Friday, March 6, 2009

Mahatma's ideals or his specs - what would you choose?

If I were Mahatma Gandhi I would be crying in heavens.

Here was a man who gave up all his belongings to be one among the poor of India; and we make such a big hue and cry to get his belongings back?

If the money spent to get bapu's belongings is an investment by an individual, I have no fight with it. It is a personal decision and I respect that.

On the other hand, if the government buys it back at that cost (or even half that cost) I have a major problem with that. Tax payer's money cannot be spent on memorabilia. Instead please use that money for those who live below the poverty line (without siphoning it off, I should add). That will give Gandhiji lot more joy!

Photo courtesy: Sundeip Arora

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1 comment:

Sanoop said...

I had lost out on most of your blogs cos of a very slow internet connection at my "Arbeitsstelle" and an erratic connexion at home... and this one really caught my eye.. I was just a mute spectator to all the brouhaha 'bout getting the "Mahatma's" articles back to India... and I have the same viewpoint as yours...Is it really worth it? I think not.. (Now this is where our viewpoints may differ) Bcos post my 10th standard, anti-Gandhi sentiments really started creeping in. Reason? There are aplenty. Our History syllabus projected him as the sole person responsible for our country's independence, rather I blame him for the delay in getting our independence. Frankly speaking, he had the choice to save Bhagat Singh's life. The following is extracted from a source.

The whole nation was just realising how a small revolt brought the British to her knees.. but MKG - Irwin talks were on and a word from Gandhi would have certainly have commuted the hanging to life imprisonment. The historical records of the dialogue between Gandhi and Irwin in the series of crucial meetings that took place pretty close to the hanging of Bhagat Singh revealed a dismal picture. Mahatma Gandhi spoke for everyone and every issue but did not utter a single word to bargain for Bhagat Singh's life. Hence his statement after the hanging of martyr Bhagat Singh, "the Congress made many attempts to save the lives of Bhagat Singh and his two associates", is not a substantiated fact.

Then, during the partition, there was a lot of trouble brewing. If the following excerpt does not show Gandhi's apathy towards the Hindus and Sikh, then I would not know what would...

During his prayer meeting on 1 May 1947, he prepared the Hindus and Sikhs for the anticipated massacres of their kind in the upcoming state of Pakistan with these words: "I would tell the Hindus to face death cheerfully if the Muslims are out to kill them. I would be a real sinner if after being stabbed I wished in my last moment that my son should seek revenge. I must die without rancour. (*) You may turn round and ask whether all Hindus and all Sikhs should die. Yes, I would say. Such martyrdom will not be in vain." (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.LXXXVII, p.394-5) It is left unexplained what purpose would be served by this senseless and avoidable surrender to murder.
[Taken from sources]

And then there was the whole Nathuram Godse incident... Though I agree the step taken by NG was a drastic harsh step, but one has to look at the reasons why he chose to do it...

Again from excerpts...
NG says...
"In a sense, I lived only for 655 days — from January 30, 1948 to November 15, 1949. But January 30 was an outcome of January 13.

The central government had taken a decision — Pakistan will not be given Rs 55 crores. On January 13 Gandhi started a fast unto death that Pakistan must be given the money. On January 13, the central government changed its earlier decision and announced that Pakistan would be given the amount. On January 13, I decided to assassinate Gandhi."

Time is eternal, indestructible. You can turn its pages but never, never tear them out. Gandhi has acquired some position in history which nobody can deny, not even Nathuram. The page will be there forever in fact. Sometime in the future, in some storm, the pages will flutter and there will be that same Gandhi’s page before the world. I don’t refute Gandhi’s theory of non-violence. He may be a saint but he is not a politician. His theory of non-violence denies self-defence and self-interest. The non-violence that defines the fight for survival as violence is a theory not of non-violence but of self-destruction. “

“The division of the nation was an unnecessary decision. What was the percentage of the Muslim population as compared to the population of the nation? There was no need for a separate nation. Had it been a just demand, Maulana Azad would not have stayed back in India. But because Jinnah insisted and because Gandhi took his side, India was divided, in spite of opposition from the nation, the Cabinet. An individual is never greater than a nation, Nana. But Gandhi has stared considering himself greater than the nation.“

on -”Jinnah wanting to be the prime minister..”

” But we never opposed a Muslim prime minister. In a democracy you cannot put forward your demands at knife-point. Jinnah did it and Gandhi stabbed the nation with the same knife. He dissected the land and gave a piece to Pakistan. We did picket that time but in vain. The Father of our Nation went to perform his paternal duties for Pakistan. Today, Muslims have taken a part of the nation, tomorrow Sikhs may ask for Punjab. The religions are again divided into castes, they will demand sub-divisions of the divisions. What remains of the concept of one nation, national integration? Why did we fight the British in unison for independence? Why not separately? Bhagat Singh did not ask only for an independent Punjab or Subhash Chandra Bose for an independent Bengal? “

“I had written this before. At the time of Partition, when Suharawady surrendered only due to political pressure, but only Suharawady, not his followers…they went on with the massacre. Gandhi started his fast, the Hindus put their weapons down. I still remember that day. A poor Hindu told Gandhi, ‘I am putting down my weapons because I don’t want your death on my conscience but I am staying alone with my family in the Muslim area. That night, before leaving Hyderabad I visited his home. The whole household was screaming, weeping, his only eight-year-old son had been killed by the Muslims. He had no weapon to defend himself. He threw his son’s body on my lap and said, “Take his blood to your Mahatma. Tell him, if he goes on fast again, he can finish it by drinking not orange-juice but my son’s blood.” I could not say anything. Gandhi was the Father of my Nation. For a moment, I was tempted to pull out the Muslims from their homes and chop them down. But I controlled myself. Violence for self-defence is justified, otherwise it is an ill-cultured act. I returned to where Gandhi was staying but he had already left by car. Of course, there would have been no point in meeting him… he would only have prayed for both the killer and the victim. “

“I am going to assassinate him in the open, before the public, because I am going to do it as my duty. If I do it surreptitiously, it becomes a crime in my own eyes. I will not try to escape, I will surrender and naturally I will be hanged. ”
[Taken from sources]

Godse assassinated Gandhi on January 30, 1948, approaching him during the evening prayer, bowing, and shooting him three times at close range with a Beretta semi-automatic pistol. Immediately after this, he surrendered himself to police, rather than running away. He said, “No one should think that Gandhi was killed by a madman”.

Coming back from the excerpts, now Sanoop says...
There are so many things hidden in history which are not imbibed into the young minds. Of course, it may all be patched up so that children do not learn about violent happenings, but later when they do get to know the truth, wouldn't there be a feeling of being cheated? Of learning incorrect "facts"... adopting policies that so often backfire upon oneself and also cause suffering to oneself. Offer the other cheek to get slapped after receiving one ? Maybe we will have to let more terrorists repeat 26/11 till the terrorists "realise and back down" !!! Huhhhh...
Hope a disclaimer is not needed here... :-)
I have used excerpts from the following links:

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