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The relevance of 2nd October

Shantanu Mukharji

Updated: October 3, 2013, 10:42 AM IST
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Like each year, this year too 2nd October came and passed almost unnoticed. People enjoyed the public holiday . Media too did not engage them. There was some mention in the TV about the Prime Minister visiting Rajghat offering floral tributes to the Father of the Nation and that was all.

With the electronic press at its peak and in the thick of cut throat competition to outdo their adversaries on TRP ratings, we looked forward at least to some panel discussions on TV on the relevance of Gandhi or otherwise, some animated debate on Gandhi's life and times and his contribution to the freedom movement . Alas, nothing was on the air or on the screen. The press was dominated with the news of another Gandhi. Yes, Rahul Gandhi on the ordinance issue. Rahul's meeting with the PM and related developments hogged the prime time. So there was no space for Mahatma on his birthday. The younger generation once again missed out an occasion to be reminded about father of the nation. There were, however, sporadic reporting in a minuscule section of the print and vernacular media. Few newspapers reported that some leader while speaking on Gandhi Jayanti got confused 2nd October as Gandhi's death anniversary and not his birthday. So much of ignorance.

We did not even see any film on Gandhi (several have been made). We had expected some channel would carry Richard Attenborough's 'Gandhi' which is so relevant on a day like this. It would therefore appear that people and media are no longer keen to pursue Gandhi. But isn't it incumbent on us, the older generation , the media which is largely shaping the public opinion and social scientists to keep Gandhi afloat in people's memory specially on the aspects of communalism, violence and unethical politics? Isn't it specifically relevant today when we are seeing endless communal clashes and threat to our integrity?

2nd October is also significant because Lal Bahadur Shastri too was born on this day. He was one of the greatest Prime Ministers of the country. He too was not remembered.
He may not have the status of Gandhi in Indian and world history but he should be remembered time and again for his decisive role in India's crushing defeat to Pakistan in the war of 1965. His free hand to his military commanders to teach Pakistan a lesson in the '65 war remains etched in public memory. His slogan 'jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' was the unifying factor of India. His contribution to the national cause deserves dissemination to the present generation specially when Pakistan is continuing its violent proxy war against us by sponsoring terrorism. A debate on the TV channels highlighting his role vis a vis the military leadership would inspire our armed forces who need to be reminded about its decisive role 48 years ago. Some of the war veterans of the '65 war could have been interviewed but such opportunities were missed earlier and it happened this year too. After few years they will have gone. Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh is still around to share his experiences with regard to Lal Bahadur and the war. Wouldn't his recollections in a public forum animate many of us specially the armed forces?

Let us hope 2nd October of 2014 will see Gandhi and Shastri remembered more fondly and in a manner befitting their role in Indian history and in a manner they deserve to be remembered by a grateful nation.
First Published: October 3, 2013, 10:42 AM IST

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