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Gopalkrishna Gandhi: ‘We Must Stamp Out Hatred With Harmony’

Gopalkrishna Gandhi accepted the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Puraskar on 20 August. Here’s the transcript of his speech.

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(Gopalkrishna Gandhi accepted the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Puraskar on 20 August 2018. This is his acceptance speech.)

Hum aaj aise insaan ki yaad mein yahan jama hue hain, jisne bachpan se sarkar ke shamianon ko jaana tha, adhikaar ki qanat ko. Lekin voh insaan kuchh apne mein hi rehta tha aur uss hi apnepan ki vajah se voh raj ki tang chhaton ko laanghte hue, khule aasman mein ud raha tha.

Usne satta ki kothiyon ko dhoondha nahin; badal uske ghar the. Kursi ki taraf ghum kar dekha nahin usne sitaaron ki godi mein voh palta tha. Apni ardhangini ke saath usne chandni ki orhni buni thi. Par taqdeer ne usko dharti me le aana chaaha, usko takht sonpaa, taj pahnaya. Saath hi desh ke liye  ek badi aadhunik, gatishil tasveer di, aur desh-vasiyon ke liye –  sadbhavana.  Rajiv Gandhi ke liye sadbhavana koyi rajnitik tarqeeb nahin thi. Vah koyi yukti ya ran-neeti nahin thi. Vah unke manobhav mein thi, unki nasl mein, unki sifat mein thi.

Rajneeti mein rehte hue virodh ki unko pehchan hui virodh ka samna kiya aur khud bhi virodh kiya par dushmani se veh dur rahe. Virodh ek baat hoti hai, dushmani ek aur. Visammati dissent ek baat hoti hai, desh-droh ek aur. Dushmani voh karte hain jo pyaar mein apna mauqa dekhte hain, uss se sauda karte hain – tu aa mere sath, tu hat mujh se parey. Dosti voh nibhaate hein jo sahaj pyaar mein qudrat dekhte hain, insaniyat dekhte hain, pyar ki taqseem nahin, pyar ka gunan, uska zarb karte hein.

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What Kind of Harmony Should we Seek?

Sadbhavana ka gahra matlab hai Angrezi mein, harmony.

But what kind of harmony ? We are now past the platitudes of harmony, the clichés of sadbhavana. Today harmony – sadbhavana – is much more than aapas mein sab bhai-bhai. That old thought is well known to every Indian. Sur milaane hain humein aaj bhi. Lekin kaise aur kaunse sur ? Haan mein haan milaane vale sur nahin. Ji-huzoori, thakur-suhati ke sur nahin. ‘Ji-haan, ji-bilkul’, vaale darr ke sur mein . Darr se dabey hue komal gandhar mein nahin. Par un svaron mein jo achhe ko achha kehne mein komal hon, bure ko bura kehne mein tivra hon.

Today harmony does not, cannot mean acquiescing with power. Harmony cannot come to terms with the discordant, the grating, the cacophonous. It must mean saying every now and then a word, a syllable, a note of truth to power, often arrogant power. And harmony must also mean taking the truth to the people who know it in their own way already and will tell you ‘Sajan re jhooth mat bolo khuda ke paas jana hai…’ There can be no greater harmony than in the notes of truth uttered without sanctimony but with courage.

Sadbhavana sikhaati hai: Jhoothe har jagah mein milenge, apnon mein bhi. Sachche har jagah milenge, bairon mein bhi. Agar apnon mein se koyi ghalat kaam kare to humein usko tokna chahiye. Agar bairon mein koi sahi kare to usko sarahna chahiye. Aur to aur khud se ghalati ho jaye, to us ko kubul kar, durust karna chahiye.
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‘Harmony Needs Non-Compromising Guts’

Gandhi, Nehru se yahi sikha hai humne. Jayaprakash Narayan se bhi. Yahi sadbhavana hai. Jab Jawaharlalji ka nidhaan hua, tub Rajaji jo unka virodh kar rahe the, boley: “He was the most civilised one of us”. Atalji ka diya hua tab ka sandesh sabse marmasparshi tha. “Daliton ka sahara chhoot gaya”, he said.

Sadbhavana asaan nahin. Uss mein bholapan nahin, badappan hai. Uska svabhiman uske imaan mein hai. Hindustan ki khoobi yahi hai ki usko yahan bahalaya ja sakta hai, vahan bahkaya ja sakta hai par uske nij ko, uske antas ko, uski atma ko koyi jhuthla nahin sakta. Uski Kashi mein fajar aur uske Banaras mein suprabhat hota hai. Vah Prayag ka istemal karta hai aur Ilahabad ka prayog – apni sadbhavana ki ek saans mein.

When Gandhi sang Ishwar-Allah tere naam, he was giving us the keys to harmony – spiritual, political, civilizational. And he was not doing that piously. He was doing that bravely, courting risk.

Uttering those words when bigotry was around in the shape of knives, bludgeons and bullets, required guts. So harmony also means guts – non-violent non-compromising guts in the fight on behalf of the weak, the assaulted, the ghettoized, the despised, the whipped, cuffed, kicked, lynched, the shot at. And harmony also means being together in the face of challenges as in natural disasters. The floods in Kerala have shaken us but they have also shown the power of spontaneous sadbhavana.

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The Need to Shed Our Egos

Likewise, terror, diabolically-driven, armed terror stuns us. The state moves reflexively to stop its destructive power. But so must we - civil society - respond by defeating terror’s divisive power, polarisation.

All who are opposed to zabardasti, to bigotry, to the cult of fear and hate, to centralization of power, to the nexus of big power and big money, need to work together.

That means shedding personal and institutional egos. The larger entity, be it a leader, a party or a community is expected to make the larger gesture. Obliging a friend by denying a sister or a brother is not easy. It is in fact painful.

But as Lal Bahadur Shastri once said: “Desh ke liye jab havan hota hai, tab bade haath ko badi aahuti deni padti hai”.

Accepting with humility and gratitude the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Puraskar, I envision the democratic parties and movements of India in the wisdom of their dynamism , harmonising their strengths to meet the challenge of harmony’s opposite – suspicion, bigotry, violence.

Nafrat ke zabar ka muqabila sadbhavana ke zarb se karna hai.

(Gopalkrishna Devdas Gandhi is a retired IAS officer and diplomat, who was the 22nd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to 2009. He is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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