Sunday, June 26News That Matters

Sabarmati Ashram recast

Perturbed by the perceived attempts by the government to appropriate Gandhian institutions in the country, over hundred eminent personalities have rightly protested against the move, even calling it an attempt at a ‘second assassination’ of the Father of the Nation. The project aims to turn the place where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 13 years into a world-class tourist destination, resulting in displacement of families living there and change in the landscape of the ashram itself. The statement issued by prominent members from all walks of society says that one of the most authentic Gandhian monuments would be lost to ‘vanity and commercialisation’ once the plan gets implemented, affecting the authenticity and simplicity of the place.

The BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has in the past faced similar criticism over its plans to construct the Statue of Unity, the tallest statue of India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who like Gandhi, also hailed from Gujarat. Prime Minister Modi, right from his days as the state’s chief minister, has been harping on the Gujarat model of governance, laying thrust on development projects to put his state on the path to progress. He even hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping there during his visit and to showcase the Sabarmati riverfront project that envisaged bringing about a profound change in the urban vista. While the second phase of the scheme is now underway, it has also seen displacement and court cases for the rehabilitation of those forced to move out of their homes.

The BJP has been strident in its criticism of the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but it should ensure that the basic character of Gandhian legacy remains intact. Gandhi embodied the essence of India’s struggle for Independence, acting for the lowest common denominator, uniting people against the might of the British empire. Any change should retain the historic significance and heritage character of the place. There is more to Gandhi and Patel than just Gujarat and for the BJP, harping on them would also indicate that it does not have icons of its own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.