The controversy of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Capitol and the independence of India and Pakistan

Mon, Sep 6, 2010 at 7:38 PM

The controversy of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the Capitol and the independence of India and Pakistan

  • August 4th, 2010 3:31 am PT

California State Capitol, Sacramento where a section of Indian Americans is planning Gandhi’s statue

Photo: Prem K Chumber

Independence Days of India and Pakistan are round the corner. The midnight of 14th & 15th August 1947 was set for the partition. Religious nationalism became the basis for the Muslim Pakistan and the Hindu India. The questions of 70 millions untouchables, and 40 millions Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians had no immediate answers. The only options for them were to accept the dominance of Islam in Pakistan, and Hinduism in India. Thus the citizenship of minorities in both the countries became handicapped to the majority’s dictatorship.
The latest research about the question of partition of India suggests that Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Lal Nehru had accepted the division of India in principle before the Indian National Congress actually declared it. But for Mahatma Gandhi, it was hard to publicly digest it since his name was associated with being an apostle of universal peace. His correspondence with Viceroy Lord Mountbatten retrieved recently testifies that Gandhi had accepted the partition though reluctantly. In the new revelations, Gandhi’s allegiance forHindu-Muslim unity becomes suspect. Historians are investigating the facts and circumstances of 1 million people losing their lives in riots in 1947. Whether leaders, on both sides did want it to happen regardless of their faith in non-violence and its effectiveness is an intriguing question?
Mahatma Gandhi never got the coveted Nobel Peace Prize. Though he was nominated forNobel Peace Prize five times in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 & 1948. Nobel committee cited different reasons each time. In 1937, Professor Jacob Worm-Muller found “sharp turns in his policies.” In 1947, historian Jens Arup Seip wrote “”from 1937 up to 1947, led to the event which for Gandhi and his movement was at the same time the greatest victory and the worst defeat – India’s independence and India’s partition.”

Mahatma Gandhi, 60 years after his assassination, lives in memory of the world as a great soul. His last name has dynastic implications for the Indian National Congress that has ruled for about 50 years after the partition.
It is universally believed that India is a country within a country. The upper caste India is the world’s fastest emerging economy. However, there is India of Untouchables and minorities that is known in common parlance as “Bharat.” People belonging to Bharat don’t view Gandhi in the same manner as upper-caste Indians do.

Nowhere this dichotomy became more apparent than in the Indian American community of Sacramento over the question of installation of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue at the State Capitol. The upper caste Indians mostly Hindus have been campaigning hard to get the legislative support for putting Gandhi’s statue. On the other hand, minorities are opposing it as they allege they remained pitiless victims of upper caste atrocities.

A delegation of the Indian American community met Assembly member Ms. Mariko Yamada on July 28, 2010 in her office situated at the State Capitol, Sacramento. The issue that was brought to her attention was about the installation of a life-size statue of Mohandas Karmchand Gandhi at the State Capitol lawns.

The delegation spokesman Harbhajan Singh Bhinder told the Assemblywoman that tempers had run high during a meeting earlier convened by Dr. Sham Goyal, an upper-caste Hindu and a plant scientist at UC Davis. The agenda of the meeting held on April 24, 2010 at the Evergreen Avenue Holiday Inn in West Sacramento was to canvass support of four California State Senators and eight Assembly members to sponsor a bill to allow the statue at the State Capitol.

The proposal of Dr. Goyal was largely cheered by about 30 members except a few who disagreed with it. Mr. Bhinder who was present then, had expressed a strong disapproval of Gandhi’s name for the statue. “When I think about Gandhi, I am only reminded of India’s partition and bloodshed of a million people.”

During the question answer hours, Mr. Bhinder told that the leaders of the Untouchables & depressed classes, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, and Ms. Mayawati, Chief Minister of the largest state of India, blamed Gandhi for defrauding and keeping them in straitjackets of caste discrimination and hovels of poverty.

