Flames of Fury

I ask my 6-year old niece, ‘Who is Gandhi?’ and she replies with a beaming smile ‘Why, he is the “Father of our Nation”…’and it really makes me wonder have we made Gandhi just a mere chapter for our children to memorize. Do we even remember his methods? Do we even remember what non-violence is? If we do, then why is opinion always voiced with violent uproars?? To make someone listen to you, all you have to do is tap him on the shoulder and not break his shoulder with a sledge-hammer. It is very obvious that we have forgotten the very foundations of this great nation of ours.


It was quite a shock to learn that on the 24th of May a gurudwara had been attacked in Vienna and had left the second in command of Sikh sect Dera Sachkhand, Sant Rama Nand, dead and its chief Niranjan Das seriously injured. What ensued these events is an even more painful tale- news of the attack triggered violence and arson in Punjab and Haryana leading to the declaration of curfew in some parts. Well, this reaction is obvious, isn’t it? Or is it? Maybe the fact is that we have become so accustomed to violence that arson seems the apparent solution to all our problems and worst of all- we expect burning and beating soon as we hear any disturbing news.


Another example: very recently the Railways decided to withdraw halts for various trains at Bihar’s Khusrupur station. And as soon as the news was made public on June 1, the mob torched coaches of three different trains, ransacked a station and uprooted rail lines at places. Alright, the arson provided the desired consequences but how can we be so naive to overlook the social costs involved. Isn’t it very clear even to the persons involved in burning that their act is so outrageous that they don’t even appear to be the victims thereafter.


If we open our eyes just a little bit, we will realize that there is one very pragmatic alternative way of making our voices heard- and yes this method has been empirically tried and tested. Non-violent demonstrations like hunger strikes and rallies are way better than burning whatever comes in the way. It is high time we thought that to express how hurt we are, we need not hurt others. Why destroy our country’s property when some Austrian may have murdered the religious guru? Why burn our country’s trains? Why tear apart the country’s railway tracks when it is all our property? Won’t we eventually end up paying for repairs in the form of taxes?


If even after all this, the slightest bit of doubt remains; if you still argue that violence provides quicker results and hence is the right option, consider this: Why have we never heard of one single man burning properties all by himself? Why is it always ‘the mob’? We have millions of examples of an individual on a hunger strike and not one example of an individual out on arson. If arson is the right choice, then why indulge in it only under the aegis of ‘the mob’? The solution is staring us in the eye and we still pretend to be blind. The solution is simple- think people!!! The problem with non-violence is not that it is too difficult to practise; the problem is that it is very convenient to forget that such a concept even exists.


Parul Punjabi

[Image source:http://religiousfreaks.com/UserFiles/Image/muslim.outrage.over.pope.benedict.2.jpg]