Guest Commentary: Sikh Leader Responds to Vanguard on Gandhi Statue Protests

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Gandhi-3by Amar Shergill

In response to David Greenwald’s opinion piece published on October 4, 2016 entitled “Free Speech Lost Out on Sunday”, I provide context to appropriately account for the events of the day.

Before I address the protest and Mr. Greenwald’s thoughtful remarks, I must correct his misinformed statement in the comment section that ‘both sides are liberals’.  In fact, the protestors included participants of all stripes, including conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and Hindus, as, I believe, did the pro-statue contingent.  This is an important distinction because those that protest on social justice issues cannot be conveniently boxed in as liberals.  Nor should those that are silent on human rights matters be labeled conservatives.

Turning to the crux of Mr. Greenwald’s opinion piece, it was suggested that it would have been more effective if the protestors had remained silent during the unveiling ceremony and speeches.  This statement neglects to acknowledge the persistent and respectful effort over many months by our coalition to oppose the statue and to attempt to avoid the acrimony that was evident on Sunday.  The protest did not generate spontaneously nor without a track record of engagement that predated the unveiling of the statue.  Perhaps Mr. Greenwald is unaware that we reached out to then-Mayor Wolk immediately after he posted on Facebook that Davis city council had voted as a consent item to accept a statue paid for by the Indian government, but the Mayor declined our quiet request to reverse course.  We met with every council member, provided informational materials and engaged in constructive dialogue but they ultimately voted against reconsideration.  We sat down with the statue proponents and explained in detail the community conflict that would follow if the statue was erected but, again, such quiet conversations did not prove fruitful.  At the reconsideration hearing itself, we stood in line and used our precious minutes to put forward our case but our entreaties were in vain.  We exhausted every option to engage with those responsible for the statue decision, maintaining a collaborative and courteous approach throughout.

For many months, we did our part engaging in civil discourse, education and advocacy on this issue.  The unveiling ceremony was the appropriate time to engage in our constitutional right to (1) bring public attention to the implications of this statue, and (2) oppose the efforts of a foreign government to enlist the City of Davis in a propaganda campaign that obscures the ongoing brutalization of minorities in India and supports the false myth created around a bigoted pedophile.  We cannot and should not be silent while elected officials and community leaders turn a blind-eye to oppression so that they can bask in the contrived legacy of a man that exhibited a life-long commitment to institutional bigotry.  I do regret that children were present to observe the ceremony and protest, as I do not believe they were served well by being witness to either the statue unveiling or the protest.

In his opinion piece, Mr. Greenwald uses the term ‘sexual indiscretions’ when referring to Gandhi’s repugnant behavior of sleeping naked with young girls, including family members.  We no longer describe the actions of Bill Cosby as anything but rape; we no longer call the sexual assault of a husband against his wife as anything but rape; we must now be similarly clear regarding Gandhi; he was a pedophile.

Finally, I note that it has often been mentioned that many of the protestors were not residents of Davis.  However, this ignores the influence of the city, particularly given its unique character and status as home to a world renowned university.  Although such geographic details are irrelevant in social justice causes, it may be helpful for your readers to know who these protestors were.  They were the same people that appeared in Yolo County Court on behalf of Mikey Partida, a Davis hate crime victim from the LGBTQ community; the same people that stood at the Capitol after hate speech against the Jewish community; and the same people that came before the Sacramento City Council to support eradication of long forgotten laws enabling the crimes of Japanese internment.  Later this month, these same people will attend a community meeting regarding the recent Sacramento deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement.  This is a community that understands that there is a time for respectful advocacy and to hear the thoughts of others.  Sunday was not that time; it was not the time for silence.

Mr. Greenwald objects to the nature of the protest in isolation of the history of our advocacy, but what he has not done is address the reason for the protest.  Davis residents should educate themselves regarding the complete documented history of the man their elected officials have chosen to honor.  With just a little research, they will find that the gift sent by the Indian government is anything but.  Please see the links below for more information:

Amar Shergill is a trial attorney with the Shergill Law Firm and a Sikh community activist.

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89 thoughts on “Guest Commentary: Sikh Leader Responds to Vanguard on Gandhi Statue Protests”

  1. ryankelly

    So what he is saying is that when the democratic vote did not go in his favor, they decided to be as obnoxious as they could be, borrowing Westboro Church protest tactics?

    This is not life or death.  There are times when drastic measures need to be taken – where people need to “act up.”  This was not one of them.

    1. David Greenwald

      “This is not life or death. There are times when drastic measures need to be taken – where people need to “act up.” This was not one of them.”

      Ryan: I don’t think you should be the judge of what is or is not life or death.

      This article on Ami Berra from two years ago I think illustrates that in a way this is a proxy fight for something that is seen as life or death: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article2610882.html

      1. hpierce

        Well, I find it offensive to misspell a man’s name when one claims to be a reporter, cites an article about that person (where it is spelled correctly), who is running for public office… maybe you got confused with a former Yankee mgr, Yogi Berra…

    2. shergill

      In a very real way, this is a matter of ‘life and death.’  Provided at the end of the post is a link to the United States Commission in International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, it begins, “Minority communities, especially Christians, Muslims, and Sikhs, experienced numerous incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence, largely at the hands of Hindu nationalist groups. Members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tacitly supported these groups and used religiously-divisive language to further inflame tensions. These issues, combined with longstanding problems of police bias and judicial inadequacies, have created a pervasive climate of impunity, where religious minority communities feel increasingly insecure, with no recourse when religiously-motivated crimes occur.”

      As we have consistently expressed, Gandhi’s statue is repugnant not only because of his personal moral failures but also because he is being used to create a false image of modern day India, allowing the government to brutalize minorities with impunity.  The presence of the Indian consul general is specifically intended to build the relationships that are used to blunt any criticism from American elected officials.

      For those sympathetic to the plight of the minority communities of India, it was a strategic and moral decision to directly challenge those voices that stand with the Indian government’s brutality.

      1. Tia Will

        shergill

        Not being well versed in this area of history, I have some questions for you. The article David referenced stated that the Indian government had issued a formal apology for its role in the atrocities. Do you disagree with this point ? Do you feel that the apology, if indeed issued, was insufficient ? What other steps do you believe would be necessary for there to be a reconciliation from your point of view ?

  2. Delia .

    The accusations of “child molester” and “pedophile” are repugnant. You need to show proof of this disgusting behavior before you accuse anyone. If evidence is presented, I agree that the statue is unnecessary  and should be removed.

    1. shergill

      Provided at the end of the post are links with evidence regarding Gandhi’s pedophilia.  This is not an issue in dispute within the academic or journalistic communities.  Even the proponents of the statue generally accept that Gandhi took naked young girls, including relatives, into his bed, however, they argue that his pedophilia and racism should be set aside due to his positive contributions.

      Gandhi’s contemporaries criticized and abandoned him for his actions and statements such as the following to his grandniece, “We both may be killed by the Muslims and must put our purity to the ultimate test, so that we know that we are offering the purest of sacrifices, and we should now both start sleeping naked.”

      I do not fault those that are unaware of these matters as they have not been the topic of much discussion in the US.  However, the proponents of the statue are well aware of these truths and I cannot condone their decision to erect such an objectionable statue immediately adjacent to a children’s park.

      1. Delia .

        Perhaps you need to reconsider your vocabulary. The link describes people in their late teens and early twenties, not children, young adults. edited

        Are the stories of his bisexuality what truly disturbs you? Where is your evidence that Ghandi ever molested a child? What was the legal age of consent in India?

        [moderator] Comment edited. We really want to keep presidential politics out of the discussions on the Vanguard, unless the topic of the thread is specific to that, as it is likely to take the conversation off topic very rapidly. Thanks.

    1. hpierce

      Do you not know people who are “religious” about the Democrat or Republican ‘dogmas’?  Imagine no political parties… I do not want to imagine no “spirituality”, no “values”… and yes, would love to see all political parties go away.   They tend to be “an opiate of the people”…

  3. Biddlin

    ” I don’t think you should be the judge of what is or is not life or death.”

    David, do you think that the statue poses any sort of physical threat to anyone?

    Are you in favor of allowing feuds of all kinds to be carried out in public places?

    Do you know the definitions of racist and epithet?(Gratuitous question, since you haven’t the grace to apologise for your libel.)

    1. David Greenwald

      “do you think that the statue poses any sort of physical threat to anyone?”

      Only if it falls on them.

      “Are you in favor of allowing feuds of all kinds to be carried out in public places?”

      Did you intentionally change the noun from “protest” to “feud” in order to change my answer? I do not think feuds should be carried out in public or private places and believe we need conflict resolution as conflict arises. I do not see this however as a feud but rather a protest and I have a different answer.

      “Do you know the definitions of racist and epithet?(Gratuitous question, since you haven’t the grace to apologise for your libel.)”

      You were given a response and a means for redress, why have you not taken it?

      1. South of Davis

        David wrote:

        > Did you intentionally change the noun from “protest”

        > to “feud” in order to change my answer?

        I’m wondering if David will let us know why he often changes the verbs “Riot” and “Loot” to “Protest” when posting about “incidents”…

  4. Misanthrop

    The protestors disrespected this community and its democratically elected leaders in a most offensive manner. I am not interested in what this man has to say. Where I might have been open to listening to his grievances I no longer have any interest in doing so. I didn’t even bother reading the article past the second paragraph. He may have won the day but his cause, whatever it is, lost the hearts and minds of this observer and many others last Sunday.

  5. Alan Miller

    “George Washington was an anal rapist.”

    Now:  unthink the above statement.

    Repeating the same statement over and over, the BIG LIE, is a form of brainwashing.

    Does anyone, for the first time in their lives, wonder, just a moment, if Ghandi raped children?

    If so, the protestors have achieved their goal.

    1. Barack Palin

      That tactic works for the anything that justifies the means crowd.  Harry Reid lied in a Congressional speech about Romney’s taxes and later admitted he lied but simply stated “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

       

      1. South of Davis

        Maybe some day the No on  A people will admit that they lied about the killer “toxic soup” of air that will kill people in the Nishi site and say “Prop A didn’t win”…

        [moderator] Please try to stay on topic.

    2. Tia Will

      Does anyone, for the first time in their lives, wonder, just a moment, if Ghandi raped children?”