The assemblywoman was told how ignominiously and curtly Dr. Goyal had rejected names of leaders of the minority. When he asked whose statue could possibly replace Gandhi, Bhinder suggested Dr. Ambedkar or Bhagat Singh. Goyal taunted: “Who knows Ambedkar?” Bhinder responded: “Nobody knows him because you won’t put up his statue.”
James Featherington, the American who witnessed the attitude of Dr. Goyal, narrated to Ms. Yamada his remarks about leaders of the Untouchables. When Ms. Mayawati’s criticism of Gandhi was mentioned, Goyal responded by calling Mayawati a “Harijan,” stating: “If she is not grateful to Gandhi, then India would be better off if she was dead.”
Goyal and others leading the meeting then insisted Bhinder should keep quiet, but James Featherington, the American gentleman, spoke: “I’ve never heard these things before. In the interest of objectivity, I’d like to hear what Mr. Bhinder has to say.”
James Featherington explained to Assemblywoman Ms. Yamada, that Mr. Goyal’s remarks had created lot of resentment in members of the minority community. Dr. Goyal declared government of India was prepared to spend more than $30,000 on Gandhi’s statue. Journalist Mr. Hussan Laroya Banga also attended the meeting and apprised about the developing situation.
Dr. Amrik Singh who teaches at Sacramento State said that Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is an intellectual of high order. Dr. Ambedkar has recorded his experiences with Mr. M.K. Gandhi and other national leaders in his writings, published in 23 volumes 40 years after the independence. Gandhi’s portrayal as an apostle of universal peace has been a special project of government of India, however, it contradicts with observations made by Dr Ambedkar.
To highlight Dr. Ambedkar as the real hero of the downtrodden, Mr. Prem Kumar Chumberruns an Internet magazine. He presented to the Assemblywoman a book of Dr. Ambedkar and printed- copies of Ambedkar Times Newspaper. Dr. Ambedkar is an alumnus of Columbia University New York. Recently, a Legal Chair has been established to commemorate a large body of his writings. Known as an architect of the Indian constitution, Dr. Ambedkar’s name remained ignored for long because he was a low-caste.
However, with the rising wave of Untouchables’ political awareness, Dr. Ambedkar has been emerging as a champion of India’s oppressed and minorities. Historians say Gandhi’s stardom is at stake, as Dr. Ambedkar has documented entirely a different history of India in his writings.
Mr Jaswinder Banga, chairman of Guru Ravidas Society, Rio Linda supports many programs that highlight the contribution Dr. Ambedkar and other leaders of the oppressed classes. He felt greatly hurt at the objectionable and humiliating remarks of Dr. Goyal and Mr. Janak, the leader of a prominent Hindu organization.
Mr. Darshan Singh Mundy, the Public Relation secretary of West Sacramento Gurdwara said that downtrodden and minorities face discrimination in everyday life. Subedar Joginder Singh told that he had attended many political rallies of Mahatma Gandhi and was aware of his negative attitudes towards the oppressed classes.
The delegation requested Ms. Yamada to consider carefully fears and feelings of the Indian American community of the downtrodden and minority classes, and also apprise other assembly and senate members about the ramifications of installing the life-size bronze statue of Gandhi at the Capitol.

Slideshow: A Visit to the California State Capitol

Comments (2)

  • by Saint 1 day ago

    gandhi statue must be baned everywhere in America. Americans must learn that gandhi does not represent peace or love: Peace and love, non violence is Buddha’s teachings later sabotaged by hindus in the name of gandhi.

    On love, gandhi was found sleeping with teenage girls, when asked he announced celebecy?. Is this love?.

    When asked about so much rampant caste discrimination and human rights, he said caste system has meaning and has to be protected, is this love and peace for you?.

    he is a racist and much worst he is a casteist.

    Please stop this un American act of installing a person who is against human rights and woman’s rights, a proponent of caste system should not be put in America, a land that stand up for human rights.

  • by Saint 1 day ago

    Amrik Singji and Chumberji, Thanks for your effort and constant work on educating people about Dr.Ambedkar.

    There is another initiative going on gandhi statue crap at University of Michigan-Flint
    see my Face book message:
    Dear All at Uni of Michigan-Flint!,
    There is an effort to put up a Statue of gandhi at the university campus. I am not sure as to how many of you are aware about this initiative?. This is unAmerican in nature, please read and understand why students should not accept a free gandhi statue and ban the installation of it at your campus.

    The initiative stems from a hindu faculty ” This year, The Statue of MahatmaGandhi will be installed andunveiled at the Wilson Park,University of Michigan-Flint.This 8-foot tall Statue was specially made in India, Sponsoredby Dr. and Mrs. M. Nagaraju,the founders of our Peace Committeeand donated to the Universityof Michigan-Flint, whogenerously provided a beautiful site at the Wilson Park”.

