by Thomas Albert Howard March 2016
O n January 30, 1948, the Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi with three bullets fired at point-blank range. It was but a few months earlier that the religious massacres tied to the partition of India and Pakistan had occurred. Hate and anger lingered. As many as 500,000 had been slain and millions displaced. Godse and his ilk felt that Gandhi had betrayed India by his inclusivist vision. They advocated, instead, a two-nation and two-religion theory: a staunchly Hindu India as a counterpart to Muslim Pakistan.
These bloody events merit remembering today as India approaches its seventieth anniversary as the world’s most populous democracy. Adopted two years after the assassination, India’s constitution sought to temper religious passions and provide for religious liberty. As article 25 expresses it, “all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice, and propagate religion.”