      This is precisely why I felt the need to write probably far more than anyone ever wanted to read about differing sexual mores and their societal significance.

       

  6. ryankelly

    Sikhs seem to want an independent homeland for followers of their religion.  Is this right?  This is not an American ideal, where there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State with political power and where you live is not supposed to be defined by religious belief.   This may be important to Sikhs, but it is not something that Americans understand as a life or death issue.

    Imagine no religion…

      1. Biddlin

        What he wrote was,”This is not an American ideal, where there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State”

        Sovereign states are free to structure their government on their own beliefs.

        ” This may be important to Sikhs,”

        If it is more important than “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” they are perhaps in the wrong country. There is nothing in this kind of rehashing but more vengeance.

         

      2. ryankelly

        Vatican City is more like a large corporate office.   Israel has its problems dealing with multi-cultural issues.  This is also not in the U.S. and not a good, nor successful example either.

        As an American, we can decry brutality, but we cannot be expected to choose a side over basically a land battle based on religious belief. There are examples of division in the U.S. –  Native American tribal lands are one.  That would be a better example.  But Native Americans also identify as U.S. citizens first (or second, depending on their viewpoint.)  Native Hawaiian sovereignty is another.  Both are not based on the adoption of a religious belief.

         

         

        1. South of Davis

          Ryan wrote:

          > Vatican City is more like a large corporate office.

          It is not even really a “large” corporate campus since both the UCD Campus and the Mather Business park in Sacramento are FIFTY (50) times bigger.  Even the UCSF campus (the smallest in the UC system) is twice the size of Vatican City.

          P.S. Did anyone else laugh when the Pope (that lives behind the “walls” of the Vatican City) told Donald Trump that “building walls was not Christian”?

    1. Barack Palin

      So if some group gets a donation of a free statue of someone they idolise we as a community are not to consider it even though we erected a Ghandi statue?  I can hear the uproar now.  This council set a precedent and the door is now open.

      1. Don Shor

        So if some group gets a donation of a free statue of someone they idolise we as a community are not to consider it

        That is exactly what I am saying. No more statues.

  7. Nancy Price

    Yes, I agree with Don – no more statues.

    But, was there every any quiet, peaceful and respectful substantive discussion about not having any statue about not accepting the Gandhi statue, and maybe having a different statue….maybe having a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr?   Not only was he one of the greatest practitioners of non-violence, but in his 1967 Riverside Church speech, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence,” King moved from civil rights to a critique of war and capitalism, saying: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

    He added: “When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people…the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” He called for a “revolution of values,” a shift from a “thing-oriented society” to a “person-oriented” society.

    Maybe a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. would have been more relevant for Davis and the situation in the world today!?

    You can just google the title of his speech and read it on-line. His call for a “revolution of values”  could be the subject of community reflection and discussion.

     

     

     

      1. Delia .

        Not sure how BP managed to stick Romney’s name into this discussion, unless his Mormon religion is a topic.

        Since we have a male statue, how about a female? Margaret Sanger, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt,  perhaps?

        1. Justice4All

          Im glad that not everyone has forgotten about the true radicalism of MLK. Too often his legacy is whitewashed to leave out the criticisms of empire and capitalism because they are difficult discussions to have for some people.

  8. MikeNDavis

    Here is an interesting article:

    The Real Mahatma Gandhi
    Questioning the moral heroism of India’s most revered figure
    by Christopher Hitchens in the July/August 2011 Atlantic magazine

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/07/the-real-mahatma-gandhi/308550/

    which I felt more balanced than the references provided earlier. My previous concept of Ghandi, based in my own ignorance, is rather 2-dimensional – this gives a different perspective.

  9. shergill

    It is reported today that the University of Ghana has decided to remove a Gandhi statue from its campus, which had been a recent ‘gift’ from the Indian government.  There had been widespread dissatisfaction with the statue due to Gandhi’s racism against Africans, even leading to vandalism of the statue.  Perhaps Davis can learn from our brothers and sisters in Ghana that ill-advised decisions should be reconsidered with the benefit of additional information.

    http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Government-to-relocate-Gandhi-statue-from-University-of-Ghana-475067

    1. Barack Palin

      Shergill, stick to your guns.  Our liberal community is all for any form of protest unless it’s against an issue or cause that they agree with.  They’re disgust with the Gandhi protest reeks of hypocrisy.

  10. GB Singh

    Dear Editor,

    A few days ago, I sent the followings points to the administration of the University of Ghana:
    I have authored three critical books on Gandhi. To date I have spent 33 years of active research on this man. Let me say a few important points:


    1. Just about everything good you know of him is false.


    2. Just about all the bad things you have heard of him from Hindu Right is also false.


    3. Gandhi was a full blooded racist. If your skin color is dark, he does not like you. 


    4. If you are of a Negro race, just forget any closeness from Gandhi. He hated Black people.


    5. Gandhi had participated in four wars. His war of 1906 when as Sergeant Major Gandhi, he went after the Blacks and promoted & justified even killings of Blacks.


    6. Never once he regretted his anti-Black actions. He died in 1948. In fact while in India (1915-1948) he never once told the truth of his anti-black activities to Indians. He covered it by a false narrative.


    7. Gandhi was a staunch believer of the Caste System.


    8. Gandhi was also a criminal. Please read his direct involvement in the cover up of murder of William F. Doherty. 


    9. Gandhi also fabricated his history. For example: the famous racial train incidents of 1893 that Gandhi allegedly suffered in South Africa never actually happened. Its all lies upon lies. His two books, Autobiography and Satyagraha in South Africa, authored while in India, are essentially not historical and therefore pious lies. 


    10. His pathological habit of sleeping naked with young girls as well as with wives of his disciples left a bad taste to many and ruined their healthy family lives.


    11. Gandhi advocated the idea of “collective suicide” to the Jewish people facing Adolf Hitler. This is nonviolence at its best from Gandhi. 


    12. His famous doctrine of Satyagraha (nonviolent resistance) has holes all over. For example: The very founding of Satyagraha in 1906 was also rooted in its hatred of Black people.


    13. Independence to India in 1947 has nothing to do with Gandhi. It has to do with Second World War and its terrible impacts on British.


    14. Honestly I can go on and on. Please read my books and feel free to reach me if you have any question(s).


    15. Please take the right action: Send a clear loud message to all those who falsely promote Gandhi. Bring down his statue now. We the citizens of Mother Earth have a moral responsibility to uphold the truth, justice, and above all never promote anyone who has a history of virulent racism, especially against our Negro brothers and sisters. 


     
    Thanks. GB Singh, Colonel (Retired) US Army

  11. tribeUSA

    Hurrah for the Gandhi statue!

    Don’t give it up without a fight; and may the best pugilist (verbal only, we might hope, or this may be too offensively much in the spirit of Gandhi) win!

    Although perhaps as GB Singh posts above; much or most of what americans know/think about Gandhi may be a myth–I do respect the Sikh people and so find myself in a conundrum!

  12. Tia Will

    . tribeUSA

    and so find myself in a conundrum!”

    As do, I believe we all. I believe that all of us who actually reflect upon the issues of division in our own lives and in our communities are in a conundrum. We are taught that it is good to have pride in our own personal background. What we do not hear much emphasis on is a full acceptance of both the good and the bad done by our own ancestors/predecessors.  What we rarely hear about is a full acceptance of what generations before us have done. It is this kind of binary good guys vs bad guys thinking that creates the conundrum. In our schools the message when I was growing up is that we Americans are proud, strong and righteous. But when other countries act in the same way, they are greedy, selfish aggressors. We rarely hear that their populations are merely acting on the beliefs that they have been taught since childhood just as we are.

    Now I do not know “the truth” about Gandhi. But I do know that when I hear a totally one sided depiction, I am probably not hearing the whole truth. I have not heard any expression of perfection from those who advocate for the statue. I am hearing a demonization from some of the more vocal opponents. What I am left to conclude is that Gandhi, like everyone else ( Thomas Jefferson, a great shaper of thought…..and a slave holder), ( Martin Luther King Jr., a great civil rights leader…..and a serial philanderer) was flawed. That does not mean that the symbolism of his expressed thoughts on non violent protest does not resonate with many in our community.

    I don’t believe in saints or devils. For me, these are human constructs to simplify and explain that which we see in our lives which we cannot explain rationally. Perhaps if we were a little more forgiving of the short comings that we know that we have in our own lives ( but try to hide), we might be able to be a little more forgiving of the short comings of others as well.

     

    1. GB Singh

      Dear Tia Will: 
            “and so find myself in a conundrum!”

      This conundrum is understandable given the propaganda and falsehoods we have been taught. I myself was raised with such falsehoods growing up in India.
      Gandhi’s real history is shrouded in layers, and its not easy to peel off these layers. It will not be fair if I ask you to go through all of his writings and other writings about him.
      Yes he was flawed like any other human being. But that doesn’t capture his history. He was more than flawed: He was evil.

  13. Gorki

    Dear Tia

    “Now I do not know “the truth” about Gandhi. But I do know that when I hear a totally one sided depiction, I am probably not hearing the whole truth. I have not heard any expression of perfection from those who advocate for the statue. I am hearing a demonization from some of the more vocal opponents….”

    Very thoughtful comments. I myself am not a fan of Gandhi either but find the above discussion one sided just like you do. Gandhi was a product of his times, just like Churchill and so many other ‘racists’ however he evolved; most of the stuff Col. Singh and other mention, even if true are from earlier times. By the time he died, he was a different man. Here below is a reproduction of an article written by George Orwell, that will strike some balance. Hope you like it.

    Regards.

    …….

