in your presence.London schooled Gandhiin the ideals of hospitality andneighbourliness. A true nation wasone where the strangers felt welcomeand safe. His understanding ofChristianity make him think about

2the value of suffering for one’s causeand also the value of service.He welcomed them to live in anindependent India as equals. What hedespised was the claim of superiorityand civilisational arrogance of theBritish and the justification of theirdomination in the name of civilising“inferior’’ masses. He, one of theirsubjects rebuked them for being unChristian and claimed the right toteach them true Christianity withoutleaving Hinduism.Gandhi felt responsible for thereligion he was born into. It waseasy to leave it and find a morecomfortable abode in some otherreligion. He could have become aMuslim and a Christian or a Sikh.But to continue to live with theimperfectness of your religion andconstantly fight with it requires amettle only Gandhi had. His religionhad some role in making him and healso had a duty to make it human. So,he imagined a different Hinduismand made it a persuasive case.We seldom care to think about hisinsistence that for him Ram was afictional character, an imaginationand Gita a poetic text. He tried tolive religion like poetry. Poetryfrees the reader and gives her or himthe power to interpret. Similarly anation has to be like a poem, a longunfinished poem.The concept of Vaishnav Jan,one who feels the pain of the otheris not a novel idea of Gandhi but tomake it a political project to worktowards making a nation of suchVaishnav Jan was a unique Gandhianinvention. The otherness must neverbe obliterated. The temptation toteach others the ‘true path’ must beresisted.The structures of dominance,Gandhi knew and realised after hisLondon days were not only imposedJANATA, October 11-18, 2020by the Europeans on India. Thestructures of internal colonialismswere taken as natural and the makingof providence. Caste was one suchstructure of dominance whichbred violence and normalised theideology of slavery. When you turnothers into your slaves, you do notmind living as slaves when facedwith a more powerful force. Thedominant castes that lorded overthe “lower” castes readily prostratedbefore the colonial sahibs and theirdisciplinary structures. It is thisideology of high and low which hasto be opposed.Driven by justiceSo, Gandhi made it his missionto fight for the rights of the mostdispossessed of his land, those whoare officially listed as the scheduledcastes and tribes. He called themthe true people of Hari and said thatthose who call themselves Savarnado not qualify to be given this title.Gandhi was hated for this fight. Hewas abused, attacked and finallykilled. It is a French feminist HeleneCixous who understands this hatredagainst Gandhi which ultimatelytook his life.“I imagine you believe thathe was for the most part adored;in fact he was hated and he is stillhated today,” she wrote. “Hatred isstill alive in India and he died of it.Those who were for mostly fromthose what is called the scheduledcastes, those who belonged to thegutters with whom he had sided. Yethe did not ask anything of anyone;he simply went his own way But the simple fact that he livedaccording to his own law—whichwas ascetic and demanding ofhimself was something people couldnot tolerate.”It was not generosity but justicewhich drove Gandhi. Colonialismwas unjust, hence immoral. Castecould not thought about withoutthinking about the dominant anddominated. It was unjust andunethical.The ideas of justice and theprimacy of the individual form thebedrock of the Gandhian world view.It was “swa’’, self, that is supreme.No power could be allowed tocolonise this “swa”.Striving for swarajSwaraj for Gandhi was notfreedom from the British. He said,very clearly, “Real swaraj will come,not by the acquisition of authorityby a few, but by the acquisitionof the capacity by all to resistauthority when it is abused. In otherwords, swaraj is to be attained byeducating the masses to a sense oftheir capacity to regulate and controlauthority.”The capacity to resist authorityand to say no when it oversteps itslimits must be retained and renewed.It is this definition of swarajthe government wants to bury.This definition is under severe stressand needs to be recalled when wemarked his birth anniversary onOctober 2:“It has been said that Indianswaraj will be the rule of themajority community, i.e., theHindus. There could not be agreater mistake than that. If itwere to be true, I for one wouldrefuse to call it swaraj and wouldfight it with all the strength atmy command, for to me HindSwaraj is the rule of all people,is the rule of justice. Whether,under rule, the ministers wereHindus or Musalmans or Sikhsand whether legislatures wereexclusively filled by the Hindus

