Communal riots date back to the ancient times in the history of India. Hindu-Muslims riots began during the medieval period. And since then the travesty has been unabated – with varying degrees of terror and its aftermath.

And that is a major reason among some defining elements due to which India is still not among the most forward nations in the world – in spite of being the world’s largest democracy.

In fact, India’s independence, its partition and the birth of Pakistan in 1947 saw the worst Hindu-Muslim riots in India – unparalleled so far then – a massacre that remains unparalleled still.

And these riots that preceded and followed India’s independence and Pakistan’s birth tell why Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was revered as the ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Bapu’ – the ascetic, the sage, the father figure.

Yes, there are varying accounts and there are historical records and claims about what happened to the Hindu-Muslim riots, especially the most heinous of them in Noakhali in Bengal where the Mahatma camped for around four months touring villages to calm down tempers.

We know, on the whole, the warring factions, that then included the whole population of an aspiring Pakistan and an equally sizeable chunk in India could never be reconciled and one nation became two and ultimately three in 1971.

But one fact is indisputable clear – that – the Mahatma did calm down the tempers there. Yes, he could not bring the warring factions to the final solution of reconciliation but he stopped something that could easily have become one of the worst human massacres in the history of civilizations.

And we know that is a rare feat – in fact an unparalleled sentiment he commanded. Hindu-Muslim riots have continued even in the independent India – but right from its beginnings in the medieval India – there never was a person like the Mahatma who could stand among those ready to kill and be killed to ask them to stop and in fact convinced them to do so. And there will no else like him in that sense we can say. Yes, he was the Mahatma who did this unthinkable job because history again tells us that the people blinded by faith refuse to listen to anyone. 

These are difficult times. Bapu was questioned even then. But now is the time when history is being worked upon. Ideologies are clashing. And we need our Mahatma – his thoughts, his teachings, his vision, and the spirit that he embodied. India, in fact, always needed it. And now is the time when the need is desperate. Now is the time when we need to reach out to say yes he was the Mahatma who set us on the path to independence and the best tribute to him would be to be make an India where we all would be ‘really free souls’. 


October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Mahatma Gandhi will always remain great because he was one among us – and he will always remain ‘the one’ among us.

And for that reason – and for that reason alone – October 2 will remain the universal day of humanity – not just in India – but across the world.

And the world is celebrating this spirit – the UN has declared October 2 – the birth anniversary of the Mahatma – as the ‘International Day of Non-Violence’.

The movement was initiated in 2004 and the UN had adopted it in 2007. The UN page on the day says – “The International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.”

Yes, non-violence is the only universal principle that can guide the humankind to an egalitarian world – where each human life has same scalability.

And non-violence is the only guiding principle that can ensure equal distribution of opportunities to each human life.

The Mahatma will always remain great because we know the world, in spite of realizing the ‘inevitability’ of non-violence, has failed to build a ‘humanitarian world’.

History of human civilization is replete with violence – men killing men. The world is still plagued with ‘man-created’ violence in many parts of the world.

The modern day world – with its contemporary times – is best chance for humanity to aspire for a world of ‘universal humanity’ – and that world can only be built by eradicating wars and other forms of terror.

But, in the prevailing geopolitical circumstances, that looks a ‘far-fetched’, hypothetical concept.

Well, when the Mahatma had started practicing non-violence, first in South Africa and then in India, to oppose, and then to uproot the mighty British Empire, people had dismissed him first. Gandhi used to be a subject of mock initially.

And we all know the might of ‘Satyagraha-non-violence’ today.

It was the might of ‘Satyagraha’ only that could ‘successfully’ take on the might of British Empire. We recently witnessed this ‘might’ again – not just in India – but in many parts of the world. The underlying theme of every mass protest in the recent history – the global ‘Occupy’ movement, the Arab Spring, anti-corruption movements of India and Pakistan, universalization of Guy Fawkes masks as the symbol of mass protests – has been the principle of non-violence.

Strengthening democracies and minimizing wars are the basic needs of the day – and non-violence is the basic tenet, the guiding conscience behind every such thought process.

And life the Mahatma is its best manifestation – and a robustly functional Indian democracy is the best tribute to him.

The Mahatma

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


There is a heightened competition on to own the Mahatma, the brand ‘Gandhi’.

There is one group, having a huge resurgence in Indian politics taking the centrestage of governance and heading the first majority government in the country in 30 years, that is looking to make the crux of a phase of Indian history contemporary, by bypassing the period of the Indian political history when the ‘Gandhi’ word also came to be associated with the first political family of India. The resurgent group wants to take away the ‘Gandhi’ word from this political legacy, in order to own it, or in order to make it the central tool of its political packaging.

The other group that has traditionally claimed to own ‘Gandhi’ is not going to let it be so. This group that claims to own the ‘Gandhi’ surname in the name of the ideological commitment to the Gandhian thoughts failed to follow the path laid by the Mahatma.

Likewise, even the resurgent group cannot claim to follow the path of the Mahatma.

But, both main political groups, Bhartiya Janata Party and Indian National Congress, have locked horns in owning the word ‘Gandhi’, in claiming the brand ‘Gandhi ‘associated with the Mahatma.