    Reflections on Gandhi
    Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent, but the tests that have to be applied to them are not, of course, the same in all cases. In Gandhi’s case the questions on feels inclined to ask are: to what extent was Gandhi moved by vanity — by the consciousness of himself as a humble, naked old man, sitting on a praying mat and shaking empires by sheer spiritual power — and to what extent did he compromise his own principles by entering politics, which of their nature are inseparable from coercion and fraud? To give a definite answer one would have to study Gandhi’s acts and writings in immense detail, for his whole life was a sort of pilgrimage in which every act was significant. But this partial autobiography, which ends in the nineteen-twenties, is strong evidence in his favor, all the more because it covers what he would have called the unregenerate part of his life and reminds one that inside the saint, or near-saint, there was a very shrewd, able person who could, if he had chosen, have been a brilliant success as a lawyer, an administrator or perhaps even a businessman.
    At about the time when the autobiography first appeared I remember reading its opening chapters in the ill-printed pages of some Indian newspaper. They made a good impression on me, which Gandhi himself at that time did not. The things that one associated with him — home-spun cloth, “soul forces” and vegetarianism — were unappealing, and his medievalist program was obviously not viable in a backward, starving, over-populated country. It was also apparent that the British were making use of him, or thought they were making use of him. Strictly speaking, as a Nationalist, he was an enemy, but since in every crisis he would exert himself to prevent violence — which, from the British point of view, meant preventing any effective action whatever — he could be regarded as “our man”. In private this was sometimes cynically admitted. The attitude of the Indian millionaires was similar. Gandhi called upon them to repent, and naturally they preferred him to the Socialists and Communists who, given the chance, would actually have taken their money away. How reliable such calculations are in the long run is doubtful; as Gandhi himself says, “in the end deceivers deceive only themselves”; but at any rate the gentleness with which he was nearly always handled was due partly to the feeling that he was useful. The British Conservatives only became really angry with him when, as in 1942, he was in effect turning his non-violence against a different conqueror.

    But I could see even then that the British officials who spoke of him with a mixture of amusement and disapproval also genuinely liked and admired him, after a fashion. Nobody ever suggested that he was corrupt, or ambitious in any vulgar way, or that anything he did was actuated by fear or malice. In judging a man like Gandhi one seems instinctively to apply high standards, so that some of his virtues have passed almost unnoticed. For instance, it is clear even from the autobiography that his natural physical courage was quite outstanding: the manner of his death was a later illustration of this, for a public man who attached any value to his own skin would have been more adequately guarded. Again, he seems to have been quite free from that maniacal suspiciousness which, as E. M. Forster rightly says in A Passage to India, is the besetting Indian vice, as hypocrisy is the British vice. Although no doubt he was shrewd enough in detecting dishonesty, he seems wherever possible to have believed that other people were acting in good faith and had a better nature through which they could be approached. And though he came of a poor middle-class family, started life rather unfavorably, and was probably of unimpressive physical appearance, he was not afflicted by envy or by the feeling of inferiority. Color feeling when he first met it in its worst form in South Africa, seems rather to have astonished him. Even when he was fighting what was in effect a color war, he did not think of people in terms of race or status. The governor of a province, a cotton millionaire, a half-starved Dravidian coolie, a British private soldier were all equally human beings, to be approached in much the same way. It is noticeable that even in the worst possible circumstances, as in South Africa when he was making himself unpopular as the champion of the Indian community, he did not lack European friends.

    Written in short lengths for newspaper serialization, the autobiography is not a literary masterpiece, but it is the more impressive because of the commonplaceness of much of its material. It is well to be reminded that Gandhi started out with the normal ambitions of a young Indian student and only adopted his extremist opinions by degrees and, in some cases, rather unwillingly. There was a time, it is interesting to learn, when he wore a top hat, took dancing lessons, studied French and Latin, went up the Eiffel Tower and even tried to learn the violin — all this was the idea of assimilating European civilization as throughly as possible. He was not one of those saints who are marked out by their phenomenal piety from childhood onwards, nor one of the other kind who forsake the world after sensational debaucheries. He makes full confession of the misdeeds of his youth, but in fact there is not much to confess. As a frontispiece to the book there is a photograph of Gandhi’s possessions at the time of his death. The whole outfit could be purchased for about 5 pounds***, and Gandhi’s sins, at least his fleshly sins, would make the same sort of appearance if placed all in one heap. A few cigarettes, a few mouthfuls of meat, a few annas pilfered in childhood from the maidservant, two visits to a brothel (on each occasion he got away without “doing anything”), one narrowly escaped lapse with his landlady in Plymouth, one outburst of temper — that is about the whole collection. Almost from childhood onwards he had a deep earnestness, an attitude ethical rather than religious, but, until he was about thirty, no very definite sense of direction. His first entry into anything describable as public life was made by way of vegetarianism. Underneath his less ordinary qualities one feels all the time the solid middle-class businessmen who were his ancestors. One feels that even after he had abandoned personal ambition he must have been a resourceful, energetic lawyer and a hard-headed political organizer, careful in keeping down expenses, an adroit handler of committees and an indefatigable chaser of subscriptions. His character was an extraordinarily mixed one, but there was almost nothing in it that you can put your finger on and call bad, and I believe that even Gandhi’s worst enemies would admit that he was an interesting and unusual man who enriched the world simply by being alive . Whether he was also a lovable man, and whether his teachings can have much for those who do not accept the religious beliefs on which they are founded, I have never felt fully certain.

    Of late years it has been the fashion to talk about Gandhi as though he were not only sympathetic to the Western Left-wing movement, but were integrally part of it. Anarchists and pacifists, in particular, have claimed him for their own, noticing only that he was opposed to centralism and State violence and ignoring the other-worldly, anti-humanist tendency of his doctrines. But one should, I think, realize that Gandhi’s teachings cannot be squared with the belief that Man is the measure of all things and that our job is to make life worth living on this earth, which is the only earth we have. They make sense only on the assumption that God exists and that the world of solid objects is an illusion to be escaped from. It is worth considering the disciplines which Gandhi imposed on himself and which — though he might not insist on every one of his followers observing every detail — he considered indispensable if one wanted to serve either God or humanity. First of all, no meat-eating, and if possible no animal food in any form. (Gandhi himself, for the sake of his health, had to compromise on milk, but seems to have felt this to be a backsliding.) No alcohol or tobacco, and no spices or condiments even of a vegetable kind, since food should be taken not for its own sake but solely in order to preserve one’s strength. Secondly, if possible, no sexual intercourse. If sexual intercourse must happen, then it should be for the sole purpose of begetting children and presumably at long intervals. Gandhi himself, in his middle thirties, took the vow of brahmacharya, which means not only complete chastity but the elimination of sexual desire. This condition, it seems, is difficult to attain without a special diet and frequent fasting. One of the dangers of milk-drinking is that it is apt to arouse sexual desire. And finally — this is the cardinal point — for the seeker after goodness there must be no close friendships and no exclusive loves whatever.

    Close friendships, Gandhi says, are dangerous, because “friends react on one another” and through loyalty to a friend one can be led into wrong-doing. This is unquestionably true. Moreover, if one is to love God, or to love humanity as a whole, one cannot give one’s preference to any individual person. This again is true, and it marks the point at which the humanistic and the religious attitude cease to be reconcilable. To an ordinary human being, love means nothing if it does not mean loving some people more than others. The autobiography leaves it uncertain whether Gandhi behaved in an inconsiderate way to his wife and children, but at any rate it makes clear that on three occasions he was willing to let his wife or a child die rather than administer the animal food prescribed by the doctor. It is true that the threatened death never actually occurred, and also that Gandhi — with, one gathers, a good deal of moral pressure in the opposite direction — always gave the patient the choice of staying alive at the price of committing a sin: still, if the decision had been solely his own, he would have forbidden the animal food, whatever the risks might be. There must, he says, be some limit to what we will do in order to remain alive, and the limit is well on this side of chicken broth. This attitude is perhaps a noble one, but, in the sense which — I think — most people would give to the word, it is inhuman. The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, that one is sometimes willing to commit sins for the sake of loyalty, that one does not push asceticism to the point where it makes friendly intercourse impossible, and that one is prepared in the end to be defeated and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals. No doubt alcohol, tobacco, and so forth, are things that a saint must avoid, but sainthood is also a thing that human beings must avoid. There is an obvious retort to this, but one should be wary about making it. In this yogi-ridden age, it is too readily assumed that “non-attachment” is not only better than a full acceptance of earthly life, but that the ordinary man only rejects it because it is too difficult: in other words, that the average human being is a failed saint. It is doubtful whether this is true. Many people genuinely do not wish to be saints, and it is probable that some who achieve or aspire to sainthood have never felt much temptation to be human beings. If one could follow it to its psychological roots, one would, I believe, find that the main motive for “non-attachment” is a desire to escape from the pain of living, and above all from love, which, sexual or non-sexual, is hard work. But it is not necessary here to argue whether the other-worldly or the humanistic ideal is “higher”. The point is that they are incompatible. One must choose between God and Man, and all “radicals” and “progressives”, from the mildest Liberal to the most extreme Anarchist, have in effect chosen Man.

    However, Gandhi’s pacifism can be separated to some extent from his other teachings. Its motive was religious, but he claimed also for it that it was a definitive technique, a method, capable of producing desired political results. Gandhi’s attitude was not that of most Western pacifists. Satyagraha, first evolved in South Africa, was a sort of non-violent warfare, a way of defeating the enemy without hurting him and without feeling or arousing hatred. It entailed such things as civil disobedience, strikes, lying down in front of railway trains, enduring police charges without running away and without hitting back, and the like. Gandhi objected to “passive resistance” as a translation of Satyagraha: in Gujarati, it seems, the word means “firmness in the truth”. In his early days Gandhi served as a stretcher-bearer on the British side in the Boer War, and he was prepared to do the same again in the war of 1914-18. Even after he had completely abjured violence he was honest enough to see that in war it is usually necessary to take sides. He did not — indeed, since his whole political life centred round a struggle for national independence, he could not — take the sterile and dishonest line of pretending that in every war both sides are exactly the same and it makes no difference who wins. Nor did he, like most Western pacifists, specialize in avoiding awkward questions. In relation to the late war, one question that every pacifist had a clear obligation to answer was: “What about the Jews? Are you prepared to see them exterminated? If not, how do you propose to save them without resorting to war?” I must say that I have never heard, from any Western pacifist, an honest answer to this question, though I have heard plenty of evasions, usually of the “you’re another” type. But it so happens that Gandhi was asked a somewhat similar question in 1938 and that his answer is on record in Mr. Louis Fischer’s Gandhi and Stalin. According to Mr. Fischer, Gandhi’s view was that the German Jews ought to commit collective suicide, which “would have aroused the world and the people of Germany to Hitler’s violence.” After the war he justified himself: the Jews had been killed anyway, and might as well have died significantly. One has the impression that this attitude staggered even so warm an admirer as Mr. Fischer, but Gandhi was merely being honest. If you are not prepared to take life, you must often be prepared for lives to be lost in some other way. When, in 1942, he urged non-violent resistance against a Japanese invasion, he was ready to admit that it might cost several million deaths.

