Gandhi & India

This is not going to be a ranting about the namesake course I have taken. Instead I am again thinking out loud about terrorism in India and also bringing a dose of Gandhi into the story.

I have always been staunchly against Gandhi and his methodologies, neither have I been particularly a fan of the Bapu. I have grown up admiring the courage of Bhagat Singh; I have always been a fan of Subhash Chandra Bose, his intelligence & his methods. Gandhi’s contribution to the independence of India might not be exaggerated but I always felt that he didn’t give anybody else the space to rise up through the ranks and whenever he saw somebody as a threat to his Numero Uno status, he crushed him, Subhash Chandra being a perfect example of this. I have always considered him a manipulative and shrewd businessman more than a freedom fighter. He knew what to do, when to do and how to do. I will never deny the fact that he was the greatest leader India has ever had (and I think will ever have) atleast in near past, dunno much about the Ashokhas and Akbars from History. I won’t particularly credit Gandhi for the method for the method of Ahimsa he used in achieving the freedom for India. I personally believe the real success of Gandhi the man lay in him mobilizing the masses for the freedom struggle. He gave the public strength and a voice. The method of Ahimsa was just a means to reach the end and I personally think this means could have been easily replaced. All the revolutions till then had been violent and they had been quite successful, many countries and people had become free of the oppressive rule. I think India also could have achieved something similar.

Though one very good thing about this theory of Ahimsa is that you don’t have to worry too much about traitor, the struggle of 1857 failed miserably because of a variety of factors one of which was the presence of traitors in Indian camps which costed them and also because the support for the cause was very less among the people and Gandhi effectively erased these two problems, he mobilized the mass and second issue was resolved as you needn’t have a surprise element in non violent approach. People need to be prepared against guns and bullets but they won’t ever feel the need to be prepared for some propaganda or some peaceful fasts.

Now coming to the current situation of India, again the blasts about which I talked in my previous post. This is where for the first time in 21 years of my existence, I feel that I am agreeing with the Gandhian Policy of Ahimsa, and of all days this realization had to come on the day of 2nd October. For the first time I can see the use of non –violence and the uselessness of violence in solving the crisis at hand. After the Delhi blast, we saw that Delhi Police killed and captured some of the terrorists and it was supposed to be all silent and peaceful then (atleast for the time being) but unfortunately that didn’t happen. This is where we need to apply non-violence. I am not denouncing violence as a means not fit to achieve any result and when I talk about result, I am not concerned with means as advised by Gandhi instead I am just focused on whether the result can be achieved or not, and here I am differing from Gandhi. No doubt violence can be bad for people at whole and many lives are lost but that is an altogether different issue, if you are ready to just consider the results.

But here the situation is quite different, in our case, we are not fighting an enemy instead there are a bunch of faceless people whom you can’t just hunt down and shoot down, no matter how powerful and capable you are and this is where the need for a non violent approach is needed. I was reading about Thich Nhat Hanh
yesterday and how he urged people to write letters to suicide bombers, the aim of which is to help each other remove wrong perceptions that have been there a long time.”

I think that intelligence and other things can work only upto a certain extent and you can’t necessarily control this form of terrorism just by the use of force, because there are 10 men ready to take the place of one man who got killed in this “WAR”. How long can you keep finding and killing people? The task of finding such people before they commit any such crime is too complicated, that is why you need to do something different which can remove this problem.

Now the way to do this is not something which I have thought of, and even though people keep saying that NO PERSON IS TOO SMALL but right now I think that I don’t have the intellect and logic to think of something like this. I think we need somebody capable of achieving this feat. Let’s see! And let’s remain hopeful!! J


12 thoughts on “Gandhi & India

  1. first of all very very thought provoking, good one

    second i think in ur 3rd paragraph u have contradicted yourself by saying that Ahimsa was just a means. Can you think of anything else ?

    third you rightly said in the last paragraph that probably we r too small to find a logic to solve this or maybe we just dont know enough about all this. I was reading an article in TOI a few days back written by an Ex-SIMIian do read it its very very enlightining.

    fourth the solution i think can only come from a very strong act of government they control all so we need a good leader. DADDU r u listening 😛

  2. hehe, I am glad you see what Gandhi’s actual role was in the time he lived. I possibly can’t know what was going on in his mind at the time, but somehow I feel he foresaw what violence would mean at that time, a nation of a 100 million people fighting the strongest superpower in the world, with US as their ally, it could have been disastrous. A war is nasty wound which leaves a permanent scar. And this war wouldn’t have been fought on the uninhabited glaciers of the Himalayas, but in the heart of our country. And the world respects India for what she accomplished.

    About the last post – I apologize for the gaffe. And nobody’s born normal.

