By Meseret Carver,
Protesters flooded the unveiling of a Gandhi statue from the Indian Government in Central Park on Oct. 3. These protesters were all part of religious groups that became minorities in Independent India after the Gandhi-lead revolution. This response is unjustified.
To these protesters, Gandhi is not a national hero who revolutionized nonviolent protests, but rather a malicious Hindu who advocated violence against the minorities of India. However, these protesters are strikingly wrong. Gandhi was an incredible world leader and although the rise of the revolution was due to his leadership, it is not pragmatic to blame an incredibly humane soul for the wrongdoings of his followers.
Although there was minor violence (compared to other revolutions) toward the British government and internally among the religions of India, Gandhi did not encourage this behavior; he continuously preached against the venomous acts of hatred that pollute one’s heart. As Gandhi once stated, getting even with antagonism by following will do no good because “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
It’s important to note that amid these protesters were Sikhs who should feel sour towards the Indian government, but not towards Gandhi. After the assassination of Gandhi in 1948 and the independence of India, minority Sikhs living in Northern India, Punjab, wanted self-rule. This plea was put down by the Indian government, instead elected a Hindu leader (Jawaharlal Nehru), with the use of violence.
After the revolution, different minorities in India migrated to areas where they would be within the majority. For example, Muslims often moved to West or East Pakistan while Hindus moved to central India. The competition for control of India has heightened since the revolution; however, these issues are not a direct result of Gandhi’s preaching. Rather, they are a new set of issues that have risen from the ashes of the revolution.
Gandhi’s message was not to separate the people of India, but to unite them, and to campaign for respect for all. The fighting off of these religions does not reflect his beliefs or his aspirations for the future of his homeland. Therefore, it is unjustified for these Davis protesters to blame Gandhi, a symbol of nonviolence and benevolence, for their dissatisfaction towards the Indian government.