    At the same time there is reason to think that Gandhi, who after all was born in 1869, did not understand the nature of totalitarianism and saw everything in terms of his own struggle against the British government. The important point here is not so much that the British treated him forbearingly as that he was always able to command publicity. As can be seen from the phrase quoted above, he believed in “arousing the world”, which is only possible if the world gets a chance to hear what you are doing. It is difficult to see how Gandhi’s methods could be applied in a country where opponents of the regime disappear in the middle of the night and are never heard of again. Without a free press and the right of assembly, it is impossible not merely to appeal to outside opinion, but to bring a mass movement into being, or even to make your intentions known to your adversary. Is there a Gandhi in Russia at this moment? And if there is, what is he accomplishing? The Russian masses could only practise civil disobedience if the same idea happened to occur to all of them simultaneously, and even then, to judge by the history of the Ukraine famine, it would make no difference. But let it be granted that non-violent resistance can be effective against one’s own government, or against an occupying power: even so, how does one put it into practise internationally? Gandhi’s various conflicting statements on the late war seem to show that he felt the difficulty of this. Applied to foreign politics, pacifism either stops being pacifist or becomes appeasement. Moreover the assumption, which served Gandhi so well in dealing with individuals, that all human beings are more or less approachable and will respond to a generous gesture, needs to be seriously questioned. It is not necessarily true, for example, when you are dealing with lunatics. Then the question becomes: Who is sane? Was Hitler sane? And is it not possible for one whole culture to be insane by the standards of another? And, so far as one can gauge the feelings of whole nations, is there any apparent connection between a generous deed and a friendly response? Is gratitude a factor in international politics?

    These and kindred questions need discussion, and need it urgently, in the few years left to us before somebody presses the button and the rockets begin to fly. It seems doubtful whether civilization can stand another major war, and it is at least thinkable that the way out lies through non-violence. It is Gandhi’s virtue that he would have been ready to give honest consideration to the kind of question that I have raised above; and, indeed, he probably did discuss most of these questions somewhere or other in his innumerable newspaper articles. One feels of him that there was much he did not understand, but not that there was anything that he was frightened of saying or thinking. I have never been able to feel much liking for Gandhi, but I do not feel sure that as a political thinker he was wrong in the main, nor do I believe that his life was a failure. It is curious that when he was assassinated, many of his warmest admirers exclaimed sorrowfully that he had lived just long enough to see his life work in ruins, because India was engaged in a civil war which had always been foreseen as one of the byproducts of the transfer of power. But it was not in trying to smooth down Hindu-Moslem rivalry that Gandhi had spent his life. His main political objective, the peaceful ending of British rule, had after all been attained. As usual the relevant facts cut across one another. On the other hand, the British did get out of India without fighting, and event which very few observers indeed would have predicted until about a year before it happened. On the other hand, this was done by a Labour government, and it is certain that a Conservative government, especially a government headed by Churchill, would have acted differently. But if, by 1945, there had grown up in Britain a large body of opinion sympathetic to Indian independence, how far was this due to Gandhi’s personal influence? And if, as may happen, India and Britain finally settle down into a decent and friendly relationship, will this be partly because Gandhi, by keeping up his struggle obstinately and without hatred, disinfected the political air? That one even thinks of asking such questions indicates his stature. One may feel, as I do, a sort of aesthetic distaste for Gandhi, one may reject the claims of sainthood made on his behalf (he never made any such claim himself, by the way), one may also reject sainthood as an ideal and therefore feel that Gandhi’s basic aims were anti-human and reactionary: but regarded simply as a politician, and compared with the other leading political figures of our time, how clean a smell he has managed to leave behind!

    1949

    THE END

    ____BD____
    George Orwell: ‘Reflections on Gandhi’
    First published: Partisan Review. — GB, London. — January 1949.

    Reprinted:— ‘Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays’. — 1950.— ‘The Orwell Reader, Fiction, Essays, and Reportage’ — 1956.— ‘Collected Essays’. — 1961.— ‘The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell’. — 1968.

    1. GB Singh

      Dear Gorki,

      Thanks for posting George Orwell’s article of 1949. Remember this article appeared long before we started to get volumes of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, published by the Govt. of India.

      George Orwell never had the opportunity to see and read Gandhi in full light of the day.

       

       

  14. GB Singh

    Dear Editor,

    I commend you for opening the controversial subject of Gandhi. May I suggest that you take a lead in arranging an open debate on historical Gandhi at a place suitable in your geographic area.

    Feel free to invite scholars etc from all aspects of Gandhi’s life. Also invite members of the City Council of Davis.

    By promoting a lively debate we all will learn the truth. Hopefully by this method of open debate, the people of Davis and its City Council can walk out knowing Gandhi’s real history and then should be able to take further action on the Gandhi statue.

    Thanks

     

     

     

     

     

  15. Tia Will

    I am no scholar of Indian history nor the life of Gandhi. I would however like to share some thoughts from an anthropologic ( my undergraduate major) perspective.

    Pedophilia can be defined as sexual feelings directed at children. I feel it is important to consider this charge from several different perspectives.

    1) What is the definition of “child” in the social structure of the time and society being considered ? Many cultures define this quite differently. In many cultures, girls are “married” to an older man at very young ages, some well before puberty and are provided to their husband as soon as their menses have begun. Other cultures define a specific age usually around 13-15 as their age of “adulthood”. Others will define adulthood ( usually for males for whom the biologic marker of adulthood is not so distinct) as when they have achieved a specific task or skill level regardless of age. What those who are charging Gandhi with pedophilia are doing is asking us to use our society’s definitions to judge his actions ( when those actions and their motivations are not entirely clear).

    2. Which brings me to the second point, which is what constitutes “appropriate” sexual feelings ?  We all have them. Sometimes they are aroused by socially appropriate people or objects. Sometimes they are aroused in situations that our society has deemed “inappropriate”. This determination is usually based on our religious beliefs. So is it not appropriate to ask ourselves several questions. First, what are the actions that are associated with these feelings ?  Most of us in our society would agree that engaging in sexual behavior with a non consenting adult or a child is completely inappropriate. However, what if the action of lying in bed with an individual is taken is not to give in or indulge in the activity, but rather to attempt to over come the feelings ?  Is it then immoral ? Is the mere exposure to one’s feelings inappropriate, or is it acting on them by engaging in sexual activity that is inappropriate ?

    3. Sleeping arrangements. There is no universal cultural belief in whom it is appropriate to sleep with or lie in bed with separate from sexual activity. Many societies differentiate the family bed from sexual activity. This sleeping arrangement of all family members in one bed regardless of age or gender is not unusual. The groups of which I am aware tend to have adolescent children leave the family bed. But it is important to remember that for them, adulthood usual begins at this age and therefore the individuals that are leaving would be considered to have reached adulthood.

    4. Who is the appropriate agent of consent ?  Who, societally speaking gets to determine, who is responsible for the sexual mores of a society ?  Looking across cultures, it is usually men who have gotten to define, through their role as societal leaders, who is held responsible for sexual transgressions even given that numerically the largest number of transgressors are men. The usual standard in the major world religions is that men are largely hormonal driven creatures who are at the mercy of their urges, while women are assigned the burden of maintaining the moral standard of the society. At the extremes we see women treated as the property of males. Slightly less extreme is the feeling that while women are not property, they are under the “guidance” of men and it is women who must make accommodations for the “comfort” of a man. We see this in laws until very recently in which a man could not be found guilty of raping his own wife no matter the degree of violence or force involved. We see it in the non violent but inequitable request of some religious men to have a woman reseated from her preferred spot in order for him to not be sexually tempted. We see it in women being prescribed to wear, or not wear, certain clothing based on the cultural biases of the men in charge of the town, or state, or country usually on the completely hypocritical basis that other men have determined what she must wear.

    So while we may have strong feelings of abhorrence for our perception of the actions of Mr. Gandhi based on our own cultural and religious standards, I think that it is important to at least attempt to place these actions in the context of his time and his religious beliefs rather than our own.

  16. GB Singh

    Dear Tia,

    Thanks for great input.

    Would you then agree with this: In that case we can understand (and justify) Gandhi’s virulent racism against black people because it was and still is perfectly okay because it fits within the norms of Gandhi’s own cultural & religious standards–Hinduism and its caste system.

     

    1. hpierce

      Ghandi was an effective and positive model for solving some inequities… GB Singh’s point is also very well taken… if people lack historical perspective, in Kipling’s time, folk from India/Pakistan were considered “black”  [See ‘Gunga Din’]… now, the official line is that they are considered Asian… racism, secterianism, are all WRONG… nobody is perfect… many faith-based systems seek (pronunciation pun unintended) higher goals, towards perfection… the caste system was/is, arguably, worse than slavery in the US… ask an “untouchable”…

    2. Gorki

      Dear GB Singh:

      “Gandhi’s own cultural & religious standards–Hinduism and its caste system….”

      Caste system is not limited to Hinduism; it is an Indian cultural value, castiest feelings are common even today among Hindus, Sikhs, and even Muslims from South Asia as a result of which honor killings take place from time to time among families even when they migrate to the West. (Incidently those honor killings are more rampant among the Muslims and Punjabi Jats. For reference check out the record of the former head of the Sikh SGPC, Bibi whatever-her-name is who was convicted of such honor killing of her own daughter ).

      Similarly while Gandhi was arguing his case for racial equality with the Whites in South Africa, Bhagat Singh Thind was arguing similarly in the US supreme court to be treated differently from other races not because the racial laws were unfair but by saying they had been applied unfairly to the Indian peoples. (Gandhi evolved; after 1910-1912 he never used the racial argument, and started calling for equality of all peoples; Bhagat Singh Thind  OTOH carried on his arguments well into the 1920s.

      Similalry Gandhi’s views on caste evolved over time. Initially he opposed untouchability  but supported caste system (several untouchables lived with him on his campus, he even cleaned their toilets). Later (1930s onwards) he actively called for abolishing caste altogether.

      Gandhi went to India in 1915 and became a national ‘hero’ after 1920s. By that time he had outgrown his fascination with the British empire and became an implacable enemy of colonialism, racism of any kind.

