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As the soldier breaks down
A famous military joke runs like this – "When a soldier came to the clinic for an MRI, he was put into the machine by an attractive, young technician. Sometime later, when the examination was over, he was helped out of the machine by a far older woman. The soldier asked, "How long was I in the machine?"

Since the RSS/BJP juggernaut has come into power this time, it is a fashion to mock, deride and disparage the great achievements of Nehru and Gandhi. The irony is that Sardar Patel, who had banned the RSS and had given the explicit reasons for it had been eulogized by them. As the elections in West Bengal are nearing the 'Netaji Card' is being played with full strength and alacrity. Several old files related to Netaji's death have been dusted out for public inspection. However, nothing explosive has yet come in public domain so far. The assault on Gandhi and Nehru's legacy continues with full support of present rulers. 

The recent audacity of affront comes from a retired general Bakshi who is allegedly a 'closet' RSS supporter. In this short clip circulating in media, general Bakshi is heard saying, "You tell me what contribution did Mahatama Gandhi and Congress party make towards India's freedom struggle?…. They say they faced lathi-charge (by English rulers), but even my buffalo gets thrashed by canes! If you have faced lathi-charge, then what will happen to brave hearts such as (Veer) Savarkar?"

In March 1910, British police arrested Savarkar for anti-British activities at London's Victoria railway station, as soon as his train reached there from Paris. They sent him back to India by ship in order to prosecute him for his inflammatory 1906 anti-government speech in Mumbai. Morea reached the French port of Marseilles on July 7, 1910. Next morning, between 6 and 7 am, Savarkar escaped through a porthole and swam ashore. According to the British police, a French marine brigadier arrested the revolutionary and handed him over.

On May 3, 2002 a report had appeared in 'The Times of India' about the brave heart - Vir Savarkar, the father of the BJP's Hindutva ideology when Union home minister L K Advani had named Andamans airport after VS. It would help general Bakshi to make corrections in his observation. It drew a line over an uncomfortable facet of the Hindutva icon's personality. For, unlike other patriots like Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Ashfaqullah, who refused to ask the British raj for mercy even at the cost of their lives, Savarkar, had actually sought clemency while lodged in Andamans' Cellular Jail.

Savarkar's letter asking for forgiveness dated November 14, 1913 is reprinted in a book, Penal Settlement in Andamans, published by the Gazetteers Unit of Union ministry of education.

Savarkar described himself as a ''prodigal son'' longing to return to the ''parental doors of the government''. While referring to his earlier letter of clemency in 1911, Savarkar wrote, ''...if the government in their manifold beneficence and mercy release me, I for one cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English government which is the foremost condition of that progress. As long as we are in jails, there cannot be real happiness and joy in hundreds and thousands of homes of His Majesty's subjects in India, for blood is thicker than water; but if we are released, the people will raise a shout of joy and gratitude to the government, who knows how to forgive and correct, more than how to chastise and avenge.''

Savarkar went on to add, ''Moreover, my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back in."

And this is what I read my history books:

Gandhi ji had reached Durban, South Africa, in 1893 to serve as legal advocate to the trader Dada Abdulla. In June, he was asked by Dada Abdulla to carry out a journey to Pretoria in the Transvaal, a trip which first took Gandhi to Pietermaritzburg. There, Gandhi was seated in the first-class rail coach, since he had bought a first-class ticket. A European who entered the coach hastened to convene railway officials, who ordered Gandhi to remove himself to the van compartment, since 'coolies' and non-whites were actually not allowed in first-class compartments.

Gandhi protested and produced his ticket, but was warned that he would be forcibly removed if he did not make a polite exit. As Gandhi refused to obey with the order, he was instantly pushed out of the train, and his baggage was tossed out on to the platform. The train steamed away, and Gandhi withdrew to the waiting room. "It was winter," Gandhi wrote in his autobiography, and "the cold was extremely bitter. My over-coat was in my luggage, but I did not dare to ask for it lest I should be insulted again, so I sat and shivered," (Part II, Ch. 8). He says he began to think of his "duty": ought he to stay back and fight for his "rights", or should he return to India? His own "hardship was superficial", "only a symptom of the deep disease of colour prejudice."

In such situation did Gandhi first become alert of racism and of the severe inequities to which people are subjected on the basis of color; and thus Gandhi was to get on a journey that would take him far beyond Pretoria. In other ways, also, this train journey, firstly aborted, from Durban to Pretoria was to be symbolic of the way in which Gandhi would cause other transgressions, and Gandhi's activities to arrive at all his countrywomen and men.

Upon his permanent homecoming to India in early 1915, Gandhi would use trains to tour the length and breadth of India, and he all the time traveled by third-class. Few Indians of his era, or certainly since, acquired the understanding of India that Gandhi gained by his travels, and there can barely be any Indian who had criss-crossed the nation by train as much as Gandhi had done.

General Bakshi is the same individual who was unable to understand the reason behind the non-fulfilled promise so far made by Modi during his pre-poll speeches. "I fail to understand why so many hurdles are coming in the way of the implementation of OROP even after one year of the new government assumed office." Does anyone remember the follow up on OROP issue?"

We have been enlightened often with the pearls of wisdom of general Bakshi with Arnab goswami on 'Times now' and he had written a moving blog saying that 'Only soldiers like us are stupid enough to become extreme nationalists.' I sincerely tried to get the purport of the blog. How come a soldier could declare an extreme nationalist a stupid? What is the relationship between extremism and nationalism? What is chauvinism?

Discussing about the issue of hoisting the National Flag he broke down. "We have problems now with flying our National Flag? I learnt with the greatest shock that so far the national flag has not been flying in our universities. Are the universities paid for by our taxes required to celebrate every Afzal Guru, every Maoist, celebrate every 76 brave CRPF boys who get killed by the Maoists?"

I don't know if the suicide of Rohith Vemula has made a great impact in the mind and heart of our HRD Minister Smriti Irani or it was spontaneous, but eventually she made a brief telephonic presence mid-way through the program speaking to Major General (Retd) G D Bakshi: "Tragedy of my nation today, that I see tears in eyes of a brave soldier like you. We are grateful for your sacrifices and services. Under that flag every day, knowingly, unknowingly know this we shall be grateful forever."

According to the government, unfurling the flag at the central universities is a good way to instill nationalism among everyone.

I love and respect my National Flag but have never been able to comprehend why it is necessary to put our flag at every building? It is a non-issue.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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