People are naturally attracted to and have a yearning for the truth, as Jesus rightly said ‘the truth will set you free’. Guru Nanak travelled the world to spread the truth and his love of it. This fills me with a sense of duty that it is not enough for me to just to know the truth, or to live the truth, but also spread the truth to the furthest reaches for the benefit of all. In this age of globalisation, the battle to make the truth manifest has never been easier than it is now. The internet is becoming available even in the remotest parts of the world.
The greastest obstacale to truth is of course denial and propaganda. The 30th Anniversary of the Dehli pogroms has passed without much mention in the Indian or world press. India Today carried a piece on how Modi has announced a compensation package for victims. It was with bitter irony that I found the top of the page carrying a large jewellery advert featuring the Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan. In the days following Indira Gandhi’s assassination Bachchan appeared on TV inciting people to kill Sikhs, he also raised the slogan, ‘the bloodstains must reach the houses of those who killed Indira’. It is a sad state of affairs when people known to be guilty of heinous crimes not only avoid justice but can continue their high profile jobs as if nothing happened. This is the daily crisis that victims of the violence face, that the only official acknowledgment of what happened is buried in the pages of commissions whilst the guilty continue to run the country. In such circumstances there can be no forgiving or forgetting until justice has been served otherwise history will repeat itself; in fact it already has, the 2002 Gujarat pogrom where Chief Minister Narendra Modi (now Prime Minister Modi) has been accused of initiating and condoning the violence. In a world where the western leaders are queueing up to pay homage to Modi, where does one go for justice? Such situations can give feelings of helplessness in a world where corporate profit is the overriding motive and where justice finds few friends.
I started this article by saying that people have a yearning for the truth; a lie may sound good, it might be submerged in a lot of colourful looking propaganda but it is ultimately not what we want to see. The internet has created a level playing field, we must organise and mobilise against all acts that try to propagate the status quo in a sustained effort that tries to unite all Indians behind the truth. Whether it is Congress or BJP in power the political ideology pursued by both is Hindu fascism and they are only representative of the extremely wealthy. The ruling class have and continue to exploit the poor regardless of religion on a massive scale and are capable and willing to use Genocide if necessary to enforce that exploitation. The main instruments of information remain in their hands too. “He who controls the past controls the future” – this quote from Orwell’s novel coincidently titled ‘1984’ is the basis of the Indian History curriculum. By teaching students a few selective principles held dear by a few selective leaders and deemed important to the establishment, ensures that the net effect is that they learn nothing. History is told in a matter that arouses feelings of patriotism, leaving students with a sense of a debt that they owe India and its leaders. All human suffering that may exist in the country is blamed on the colonialism of the British even though they left over 60 years ago. The idolising of Gandhi naturally reinforces the idea that in times of great crisis we must look to some great soul to save us. It creates a sense of helplessness, an impotency among citizens; that good citizenship is not about about helping solve problems in your community but going to the voting booth every 5 years.
Our activism needs to be through the medium of education of the citizens of India. We need to express our truths in our poetry, theatre and film that ordinary Indians can relate to. When we have successfully rewritten the official history of India in a truthful manner and spread it to the masses, that is the point when we are ready for revolution. When teachers in the thousands start to teach their children this history, the ruling class will find it more and more difficult to justify their position of privilege. More and more will question what the Government ought to do for the poor. More and more will refuse when politicians try to recruit them for mob violence against their fellow citizens. More and more will stand up and question why when the economy is doing so well, children still go hungry. The weapons, money, control of information by the elite would be useless against a resolute population. For those that think this is an impossible task, we should draw inspiration from how Native Americans with meagre resources have brought about a wholesale change in the way Columbus is viewed by US citizens. Christopher Columbus had for many generations been seen as a national hero with Columbus Day being a national holiday. A small number of Native Americans met in 1990 with the objective of preventing the 1992 quincentennial celebrations of Columbus’s arrival to the Americas. Columbus was responsible for committing Genocide and enslaving the local population that greeted him with open arms and friendship. The traditional history books have only ever mentioned this in passing as if it was of no consequence, the focus being on his exploits as an ambitious explorer. He is no longer a national hero in the eyes of the people and his name is now quite rightly synonymous with Genocide evoking memories of personalities like General Pinochet, the late deposed Chilean dictator
We should not allow ourselves to get disheartened by the military might of the army and the corruption of the police. It must be remembered that superior military power on its own is no guarantee of victory, just look at Vietnam. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword; the US Government lost the propaganda war against its own citizens just as we must ensure the Indian ruling elite does not win its propaganda war against us. Todays wars are fought with words, to quote Sun Tzu “the height of skill is to win without fighting”.
Gandhi, Nehru and Bose are the national heroes of India and this is where the battle lies. The deep ideological differences between Bose and Gandhi are played down in the history books and India today represents the vision of Gandhi and Nehru. In his 1929 speech at the Lahore Students’ Conference, Bose made clear the sort of freedom he was fighting for: “This freedom implies not only emancipation from political bondage but also equal distribution of wealth, abolition of caste barriers and social inequities and destruction of communalism and religious intolerance. This is an ideal which may appear Utopian to hard-headed men and women — but this ideal alone can appease the hunger of the soul.” When the masses understand what Bose was fighting for, what we are fighting for, they will no longer regard 1947 as birth of freedom, but the transfer of power to a trojan horse – promising freedom but giving nothing, and at that instant in time the flames of the Indian Independence movement will be reignited.