      In 1946-47 Gandhi actively helped tamp down partition violence in Bengal. Mountbatten wrote that in Punjab there was a boundary force of 55,000 and still they were unable to stop large scale massacres (A million died in a few months, 10 million became homeless; everyone, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims did the killing and raping) but in Bengal Gandhi alone (he called him a one man boundary force) prevented any such killings!

    3. Tia Will

      GB Singh,

      Would you then agree with this: In that case we can understand (and justify) Gandhi’s virulent racism against black people because it was and still is perfectly okay because it fits within the norms of Gandhi’s own cultural & religious standards–Hinduism and its caste system.”

      I agree with some parts of your statement, and not with others.

      I agree that we can understand the “virulent racism” as a construct of the times in which he lived and a product of how he was raised without feeling any need to attempt to justify it. Racism was not and is not “perfectly okay”. However, I think that it is entirely possible to realize that many people whom we like, respect, honor or even love are neither angels nor devils but are, as are we all,  strong and admirable in some areas of our lives, and weak and/or abhorrent in others.

      I would like to give an example from my own life. My own mother was a kind, charitable and loving woman. She was also a racist, although she would never have admitted to it. I loved my mother deeply, and honored her for her strengths while at the same time realizing that I did not have to respect nor emulate all of her traits.

  17. GB Singh

    Dear hpierce:

    Appreciate your comment. You wrote, “Ghandi was an effective and positive model for solving some inequities… ”

    Out of curiosity and for the benefit of the readers, can you specify which “some inequities” you have in your mind that Gandhi solved and was effective?

    Also as you enumerate them, it will be nice if you can back your statements with primary references. If you don’t have such references, still it will be nice of you to share with us what you know.

    Thanks

     

  18. GB Singh

    Dear hpierce:

    British colonial rule over India ended because of Second World War–remember Adolf Hitler and Imperial Japan.  Nothing to do with Gandhi. Look at all the three nationwide Satyagrahas of Gandhi and not one was earmarked for freedom of India.

     

     

     

    1. hpierce

      I sit corrected, unless I find other sources contrasting with those that I grew up with.

      I do not dispute, BTW, that Ghandi had his ‘problems’, and have repeated opined here that he should not be ‘deified’… and I have repeatedly questioned the statue… you may not have noticed that consistency… I also don’t believe he was “the devil incarnate”… he was a person… nothing more, nothing less…

      Can you provide me and the rest of the readers primary sources for his “problems”?

      1. GB Singh

        hpierce:  Thanks. I have never portrayed Gandhi as “devil incarnate.” Of course he was a human being just like you and me in physical shape of homo-sapiens.

        Your last question of primary sources of his “problems” is not clear to me.

        As far as defining Satyagrahs of Gandhi goes, please consult any book on the subject matter.

  19. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki:

    The Caste System is part and parcel of Hinduism. Just because you have examples of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs etc practice rudimentary elements of the Caste, it does not change the fact that the fountainhead of the Caste System stems from Hindu scriptures. Lets stay focused on Gandhi and the Caste System.

    You are correct that he evolved especially with respect to untouchability. But that in of itself does not change the Caste System. All Gandhi was suggesting was to move the untouchables a step higher in the company of the lowest sub-castes of the Sudras. Even this minor change didn’t work because the sub-caste above the untouchables didn’t approve of such a move. Moreover, there is wide degrees of deceptions Gandhi left behind when he started to fiddle with untouchability. Read Dr. Ambedkar’s works for details.

    You wrote: “Gandhi went to India in 1915 and became a national ‘hero’ after 1920s. By that time he had outgrown his fascination with the British empire and became an implacable enemy of colonialism, racism of any kind.”

    What evidence can you provide here to back up what you wrote.. Have you heard of murder of William F. Doherty, a white American? and Gandhi’s direct involvement in this crime especially cover up. Yes racism was alive. 

    You wrote: “In 1946-47 Gandhi actively helped tamp down partition violence in Bengal. Mountbatten wrote that in Punjab there was a boundary force of 55,000 and still they were unable to stop large scale massacres (A million died in a few months, 10 million became homeless; everyone, Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims did the killing and raping) but in Bengal Gandhi alone (he called him a one man boundary force) prevented any such killings!”

    You may not know that by this time in Bengal, Gandhi was more busy sleeping with young girls and fortifying his spiritual powers by experimenting with his semen. A political move, wasn’t it to deal with Jinnah! What you wrote about Mountbatten dealing with violence of Punjab–what does that has to do with Gandhi?

  20. GB Singh

    Dear Tia,

    Thank you for your heartfelt comment, especially about your mother.

    Lets stay with Gandhi and his virulent racism again blacks. I have a gut feeling: you are not knowledgeable of Gandhi’s actions while he lived in South Africa against blacks. If you an interest to read then I will recommend my two available books “Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity”  (2004) & “Gandhi Under Cross-examination”(2009). In addition, in 1906, Gandhi joined the Army with a rank of sergeant major and actively promoted war against blacks including promotion of their massacre. Get ready for a shock when you read the details.  You will be disgusted by Gandhi’s actions.

     

     

  21. Tia Will

    G  B Singh

    I want to clarify your use of the words “my books”. Are these books that you have personally written ? If so are they scholarly ( as in referenced to original materials) or are they primarily opinion based. I am asking so as to consider whether or not I would be interested in taking the time to read them.

    Also, I cannot help but wonder if Gandhi himself was not disgusted by the actions of his younger self. I do believe in the ability for personal redemption, so I am wondering if your books include the evolution of his thoughts over time ?

  22. GB Singh

    Dear Tia,

     

    I am the author. In 2009 book, I have a co-author by the name of Tim Watson. These books are factual and the analysis is based upon facts that most people had never seen or read. Real stuff!

    My 2004 book explores Gandhi’s “evolution” all through 1915 to 1948. He returned to India in 1915.

    You asked wisely if Gandhi felt disgusted by the actions of his younger self? Answer is NO.

  23. Gorki

    Dear Col. GB Singh,

     

    Adolph Hitler once said the following:

    “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”

    Nowadays a lot of things get reported on the net and then they get quoted multiple times and after a time become accepted wisdom. That is why it is important to corroborate stuff that is reported thusly by using multiple sources in order to make it credible.

    I have read this account of William F Doherty death several times but only on the internet. Almost all quote your book as the source when they do. Your book on Gandhi quotes one sworn and notarized statement in the United States mentioning Gandhi trying to talk to the widow of the murdered individual and some news reports regarding the death of that individual but without any further reference.

    Your book mentions that you researched it over 20 year period. Interestingly I did not find you report any other reference in support of this incidence from India where the alleged crime was committed. Specifically there is no mention of a police report, no law suit filed no police action and no retaliation by the British against the murder. The newspapers apparently reported the incidence immediately anyway in the US. So it is unclear how the supposed cover up took place.

    This is surprising since I am sure you know that the British in India were ruthless with the Indians when it came to exacting a revenge on the Indians for any crime against the white masters.

    As an example (and in contrast) I bring to your notice a report on the infamous ‘crawling order’ in Amritsar in the wake of Jallianwalla massacre when a mere beating of a white lady was punished by a very mean spirited collective retribution on the Indian community.

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Originally published as: “The Incident of the Crawling Lane: Women in the Punjab Disturbances of 1919”, Genders, no. 16 (Spring 1993):35-60.

    The ‘Event’

    “In the morning hours of April 10th, 1919, a crowd that had been proceeding towards the residence of the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar, an important city in the Punjab, a large province in the north-western part of the then undivided India, to demand the release of two popular leaders against whom deportation orders had been issued was fired upon by a military picket. Later in the day, several banks and other buildings, either housing government property or otherwise emblematic of British rule, were set fire to, and here and there other acts of incendiarism were committed. Four European men were, in separate incidents, brutally murdered. The infantry fired upon the crowd on several different occasions in the course of the day, and nearly twenty Indians were killed.

    The destruction of property, not much less sacrosanct than life in the British scheme of things, was deplorable, and the murder of several European men even more reprehensible, but nothing could have been more intolerable than the assault upon a defenceless Englishwoman. Miss Marcella Sherwood, a Church of England missionary and a resident of Amritsar for over fifteen years, was unable to escape the wrath of the crowd. As she was bicycling down a narrow lane, she was set upon by a crowd that knocked her down from her bicycle, and then delivered blows to her head with sticks while she was still on the ground. Miss Sherwood rose to her feet, and had just started to run when she was again brought down. On the subsequent attempt she reached a house but the door was slammed shut in her face. She was again beaten and left on the street in a critical condition. The crowd then dispersed; Miss Sherwood was soon thereafter rescued, and prompt medical attention saved her life.

     

    On April 19th, Dyer promulgated the so-called ‘crawling order’, which remained in effect until its revocation a week later. A flogging booth was placed in the middle of the lane where Miss Sherwood fell, and both ends of the street — some 200 yards long — were manned by soldiers, who were entrusted with the task of enforcing the order that any Indian, the streets’ residents not excepted, who traversed it did so, to use the language employed by Dyer, ‘on all fours’. Any infraction of the order was punished immediately with a number of lashes administered at the flogging post. Fifty people were compelled to undergo the indignity of crawling on their bellies…”

     

    Do you have any reference from India (police reports, news items etc.) which discuss how that particular murder was dealt with by the British authorities in Bombay?

     

  24. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    Thanks for a lengthy comment. Why would you start off with purported statement of Adolf Hitler?

    Incident referring to Brigadier Dyer: I don’t know why you brought it up.

    As I write this, this is strictly from my memory because my entire library is not with me. With regards to Mr. Doherty’s case: You wrote, “I have read this account of William F Doherty death several times but only on the internet. Almost all quote your book as the source when they do. Your book on Gandhi quotes one sworn and notarized statement in the United States mentioning Gandhi trying to talk to the widow of the murdered individual and some news reports regarding the death of that individual but without any further reference.”

    I don’t know what is transcribed on the internet. I can’t help you with what is or what is not on the internet. However, you should read full sworn deposition of Mrs. Doherty. She describes the murder and Gandhi’s role.  My book covered this murder in details with special focus analyzing the Gandhi’s literature. Good stuff there.

    At the end of your comment you asked me, “Do you have any reference from India (police reports, news items etc.) which discuss how that particular murder was dealt with by the British authorities in Bombay?”

