Today is, 30th January, the day of Martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi. I thought that I will visit the Gandhi Smriti (old Birla Bhawan, where Gandhiji used to stay in Delhi and where he was shot dead) to day. In addition to Rajghat, where the body of Gandhiji has been cremated and a beautiful memorial has been constructed, this is another important memorial to him. a Myself along with my wife went there by the afternoon. The Gandhi Smriti in on the side of the Tees January Marg (named on the day of death of Gandhiji) a few kilometres away from the Parliament. But there was difficulty to enter inside, since only pass-holders were allowed. However after a few minutes, we were able to get passes and entered the compound.
A special commemmorative programme was being held there in memory of Gandhiji. The entire compound was decorated and chairs as well as kambals were arranged for sitting. About 2,000 to 2,500 people were already there, a good majority being children in uniform white dress with Gandhi cap. The stage was aranged near the monument constructed where Gandhiji fell down being shot at. When we entered, Hindu, Christian, Budhist, Parsi, Bahai and Judaism prayers were being sung as also readings from Granth Sahib and Koran. After that eminent Drupad singers sang parayer songs for more than half an hour.
In between, Vice-President Shri Hamid Ansari as also Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh came with their families and after paying homage sat along with others till the prayer songs and Ram Dhun was completed. Till the entire programme, it was calm and quiet. We returned immediately after the programme.
While we were returning, my thoughts started going back. Gandhiji upheld lofty ideals and wanted the people to follow his ideals. He died within 6 months of India getting Independence of which he was the undisputed leader. The Congress became the ruling party and held uninterrupted rule till 1977 on its own in a single party rule. Later also, except for some brief periods ,its coalition ruled the country. But what a contrast from the ideal India which was dreamt by Gandhiji and the present India after 65 years of Independence. Not only the Daridranarayanans’ condition has not improved, in fact it has worsened. The rich has become richer, the poor the poorer. About 50% of the people are still illiterate. The average income of a person is below Rs. 20. The Government, the leaders of which are claiming to be the followers of Mahatmaji, are claiming that Rs. 26 – 30 is sufficient for a person to live for one day! This government is subsiding the corporates more than the daridranarayanas. Instead of self sufficiency, they are depending upon USA and imperialist countries. The scarce natural resources are gifted to MNCs and big business almost free. The PSUs are being privatised. Anti-labour laws are being adopted. Is this what Gandhiji dreamt of about a free India? Naturally not.
These are not issues which can be just passed off. These are genuine issues of the people of this country. United efforts and struggles to change the system has become very much necessary. The working class, the youth and other sections of the people have to unitedly put their entire efforts for a better India. That will be the best memorial for Gandhiji, the Father of the Nation.