A lil’ bit of Me…

Gandhi Who?

i wrote this article for a magazine that a club i was once a part of used to publish. it didn’t make it to the magazine, cuz our club president thought that there was sufficiently enough inflammatory language to mislead our readers. just to clarify in advance, this is not an anti-gandhi article. read it till the end before pasing judgement. this article was written way before munnabhai 2, and at the risk of sounding boastful, i claim that i used the reference of gandhi on money for the first time, way before it became fashionable to do so. also, i’m no gandhian, so this article is no indication of my ideological inclinations. it’s just something i wrote, and wanted to be able to read once in a while…

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The Father of our Nation. The Naked Fakir. Freedom fighter. Champion of Non-Violence. Deliverer of Freedom. A Mahatma.

Which Indian hasn’t heard of the Mahatma? His ideology and the stories of his epic struggle for Indian Independence have spread all over the world. So far is his reach that his name even appears to be familiar to the most uninitiated of NRIs and POIs (People of Indian Origin), who may not know too much more about him, apart from the facts that he led India to her freedom, and that he did not believe in dressing up. Indeed, in a country where titles have been abolished by our Constitution, one would normally not mention the name of Gandhi, without prefixing it with ‘Mahatma’.

But today, the Mahatma’s popularity seems to have diminished among the youth. The thin, bald man, with the round glasses and langoti no longer holds the iconic stature he once enjoyed, almost to the extent of monopoly, with the youth. It is not uncommon to come across a group of 20-somethings criticising the Mahatma in most uncharitable words. And of course, there are those who are ready to swear that had Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose been given a free rein, we may have achieved independence far earlier than we actually did. “Gandhi,” remarked an ‘intellectual’ friend once, “was a selfish fool, and a tyrant. When Netaji was fighting the British troops for our country, Gandhi goes on a hunger strike in protest! A messiah of peace, huh? He wanted all the credit for himself!”

Whether or not Gandhi’s methodology was the wisest is not an issue that I would care to debate over. That is the province of the major political parties, who depend on it and so many other irrelevant controversies for their bread and butter. If it weren’t for such matters to keep our politicians preoccupied, they might have to turn their attentions to the more insignificant and ancillary aspects of their job, like fostering communal harmony, or reforming the judicial system, or else, God forbid, good governance!

But as far as the yuppie Indian youth of today are concerned, Gandhi’s relevance is confined to his portrait on currency notes. The reality is that for the youth, Gandhi is an outdated hero, who just doesn’t fit the Superman profile. Many youngsters would rather read ‘Mein Kampf’ than ‘My Experiments with Truth’. We speak of him unkindly, when in truth most of us just don’t know. But what is sad, perhaps even disgraceful, is that most of us don’t want to know, because most of us don’t really care.

But there are those who have taken the trouble to look into the Mahatma’s life a lot more closely than the rest of us. Many youngsters have devoted a lot of time to discover that Truth that Gandhi spent part of his life searching, and the remaining part, preaching. The greatness of the Mahatma is not only locked in history texts, but is still echoed in the spirit of a portion of the youth, sadly constituting only a minority.

Perhaps, when the rest of us learn to expand our horizons beyond the boundaries of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’, and learn to tune in to the national conscience, the spirit of the Mahatma will inspire us again. The mark left on our nation by the teachings of Gandhi is indelible, and sooner or later they will regain their prominence. Then, perhaps, the memory of Mahatma Gandhi will occupy it rightful place in the heart of every Indian, instead of being relegated to two or three National Holidays.


3 Responses to “Gandhi Who?”

  1. sorts out my thought processes…
    this is sensitive enough an issue to warrant research.
    well done…

  2. though i truly stand by the yuppie generation in trashing gandhi i believe my view wud hold i little more value than the ordinary because i’ve read his experiences with his so called truth and i’ve also read mein kampf…both of them excellent treatises in their own respective fields but the hiccup here is the application of both by their authors.gandhi’s ideology might have been very humanitarian..but the thing is did it help at all? did it have a semblance of control that wud make it functional? or was it just a disconnected discourse on an ideal life…one that he himself couldn’t see thru?

    as has been said by many,some learned,some deranged,and some who just said it for the heck of sounding cool[at the risk of sounding like that myself] it was pretty expensive keeping gandhi in poverty.my only problem is that after a great deal of research i could just come to a single conclusion that his so called austere existence was a big sham.as was his very very weak stand on the partition,the dominion status…and more. moreover ,where the renegades were dying by the dozen,he chose his ashram and with his band of nothings,just wailed on and on while half of his country was tortured,killed,kept hungry…blah blah.

    what perturbs me still further is that after all that,its his bald pate that figures on the currency rather than the millions who went down fighting…there’s an mg road everywhere…where are the bhagat singh roads,the azad lanes,the bismil chambers,the lajpat avenues…and more that i can’t remember right now? do they not deserve a remembrance or a national holiday?why does gandhi get a dry day to himself? its just these whimsical delusions that i keep having which just get me to despise him more and more.

    true,advertising gandhi has always been a political vendetta with the multitude of parties in the framework today,but my question is at the nonchalant nation today which takes it lying down.that, i believe is disturbing.we’re taking this turnin the other cheek to a slap too seriously.we need to get up.start moving forward,start retorting to slaps rather than just cower.not go on hunger strikes but take what is ours and leave whoever meted it out to us hungry for every morsel.i know u wudn’t agree but hey..it is a democracy right?

  3. Second post on Gandhi that I’ve read today.

    Mein Kampf – I am yet to come across a person who after reading this book, didn’t acknowledge the fact that Hitler was a genius. He was wrong, but he was a genius. Both are different, understand that.

    My Experiments with Truth – If this piece would have been published during his lifetime and Gandhi’s followers would’ve read it, they wouldn’t have waited for Nathuram Godse to kill him. Ironically, the first time I considered Gandhi to be a man of some sort of substance was after reading some pieces from this text.

    Yuppies – You’ll find them all around you. But their total percentage in this country’s youth is in single digits. And even this category there are people who are neutral, sensible — look at yourself!

    Gandhi’s alive da, albeit more as a Demi-God amongst the masses than a leader amongst the classes!

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