Gandhi Jayathi is almost on us . AS ususal, there will be appropriate noises made by politicians, Congress party, media etc on the 2nd Oct., and then this great man will be shelved for another year. maybe this year things may be a little different- thanks to Munnabhai!!!
Not surprising that the great man should be treated like a necessary evil by the land which gave birth to him.
This cutting him down to size began before India became a free country. With the Partition, the pluralism (genuine pluralism, he believed, was native to India) which he tried to reinstate with his spiritual weapon received a deathblow. Poor man, what he did not realize was that he was incarnations ahead of those who fought with him for india’s freedom. Each of them had his agenda and the scramble began once the British were out.
After Independence,Nehru took care of edging Gandhiism out of the political and economic arrangement for free india. Mesmerised by modernity derived form the ideals of Enlighenment rationality (which was already taking the world to the brink of disaster), Nehru, who represented the sentiments of a nation rearing to go the western way, found Gandhi an embarrassment. And Gandhi withdrew from public life.
Gandhi had realised that India had the advantage of chosing the mode of development best suited for her. Time and again, throughout his engagement with the destiny of India, he wrote, spoke, advised, warned. He pleaded for grassroots movement, for organic village communities and agriculture centred economy. he had nothing against technology, but he knew that uncontrolled technology would lay waste India's greatest asset - human resource. He warned against the horrors of modern industialisation, commercialisation; of the dangers of the scientific outlook divorced from dharma. But no one paid heed to him. So India missed that chance and put the wrong foot forward. Since the die was cast, Gandhiji realised that India now can only learn the hard way. He came to terms with the fact that the post independence leadership had neither his hindsight nor foresight, that clarity of vision to see that its choice of the political arrangement and the economic policies will only serve the geopolitical and corporate interests of the developed west. For, the Indian 'elite' leadership in the period immediately following independence continued to be colonised in their minds. India had been decolonised only politically.
India is surging ahead , we claim today. But all those farmers who commit suicide - are they not India? All those small players in the industry who have to wind up their businesses that sustained them - are they not India? All those small time planters who had to sell out and have their means of livelihood taken from them - are they not India? All those tribals who are displaced by huge projects - are they not india? All those ultras, maoists and naxalites - are they not India? pray, which india is going to be the global leader? Does this potential 'global leader' include the majority?
Dismal thoughts on the occasion of a Gandhi jayanthi.
I must share a strange and disturbing scene i witnessed a few years back. I was at the Mani Bhavan ( where Gandhi stayed whenever he was in Bombay – it is a very badly maintained Gandhi museum now – compare it with the Indra Gandhi memorial , No. 1 Safdarjung Road - and we come to understand what is wrong with India today). Sorry for the digression. I continue -- - - It was in Mani Bhavan that I heard this question “WHO SHOT GANDHI?”
I turned around to find an East Europeon (i think) posing this query to an Indian tourist. ‘Godse”, the latter replied. “Why did he shoot him?”. To my utter surprise, the man threw a furtive glance around and made a hasty exit from the room which had miniatures of events from Gandhi’s life and last moments. I hung around hoping the Europeon visitor would put the question to me but he didn’t. He must have sensed something was wrong ( was something wrong? What was it?. I couldn’t figure it out) . He went around the room careful not to make eye contact with anybody.
Who shot Gandhi? Godse, yes. But his shot was the kindest of them all. The fusilade began long before Godse actually pulled the trigger. It began towards the last lap of freedom struggle when it became pretty clear that independence was only a matter of time. Gandhiji continued to be shot when the country was partitioned, when his lofty concept of India as a nation fell flat on its face with the communal riots. The unkindest shot was the political and economic dispensation chosen by the leadership of Independent India which totally ignored Gandhiism. AS early as 1906, Gandhi had, in his HINDSWARAJ warned against the mistakes of the post industrial, post Enlightenment modernity of the west (which ultimately would culminate in two World Wars and all its horrors).: " we want English rule without the Englishman. You want the tiger's nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englistan. This is not the Swaraj that I want."
Gandhi continues to be shot today. We live in times which fear to even give a name and face to the forces which destroyed the man who ranks among the greatest of creations.