Had there been no Mahatma Gandhi, we would not have to invent/imagine/simulate/recreate/upgrade one. That would have been a truly good thing for India. For there are a few Gandhi ideas that are the overloaded baggage we have been left to deal with. Instead of accepting the fallacy of these, we are forced to deify them out of force of habit or because we love holy cows.
|Gandhi with Nehru and Sardar Patel|
- Gandhiji learned well from the British about divide and rule. Without being a part of active politics, he played one against the other, knowing well that everyone, including he, had to deal with an ego. It was his ‘suggestions’ about the prime ministership that resulted in a game of musical chairs.
- Gandhiji started the strategy of what came to be called, and derogatorily at that, the policy of appeasement. His alignment with the Khilafat movement was as politically expedient as Jinnah’s new-found discovery of sherwani politics. But, at least, he had the good sense to form a country. Gandhi’s legacy continues to force groups to ‘cater’ to Muslims, and for Muslims to be used, and at times use, this policy.
- Gandhiji’s ahimsa resulted in people being beaten up. Non-violence should essentially mean a state of peacefulness. Offering the other cheek does not wipe out the violent principle. Even today, there is more violence in the name of maintaining law and order or protecting the peace of the country. Such irony.
- Gandhiji’s experiments with toilet cleaning only made it clear that this was a low job and he was taking it up to dignify it. It was a generous gesture, the magnanimity of the high-born. The term Harijan – god’s children – was just such a pat pigeonhole. Everyone is considered god’s child for non Darwinists, and in India it is generally considered so. He was creating one more ‘special’ interest group. There was no suggestion that they could rise above toilet cleaning.
- Gandhiji’s swadeshi movement only managed to make a bonfire for his vanity. It was like bra-burning feminists. People did not adopt the charkha and khadi is today a designer garment. Also, while promoting all things indigenous, he was quite happy to be ministered to by his foreign acolytes.
- Gandhiji brought religion into state politics. He spoke in terms of dharma, and invoked god. His public gatherings were prayer meetings held in an ashram. This was his idea of secular nationalism.
- Gandhiji pushed the rural ideal of India living in the villages. While this is true, the process of industrialisation was burdened with guilt. It led to Nehru’s destructive policies of socialism, which was neither here nor there.
- Gandhiji’s abjuring of wealth and worldly desires were personal whims that he projected as part of an iconic lifestyle. This was brand creation. Had he been true to it, he would not need to announce it. His hosts were big business houses, and he put many people to test only to test his own mettle. This was not sacrifice, but selfishness.
- Gandhiji is largely responsible for post-Independence kingmakers. He had no dynasty, but he had a pedestal from where he could wave the baton and orchestrate major events, often not giving a thought to the consequences. From L.K.Advani to Sonia Gandhi, these moments of ‘sacrifice’ have only drawn the nation into a leaderless state or a state with a leader as mask/puppet.
The fact that people as far removed from each other as Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Anna Hazare, Yaseen Malik think of him as an ideal should tell us that Gandhiji was a man for all seasons. It is not the Gandhian philosophy that they care about, but the sheer breadth of the marketing genius of the man who became Mahatma.
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An earlier piece The Gandhian Orgy: Ideological Bunga-bunga
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It's time for the Guinness Book. 485 "underprivileged" boys in Kolkata took out a peace march dressed as the Mahatma. It became a record. Their lack of food and education may never make it.
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There is an attempt by the RSS to distance itself from the assassin, Nathuram Godse, saying that he had severed ties in 1934.
This is what his brother Gopal said:
“All the (Godse) brothers were in the RSS. Nathuram, Dattatreya, myself and Govind. You can say we grew up in the RSS rather than in our home. It was like a family to us. Nathuram had become a baudhik karyavah (intellectual worker) in the RSS. He has said in his statement that he left the RSS. He said it because Golwalkar and the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.”