It was again on full display today, October 2, the birth anniversary of the Mahatma, the day that is also the birth anniversary of another great Indian, freedom fighter, Gandhian and former prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

But no one can own them. The rush to own the icons like Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi or Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is futile. They are of humanity. Their ideals, their values speak to the humanity. They speak for the humanity.

Great Indian icons like the Swami and the Mahatma are now the universal icons. India, the world over, is recognized by their names.

Many who don’t know much about India know much more about the Mahatma. It can be said beyond doubt that no Indian can do what a British, Sir Richard Attenborough, did with his ‘Gandhi’ in 1982, and what an English actor did by assimilating the Mahatma so deeply that it is beyond imagination to think even if there can be anyone else to play the Mahatma on screen than Sir Ben Kingsley.

Attenborough’s Gandhi is still and will remain the first introduction to the teachings and the life of the Mahatma for many Indians as well as the people and generations the world over. Unfortunately, the master storyteller, Sir Attenborough, is no more with us. This is the first year of watching ‘Gandhi’ when he is not with the humanity.

No political party or ideology can own the Mahatma. He is a universal brand, a brand that speaks for the greatest contemporary political visionary. A universal brand that is becoming more and more relevant for the world populations with increasing threats of terrorism and extremism.

Thankfully, there is no rush to claim Lal Bahadur Shastri so far, though being known as the hero of the India-Pakistan was of 1965 that India won during his terms as the prime minister. That makes him a potential choice. Yes, like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he was also a Congress member. But he was first a Gandhian and then a Nehruvian socialist. Also, his humble background, his contribution to the Indian freedom struggle and a simple life (instalments of his car were still due when he died while still in office) place him above the party politics for most of the Indians. His slogan Jai Jawan Jai Kisan (Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer) still reverberates in Indian psyche.

He was one of the few great pre-Independence Indians who remained the same person even after two decades of experiencing being in power in country’s most powerful power citadels. Let’s see when he comes on the radar.

Yes, but it is always good and beneficial for the social structures when political outfits try to align them with the Mahatma or other Greats, for doing so would require following the Gandhian thoughts and the Gandhian path, if the intent is honest.

And humanity is at the core of the Gandhian thoughts.

Tribute to the greats on their birth anniversaries.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Going by the political reality of today’s India, there is nothing much to write on what the Mahatma fought for, as yet another day of customary, shallow tributes to him comes and go.

It would be harsh to say but many more know October 2 is Gandhi Jayanti or the birth anniversary of the Mahatma (also known as Bapu, also known as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) because it is a public holiday and not because it is a day, for us, to revisit the vision and ideals outlined by the Mahatma for his country and for his countrymen and to reaffirm our faith, once again, in those ideals.

It can be said, without any doubt, in the context of the Indianness of India of the day, that those who know October 2 is Mahatma Gandhi birth anniversary would not be aware that January 30 is his death anniversary, the day he was assassinated by a fanatic, his own countryman, because it is not a public holiday.

And it sums up what, we as a nation, have made of probably the greatest person in the modern world history, the proponent of the most profound political and social wisdom, of the infinite power of non-violence, the relevance of which is being felt increasingly with an increasingly chaotic global geopolitical order midst increasing theaters of war in different parts of many countries including India.

A Father of a nation forgotten by the people whom he entrusted to care for his beloved countrymen!

The visionary in the Mahatma was worried about how his country would handle the hard-won freedom in the days to come. Yes, it was a moment to celebrate and the whole nation was rightly into the mood but the situations when India got its Independence on August 15, 1947 were extremely difficult with partition-induced religious riots burning the soul of humanity.

Going by the historical records, on August 15, 1947, the Mahatma was in Calcutta, to heal that burning soul, working desperately to put and end to the Hindu-Muslim bloodbath. Yes, he was elated for the sovereign status of the country but he was equally worried on how to strengthen this sovereign status. An article by Ramchandra Guha quotes his words on Independence in days following the declaration on August 15, 1947. Some of them reflect how true his worries were if we see them in today’s context:

‘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’ – to the Bengal ministers seeking his blessings

The power is a nasty thing. Yes, it is. Power has become a political to exploit those very countrymen whom the Mahatma fought to get liberated.

You have to remain ever wakeful on that seat – and we have politicians including the prime minister who speak selectively, who react at will or don’t react at all, even if the public outrage flows in the streets.

Truthful, humble and forbearing – equally the antonyms of the traits that describe the political class of the day

But now there will be no end to your being tested – where is the accountability? There are multiple of examples. The most recent one is the Uttarakhand disaster. The scale of disaster was a man-made phenomenon with administrative lapses at every step aggravating the loss. Yet, no accountability was fixed. Family is all that matters today. Where is the need to prove worth? No need to be tested! No one believes in such values (or the Gandhian values) in the days of dynasty politics.

Do not fall a prey to the lure of wealth. May God help you! You are there to serve the villages and the poor’ – Governance has become the endless saga of political and bureaucratic corruption. Political corruption and its collusion with bureaucrats has become a global talking point. Two former chief-ministers of Bihar were jailed today, a day after the Mahatma’s birth anniversary, under corruption charges. Many members of the legislative bodies are having serious criminal and financial fraud cases against them.

See! The words that conveyed his worries in 1947 – are playing out in the absurd political theatre of the day! And the irony is it is not some work of absurdist fiction!

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –