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Prasanna Mishra

A mind free from violence in any form reveals compassion for all objects. It is supportive of the right of every living being to fulfil its goal and to realise its destiny. Believer of Ahimsa knows the pain of others— “Vaishnav Jan To Tene Kahiye Je Peed Paraayi Jaane Re”.. Ahimsa acknowledges the sacredness and inviolability of every life. For many, practice of nonviolence frees oneself from blemishes of karma and liberates one from the cycle of reincarnation. The doctrine of Ahimsa believes that Righteousness is the sustaining force of the Universe and Truth would ultimately triumph. For Gandhiji, Ahimsa was another form of truth.

Mahatma Gandhi put in practice this doctrine in public life and it manifested in Satyagraha. He found it an adequate enough weapon to face a mighty State. It rekindled millions of hearts; people from every walk of life joined the movement; a Nation of many religions and many languages bonded together to achieve the common goal of Independence. Gandhiji was the unifying force; his Satyagraha led to women empowerment; self-reliance and basic education. His frail physical frame betrayed strength of the lion and countrymen conquered fear.

Some thoughts of the Mahatma have been incorporated in our Constitution in the Directive Principles of State Policy. These include Directions for promoting welfare of the people by securing a social order through justice—social, economic and political—and to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities; promoting cottage industries; educational and economic interests of SCs, STs, and other weaker sections of the society and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation; prohibiting consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs; ensuring participation of workers in the management of industries. All these Directions aim at creation of a polity free from violence and injustice.

However, we need to have a look at how the State's been performing to promote nonviolence. Unfortunately, a mighty State very often is pitted against a weak individual - struggling, running from pillar to post to get what s/he is entitled to. The state has been a compulsive litigant against its own citizens. This obsession - far from Ahimsa - doesn’t seem to wane. The state is steadily getting intolerant to legitimate criticism.

Instances of RTI activists unearthing corruption being targeted keep happening. Cases of rape and murder are rising. The state reported 2984 cases of rape and 1470 cases of murder last year against 2950 and 1356 cases respectively the year before. Liquor and drugs seem to be flooding the state and crimes keep shooting up, particularly against women and children.

Read: Odisha Witnessed 8 Rapes, 4 Murders A Day In 2020!

A few days ago, state’s political leaders cutting across party lines remembered Mahatma Gandhi’s first visit to the state a hundred years ago, on the 23rd of March, 1921. The state Assembly paid rich tributes to the Mahatma and passed a Resolution pressing for inclusion of Ahimsa in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution stating that it would be the greatest tribute to the Father of the Nation. But governance in Odisha has to do a lot to come meaningfully close to nonviolence and compassion. Powerful forces of avarice, intolerance, vengeance continue to be on the prowl. It is sheer tokenism to limit our homage to the Mahatma to a resolution to enshrine “Nonviolence” in the Constitution. Ahimsa has a chance to win only if it is practised as a way of life.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author can be reached at lonewalker.1942@gmail.com)

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