  3. I’ve always maintained one statement about Gandhi… ” Agar Bapu ko ek laathi pad jaati , to woh sudhar jaate… problem yehi thi… ki woh laathi unko nahi padi ” … Even when he was in the jail, it was kind of a first class treatment that was given to him, access to journals, newspapers, food, meeting with people…. is that how you define jail?? is this the same treatment that was given to all his followers who went to jail?? but that aside… i still do think that he was a different and a very powerful, persuasive man… and for that i give him the credit… coming to the current situation… i really doubt… what kind of ‘non-violent’ treatment or propaganda are we talking about !! A person who’s ready to commit suicide.. or be a suicide bomb… is hardly going to listen to anyone…. once such a strong hatred is instilled in smone… there is hardly a chance for him to seek redemption….. the only measure that i can think of is to target all the breeding grounds of such terrorists… be it madarassa…. or some other such places…. hit them hard. and hit them now….. and i wud like to add…… if we are going for a ban on SIMI or IM .. we shud impose a similar one on BAJRANG DAL…. or VHP…… and MNS in maharashtra……… good post !!!

  4. Why is it like when people grow older they will start considering Gandhi?
    I hardly see young people supporting Gandhi and at the same time slightly older (mature) people not supporting Gandhi.
    Here I am talking about the entire world not just people around me or whom I know. (Also take % not numbers).

    And yeah Gandhi was hit by “laathi” many times. Even horses were ran over him and his supporters. The treatment Pankaj Saini has mentioned that happens(even today) only when you u r a BIG leader. And I don’t think he was a big leader from day one.

  5. good thought provoking post hemank. ill try share my understanding of gandhi, though its dangerous in these times of terrorism. i also found some funny comments like gandhi never got a lathi or something. i wonder if he was talking about the same gandhi, i know of. gandhi’s struggle in south africa should be read i suggest.

    in my view, gandhi’s ends was not to achieve independence. his ends was to build a society. gandhi was always worried about what kind of society will india have after independence. and this can be seen in his 1908 book hind swaraj. i think i realized that through violence we can achieve independence, but he was worried about the nature of society we would have hence forth. what kind of role model does a violent struggle throw up. in my view this was major difference between him and the rest of leaders that time (including those in congress).

    the second difference i can see is that gandhi is exposing the british rule for its high held morals. british empire (and also the west now and then) has always held a high moral platform. for them, they were doing a favor to indians by occupying india. for them, indians were uncivilized, uneducated people who would have killed each other had british administration not been there. gandhi’s movement of non violence exposed this to the world. there is no way the british could defend an act of violence (lathi charges or firing at jalliawalla etc) against a non violent peaceful struggle.

    if i see this in today’s time, an act of violence on sept 11, justified a whole war. lot of people in and outside america believe that america has a right for violence due to what happened on 9/11. gandhi never allowed this excuse to the british. there is no way the british could justify the atrocities they did on non violent indian protest.

    so in my view if we want to understand what gandhi is saying, we need to keep in mind, what kind of society will violence lead to?

    about bhagat singh, i think he too was someone who understood the importance of non violent struggle. if u read about his life and his protest in jail, he is using non violent means there. and it is this method which actually stirs people in india.

    i havent read much about bose, so it will be unfair on my part to comment on him. but i never understood how bose was ready to trust one colonial power against other. i wonder what idea of society did bose have? what kind of india was he thinking of?

    another difference between gandhi and others is that all other leaders looked at modernity as something great, but gandhi saw it as evit. so in that sense gandhi is also questioning people of our generation, who are probably more western than west itself.

  6. @ RPS : what you’ve mentioned happened in South Africa… not in India… what do you have you say abt….. what happened in 1919…. after jallianwala bhag incident… Gandhi launched massive dropped out of english medium schools… people resigned from Govt jobs…. but there was chauri-chaura incident…. Gandhi said ” we are not yet ready for non-violent movement” … so he withdrew the movement…….. and what was the result???? thousands of children out of school…. thousands of jobless people…. even bhagat singh was a staunch follower of Gandhi in his teens….. but decisions like this didn’t affect gandhi…. but they did potential damage to common man……

  7. @ RPS : I respect Gandhi as a man who stood by his principles in thick and thin… and that’s an tremendous achievement in itself… i admire him coz he was a mass mobilizer… but ‘ would independence had been better if it were not a result of Gandhi’ is still a big debatable question at least to me….. besides ‘talk of being western and modern’ … it’s so mis-used a concept …… what we have today is a blend of cultures…. ‘westernism in its entirely can’t survive in India…. it’s more of a fusion of ideas, cultures, trends…. which can be labelled under ‘globalization’ …….. so when you can’t talk of ‘we being western’ as such !!!!

  8. @ Clickingthoughts : First of all bloody change your name to Shrikant :X About the point you made, I already said that people have been mobilized before and after that, Non violence was a great method to register your protest and more people could take part in the movement courtesy the peaceful protest way of Gandhi but “All in All, it was a success only because ppl came ”

    @ Rahul : Care to elaborate??

