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Saturday, April 13, 2024

India Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti: The Rule of Hindu Extremism in Gandhi’s India

Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary is being commemorated across India with rallies, cleanliness drives, and other events honoring his legacy. Meanwhile, opinion makers and activists question the absence of Gandhi’s vision in an India dominated by Hindu extremists.

India and the international community is commemorating the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, known as Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation. Gandhi was born today, 150 years ago, on 2nd October 1869.

Gandhi’s birthday is a major national holiday in India, known as the Gandhi Jayanti, commemorated with ceremonies and events honoring the great leader throughout India, alongside making prayers for peace.

Celebrating Gandhi

October 2nd has been declared as the International Day of Nonviolence by the United Nations to pay tribute to the memory of Gandhi and his message for peace. Gandhi was not born with the title of Mahatma, which loosely translates into a “great soul”. He earned this title in 1914, after enjoying an illustrious career as a lawyer, activist, writer, and politician.

Gandhi emerged as one of the most powerful leaders of the Indian nationalist movement, demand the ouster of the British government by staging a non-violence agitation movement. However, shortly after India’s independence, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, on 30th January 1948.

Gandhi’s nonviolence movement and his peaceful political maneuvering have inspired many world leaders and iconic movements across the world, including Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and many others.

The Narendra Modi-led BJP Indian government has announced plans to celebrate Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary with a great deal in order to spread his message. Indians across the country will participate in a “Fit Indian Plogging Run”, during which they will practice Gandhi’s message of cleanliness by ridding the streets of trash and litter.

A film festival has been organized in Mumbai, the Gandhi Panorama: International Festival of Films, running from October 2nd to 6th. The festival will showcase 11 films that are based on Gandhi and his message of peace.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi honored Mahatma Gandhi at the Indian Parliament, alongside other BJP leaders.

Indian Opposition leader and member of the Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi, led the Gandhi Sandesh Yatra, alongside thousands of his supporters.

Gandhi’s India or Godse’s?

Analysts and opinion makers have once again reminded New Delhi that the brutal and barbaric lockdown on the occupied valley of Kashmir is not in line with the principles and message of Mahatma Gandhi.

Iltija Mufti, tweeting from her mother Mehbooba Mufti’s account, put forward a serious dilemma for modern-day India. Mufti said, “As we celebrate Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary, we must ask ourselves if we are doing justice to his vision of India & commitment to human values, truth & ahimsa. At a time when ‘termites’ is a euphemism for Muslims & minorities, is this Gandhiji’s India or Godse’s India?”

Many across Twitter reminded Indians that the Hindu fanatic who had assassinated Gandhi was an RSS supporter, and the hate-fuelled ideology that has now taken over India is the culprit that took Gandhi’s life.


Indian analysts and journalists reminded their nation of the words of Gandhi with regards to Kashmir, and his vision for a united India that remains free of religious and ethnic differences.

Taking a jibe at Narendra Modi’s theatrics on Gandhi Jayanti, Rituparna Chatterjee, an independent Indian journalist remarked, “These words of “peace, harmony, and brotherhood” ring hollow with nearly two months of Kashmir’s lockdown, the forced silencing of millions of people, and your ministers speaking bigoted, exclusionary language. If you don’t live by Gandhi’s ideals, everything else is just photo-op.”

Ashok Swain, a Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden, observed that Mahatma Gandhi had once described the RSS as “a communal body with a totalitarian outlook.

Read more: Pakistan Stands with Kashmir: Gandhi & Nehru’s Secular India is dead

Swain tweeted, “In 1946, when a supporter praised RSS for its discipline & hard work, Gandhi had retorted, “But don’t forget even so had Hitler’s Nazis & the fascists under Mussolini.” Gandhi went on to describe the RSS as “a communal body with totalitarian outlook.”