Prof Irfan Habib: Modi Govt has turned Gandhi into a sanitary inspector

Prof Irfan Habib, the famous historian was speaking at a lecture organised in Delhi on Monday, October 1 by the social organisation Sahmat on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth year

NH Photo by Vipin
NH Photo by Vipin
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Bhasha Singh

Professor Irfan Habib, a well known and internationally renowned historian for analysing Mahatma Gandhi’s role in nation building, said that the Modi Government has turned Mahatma Gandhi into a mere sanitary inspector. He was speaking in Delhi on Monday, October 1 during the lecture series organised by Sahmat on the occasion of 150th birth year of Mahatma Gandhi.

Commenting on the present political and social condition of the country, he said, “This is a fascist government and we can fight it only when we remember the fasting observed by Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948 for friendship between India and Pakistan and for the protection of minorities. It is very important to draw inspiration from this."

Irfan Habib, internationally known for his intensive study of Mahatma Gandhi's contribution in nation-building said Gandhi ji was a symbol of the friendship between India and Pakistan and he sacrificed his life for that. He said, "Gandhi was shot only because he wanted peace and amity between both the countries.”

Calling RSS-Hindu Mahasabha and the BJP the bearers of a thought process which resulted in Gandhi’s assassination, Irfan Habib said that after his assassination, when the then Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel wrote a letter to the RSS’s Golwarkar asking for an answer, Golwalkar did not say even a single word expressing regret over Gandhi’s murder

He said, “Their thinking was full of hatred then and it is even now. Today, the way hatred is being spread all over, religious rancour is being fuelled, it is scary. Increasingly India is being pushed towards becoming Pakistan. Where Pakistan has reached, India is also reaching there. The kind of hatred that is being incited against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, the same kind of hatred is being whipped up here in India against Dalits and Muslims.”

In his lecture on Mahatma Gandhi, Prof Habib discussed the ideological journey of Gandhi between Hind Swaraj and the Quit India Movement. He said that when Gandhi had conceived the idea of Hind Swaraj in the initial phase, it was a concept of a nation of olden times and gradually his vision of a nation expanded and took shape through his movements and it became more modern and inclusive. Gandhi’s movement became more vocal, sharp and strong on the issues of Muslims and Dalits. The concept of India as a nation lies in this journey. It is absolutely different from the BJP and the RSS’ concept of a nation.

Regarding the upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the challenges facing Indian democracy, Irfan Habib said that a very liberal perspective and an all-inclusive approach is required. He said, “The year 2019 will test our sanity and determination. We need to celebrate January 30 (anniversary of assassination of Mahatma Gandhi) in a completely new manner. This day should be remembered as the day of Gandhi’s sacrifice for the sake of peace and brotherhood.”

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