Recently, India celebrated the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. He is known as the Father of the Nation. And we Indians have been taught that it was Mahatma Gandhi who brought us freedom from British rule. Sometimes, there is a debate between Subhash Chandra Bose and Gandhi, but nonetheless, we generally are habituated to owing our freedom to them. Are we on the right track if we continue to do this?
In his UNGA 2019 speech, Prime Minister Modi uttered a line, “In 2019, in the biggest election of the world, the biggest number of people have elected me to represent them at UNGA.” This statement is very crucial and has significant relations with the historical events of the country.
Before 1857, the East India Company was trying to expand its contractual agriculture base of the cultivation of indigo in India. They targeted stressed farmers, took them into a debt trap, then they went to the tribal populations and trapped them in their indigo exploitation plan; so on and so forth. It is significant to note that before the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, there took place a Blue Revolution which protested this very system, also called the raiyatwari system. The tribals could not face the British administration and thus, surrendered.
In 1857, Delhi was recaptured within five months by the British. On another note, Birsa Munda could not form the Munda Raj despite an equivocal trust placed in him by his community.
Why did this happen?
Because in all these events, one thing is common. And that is a limited participation of people. All these events created unrest for British rule but were not enough to collapse the administration and take over control. Hence, all of them were suppressed, sooner or later.
On the contrary, when Gandhi came into the picture, he first went across the nation and interacted with people. The buying of local leaders in the freedom struggle was ensured and hence the whole nation could be mobilised. In that condition, non-violence was a highly tactical weapon to gain moral high ground and cope up with the unavailability of weapons and losing a high number of lives due to the war.
But, keeping the authoritarian nature of Britishers in mind, it would not be unimaginable that they should kill Mahatma Gandhi. But, they couldn’t do it. Why? Because, the number of people with whom Gandhi connected was huge, and killing him would have simply created an uncontrollable violent situation, leading to an administrative collapse. This is the power of the people.
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlines the size of population which has mandated him, he actually makes the world count how many heads, ears, eyes, brains and bodies are speaking through this single person. It is the power of the people which surpasses any power in the world.
In India, we citizens are generally not very appreciative of our own contributions, or the development caused by our fellow citizens while we collectively carry a heavy power. We have been facilitated somehow to look up to power for everything and hence while appreciating great deeds and vast results, we are limited to appreciating only the faces of powerful positions.
The constitution itself gets empowered as and when we accept and give it to ourselves. Hence, being the source of power, the delegating authorities of power and the assessors of power, we must appreciate ourselves for our great work. It will inspire us and our fellow citizens to keep going. It will also help us realise that being a citizen means assuming the highest rank in a democracy, which brings with it the biggest responsibility.