Monday, December 1, 2008

Double Trouble with Gandhism

Courtesy: Tribune India
M K Gandhi was an immeasurably popular figure when he was alive and he is still so, in the textbook of class 1 to 10 compulsorily and beyond optionally, on money (only Rs 10 and above), and in bollywood. Every now and then whenever required (such as on October 2nd, independence, republic day, election rallies, or in need to pacify rioting public), we pull Mr Gandhi out of the closet and refer to his ideologies and how much we follow and respect those ideologies. But do Indian gornament indeed follow and respect his ideologies? How relevant Gandhi's ideologies are in today's context? Here are two such inconsistencies which looks pretty okay on the surface but common-sense analysis reveals otherwise.

Nonviolence: The very existence of army and various war that India has fought along with numerous other usage of violence through the history of independent India proves the fact that India and specifically its government does not accept the very idea of nonviolence. One would argue that the world we live in, with our neighbors being capable of attacking and conquering our territory, makes it impossible to follow the footsteps of Gandhi which would take us towards no army, no war type of society. The argument is correct to great extent but only partially. Probably, it is quite a herculean task to build a local society based on nonviolence and tolerance. Otherwise, if a society is armless and another is armed, the latter will obviously use its muscle power whenever there is a conflict of interest. I believe, such a society is only possible at a global level when all the countries fuse to form a border less, war free world. However, the point of discussion is that if it is not possible to follow Gandhian principles by the nation itself, then why preach the same to the masses, why put this poor chap on every currency note, why name streets on every city on his name, why describe his principles in each and every textbook?

Alcoholism: Second anomaly in India with respect to Gandhi lies in Gujarat. Gujarat is declared a dry state, i.e., liquor is not sold here (just officially though) in respect of Gandhi, Gujarat being his birth state, who opposed consumption of alcohol. Good enough. But wasn't India Gandhi's birth country and on the same ground as Gujarat is declared dry, the whole country must also be alcohol free. Does the rest of the country except Gujarat disrespect Gandhi and his ideas? What explanation does other states and central government have? Will they say, "we do respect Mahatma Gandhi, but alcohol revenue is just too much to ignore." Why this question is not the topic of any hot discussion shows in news channels? And why not Gujarat bans milk and meat too. After all Gandhi gave up milk after learning about the ill-treatment of milk producing animals and thought that milk was for calves, not for human consumption.

Personally, I take it to be violation of an individual's basic right of freedom of thought and action. The nation should have no business in deciding whether or not the citizens want to follow the footsteps of Gandhi, Jinnah, or Bose or they wish to adhere to their own independent thinking. Certainly, it doesn't have the right to force feed one or other ideology that it feels suitable for whatsoever reasons. One cannot be free unless one is free to make choices and think for self. One cannot call it a free country wthen the political Brahmins decide the lifestyle of its citizens.

Related Post: Let's Get Drunk
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1 comment:

  1. Hi Ravi,

    Gandhi is revered because people worship him instead of considering and critiquing his ideas (which are generally not his own anyway).

    See for example his dubious tome "Hind Swaraj". I have culled some excerpts from it here:


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