Gandhi and his principles

In the midst of all the political mayhem in the country we observe 144th birth anniversary of father of our nation, the man who was titled Mahatma- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. I don’t consider him the sole leader responsible for bringing independence in India, but there can never be any doubt over Gandhi’s greatness and grandeur. He was the kind of leader India will never have again.

He shook the British in his own gentle way, we have grown-up reading about Khilafat movement, quit India movement, non-cooperation movement and the dandi salt marchThis messiah of non-violence and satyagrah (truthfulness) has been strongly criticized by the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Roberts.  Roberts, a British Historian called him “a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent and a fanatical faddist — one who was often downright cruel to those around him.” Christopher Hitchens, too penned down similar views, in his essay- The Real Mahatma Gandhi.

I beg to differ from the above views, yes, Gandhi unlike Nehru was a religious man, a staunch Hindu but he never had a predilection for a particular religion. Muslims accused him of being the harbinger of Hindu ‘Raj’; Hindu nationalists accused him of being insufficiently dedicated to their cause. His idea of religion was not totally esoteric. He knew that every religion was connected with some belief system supported by rituals. He tried to get rid of the rituals as far as possible. To Gandhi religion was a human institution made by human ingenuity to solve practical affairs as well as spiritual matters. All his life he struggled and fought against inequality. It is absurd to accuse or misinterpret him on these lines.

And as far his sexual behavior is concerned, that is not for us to discuss, there was nothing immoral or moral about it, a man has the right to choose his sexual preference.

Moving on to his politics, which was debatable a number of times, but necessary during British rule. His policy of self-suffering and fasting moved masses. That is how he obviated the riots in Bengal from getting worse after independence, this is just one example. He always managed to ignite a spark among all Indians, whatever religion they belonged to. He fasted in 1932 to protest the voting scheme for separate political representation for Dalits; Gandhi did not want them segregated. Although none of these policies will work in modern India, which was ostensible when Anna Hazare tried fasting. Modern India has narcissist, demented and retarded leaders, the country now needs a miracle to bring in a good government.

Gandhi’s economic politics was probably one policy most of us will disagree with. Gandhi challenged Nehru and the modernizers in the late 1930’s who called for rapid industrialization on the Soviet model; Gandhi denounced that as dehumanizing and contrary to the needs of the villages where the great majority of the people lived. He was probably what we can call a neo-luddist. His model of progress and development was definitely not ideal.

We have to agree Gandhi did not adopt the most conventional principles, he was criticized, condemned, redeemed and defended throughout his life. But we need to accept despite all his flaws and fallacies, he was a man of unmatched greatness and no one was or will ever be capable of what he manged to do.


Where is the Indian Patriotism and Leadership?

I watched ‘Bose-The Forgotten Hero’ sometime back, a movie that released in 2005.  At the end of the movie, I was left wondering, why is this generation of Indians not patriotic? Why is the feeling of ownership, the sense of belonging to a nation, missing in most of us? The Indian freedom struggle saw immense patriotism but now it seems to have died. Honestly, I am not a hard-core patriot either, but when I introspect I manage to get a few answers.
I belong to a country which has a third of the world’s poorest people, where corruption prevails everywhere, leaders think wearing skirts and eating chowmein leads to rape, terrorist attacks are forgotten in two days and martyrs in one. These facts are definitely nothing to be proud of. Don’t get me wrong, I am no India-hating hypocrite, I am simply pointing out the things which actively prevent one from being a patriot.

Recently, I came across an article about a RAW agent posted in Pakistan, who helped our country immensely during the war, was caught and finally breathed his last in a Pakistan jail in 2001. The result of such outstanding work was: the Indian government refused to recognise him as a citizen; his mother was given a compensation of INR 1200. 
How can a country show such apathy in a situation like this? And this is just one example, there are a million others. With such occurrences, the feeling of patriotism is liable to die out.

It’s quite ironical that almost every one of us is a fanatic when it comes to our religion or our mother tongue, but when it comes to our country we lack that something substantial. Today, religious loyalty is greater than patriotism. And let us not even delve into the small section of people who go out on streets to confuse jingoism with patriotism.

Another deterrent is that we Indians are unable to define our identity vividly and even after sixty-five years of independence hang from the labyrinth of dogmas and doctrines of secularism, communalism, regionalism, Marxism, Leninism, Maoism and what  not. The simple doctrine of patriotism forgotten and buried in books of Indian history.
Swami Vivekananda, considered as India’s most influential patriot had devised a revolutionary concept of patriotism which he called practical patriotism. He said that patriotism does not mean mere sentiment or even emotional love for the motherland, but a passion to serve fellow countrymen. Until and unless that feeling arises in us we cannot call ourselves patriots. Supporting Indian cricket team in a match against Pakistan, wearing kurtas or singing patriotic songs does not make us one.
The Indian Army is now facing a shortage of officers, so is the Indian Civil Services. Despite the fact that both provide great pay package and other facilities. So what is it that refrains the youth of the country to take up these jobs and work for the country?

From a country of great leaders we have now degenerated into a country of demagogues, struggling at every point. We lack the likes of Bose, Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, the ones who could ignite that feeling of inheritance. Nobody sees a role model in the likes of Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati, and well, if you do, I’m sorry to say, you need a reality check.
In a speech, President Obama said “There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” He got the most roaring applause from the audience.
When was the last time we heard an Indian leader talk like that?