    In my book, I covered all the news items I could lay my hands on. With respect to police reports, all my inquiries with police in Bombay in 1990’s failed. No one was interested in this old case. No one was interested to dig this murder which implicate Gandhi. I recall not a single Gandhi scholar was interested either during the course of my investigation.

    However, back in 1920’s, Gandhi was arrested soon thereafter and was tried under a law. You have to read the details of his 2nd Satyagraha movement of your own and the number of killings in Bombay as a result of it. In court, Gandhi pleaded guilty and was sentenced. I am being brief here because I am strictly writing it without the benefit of my library. If I can recall, soon after my book was published or may be just days before, one famous lawyer, Gandhian himself, connected with India’s Supreme Court tried to challenge me on Doherty’s murder. The evidence he presented ended up supporting my analysis. I plan to include that in the paperback edition of my book in near future.

    Also during this time of Doherty’s murder, three more Whites were murdered. All of them were British. That investigation is still underway as I write this.

    I also recall, one Indian journalist (with high connections in Bombay) based here in USA contacted me over the phone and challenged me on Doherty’s case. All I could ask him was to provide evidence which he promised. This was in 2004. I never heard from him again even after my repeated attempts to reach him. Just last week, I happened to be in the city where this gentleman lived. Again my attempt to contact him failed.

    Also I remember, one British gentleman (don’t remember his name) from UK reached me. He was connected with Richard Attenborogh and the pro-Gandhi group based in England. He asked me some questions on this murder case and promised to get back with me. I never heard from him.

     

     

  25. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    Now I am well into few more hours thinking of Doherty’s murder. I remember enlisting the service of an activist in India to dig through all the papers, Government or otherwise. His specialty is search old documents. He sent me some, which all pointed to the accuracy of my conclusions. This individual still helps me out tracking documents when I need his help.

    I also googled this case, which brought me to http://www.gandhism.org site. Yes I am well aware of this site.

    Thanks

     

    GB Singh

     

     

  26. Gorki

    Dear Col. GB Singh,
    “Incident referring to Brigadier Dyer: I don’t know why you brought it up…”
    Sir, the reason I mentioned it is quite obvious, and I mentioned it above.  Once again; the British in India were very ruthless in punishing any Indian on White violence; the Dyer order was an example. That is why I find it surprising that the incidence was not reported in India and the British let the murder go without any inquiry or action unless there is more to it.
    In your book you wrote “I am certain Gandhi was involved directly in the cover up of the murder of William F Doherty…” I guess in the absence of any other information you provide the ‘certainty’ stems from two bits of information; a sworn affidavit from the widow, curiously, 10 years after the tragedy (What was the purpose?) and the American newspaper report of the death.
    The line of reasoning implicating Gandhi in complicity with murder is beyond weak unless one follows your logic that Gandhi’s speeches were the sole reason that incited Indian to violence against the White masters. That there was no other motive; never mind the signs saying ‘Indians and dogs not allowed’ often displayed in whites only establishments in India then, nor the deliberate and methodical massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians at Jallianwala Bagh; not to mention the millions of every day humiliations piled on them by the colonials. If you think so then either you are ignorant of colonial history or deliberately neglecting to mention it.
    Your book quotes only the sources from the colonialists’ points of view (Katherine Mayo, General Dyer!) while ignoring any nationalist sources. For example quoting the prince of Wales in support of evidence against Gandhi is like quoting Aurangzeb against Guru Teg Bahadur!
    Anyway this still is a smaller issue.
    The big issue is a narrative bias and the fact that Gandhi is but a symbol; the real enemy is India and its Hindu majority. There has always existed a certain hardcore segment of the Sikhs whose narrative has always been very pro-British and anti-nationalist. For example, the General Dyer you quote, (who proudly reported that he stopped firing on civilians only because his troops ran out of ammunition); was felicited by the Sikh Akal Takht days after his crime.  (Akali leaders never repudiated it and even after 1925). Neither was that a single example. While many Sikhs fought bravely against colonial rule in their individual capacity, Sikh institutions never came out against colonialism. Not the Tat Khalsa, not the chief Khalsa Dewan, not even the SGPC ever once condemned colonial rule.
    All the ‘famous’ Sikh ‘struggles’ under the British were ‘Gurudawara lehars’, petty protests to ‘free’ the ‘Guru ghars’. There were no high principles involved; only internal fights for the control of cash rich Sikh temples. The Brits played along; they would pretend to hold fast supporting one side then let the side with more bodies declare victory by empty symbolic gestures as ‘handing over the keys’ to places that were in Sikh hands in the first place. The British took away (real) keys to the kingdom of Punjab and handed back meaningless keys.  And the Sikhs lapped it up. From the 1920s onward, they declared so many ‘victories’ Nankana Sahib, Harimander Sahib, Jaito, Guru ka Bagh; boy the head spins…
    For 50 years in the latter half of 18th century the Sikhs fought had bravely against Afghan invaders. In 1765 Abdali literally begged Lehna Singh Bhangi to accept his nominal control and in return asked Lehna Singh to write his own ticket; yet the Bhangi Chief refused; saying he could not live under foreign rule, nominal or otherwise.   
    Less than 100 years later his successors not only proudly accepted alien rule they relished in it. Sikhs became the most reliable mercenaries under the British rule. Time and again Sikhs within British forces, the army, the police and para militaries crushed the fellow freedom fighters among them with relish. The Gadharities, the Babar Akalis the Bhagat Singhs, all were dutifully reported on, and rounded up by the mostly Sikh collaborators. Now a segment of the Sikhs is busy writing a revisionist narrative in which the British are the heroes and the Indian nationalists the villains.
    It really should not matter to anyone except the fact that such narratives have hurt the Sikhs themselves. The Sikhs today are friendless because the British are gone and a small corrupt Sikh coterie rules the State. That coterie skillfully uses such narratives to insulate the common Sikhs from the rest of the civil society in India. That narrative has helped in the complete subjugation of not only the State government but the SGPC, the Akal Takht, and everything else in between. Ironically the only thing an average Punjabi Sikh today detests more than those subjugating them are those who let this happen by their rhetoric. The much celebrated ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ that was so hailed by a section of anti-India NRI Sikhs, fizzled out without a whimper and no one in Punjab is shedding any tears.
    And Gandhi is a nonissue in India except when used by others to bait India. I think it is high time the Sikh ‘intellectuals’ here in the US did some introspection. Is there any grand strategy here or are they just venting; answering the call of their own egos alone….     
     

  27. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    I caution you not to employ diversionary tactics. Stay focused on the issue at hand. This is the second time I have to tell you.

    With respect to Mr. Doherty’s murder and its cover up attempts, I read your comment with concerns. I presume you have read Mrs. Doherty’s sworn statement and it also appears you have read my book with focus on Mr. Doherty’s murder etc. Here are the points you need to answer:

    1. Lets assume you are Mrs. Doherty. Given the brutality of your husband’s murder and its attempted cover up, would you forget the details of this gruesome case in mere roughly 8 years? or even 10 years as you pointed out.

    2. It seems you have problem with the timing of the sworn statement but not with its contents. As to why she ended up with her statement roughly 8 years after the murder is something I covered in my book. Please read it carefully.

    3. Lets also presume you are Gandhi. And I write to you a letter respectfully asking your input as to what and why Mrs. Doherty had said in her sworn statement, how would you reply? Would you even reply?

    4. I am more confused with your dragging in the names of Katherine Mayo, General Dyer, and Prince of Wales. Why?

    a. Tell me where and how did I use Katherine Mayo to prove my case particularly in Mr. Doherty’s murder and its cover up? I don’t recall Ms. Mayo ever discussed this murder case.

    b. Same question goes for Brigadier Dyer. I don’t recall Dyer ever discussing this murder case.

    c. If my memory serves me well, I don’t think Prince of Wales mentioned or discussed this case either. Mr. Gorki, can you read the narratives carefully?

    5. Ms. Mayo was no colonist. Brigadier Dyer was a military officer and as such was a soldier. Let me remind you there were many Indians who were also employed as soldiers. Was he a colonist in the capacity of a soldier? You may draw your conclusion. Prince of Wales was a colonist by his mere position.

    6. Shortly after this murder and other murders and looting, Gandhi was prosecuted in the court of law. Before being sentenced and found guilty, Gandhi himself pleaded guilty. Can you tell us why he pleaded guilty?

    7. At the end of your lengthy comment you wrote, “And Gandhi is a nonissue in India …” Well in that case, can you tell the readers as to why the Govt. of India is bent upon erecting Gandhi’s statues outside of India? Is there a mystery you can shed light on?

    Again, I urge you to avoid diversions. I need specific answers item by item. If you have problem comprehending the issues, then there are other ways to participate in the discussion. If there are issues you don’t understand, ask for clarity and/or come up with valid question(s).   STAY FOCUSED.

     

  28. Gorki

    Dear Col. GB Singh. I am not sure what you mean by repeating ‘stay on the issue at hand’.

    The title of the above essay is ‘Sikh leader responds to Vanguard on Gandhi statue protests’

     

    In his essay the ‘leader‘ mentions that his (and I presume his group’s) intention is to :

     

    “oppose the efforts of a foreign government to enlist the City of Davis in a propaganda campaign that obscures the ongoing brutalization of minorities in India and supports the false myth…”

    I thus presume the topic at hand is

     

    a) Gandhi

     

    b) Sikh leadership

     

    c) Foriegn govenment\India

     

    d) Brutalization and minorities in India.

    You yourself wrote the following: “Independence to India in 1947 has nothing to do with Gandhi. It has to do with Second World War and its terrible impacts on British….”

     

     

     

     

    Every thing I wrote has to do with the above topic(s). Gandhi was an anti imperialist anti colonial nationalist fighting the British colonial rule; thus the historic Gandhi cannot be discussed without discussing British rule in India and its tactics.

    The ‘Sikh leadership’ cannot be discussed without discussing its role vis a vis the British masters. Brutalization of the minorities and specifically the Sikhs in India cannot be discussed without an understanding of the Sikh and Indian history.

     

    You then asked readers to reads your book. In your book on Gandhi; the Doherty murder is but a small part of it; your book discusses Katherine Mayo, Prince of Wales, general Dyer all in glowing terms.