    There are lots of unanswered questions in this initiative:
    1. Who is gandhi and why gandhi at an American University campus?.
    2.What did gandhi do to America or Americans?
    3. What does gandhi represent to America? and what is the relevance?
    4. gandhi is not a representative of Peace, the whole of idea of peace and non-violence is Sakya Muni Buddha’s teachings.
    5. gandhi is a racist and further more a casteist, he believed in caste system, he wrote that caste system has meaning, which is far worst than the racism discrimination, in India, about 300 million people suffer from discrimination because of this caste system to which gandhi wrote there is scientific meaning.
    6. He is against human rights, and against woman rights, who slept with teenage girls betraying his own wife, advocated to the world of Celebecy
    there are more to this dangerous man you all must understand!. Do not believe those hindus stories, they have been manipulating these truths for decades and centuries.

    He is not an American, nor he lived here or studied in American University?.
    He is not Abraham Lincoln or George Washington?

    He is not John Dewey, one of the greatest icon of human rights, woman’s rights and philosopher who was from Columbia University, traveled around the world and made America proud in other nations?.

    So why gandhi?, he did not go to Columbia or Yale. On the contrary, Professor John Dewey’s graduate student Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, who later headed a committee and fathered the “constitution of India” and the first law Minister of Independent India has done enormous to the poverty ridden India to alleviate poverty, to humanize hindus and make all men are equal in that casteistic and racist India in which gandhi promoted segregation and caste system?. Leaving Dr.B.R.Ambedkar, the greatest reformer of 21st century behind and putting up gandhi’s statue at an university campus is Shame and betrayal of our American Values.

    “”At Columbia, Ambedkar studied under John Dewey, who inspired many of his ideas about equality and social justice. Ambedkar later recounted that at Columbia he experienced social equality for the first time. “The best friends I have had in my life,” he told the New York Times in 1930, “were some of my classmates at Columbia and my great professors, John Dewey, James Shotwell, Edwin Seligman, and James Harvey Robinson.””…

    Dr.B.R.Ambedkar fought his entire life to annihilate the India’s pathological caste system in which gandhi had great stake in protecting it and publicly announcing we must have caste system, which is worst than racism and much more pathological than a deadly virus that is killing thousands and thousands of dalits every day in India, as a matter of fact, the University student’s must ask the faculty who donated gandhi statue, who is he and what is he represent, ask him about India’s caste system?. Ask him if he even man enough to talk about the real “Father of Nation Dr.Ambedkar”.

    Ambedkar was an American in his heart and mind, he learned great humanity and human rights in columbia, he lived here and he brought the American values into the Constitution of India, which is primarily resembles American Constitution?.

    Why are the American student listen to some cock and bull stories of some hindus in your campus, just because a statue has been donated free, can you go for it?.
    Peace and Love is the great practice of Buddha who gave us this tool, gandhi does not represent real peace and love?.

    It is morally, socially and ethically wrong to put such a racist statue in University campus, the students must learn about real facts and ban this statue at University of Michigan-Flint.

    Please do your diligence before committing this terrible installation?


    ******Here is a e-mail response that is so obvious that the authorities have not much knowledge about gandhi other than what is heard in some movies or what is been read in some novels, or concocted stories told by some hindus decades after decades that became in this country.
    E-mail from Jennifer:

    “Hogan, Jennifer” Add sender to Contacts
    Dear Vivek,

    Thank you for expressing your concerns about the installation of the Gandhi statue on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint. Your email was sent to me via the Ann Arbor campus.

    The university is pleased to accept the gift of the statue based on the totality of Gandhi’s work as a humanitarian and advocate of peaceful resolution to conflict. It is true that history is full of extraordinary leaders such as George Washington, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King, Jr., but a common thread that connects each of these individuals is that they were a combination of greatness and flaws.

    Gandhi is no different. As a university, we encourage the study and understanding of all prominent people of historical record, and we are mindful of exposing students to all facets of the human character, including the negative.

    In the case of Gandhi, it is clear that his views evolved over time, and that is part of what makes him a particularly interesting subject as part of a permanent display on campus. We hope that the presence of the statue will engage a larger community dialogue about present day issues that require understanding and acceptance. We view the gift of the statue of Gandhi in the spirit in which it was intended: to be a symbol of peace and enlightened leadership.

    If you would like to discuss this matter further,
    you may contact me at 810-237-6570.



    Jennifer Hogan
    Executive Director of University Relations
    303 E. Kearsley St.
    500 NBC
    Flint, MI 48502
    UR Brand Toolkit
    Read the latest at the UR Blogr




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