Activist

Saket Gokhale

NewsPlatform | October 9, 2020

Saket Gokhale, Designation: Activist

 

My father is a police officer and my mother used to work in theatre but later became a homemaker. Every time someone asked my father his religion, he said, “I am a policeman. When I don the uniform and flag of a secular country, I have no religion.” He was for the complete separation of state and religion & these are the values I grew up with. We are not a religious household at all. Instead of celebrating religious festivals, we celebrated Independence Day & Republic Day, especially the latter as my father had to attend the parade. We were taught love for the country, never jingoism.

This was reinforced by where I grew up in Bombay. Even though we lived in predominantly Muslim area, we lived in harmony. It was the 1993 riots that we first saw a polarisation. As a child, it was a difficult thing to process so much violence. I was horrified by how my city was being destroyed. That shaped me very deeply.

After graduating from Wilson college, I really wanted to teach English & explore the world. So, I spent my savings on a one way ticket to Austria to find a job. After reaching there, I soon realised that there weren’t any jobs available & I didn’t have money for a return ticket. I was homeless and slept in parks. From there, I went to Czech Republic and found a job. After teaching for a year, I started contributing to news outlets. Subsequently, I worked as a freelance journalist for 4 odd years. I worked with many publications covering India, a bit of Eastern Europe, Nepal and China for a bit. I then started working for Financial Times based out of Hong Kong & Singapore briefly. I was very comfortable.

But in 2013-‘14, Modi was about to become PM. I had studied his history & background extensively. As a financial journalist working with international publications, I had witnessed first hand the amount of fabrication & PR that went into the Gujarat summits with no concrete work on the ground. I wasn’t the only one. He was (& remains a joke) amongst most journalists. There were many like me who didn’t get carried away by his propaganda or fake promises of ‘vikas’. But I feared what he would do to India’s democracy.

The Anna movement was a culminating trigger. I understood the political motives behind it & saw that it was a RSS sponsored movement to tarnish the image of PM Manmohan Singh & the Congress party. I had briefly met Dr. Manmohan Singh in Malaysia. I was overwhelmed by his commitment & sincerity. I just couldn’t bear to see what Modi, the Anna movement & the BJP-RSS were doing.

And by that time, I was thinking that journalism was restrictive as you can’t control much. I always wanted to be involved in public service. So I decided to move back to India in 2014. I first worked as a political consultant. Then I worked with the Congress party for about a year when Rahul Gandhi was president. He really influenced me in my journey. He has also been at the receiving end of many brickbats, trolling & abuse, but he’s preserved. He’s maintained his dignity, decorum & grace. He has in many ways sustained my drive to keep fighting this ideological battle.

Since 2018, I have been working independently, investigating cases & fighting for the truth. It is impossible for me to close my eyes to the suffering around me. I don’t know how people do that. How can anyone cheer for Modi & ignore the pain he has caused others? Modi didn’t bring in communalism but he made it acceptable. He made bigotry & hatred the new normal. And honestly, the only ideology the BJP-RSS have is hatred. Hatred is not an ideology, so how can they be the right wing? Right wing is usually conservatism. They’re hate mongers, pure & simple. This is why my goal is to draw out the poison that the BJP-RSS have fed to the Indians.


Humans of Democracy