     

    So thank you very much; I am on topic and I stand by my comments

     

  29. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    You are discussing with me: Gandhi. I have not addressed any other issue on this thread. There are others folks who also discussed with me on the subject of Gandhi and Gandhi only. They didn’t go off tract.

    Since you and I have been discussing the murder of  Mr. Doherty and its cover up, I asked you specific questions in my last comment. Would you please answer those questions. Thanks

     

  30. Gorki

    Dear Col. GB Singh:
    You wrote “Since you and I have been discussing the murder of  Mr. Doherty and its cover up, I asked you specific questions in my last comment. Would you please answer those questions”
    Sir, your ‘facts’ on Doherty murder in your book are not exactly rocket science, they are quite basic. You present two perhaps three bits of information. A sworn statement by the widow; (years after the fact), stating that her husband was killed in a riot in India; a newspaper or two reporting the death of the individual and VL Pandit’s statement, years later about what Sarojini Naidu said or did not say; (which you discount), that’s it.
    Out of these only one, A H Doherty’s statement merely mentions Gandhi meeting her to emphasize that the news of her husband’s death in the riot should not be told in America so as not to damage the Indian Nationalist cause; and that is it.
    From this you have concluded with ‘a degree of certainty’ (your words):
    1.           Gandhi was an anti-white racist
    2.         Gandhi was involved in a ‘cover-up’
    3.        Gandhi was directly involved in this murder
     To me this is not flimsy evidence; it is beyond flimsy.
    AH Doherty’s statement does not say anything about a cover up (those are your words). She does not say whether a police report was filed and if so what happened to the investigation in India. From your book it is not even clear if she ever filed a lawsuit either in India (where it would be the obvious thing to do) or even in America.
    So all these words; ‘cover up’ ‘murder’ ‘criminal’ ‘intimidation’ etc. are yours, based on a statement of a woman whom Gandhi went to see after her husband was killed in a riot!
    The rest of the ‘chapter’ is full of conjecture.
    You write that ‘If Gandhi was not directly involved in the murder of Mr. Doherty, I nevertheless have no hesitation in blaming him for being indirectly involved and he ought to be held accountable.’  
    You have implied that it is because it seems you believe that Gandhi was the sole reason for the riot.
     Elsewhere above you have no problem attributing Gandhi’s motives to his religion and culture (“Gandhi’s virulent racism against black people” because it was and still is perfectly okay because it fits within the norms of Gandhi’s own cultural & religious standards–Hinduism and its caste systemAND “it does not change the fact that the fountainhead of the Caste System stems from Hindu scriptures.” Your words above) but you are so insecure about your own religion and culture that you refuse to discuss it!!
     You promoted your book above yet now refuse to discuss either the book or the people you mention and quote in the book (Katherine Mayo, General Dyer).
    From all this I can only draw one of the two conclusions; either you suffer from a very strong pro-British and anti-nationalist bias or else you are extremely ignorant of India’s recent history; either way, I am sorry for you.
     
    Goodbye    

  31. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    Again I read your above comment with a degree of concern. What is it that you don’t answer the questions relating to Doherty’s murder case since you have read my book? Give it a try–you might learn something of importance here. I reproduce those questions/inquiries to make it easier for you:

    1. Lets assume you are Mrs. Doherty. Given the brutality of your husband’s murder and its attempted cover up, would you forget the details of this gruesome case in mere roughly 8 years? or even 10 years as you pointed out.
    2. It seems you have problem with the timing of the sworn statement but not with its contents. As to why she ended up with her statement roughly 8 years after the murder is something I covered in my book. Please read it carefully.
    3. Lets also presume you are Gandhi. And I write to you a letter respectfully asking your input as to what and why Mrs. Doherty had said in her sworn statement, how would you reply? Would you even reply?
    4. I am more confused with your dragging in the names of Katherine Mayo, General Dyer, and Prince of Wales. Why?
    a. Tell me where and how did I use Katherine Mayo to prove my case particularly in Mr. Doherty’s murder and its cover up? I don’t recall Ms. Mayo ever discussed this murder case.
    b. Same question goes for Brigadier Dyer. I don’t recall Dyer ever discussing this murder case.
    c. If my memory serves me well, I don’t think Prince of Wales mentioned or discussed this case either. Mr. Gorki, can you read the narratives carefully?
    5. Ms. Mayo was no colonist. Brigadier Dyer was a military officer and as such was a soldier. Let me remind you there were many Indians who were also employed as soldiers. Was he a colonist in the capacity of a soldier? You may draw your conclusion. Prince of Wales was a colonist by his mere position.
    6. Shortly after this murder and other murders and looting, Gandhi was prosecuted in the court of law. Before being sentenced and found guilty, Gandhi himself pleaded guilty. Can you tell us why he pleaded guilty?
    7. At the end of your lengthy comment you wrote, “And Gandhi is a nonissue in India …” Well in that case, can you tell the readers as to why the Govt. of India is bent upon erecting Gandhi’s statues outside of India? Is there a mystery you can shed light on?
      If you don’t want to answer, just say it. It is your decision. Thanks

  32. Gorki

    My dear Col. Sir,

     

    I think you don’t want to defend any of your positions taken in the book so you are taking cover by refusing to defend any of your positions above except a narrow case of one death. Anyway suit yourself.

     

    1. Lets assume you are Mrs. Doherty. Given the brutality of your husband’s murder and its attempted cover up, would you forget the details of this gruesome case in mere roughly 8 years? or even 10 years as you pointed out.

     

    No one is implying AHD ‘forgot any details’. I am even willing to take her testimony on its face value. All that testimony says is that first SN and then MKG came to see her. Perhaps they indicated to her that their ’cause’ would be hurt if America found out about her husband dying. The story was nevertheless reported by the American newspapers anyway. SO did AHD, in her testimony. So where is the ‘coverup’?

     

    2. It seems you have problem with the timing of the sworn statement but not with its contents. As to why she ended up with her statement roughly 8 years after the murder is something I covered in my book. Please read it carefully.

     

    Nitpicking; 5 years, 8 years, 10 years, Does it make a material difference? I am simply curious what prompted AHD to record her testimony. Was a criminal case filed?

     

    3. Lets also presume you are Gandhi. And I write to you a letter respectfully asking your input as to what and why Mrs. Doherty had said in her sworn statement, how would you reply? Would you even reply?

     

    I am not sure what you are implying here. Did AHD say in her testimony that she wrote to MKG? Was such a letter ever written to MKG? (I did not read about it anywhere: may be missed it). Even if so, there are umpteen reasons, why no reply is available.

     

    a) May be MKG never got the letter

     

    b) maybe he replied and the reply never got back.

     

    c) But the most probable one is that like public figures today, even then such figures recieved hundreds of letters a day; not all can be replied to. Only a conspiracy theorist of the highest order can make a criminal conspiracy on the base of a non reply from a public figure. Now let me ask you back. Was there any suit filed against anyone; anyone in the death of WD? why not?

     
    4. I am more confused with your dragging in the names of Katherine Mayo, General Dyer, and Prince of Wales. Why?

     

    I doubt you are confused; only evasive.

    The names of the above came out of YOUR BOOK. Your book was not simply about one obscure death of an American; it was about a public figure whose career spanned more than 3 decades. Your book discussed issues like sataygraha, nationalist motives, British motives etc.

     

    Why are you now afraid of discussing what you yourself wrote? Don’t you know enough history to defend your position?

    Why are you so insecure?

     
    a. Tell me where and how did I use Katherine Mayo to prove my case particularly in Mr. Doherty’s murder and its cover up? I don’t recall Ms. Mayo ever discussed this murder case.
    b. Same question goes for Brigadier Dyer. I don’t recall Dyer ever discussing this murder case.
    c. If my memory serves me well, I don’t think Prince of Wales mentioned or discussed this case either. Mr. Gorki, can you read the narratives carefully?

     

     

    See Above.

     

     
    5. Brigadier Dyer was a military officer and as such was a soldier. Let me remind you there were many Indians who were also employed as soldiers. Was he a colonist in the capacity of a soldier?

     

    Go tell it to Himmler, Keital Jodl and other such Nazis who were found guilty and hanged after the Nuremburg trails. Each one of those used the same defense: ‘I am only a soldier and followed orders! (Now you make me laugh)

     
    6. Shortly after this murder and other murders and looting, Gandhi was prosecuted in the court of law. Before being sentenced and found guilty, Gandhi himself pleaded guilty. Can you tell us why he pleaded guilty?

     

    Thank you for this one question. (This is the only reason for me to stay engaged because the answer to this question is important for anyone interested in Gandhi and Indian Independence to understand. Please see my next post devoted to this topic.

     
    7. At the end of your lengthy comment you wrote, “And Gandhi is a nonissue in India …” Well in that case, can you tell the readers as to why the Govt. of India is bent upon erecting Gandhi’s statues outside of India? Is there a mystery you can shed light on?

     

    No mystery but I am  not surprised that you ask questions the answer to which is quite obvious. (Amar already Shergill mentioned it in one of his many interviews). The Indian government is trying to use Gandhi imagery to project a benign image of itself in the West. It is called ‘soft power’ projection. It is the same reason France gifted the Statue of Liberty to the US.

  33. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

     

    Thank you for your straight answers. I shall give my opinions corresponding to your anwers:

     

    1. It appears to me now you have no qualms about Mrs. Doherty’s sworn statement. The cover up attempt pertains to when she is offered a price for her silence. Read her testimony carefully. This is your American witness to Gandhi’s actions. She was not a colonist either.

    2. Mrs. Doherty left India soon thereafter. The British officials investigated Gandhi’s inspired crimes transpired during the course of the 2nd satyagraha. I would venture to say, the murder of Mr. Doherty and all other murders were inclusive of the investigation plus more. To bring charges of Gandhi’s cover up efforts, British prosecutors would need their prime witness–Mrs. Doherty. She was not available as she had left India soon after her husband’s murder.

    3. One Indian gentleman wrote a letter to Gandhi asking him to account for this Mrs. Doherty’s statement.  I think I covered this issue in my book. Read it carefully. Why would Gandhi not respond to this serious matter?

    4. You did not answer. Where did I use Katherine Mayo, Brigadier Dyer and Prince of Wales in analyzing the murder of Mr. Doherty? Yes their names are mentioned and discussed in my book but not the way you seems to be spitting out. These are historical figures.

