By Ambassador (Retd) Alan Nazareth
Author’s note: This is a work of fiction. I cannot take credit for this article, because these are not my original thoughts. This line of thinking is influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. If this article provides an inspiration for workable solution, all credit goes to the father of nation. If there are any flaws in this piece, they are entirely author’s, not of the Mahatma.
On this 60th republic day of India, I congratulate the billion Indians living in the country and millions living abroad. It is a proud moment for every Indian. Each one of us has worked to preserve the freedom and maintain the sovereignty of the nation. Some of those who haven’t experienced the British days may take this freedom for granted. To them, my only message is: even a single laborious, torturous day of freedom is worth thousands of comfortable days in slavery.
A nation can demand respect only if possesses self-respect. Only when each of us learns to live with respect can we expect the world to respect us. No Indian will ever be able to live in respect as long as even one poor person goes to sleep on an empty stomach. Why should I complain about poverty in Slumdog Millionaire being shown at international award ceremonies, when that reality of life is in my face everyday? To me, actor Anil Kapoor’s donation of his film fees to the cause of the poor is more valuable than any award the film has won. But I will be truly happy when I will see even one Indian change his course of life and devote even one day in an act that will bring a smile to a poor person.
Of course, I won’t be satisfied with just that. I want every Indian to put at least one hour’s work every day in a project that will improve the living conditions of his poor fellow-countrymen.
I know you are interested in my views about terrorism. I read on the internet and see on television the people’s movement that is silently shaping up after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. I am often asked to comment on such activities. For the last few weeks, I have not commented on this issue, because I hold myself responsible for what happened on that day. I feel that I have failed. My limitations have put me in a position today that I feel ashamed. I should have tried harder. I could not kindle the flame of selfless love in every Indian. I could not encourage them to stay on the path of non-violence on which they had walked with me for a long distance. Let no person assume that this is failure of nonviolence principle. It is my failure. These are my limitations, and today I believe in them as much as I believed in them during British days.
Act of terrorism is an act of cowardice. Its sole purpose is to create fear in the minds of its victims. And the only way to fight terror is by being fearless. If we refuse to be subdued by terrorism, its purpose is defeated and the perpetrator will have no choice but to stop its futile efforts to terrorize us.
I am also asked about my feelings about terrorists. There is nothing new to add. I have said this many times. I don’t hate my enemies. I hate the wrongs they have done to me, but I still love my enemies as much as I love my friends. Because hating them is just like hating myself. Each of have weaknesses. How can I hate others for their weaknesses when I am painfully aware of my own? I try to love my enemies as l love myself. Only such unconditional love will change the heart of my enemies.
The only means of fighting violence is through non-violence means. A non-violent resistance will make the perpetrator ashamed on his terrorism.
India has shown courage in her response to Mumbai terror attacks. It has shown restrain by not resorting to violent means of retaliation as America did in 2001. As I have always believed, if there is any country that can successfully showcase the doctrine of non-violence and truth, it is India. This is the time for India to lead by example. The world is looking at us. The west is still trying to recuperate from the wounds of its violent retaliation in the war on terrorism. The west is looking at us for hope. The violence did not work. Only non-violence can save us, because it is the other side of the same coin—the coin of love.
India should not co-operate with Pakistan until Pakistan takes steps to address the issue of terrorism. However, if Pakistan needs any help from India to address the problem, India should be more than willing to offer it. While non-cooperation is a means of solving the problem, at no stage should India garner the feeling of hatred towards Pakistan. We should try to change their heart.
We must realize that Pakistan is fighting its own internal issues, and we should offer to help them in solving those issues, just like an elder brother helps the younger one in the hour of need. But this help should be extended only after Pakistan has taken firm steps to fight terrorism.
I am an eternally hopeful person. As long as there is even one living soul on this earth, there is hope for truth and non-violence to prevail. Because love lives in our hearts.
Vaibhav Gangan is the managing editor of “The Global Indian” a monthly electronic magazine published and distributed electronically in New Zealand and many other countries.