Jan 25, 2019

India’s Statue of Unity – the Highest Statue in the World History – Shows That Gandhi Is Less Popular in India Than in the World

Gandhi has gained worldwide reputation with his efforts to promote Indian independence from Britain without the use of violence. Thanks to his mother, he was heavily influenced by Jainism, which rejects violence against all creatures and promotes asceticism. Gandhi was famous for his long protest hunger strikes and public appearances only with a piece of cloth around his loins. From  my childhood, I remember a statuette  we had for unclear  reasons at home, a half-naked Gandhi, cross-legged, ten
inches tall and bronze, sitting on a marble tile the bottom of which was covered with green velvet. India gained its independence in 1947; however, Gandhi did not succeed in preventing the bloodshed.

Three months ago, the largest statue of history, called the Statue of Unity, a 182 meter high figure of a politician, covered with bronze, standing on a 58 meter high pedestal, was unveiled in India. Surprisingly, it is not Gandhi, but Sardar Patel, first deputy prime minister, towering to the sky. After the division of India and the departure of the British, 563 principalities and princely states of the Indian peninsula considered autonomy or even independence, and Patel, in complicated negotiations, convinced the rulers of 360 of those states to enter a united India, while 3 unyielding ones he gained by force; so his statue is called the Statue of Unity. Patel was loyal to Gandhi and Nehru, but he was not afraid to disagree with frequent concessions to Muslim demands, for which he gained popularity.

Considering why the largest statue of the world is not devoted to Gandhi, it will surely occur to us that a half-naked  ascetic rising up to 240 meters would be a materialized oxymoron. However, there are also other reasons that arise from Gandhi's life and the political situation in India. Let us briefly recall a few moments from Gandhi's life. In 1900, when he lived in South Africa, Gandhi organized 1100 Indian volunteers to help British troops in the fight against domestic Boers. The Boer farmers were descendants of Dutch immigrants, aspiring in the Boer War for independence; they fought against the professional British army, ten times superior in numbers. Here, for the first time, concentration camps for detention of civilians appeared at the turn of the 20th century. The British let die 26,000 Boer women and children in the camps. Gandhi, who, later in India, also fought for independence from Britain, was on the wrong side in the Boer War.

In 1919, Gandhi chose to support the Turkish Caliph and the Ottoman Empire in order to win favor with the Indian Muslims; he got it wrong again, as the Turkish president Mustafa Kemal himself abolished the sultanate and caliphate soon. Many Indian leaders, including Rabindranath Thakur, did not understand Gandhi's attempt to please Muslims at all costs. Many people also did not understand Gandhi's emphasis on the non-violence in the anti-British protests – especially after the massacre of 1600 civilians in Amritsar in April 1919. When Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, Gandhi launched a campaign against Indian involvement in the war, but unsuccessfully – 2.5 million Indian volunteers fought on the Britain’s side against Hitler.

Gandhi's last major failure was his unrealistic struggle against the division of India into the Hindu part, today's India, and two Muslim parts, today's Pakistan and Bangladesh. Gandhi underestimated Muslim intransigence and fanaticism. The slogan of the Muslims was: " We will either have a divided India or a destroyed India," and they started protests called "Direct Action" to support their demands in August 1946. Within a few days, 5,000 to 50,000 Hindus were killed in that action; in the subsequent reprisals, several thousand Muslims were killed. Precise numbers are not available because the Congress Party politicians tried to hide them in the belief that this would prevent further deterioration of the situation, and Muslim data are unreliable. After the partition of India on August 15, 1947, mass migration of Hindus from Pakistan and Muslims to Pakistan followed; over 14 million people moved, at least half a million have been killed and tens of thousands of women were raped. It can be assumed that Muslims were more violent, which is also supported by the fact that the number of Hindus in Pakistan has dropped from about 25% to about 1.5% today, while the number of Muslims in India has risen since from about 8% to today's 14%.

