Gandhi in India

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 10/3/2019 11:48:45 AM IST

 Perhaps, if Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he would be angry at the attempt to drag his name for political brownie points by both the BJP and the Congress. India’s independence from British colonialism in 1947 came largely through Gandhi’s adherence to non-violent “satyagraha”, meaning “the fight for truth”. It was resistance through civil disobedience and “ahimsa” (non-violence in Hindi). Instead of celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary for what he stood for, it has instead turned out to be another day of competitive politics. Gandhiji has become an issue of a no-holds-barred politicisation, which he would have totally objected to. On October 2, on the 150th birth anniversary of the great Indian leader, leader of opposition parties took pot shots at BJP for making the event to appropriate Gandhi, which was celebrated like never before. Gandhi is one of the most studied men in history and there are thousands of interpretations of his life and message. Today even those who used to berate Gandhi for his ideals of tolerance, denouncement of untouchability and communal harmony, have included Gandhi in their overly long salutation to Indian greats. Congress leaders in particular, hit out at BJP for synonymising the event with the government’s ‘Defecation Free India’. A political party criticises the opponent, berate and belittle those not in conformity with their thinking. These are totally un-Gandhian and out of sync with what the Mahatma represented. Perhaps this reveals that the only way India today know Gandhi is on currency notes and the roads named after him. Today, there is no Gandhian philosophy evident in the attitudes of people who have become cynical. No one remembers what he did or the sacrifices he made. That is evident in the manner in which Gandhi’s 150th birth centenary is being celebrated through programmes such as the Clean India campaign. The ideals he stood for are not highlighted but his memory is trivialised and not remembered. Gandhi was indeed the apostle of peace not only in India but remembered for it throughout the world. He shunned all privileges and public positions. It may be said that though Gandhi was nominated five times for the Nobel Peace prize, he never won it. However, six of those who won the Nobel Peace prize, have cited Gandhi as their inspiration. The 14th Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace prize on December 10, 1989 said that Gandhi was the most influential person of the 20th century with his idea of non-violence, ahimsa who took a 3,000-year-old Indian tradition of ahimsa and karuna (compassion) and made it something living and relevant. The Dalai Lama said Gandhi made ahimsa relevant while fighting the British colonial power for Indian independence. India may have promoted Gandhi as its proud symbol but unfortunately, the people, especially those in politics and social fields, have failed to inculcate his ideals. This is the great contradiction about Gandhi in India as opposed to Gandhi outside India. Even on his 150th birth anniversary, it was reported in the media, that a large majority of those who went to visit his birthplace and where he used to reside, were non-Indians. Probably, Indians were busy with various official programmes or holding padyatras in commemoration of the Gandhi’s famous padyatras. However, Gandhi’s padyatras were for nationalism and against various social apartheid and not about promoting any political party. 

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