JANATA, October 11-18, 2020or Musalmans or any othercommunity, they would have todo even-handed justice.”“Even handed justice” is whathe expected from the India he3helped take shape. It is this whichis being denied by all organsof the state today. If we fail tostruggle to recover this dreamof swaraj, we lose the right toremember Gandhi.(Apoorvanand teaches Hindi atDelhi University. Article courtesy:Scroll.in.)Gandhi’s Swadeshi and Our Civilisational PandemicSudhir ChandraExceptions apart, ritual biannual remembrance of Gandhi isall that is left of him in our lives. Thisis but a continuation of his periodicrejection during his own lifetime.This rejection was particularlypronounced towards the end of hislife, and he was aware of it. For ourpart, we as a people let the fact lieburied under our protestations of hisgreatness.Remembering him on hisbirthday, let us begin by reflectingon what he said on the only October2 that he witnessed in IndependentIndia:Indeed today is my birthday .This is for me a day of mourning.I am still lying around alive.I am surprised at this, evenashamed that I am the sameperson who once had crores ofpeople hanging on to every wordof his. But today no one heedsme at all. If I say, do this, peoplesay, no, we will not . Where inthis situation is there any placefor me in Hindustan, and whatwill I do by remaining alive init? Today the desire to live up to125 years has left me, even 100years or 90 years. I have enteredmy 79th year today, but eventhat hurts.*This, he knew, was tragic. Tragicnot for himself, but for humankind,dukhi jagat as he would say. Justthree-and-a-half months before hewas killed, he said:I will be gone saying what I amsaying, but one day people willremember that what this poorman said, that alone was right.*That alone is right. And ‘that’includes many things. I shall staywith one of those things which,today, demand urgent consideration.It was more than a hundred yearsago that Gandhi, in his Hind Swaraj,first articulated his fears about theself-destructive character of moderncivilisation and proposed a radicalalternative to it. As we writhe underthe COVID-19 crisis, large numbersof us can see that history has sinceinexorably realised Gandhi’s fears.We are seized by a civilisationaldisaster.But the general tendency still isto see the disaster as unprecedented,unexpected, even unimaginable.That induces two illusions. One, thisis a natural disaster. Two, the solutionlies in greater control over Nature.That control, as always, science willensure for us. It will bring a vaccine,hopefully even a cure, rendering thevirus ineffectual. As victims of whatGandhi called modern civilisation’s‘tyranny of temptation’, these peoplewill not see that the solution is theproblem. That, like most ‘natural’disasters, which now erupt withincreasing frequency, COVID-19is a by-product of the never-endingendeavour to conquer Nature.Gandhi has explained why theywill not see the obvious:Those who are intoxicated bymodern civilisation are not likelyto write against it . A manwhilst he is dreaming, believesin his dream; he is undeceivedonly when he is awakened fromhis sleep. What we usuallyread are the works of defendersof modern civilisation, whichundoubtedly claims among itsvotaries very brilliant and evensome very good men. Theirwritings hypnotise us. And so,one by one, we are drawn intothe vortex.Gandhi offered an alternativeto this irredeemably ruinouscivilisation. At the heart of thisalternative civilisation is swadeshi:“that spirit in us which restricts us tothe use and service of our immediatesurroundings to the exclusion ofthe more remote.” Translated intoaction, he explained, it would mean:“In the domain of politics,I should make use of theindigenous institutions andserve them by curing them oftheir proved defects. In that ofeconomics, I should use onlythings that are produced by myimmediate neighbours and servethose industries by making themefficient and complete wherethey might be found wanting.”If “reduced to practice,” heaffirmed, swadeshi would “lead tothe millennium.” His dream wasthat free India would usher in that

