New Delhi, Feb 21: British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919 was a "deeply shameful event in British history". Also on the same day, India's home minister Sushilkumar Shinde regretted over his "Hindu terror" comment made against the BJP and RSS about a month ago. Shinde said he had no intention to connect terror to any religion. He expressed regret "to those who felt hurt". No doubt it was a memorable day for the country's nationalists.
But not all are happy. Some observers have also been finding difference between ‘regret' and ‘apology'. It was said that neither did actually apologise.
The question is: Why will they apologise? Even if the utterances of regret that they have made are completely in tune to some strategic conditioning. To expect politicians to apologise on a philanthropic level is totally bereft of any wisdom.
Take for example, Cameron's case. His latest visit to India was preceded by a media build-up and received more significance particularly in view of the ongoing Choppergate controversy. The UK, a dwarf today in comparison to what it was during the colonial days, has been hit by economic woes and history witnesses a reverse now when the once masters desperately try to inch closer to the once masters for economic and other interests. Tendering an apology for an incident which occurred nearly a century ago means little besides serving the British interests. Those who believe that an apology would mean a victory over history are completely mistaken. Then why not ask the British to say sorry for ruling this country for centuries?
Even in terms of logic, this demand looks ridiculous for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre was an outcome of a power relation, that between the ruler and the ruled. What's the relevance today in this age of democracy? But we are happy to demand an apology.
Shinde's regret is also an accommodative step by the ruling alliance to ensure that the parliament is not disrupted, which would jeopardize its poll prospects. The power centre of the party would not mind sacrificing a pawn in Shinde to achieve a bigger aim. It has, after all, sent across the message that the Congress doesn't discriminate between the colour and religion of terror by hanging Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru, two non-Hindu terror convicts, in quick succession. Shinde's remark was a deliberate one thought out by a strategist Congress to corner the political opposition and now, expecting the same man and his party tendering an unconditional apology is foolish. The BJP is happy for it has no other issue to corner the Congress now, particularly pertaining to terrorism.
If we even look back into history, how many politicians of this country have been actually seen apologising for things that were dreadful? Our secular media feel disturbed that Narendra Modi did not seek an apology for the 2002 Gujarat riots but had he indeed, the question would have been why so late and why doesn't the judiciary try him for supporting the riots?
In 2005, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologised for the 1984 Sikh riots but that was also a sort of overture to pacify Sikh sentiments by a Sikh leader. Singh couldn't say that it was a pogrom and stuck to the position that it was something which had happened subsequently to a great national tragedy, i.e., the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
But even if the apology materialised, it was over two decades after the tragedy. The successor of Indira Gandhi was heard justifying the pogrom in 1984. In Post-Godhra Gujarat in 2002 also, Chif Minister Modi was heard saying that every action has an opposite reaction.
Several similar examples can be accumulated from other parts of the country as well. The word ‘sorry' doesn't exist in the vocabulary of politicians for their actions are mostly propelled by selfish designs. Politics is a complicated game and an apology can jeopardise all prospects. And hence is a foolish act to do.
And why only pick out the politicians? How many of us actually say 'sorry' nowadays?