    @ Sunbeam : “US as their ally” I dont think US would have come to their help in this case, US is just concerned with its own benefits and losses and it wouldnt have gained a penny here..
    There is no doubt that the world respects the fact that India got its freedom “Bina Khadak bina dhal” but what my point is India would have got freedom even if it was a violent struggle, and nobody would have cared much even if it was a violent battle, and the people who would have given their life in this battle would also have been respected as the martyrs of the war. Just as we respect Chandrashekhar Azad coz he gave his life for the nation even though he wasnt non violent

    @ Pankaj : As the other two ppl RPS & Harsh, I too disagree with you, He also had to suffer the hardships, he wasnt born famous, he became famous only after he suffered all these things.
    About calling the movement after Chauri-Chaura, he is critcised by many people and personally I dont think myself competent enough to comment on that idea of his, though I would have liked him to continue with it may be thats why he is GANDHI n we are just simple u & me

    @ RPS : It seems you read my mind somehow, you put up the exact points I was thinking of. Even I was thinking, why is it that young people tend to disagree with him while elders are more pro him. One reason may be because of the hot blood of youth, you think that violence can solve all things but with age you come to realise that this isn’t so

    @ Harsh : One very good point you make is ,
    The approach of non violence made it impossible for the british to defend their actions but again the point is I am saying non-violence is one method and might have been a better one at that but certainly not the only one.
    About the issue of modernity, I have certain qualms against Gandhi, i dont agree with his methodology, he was against medical care to a certain extent, I have heard that he wont allow an operation of Kasturba, I certainly dont think this is behavious fitting for a reasonable and well educated person. Way of looking at modernity is different for everybody, aping the western culturehas its pros as well as CONS but certainly rejecting medical help is not a line of thought I would ever subscribe to.

    And BTW its Himank and not Hemank

  9. All I can say is that I am kind of disappointed that people don’t understand the horrors of a war. I guess its a little difficult for you, Himank, to understand the worldview of the world-war period, which just so you know was during the same period Gandhi was involved in Indian politics. In a few words, Britain was involved in the world war, in which Britain even used Indian soldiers, and so was US. Any pressure from India would have been only additional tension against the British empire, to which they could have responded in any way plausible. I don’t expect everyone to understand the complex political situation in that era but I think Gandhi did to some extent.
    We may have achieved independence through violent means, who knows, but please, u may be normal and simple but as part of normal vigilance you should try and analyze what war brings. Today you grieve when 15 people die in Delhi so I am sure you respect life. But read about wars. Read about what are people going through in Iraq, read what happened to the non-jewish population in world-war 2, in Bosnia, read how people suffer in Rwanda, in Sierra Leone years after the war. In a war, not only people die, jobs die, the economy slows down. Toddlers see their parents get butchered, often inhumanly, in front of their very eyes. Kashmir war is fought in the Himalayas on the border of India, imagine a war that would have originated from within.

    Subhash Chandra Bose went to Hitler, of all people, for support and you think US would not helped Britain if it was necessary…that is if we were winning, and if we were losing there’s really nothing to discuss here. I expect the generation today, however simple and normal it is, to respect where they are today, because our grandparents chose not to War and saved us from the horrors that haunt generations. May be you are just too young to understand it 😛 I pray to god you or anyone I know don’t have to get to know it the hard way.

    I share and respect your animosity towards the US assuming it comes due to your feelings against Iraq War and the US’ foreign policies. But just so you know US spends billions of dollars every year, even today when, just so you know, its economy is in a sorry state, helping nations (the non-oil rich kinds included) to fight diseases and poverty and also during natural disasters.

    Just a blogging tip, look things up, especially when you are writing on a historical topic because it gives you a broader perspective about things and increases your knowledge which you can share with everyone 🙂

    BTW cant help mentioning, you calling yourself simple and normal in one of your previous comments really struck me hard, and not in a very good way. Is it just you, or is it a whole lot of people my age back home where I am from 🙂

    Peace always.

  10. himank,
    (i hope the spelling is correct this time). i wonder how u concluded he was against medical help. he was against allopathic treatment, i understand, but against medical help, well i dont know. i hope, u are not considering medical as only allopathic treatment. for what i know of gandhi, he was into naturopathy, and he did a whole range of experiments on him for that.
    although this comment wud be out of context, but i wud like to mention gandhi’s take on the medical system. the purpose of course is to remain healthy. to remain healthy, the following things are required sequentially. 1.healthy lifestlye,2.healthy food, 3. labour and physical work, 4. sports and games, 5. medicine (from kitchen), 6.medicine (from an expert, doctor etc).
    u see the whole of it is medical treatment. and taking medicine from a doctor comes at the last. as per gandhi we can’t by pass everything and just go to medicines. and this was one of the reason he criticized the modern medical system. also, the medicine first has to come from the kitchen. if that fails, only then one needs to consult a doctor. i beleive, even today more than 60% of our deseases can be cured by simple things available in kitchen, for which we need not run to a doctor. and our mothers and grandmothers have this knowledge. im afraid, with our generation, we wud run to the doctor even for a simple stomach ache.

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