4millennium by adopting swadeshiand inspiring the rest of the world tofollow its example. That is the wayto save humankind from collectivedestruction.For long has Gandhi’s swadeshiremained misunderstood, causingit to be at the same time celebratedand reviled. It has been – thanks toa misleading narrow understandingof the word desh – linked with thecountry and, by extension, withthe nation. As a sequel, dependingon how one views nationalism,swadeshi is as fatuously embracedas it is spurned.This tendency is facilitatedby the promiscuous utilisation ofnationalism and globalisation soas to make the best of both worlds.Along with the arrogance of being avishwa guru, a particularly insidiousillustration of this comes in the callfor atmanirbhar Bharat with itsvacuous coupling of the local andthe global.Though Gandhi is not overtlyinvoked, there is in this strangemelange a visceral appeal to hisswadeshi. But, in its spirit and intent,it is a violation not just of Gandhi’sswadeshi but of everything hestands for. Gandhi does want Indiato follow swadeshi and inspire therest of the world to follow suit, sothat humans may live happily bybeing at peace with other humansand with Nature. But that entails nogrand entitlement. His swadeshi isnot about self-reliant Bharat. It isabout self-reliant individuals. For itis these individuals who constituteBharat. The essence of swadeshiis that “whatever is essential forhuman life should be individuallycontrolled.”In the civilisation envisagedby Gandhi, the village would beJANATA, October 11-18, 2020the basic unit of organised humanexistence. “I believe,” he wrote in hisletter of October 5, 1945, to Nehru,“that if India, and through India therest of the world as well, is to attainreal freedom, then sooner or laterwe would have to live in villages –in humble dwellings, not in palatialmansions. It is simply not possiblefor millions of city dwellers to livein mansions happily and peacefully,nor by killing one another.”Lest he be misunderstood,Gandhi clarified:“If you think that I am referringto the village of today you willnot be able to comprehendwhat I am saying. The villageof my conception exists in myimagination as of now . In thevillage of my imagination, thevillager will not be inert – he willexemplify pure consciousness.He will not lead his life like ananimal, in squalid darkness. Menand women will live freely andhave the confidence to face theentire world. There will be nocholera, plague, or smallpox.Life will neither be slothfulnor luxurious for anybody.Physical labour will be a mustfor everybody.”Gandhi, then, proceeded to saysomething which deserves particularattention. It will disabuse thosewho – reading the Hind Swaraj as afrozen text and missing the organicnature of Gandhi’s thinking – clingto the belief that he was opposed tomechanisation. He wrote:“Along with all this I canconceive of many things thatwould be built on a large scale:maybe railways as well as postand telegraph offices. Whatthere will or will not be I can’tsay, nor do I care. If I am ableto establish the essential idea,the things for our future wellbeing will follow from it. Butif I forsake the essential idea, Iforsake everything.” *The civilisational diseaseThe disease that Gandhi –borrowing from Edward Carpenter’sCivilization: Its Cause and Cure– saw in modern civilisation morethan a hundred years ago has sincebecome terminal. Still, convenientblinkers continue to mar people’svision. The impossibility of humbledwellings and palatial mansionscoexisting peacefully should nothave escaped anyone after theexperience of COVID-19. It does.Even after months of the so-calledlockdown, not many have quiteunderstood that, except for thesuper-rich and the better off amongthe middle classes, it simply meantan impossible situation for the rest,which means the overwhelmingmajority of Indians. The selfquarantine that the lockdown wasmeant to ensure, its prerequisiteof social and physical distancingwas simply unavailable to them.What, and for whom, have theybeen paying this enormous price?For whom is their immeasurablesuffering?The forced reverse exodus duringthe lockdown should have served todemonstrate the indispensability ofvillages. It has, instead, resulted incoercive legislative measures whichare designed to sacrifice the localto the global, individual men andwomen to corporate interests. Gandhidreamt of individuals – men as wellas women – who would exemplifypure consciousness – shuddhachaitanya – and live freely. Thesemeasures reduce individual men and