Gandhi certainly belongs to the great figures of the 20th century. His non-violent activism is, in any case, admirable. From his admirers, he received the name of Mahatma, a great spirit. He spent more than two years in British prisons. In the midst of the bloody clashes, he stuck to nonviolence. He was ascribed the phrase "love conquers hatred". When Gandhi chose the salt tax in 1930 as the object of a non-violent protest against the British, neither Gandhi's collaborators nor the British seriously took the action. Gandhi marched 240 miles to the sea, where he wanted to show that salt can be produced by the Indians themselves without British control and taxes. Thousands of people, however, joined, and this event eventually won millions of Indians for boycotts of British goods and for India's independence actions. This year will be 150 years since Gandhi's birth.

Gandhi said that when religion leads to love and peace, it is not important what religion one has but how one behaves, Hindu will become a better Hindu and Muslim a better Muslim. However, Gandhi was aware of the violence of the Qur'an and the Muslim traditions, he simply closed his eyes to the truth in case of Islam, contrary to his emphasis on the truth; it was not possible to reconcile love and truth in this case. Gandhi was keeping hunger strikes in protest against the division of India and the ongoing violence instead of accepting reality and trying at least to somehow organize a defense against chaos during the division. When Pakistan declared itself a Muslim state, Gandhi and his party resisted the pressure of the Hindu population to declare India a Hindu state. It should be mentioned that Pakistan later became one of the major bases of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Just as in other parts of the world where a territory was being divided, Muslims cleared their part of the non-Muslims, while multiplying faster than other people in the non-Muslim part. A similar situation occurred, exactly at the same time, in another British-controlled area – in the Middle East. The Jews were being expelled everywhere, while in Israel, the Arabs quickly multiplied thanks to the sympathetic left. Today, Israel has similar demographic problems like India. For example, in Negev, 5,000 Bedouins expanded in 60 years to 160,000 (duplication every 12 years between 1955 and 2015). Suicidal ideals and ignoring the truth about Islam lead to more violence – this is a lesson to be carefully learned by Europe today.

Many people criticized Gandhi for speaking on behalf of all, as if there were no other opinions and other specific interests of many religious and other groups. Churchill called him Hindu Mussolini. In 1948, Gandhi was shot dead; the assassin blamed Gandhi of ignoring the opinions of everyone else and of pushing his own policies that, despite Gandhi's non-violence, paradoxically contributed to immense violence. Nehru immediately used Gandhi's martyrdom for silencing Hindu nationalists and to suppress the right, 200,000 people were imprisoned. It is strange that similar active measures had not been taken a year before that to prevent violence during the division. After the establishment of the state, similarly to Israel, the left has ruled in India for many years. Until the year 2014, the National Congress party ruled the country, with the exception of 16 years, whereas Gandhi's associate Nehru and Nehru’s relatives served as prime ministers, including Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi (not related to Mahatma), Nehru’s grandson Rajiv Gandhi and his wife Sonia Gandhi. The policy of the Congress Party was systematically left-leaning and, until the break-up of the Soviet Union, pro-Soviet.

There is a real danger that Gandhi/Nehru offspring will come back to power in India this May, as Rahul Gandhi (son of Rajiv and Sonya) is standing against the current right-wing leader Modi, whereas 14% of the voters are Muslims. Nearly 200 million Indian Muslims, competing with the Indonesians for the status of the largest Muslim community in the world, are a terrible fifth column in India. A friend of mine, who was born in India and regularly returns there, is of the opinion that Nehru’s family, and Mahatma Gandhi as well, are nowadays perceived by many Hindus as having been too appeasing to Moslems. This is another part of the explanation why the largest statue of the world was dedicated to Patel and not to Gandhi – along with the fact that it was the ruling right who had promoted the statue.

Muslims do not like, in addition to many other things, statues, as demonstrated in 2001 in Afghanistan. There, Pakistan-backed Taliban destroyed 1500 years old Buddha's statues, including a 53-meter-high statue that had held a world record in height for many years. If once Muslims were to gain the upper hand in India, the Statue of Unity would be among the first victims of their reforms.

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