Mahatma Gandhi’s Impact


Today, 2nd October, is Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. He was born 142 years ago, and led the freedom struggle for India. He was assassinated in January 1948, soon after India gained its independence from the British.

Considering his commitment to communal peace and purity in public life, what would he think of today’s India ?

He would be quite negative on the state of affairs, and if living today, might launch an agitation to bring back probity in public life. He would be devastated when he finds that communal peace has gone for a six, with further incendiary divisions between communities even within India. He would find that whatever he fought for during his life, has been decimated by the politicians. He might even want to return India to the British !

I often think what would have been the state of India if we had been forced to shed blood in our war of independence. Would we have become a different country ? Would we be like a Germany or a Japan ?

Mahatma Gandhi led a battle against the occupying British in a manner and using a methodology which the British could not fathom. The British would have further subjugated the Indians if India had fought back with rifles, because they had a superior army and a formidable navy. And, they had the cooperation of foolish kings and warlords who surrendered for their protection. The British effectively brought some powerful kings and their fighters into their fold and waged a battle against Indians for a couple of hundred years.

Mahatma Gandhi could see all that, and decided that the best way would be for him to fight on a platform of non-violence, eschewing armed struggle. He ultimately succeeded, but had to forego Pakistan in the interest of overall independence and communal harmony.

Had India won independence using an armed struggle (which would have been extremely difficult if not impossible), then the passion for Indians to become the predominant nation in Asia Pacific would have been strengthened in the 1940s and 1950s. This was not to be, as Indians realized that their government would forever be weak, incapacitated by indecisive prime ministers and a corrupt bureaucracy which took the people for a ride for too long. An armed struggle would have taught Indians the value of life (which is now worth nothing), and the need to fight for what they believe in during all phases of their lives.

Indians never realized the value and importance of Mahatma Gandhi. They missed the critical significance of his war against the British and especially his focus on self-purity to immunize himself from unwanted distractions. I do not believe that today’s young India has felt Mahatma Gandhi’s impact. Neither does the ruling class though most of them were born in pre-independence time and should have strongly felt Mahatma Gandhi’s influence.

When one goes to the Property Registration Office in India (any one of the thousands of offices) to register his property purchase or sale, can he come out without paying a bribe (the payment happens rather publicly) ? Indians have sacrificed their personal value systems in the altar of getting personal things done at a price. This shows they do not have any confidence of getting things done in today’s India. This is just one example.

Let us think through carefully on Mahatma Gandhi’s impact – we should make his writings compulsory education in our schools. He seems to be having more influence on Egyptians than on Indians.

We cannot change history, but we can learn from history-makers on what we should be doing to ensure a future that they only dreamed of. THINK !

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
02 October 2011
Mumbai

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