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Thoughts on Gandhi Jayanti
We remember him ritually but have ignored his thoughts and message
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The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi becomes all the more imperative in a world filled with hatred, wars, violence and cruel inequalities. Gandhi died years ago but left behind a legacy of his ideology, which is what needs to be extolled more than garlanding his statues, something that he was ironically against, at every nook and corner of the country and some other parts of the world. Though many of his critics have found flaws in his idea of non-violent struggle or his idea of economic and social justice, his intentions and integrity have remained undoubted; and his philosophy continues to hold a universal appeal that needs to be understood and emulated not just by individuals but also by those who are at the helm of affairs, who are responsible to a large extent for perpetuating injustices – physical, economic and social, or for the largely increasing corruption that lies at the root of grievances of common masses. Unfortunately, six decades after Gandhi, revered as the father of the Indian nation, died shortly after India gained independence, the nation failed to be built up on the edifices of what he preached and the more we recalled him on his birth and death anniversaries, showcasing him in photographs, statues, charkhas and spectacles, the more we lost a sense of what he stood for, the more distanced we as a nation got away from his dream of an egalitarian society, of a democratic norm with free speech and freely flowing ideas, of conquered tyranny and vanquished social injustices. That dream has been frittering away by power hungry politicians, an excessively stubborn and heartless bureaucracy and the breeding parasites of greedy corporate world.

Gandhi’s world vision of peace and co-operation today lies shattered with nexus of corporate world and political interests today dictating much of the violence, with the consequences of counter violence in response, across the globe. His idea of economic independence and development which sought to fill in the gulf between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural areas today stands inverted, atleast so in the country he wished to be revolutionised through its economic reforms that began in the villages with the poorest of the poor. Six decades after him, 18 out of 28 states are affected by Maoist threat not because some trigger happy persons are out to challenge the writ of the government in the country but because the government has remained unresponsive to the needs and grievances of the people whose survival is threatened by the unlimited greed of the patronised business world snatching their rights to their lands and resources. The graph of disparities across the country continues to increase. His policy of ahimsa is either forgotten or adopted in complete negation of an understanding of his struggle being a consistent tool and campaign, and not a weapon for blackmail. His ideology of communal harmony lays threatened because unfathomable hatred has consumed some leaders and their followers beyond the point of reason and civility. Neither Gandhi’s sense of humour nor his respect for free speech has any place in the polity of the modern nation-state that India has become, where cartoonists can be charged of crimes and those dissenting with the powerful or speaking for the oppressed can be booked for sedition, an archaic law that the British imperialists used in their vain bid to incapacitate Gandhi. His philosophy of opposing not just injustices but also silence against injustices has been discarded in the bin.

Gandhi was no super human, nor a demi-God, but he was no ordinary human being. A befitting tribute in memory of such humans is not in remembering and honouring the person but in keeping alive their ideology and philosophy. That is what India and its citizens – both the powerful and mighty as well as the powerless - have failed to do.
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News Updated at : Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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