Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Mr. Chadrababu Naidu has been fasting for almost a week now for the rights of his farmer friends who according to him should get a reasonable compensation for their lost crops. After a few days into his fasting, Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who believes he could be the Andhra CM one day, has entered the fasting game as well. The fasting trick played by these politicians, as everyone probably knows, is not really in the interest of any farmer or citizen but for their own vested interest around their political career.
Satyagraha as defined by Gandhi
Satyagraha – or a practice of disciplined fasting – was defined and spread by Gandhiji under the following conditions:
1. harbour no anger
2. suffer the anger of the opponent
3. never retaliate to assaults or punishment; but do not submit, out of fear of punishment or assault, to an order given in anger
4. voluntarily submit to arrest or confiscation of your own property
5. if you are a trustee of property, defend that property (non-violently) from confiscation with your life
6. do not curse or swear
7. do not insult the opponent
8. neither salute nor insult the flag of your opponent or your opponent’s leaders
9. if anyone attempts to insult or assault your opponent, defend your opponent (non-violently) with your life
10. as a prisoner, behave courteously and obey prison regulations (except any that are contrary to self-respect)
11. as a prisoner, do not ask for special favourable treatment
12. as a prisoner, do not fast in an attempt to gain conveniences whose deprivation does not involve any injury to your self-respect
13. joyfully obey the orders of the leaders of the civil disobedience action
14. do not pick and choose amongst the orders you obey; if you find the action as a whole improper or immoral, sever your connection with the action entirely
15. do not make your participation conditional on your comrades taking care of your dependents while you are engaging in the campaign or are in prison; do not expect them to provide such support
16. do not become a cause of communal quarrels
17. do not take sides in such quarrels, but assist only that party which is demonstrably in the right; in the case of inter-religious conflict, give your life to protect (non-violently) those in danger on either side
18. avoid occasions that may give rise to communal quarrels
19. do not take part in processions that would wound the religious sensibilities of any community
Though I still do not believe that Satyagraha was/is the right mechanism to protest, Gandhiji, at least had a genuine goal to achieve and it wasn’t any vested interest for himself. Moreover, he lived a clean life underlined by truth which none of the modern Indian citizens would be able to live – forget alone the politicians.
The modern fasting on the other hand, is almost always with vested interest. Moreover, I think it’s about time the Goverment of India prohibited such practices (along with Hartals, Bandhs etc) to keep the dirty side of politics away from our system.
In my opinion, fasting for days together is an attempt to kill self and such people should be even booked for their attempts to commit suicide which is prohibited by law in India and hence is a punishable crime.
For years together we Indians have developed this attitude of succumbing to the pressure built by those who fast. Let’s not do that any more. Fasting, self immolation etc are things of the past and we do not want such things in India. What say?