The newspapers lending special focus to people’s polls, advertisements and even sudoku buried the ‘story’ of Gandhi in the depths of prints. And as for our news channels that have been working extremely hard in detecting Kareina’s tattoo on Saif’s arms, well, they managed to dedicate a few minutes to the anniversary.
So much for the man who led us to a free India…
And suddenly, as I sit thinking about this, I come across an open letter to Gandhiji on his 60th death anniversary.
This is a letter from a former member of the right wing of the RSS, Ravindra RP, who tells us that, as a child, he was a strong opponent of Gandhi. He was one of those to whom Gandhianism meant “spinning wheels.” But the same man now realizes the relevance of Gandhi in modern India.
“We don’t want your glasses, Bapu. We are already like the blind men probing the shape of an elephant. After wearing your glasses, we shall end up with egoistic confirmation of our individual discoveries of parts being the whole. Moreover, in the past six decades, we have traveled so much of a distance in a direction that is reverse of your Hind Swaraj that it would add to our confusion. Today’s problems need today’s solutions. Hence, we ask not for your glasses, but your clear, loving, whole vision. We need your support to break through the fallacies of development v/s environment, constructive work v/s struggle, synthesis v/s analysis, creation v/s distribution of wealth; to be unforgiving to our own selves, and accommodating of others; to explore wider mass support (beyond funding agencies). Not just a handful of (former and present-day) activists dreaming of a more humane world, but all of us feeling suffocated in this unipolar world seek you.”
Ironic as it may be, across the street from the house where Mohandas K. Gandhi was shot and killed 60 years ago, today stands India’s National Defense College, an institution that certainly would have troubled the icon of nonviolence. Gandhiji believed that the future of India was in its villages, but as in the present, we are moving steadily towards urbanization.
There have been many distinguished leaders who have criticized the Gandhian philosophies. However, even his strongest opponents, the Leninists, never challenged his moral principles. To some, his path is not the path for modern India. I believe his is the path of truth. Is this path an impossible one to take? Or is it that we lack courage to take it?
As I write this, I am in a dilemma. When I observe what I see of the world, I tell myself that Gandhiji definitely was an admirable man. But can we really bring ourselves to follow his ideals strongly enough to cause a reformation around us? Is there still a sect of people out there who believe in him? Or do we need another “dry” day to remember him?