Professor Nussbaum's Reflections on Forgiveness

"When is Forgiveness Right?"
Martha Nussbaum
The Indian Express
October 9, 2012

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. His truth is marching on.” Reading the verdicts in the Naroda Patiya case, I found these words of the US Civil War anti-slavery anthem coming to mind. Truth is indeed marching on, even in Gujarat, thanks to the timely intervention of the Supreme Court and the fine work of its Special Investigation Team. Almost incredibly, given so many past failures to convict perpetrators of communal violence in so many other cases, and 10 years after the horrendous events, former minister Maya Kodnani and 30 others have been convicted and sentenced, many to life terms. Particularly welcome is the conviction of Babu Bajrangi of the Bajrang Dal, who boasted of his gruesome crimes on hidden camera. And welcome, too, was the recognition of the central role of violence against women in the Gujarat pogrom. Best of all, perhaps, was the fact that a criminal conspiracy was found, giving prosecutors a valuable weapon to use in future trials. As the US anthem continued (in 1861, well before victory over slavery could be a solid reality): “He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat./ He has sifted out the hearts of men before his judgement seat.” And now the Gujarat assembly elections are at hand, scheduled for December, with Narendra Modi campaigning, already, on an alleged record of economic success. The verdicts could not be a more timely reminder that Gujarat’s government has had a violent communal face.

Martha C. Nussbaum