JANATA, October 11-18, 2020women into helpless instruments ofa fake atmanirbhar Bharat.Like never before, the COVID-19crisis has made imperative the severelimiting of man’s violence againstNature and against fellow humanbeings. It has also, by the sametoken, underlined, like never before,the urgent need for an alternative,like Gandhi’s, to the civilisation ofwhich COVID-19 is an essentialfruit.That precisely is what will nothappen. Never in human historyhas the rightness and justice ofsomething by itself been the reasonfor its realisation. Somethingadditional, too, is required. This isthe centenary year of the historicNon-Cooperation Movement. Thatwas when Gandhi taught Indians thattheir fear was the basis of Britain’srule over them. The moment they gotrid of that fear and learnt to say ‘no’,British rule would be over. They, hefamously said, India would haveswaraj within a year.The root of our enslavement tomodern civilisation is our greed.There is no freedom – no future –unless we manage to overcome thisgreed. Unless we say ‘no’ to thetyranny of temptation. Otherwise,a solution that requires greatercontrol over Nature and makes lifeso much more ‘fun’ will continue totrump one that requires control overourselves and our fun.*Translated from the Hindioriginal by Chitra Padmanabhan.[Sudhir Chandra is the author of TheOppressive Present: Literature andSocial Consciousness in ColonialIndia and Gandhi: An ImpossiblePossibility (both published byRoutledge). Article courtesy: TheWire.]5From Khairlanji to Hathras, Rape StoryRepeats Itself for Dalit WomenSmruti KoppikarThe visceral screams of fear andpain, the sense of utter powerlessness,the dread of ominous threats comingtrue, the sheer brutality—all of itmust have been the same for the19-year-old who was violated inBoolgarhi village in Hathras, UttarPradesh as for 17-year-old PriyankaBhotmange and her mother Surekhain Khairlanji village, Maharashtra.The two incidents of alleged gangrape and murder of Dalit women areseparated by 14 long years, duringwhich India’s collective conscienceand sensitivity to such crimeswas supposedly sharpened by theNirbhaya case, but the arc of safetyand security does not bend any moretowards women—especially Dalitwomen—now than it did in 2006.On the contrary, crimes against Dalitwomen, especially assault and rape,have increased manifold.After the Bhotmange women’smutilated bodies were fished outof a canal in Khairlanji, Bhandaradistrict in Maharashtra, along withviolated bodies of Priyanka’s twoteenage brothers, on September29, 2006, it took public outrage,mainly by Dalit organisations, forthe then Maharashtra governmentto crank up action. The outrage alsostirred Mumbai and Delhi’s mediatowards covering the horror thathad unfolded that evening. In theserespects too, not much changed inthe past 14 years.Maharashtra’s then HomeMinister had expressed doubts thatthe victims may have been Maoists.In the Hathras case, Uttar Pradeshofficials were crass. They initiallydenied the incident, then called it“fake news”, and displayed theirmost impervious side, making thebrutalised 19-year-old lie on a benchunder the blazing sun, sending heronly to a local hospital despitegrievous injuries, taking her toDelhi only after she turned critical,according to her family. If this wasnot enough, they burned her bodyafter locking up her family in theirhome in the middle of the night andadmonishing them “aap se bhi kuchgalatiyan hui hai”.Dalit women live with littledignity, it seems they must diewithout dignity too. From Khairlanjito Hathras lie lakhs of stories—manyof them corpses—of brutalisedwomen, especially Dalit and tribalwomen, all of whom bore the bruntof toxic masculinity along withge

Oct 11, 2020 · What Swaraj Meant to Gandhi – and Why the Government Wants to Bury that Vision of Freedom Apoorvanand Gandhi’s Swadeshi and Our Civilisational Pandemic Sudhir Chandra From Khairlanji to Hathras, Rape Story Repeats Itself for Dalit Women Smruti Koppikar Hathras Rape – Three Poems