    5. Brigadier Dyer lost his job, got cashiered out. There was a official investigation. Tell me where in my book I supported Dyer and his bloody actions especially at Jullianwallah Bagh?

    6. You know before a person is prosecuted, there is a investigation. In Gandhi’s case there was a extensive investigation which resulted in the formal charges. Why would Gandhi plead guilty?

    7.  I agree with your answer. Where I differ is when you wrote earlier Gandhi being a nonissue in India.

     

    Now allow me to reverse the gears. Do you have any proof to doubt:

    a. the murder of Mr. Doherty? Never mind the murders of other people.

    b. sworn affidavit of Mrs. Doherty

    c. Gandhi’s habit of giving bribery

    d. the statement of C F Andrews as posted on http://www.gandhism.org dealing with this murder case.

    Thanks. We are making progress now.

     

     

  34. Gorki

     
    Thank you Col. GB Singh for asking the question about Gandhi’s conviction for it allows me to let your readers know the other side of the story; something one will never find in your books. It is a long post but as you will see it is important to reproduce his answer in full for it is a timeless answer that explains why millions of Indians; not just Satyagrahis but the people even opposed to Gandhi, the Bhagat Singhs, the Kartar SInghs and Udham SInghs, laid their lives.
     
     READ BELOW and ENJOY:
     
     On March 18, 1922, Mahatma Gandhi addressed the courtroom of the District and Sessions Judge, Ahmedabad, India. He was being charged with “bringing or attempting to excite disaffection towards His Majesty’s Government established by law in British India”, the offences being in three articles published in Young India (Gandhi’s journal).
     
    When, after the charges were read out, Judge CN Broomfield asked Mahatma Gandhi how he would plead, he replied, “I plead guilty to all the charges”.
     
    The prosecuting counsel, JT Strangman, insisted that the judge take into account “the occurrences in Bombay, Malabar and Chauri Chaura, leading to rioting and murder. Mr. Strangman stated that “in (Gandhi’s) articles you find that non-violence is insisted upon as an item of the campaign and of the creed. “But”, he added, “of what value is it to insist on non-violence, if incessantly you preach disaffection towards the Government and hold it up as a treacherous Government, and if you openly and deliberately seek to instigate others to overthrow it?”
     
    Gandhi’s statement in reply (after having pleaded guilty) is a timeless classic, ranked by many as equal in tone, wisdom and eloquence to Socrates’ statement before his accusers over 2000 years before.
     
    Before we study Gandhi’s answer, however, it is instructive and necessary to survey the events leading up to the trial.
     
    When Gandhi’s Satyagraha (non-violent, non-cooperation) movement was in full swing in 1921-22, a group of non-violent protesters was beaten up by some policemen in the small town of Chauri Chaura in Northern India. Such beatings were scarcely uncommon, but the instructions to the satyagrahis (protesters) was very clear — they would take the beatings but not respond in kind.
     
    For whatever reason, in this instance the protesters were provoked enough to chase the policemen who, finding they were outnumbered, locked themselves in their police station. The crowd then set fire to the police station, killing 22 policement.
     
    Gandhi, without even consulting with the Congress Working Committee, called off the national civil disobedience movement. He took personal responsibility for the atrocity. In doing so he earned the criticism (and the wrath, in some cases) of many of his associates, who believed this was a small blot on an otherwise peaceful movement. Many left the congress and Gandhi forever after this because they felt that the momentum was so much in favor of the freedom fighters that but for Gandhi’s precipitate action, freedom would have been theirs by year end.
     
    But Gandhi was neither an Arafat nor a Sharon. He genuinely believed that a freedom won by bad means would be a bad freedom. He has been proved right by every other country freed from colonialism by adopting any means possible (Indonesia, Kenya, Algeria, to name a few). “The guns that are used against the British”, Gandhi once said, referring to those Indian freedom fighters who saw assassination of British officials as a reasonable retort to British oppression, “will tomorrow be turned against Indians”. The need to build a polity where the discourse of ideas, not the discharge of weapons, would win the day, was evident to Gandhi, though not to impatient but shortsighted hotheads across the country. Gandhi wrote, “God has been abundantly kind to me. He had warned me that there is not yet in India that truthful and non-violent atmosphere which can justify mass disobedience which can be described as civil, which means gentle, truthful, humble, knowing, wilful yet loving, never criminal and hateful. God spoke clearly through Chauri Chaura.”
     
    After he had withdrawn the movement, the British Government ordered his arrest. That was what the trial was about. Now to Gandhi’s statement, portions excerpted below:
     
    “…I have no desire whatsoever to conceal from this court the fact that to preach disaffection towards the existing system of Government has become almost a passion with me.”
     
    “…I wish to endorse all the blame that the learned Advocate-General has thrown on my shoulders in connection with the Bombay occurrences, Madras occurrences and the Chauri Chuara occurrences. Thinking over these things deeply and sleeping over them night after night, it is impossible for me to dissociate myself from the diabolical crimes of Chauri Chaura or the mad outrages of Bombay. He is quite right when he says, that as a man of responsibility, a man having received a fair share of education, having had a fair share of experience of this world, I should have known the consequences of every one of my acts. I know them. I knew that I was playing with fire. I ran the risk and if I was set free I would still do the same. I have felt it this morning that I would have failed in my duty, if I did not say what I said here just now.”
     
    “…I wanted to avoid violence. Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed. But I had to make my choice. I had either to submit to a system which I considered had done an irreparable harm to my country, or incur the risk of the mad fury of my people bursting forth when they understood the truth from my lips. I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am deeply sorry for it and I am, therefore, here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest penalty. I do not ask for mercy. I do not plead any extenuating act. I am here, therefore, to invite and cheerfully submit to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is a deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen. The only course open to you, the Judge, is, as I am going to say in my statement, either to resign your post, or inflict on me the severest penalty if you believe that the system and law you are assisting to administer are good for the people. I do not except that kind of conversion. But by the time I have finished with my statement you will have a glimpse of what is raging within my breast to run this maddest risk which a sane man can run.”
     
    “…I came reluctantly to the conclusion that the British connection had made India more helpless than she ever was before, politically and economically. A disarmed India has no power of resistance against any aggressor if she wanted to engage, in an armed conflict with him. So much is this the case that some of our best men consider that India must take generations, before she can achieve Dominion Status. She has become so poor that she has little power of resisting faminies. Before the British advent India spun and wove in her millions of cottages, just the supplement she needed for adding to her meagre agricultural resources. This cottage industry, so vital for India’s existence, has been ruined by incredibly heartless and inhuman processes as described by English witnesses. Little do town dwellers know how the semi-starved masses of India are slowly sinking to lifelessness. Little do they know that their miserable comfort represents the brokerage they get for their work they do for the foreign exploiter, that the profits and the brokerage are sucked from the masses. Little do they realize that the Government established by law in British India is carried on for this exploitation of the masses.”
     
    “…No sophistry, no jugglery in figures, can explain away the evidence that the skeletons in many villages present to the naked eye. I have no doubt whatsoever that both England and the town dweller of India will have to answer, if there is a God above, for this crime against humanity, which is perhaps unequalled in history. The law itself in this country has been used to serve the foreign exploiter. My unbiased examination of the Punjab Marital Law cases has led me to believe that at least ninety-five per cent of convictions were wholly bad. My experience of political cases in India leads me to the conclusion, in nine out of every ten, the condemned men were totally innocent. Their crime consisted in the love of their country. In ninety-nine cases out of hundred, justice has been denied to Indians as against Europeans in the courts of India. This is not an exaggerated picture. It is the experience of almost every Indian who has had anything to do with such cases. In my opinion, the administration of the law is thus prostituted, consciously or unconsciously, for the benefit of the exploiter.
     
    “…In fact, I believe that I have rendered a service to India and England by showing in non-co-operation the way out of the unnatural state in which both are living. In my opinion, non-co-operation with evil is as much a duty as is co-operation with good. But in the past, non-co-operation has been deliberately expressed in violence to the evil-doer. I am endeavoring to show to my countrymen that violent non-co-operation only multiples evil, and that as evil can only be sustained by violence, withdrawal of support of evil requires complete abstention from violence. Non-violence implies voluntary submission to the penalty for non-co-operation with evil.”
     
    “…I am here, therefore, to invite and submit cheerfully to the highest penalty that can be inflicted upon me for what in law is deliberate crime, and what appears to me to be the highest duty of a citizen. The only course open to you, the Judge and the assessors, is either to resign your posts and thus dissociate yourselves from evil, if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is an evil, and that in reality I am innocent, or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country, and that my activity is, therefore, injurious to the common wealth.” (exerpts from article by Niranjan Ramakrishna)
     
    And that, Mr. Col. Singh; is called taking responsibility; something you would never understand.  
     
     
     

  35. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    Thank you posting the edited portion of Gandhi’s statement. What does that prove that is different from I stated earlier: Gandhi pleaded guilty to the crimes included those committed in Bombay. Is that what you wanted to prove?

    Now lets go back to where I left you with questions. Again thanks for your efforts.

     

  36. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    Something was suspicious about what you wrote more than once. For example: “You then asked readers to reads your book. In your book on Gandhi; the Doherty murder is but a small part of it; your book discusses Katherine Mayo, Prince of Wales, general Dyer all in glowing terms.”

    I checked out my book from a local library. Tell me the page number where I mentioned or discussed General Dyer in glowing terms?

     

     

  37. GB Singh

    Dear Gorki,

    This is getting to be interesting. Now that I have my book in front of me, I find it troubling that you have been misinforming me and other readers about its contents. For example:

     

    1. General Dyer: He is nowhere to be found in my book. How could I discuss about him in glowing terms?

    2. Katherine Mayo: Her name is in my book and the narrative is strictly from a historical perspective. She is not discussed in glowing terms.

    3. Prince of Wales: He is mentioned along with his one narrative that he himself quoted. No way this can be depicted as in “glowing terms.”

    Do you have any answer for what you have been writing falsely?

  38. GB Singh

    Dear Editor,

     

    I thought I bring it to your attention as well as to your reader’s and also to “Gorki’s” the following:

    This year with the approval of the government of India, the latest version of Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (CWMG) were published as an online edition.

    What is interesting to note is that all the indirect or circumstantial evidences on the cover up of the murder of Mr. William F. Doherty has been cleansed out.

     

     

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