Post Mortem

Gandhi @ 150: His relevance today

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/1/2019 12:40:10 PM IST

 On Wednesday, the 2nd October, 2019, the country in particular and the world in general as a whole celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, the father of the nation, a composite persona whose thoughts and works continues to spark in the formats of—spoken as well as  written. Known for his ethical ideals and normative principles that cover multiple facets such as polity, economy, ecology, environment, religion and culture, his thoughts and works continue to illumine many across the world. As we commemorate an epoch and a momentous occasion of Gandhi @ 150 years, it is important at this juncture to retrieve and invoke the ideas, ideals, philosophy and ethical moorings of Gandhi that sheds more light to the present than ever before.

To start with, one of the most striking points as far as I am concerned that Gandhi reflected deeply and intensely the modes of human behavior, contents of words and actions particularly the degree of oppression unleashed and more importantly the parties and actors involved in the whole process. He categorically said that the victims of oppression were never innocent. In fact, he emphasized that they were complicit in their own oppression. What he said was true even in the present times particularly what we have been witnessing. For instance, when the British ruled India with the help of the Indians, we come across numerous instances. Jallianwala Bagh massacre was the classic example wherein the Indian soldiers fired their fellow Indians. 

When we de-code his argument and thus zero down Gandhi’s view of the conception of ‘power’, he adds that it acquires and gains its momentum and fuller significance as it is put to functionality. Power when trickles down and while translated and seen practically, power in fact gains fuller shape only when it engulfs and assumes flesh and blood only in and through the cooperation of the victims, without which it remains hollow and void.  There are people who enjoy power in this way, but for Gandhi in order to achieve liberation and freedom, one should have the courage to assert and deny their masters cooperation and any obligation. He said most of us were too nervous or afraid to defy. Rebuking Indians in South Africa, Gandhi said that those who behave like this were like worms, and therefore, should not blame others for trampling on them. He warned that more the people gave in more force and exploitation took place. Gandhi asked the Indians to learn to ‘rebel’ against themselves. Gandhi’s notion of courage was entwined with self-respect and he considered it one of the greatest human virtues.   Throughout his life, he kept invoking self-respect of those who were subjected to all forms of humiliation and exploitation and to those not knowing about the essence and meaning of self-respect who suffer from varied forms of injustices. Gandhi reiterated that people should not behave like worms and warned them not to blame others for trampling, because they should be blamed for allowing others to trample down. He also exhorted that courage and self-respect were like two-sides of the same coin.  These are the important values that Gandhi emulated in his life—highs and lows.

Throughout his life he strived for those who had lost their self-respect and dignity. Gandhi’s vision and mission by and large revolved around arousing the self-dignity and self-respect of those who were living under de-humanized conditions. Another facet where Gandhi had profound influence was his practice of ahimsa. On this concept of Gandhi there have been many deliberations and interpretations attributing—non-violence to a large extent meant ‘compassion’ and ‘love’ and these two concepts influenced many as they reflected the basic fundamental core principles that the humanity ought to imbue. Further, these two concepts not only linked to physical, but also Gandhi extended to psychological, moral and environmental facets as well. 

Gandhi was very open to ideas and views and respected other faiths. For him, moral principles and noble thoughts flow from all the directions and so allowed new horizons of understandings that breaks new grounds and fresh ideas. He did not constrict himself to singular view, but open to all kinds of positions and perspectives. Due to these things, he respected multi-culturalism and allowed creative and critical ideas across the cultures and religion. More importantly, the world in which we live where the right-wing populists and nationalists keep saying that globalism and multiculturalism are dead, and patriotism is the only way and by doing that they are keen to shutting down the borders, engaged in citizenship, enumeration and debates over patriotism and majoritarianism and host of others. Gandhi visualized that India at one point or other was moving towards this trend and so keeping the future of India said: “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.” Gandhi’s forethought proved to be right wherein crony capitalism is now the order of the day. Approximation of productive assets and monopolization of capital are in the hands of a few between and within the countries.  Currently, the world order is in another phase of imperialism.

As against the back drop, Gandhi’s legacy and profound declarations should all the time be invoked. We are aware of the fact that Gandhi’s life was his message, a rare one that testified and manifested his belief and actions. This is how Gandhi developed his synthesis. Out of many sharp proclamations one edict of Gandhi continues to remain so powerful and influencing: “In the midst of death, life persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of untruth, truth persists; in the midst of darkness, light persists.”  Gandhi, is indeed a phenomenon, a legacy, a composite persona and a rarity that we as Indians should be proud ofNone can take his place as the Father of the Nation— neither in the present or in the future. A few make history and transform history for the betterment of humanity and Gandhi is one among them. Precisely because of these reasons he continues to illumine and occupy in the minds and hearts of Homo sapiens across the world. Gandhi still matters particularly to India in the present turbulent times because the principles Gandhi stood for are still invoked and challenged across India and the world. On this occasion as Indians all of us as Indians not just by invoking his principles and maxims only in words, but let us try to practice and put them into actions. This is what Gandhi stood for and lived for. He practiced what he preached that makes Gandhi one of the greatest living icons ever in human history.  

Dr. John Mohan Razu

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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