Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | May 24, 2009

Need a Gandhi..

Gandhi was ahead of his times. He rightly believed, as humans become civilized, disputes should be solved through non-violent means. Alas! Not many could understand how progressive his ideas were.

In India, you have a whole lot of half-literate who either ridicule him or call him regressive.

When Indian news channels seem to be obsessively debating on who is India’s Obama, I strongly believe we should try and pray for another Gandhi – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, I mean.

Addition on 25/05/09

This is such a coincidence that a day after I wrote this post, Indians started indulging in violence in the name of religion and caste. A look at this video did not make me feel, the protesters are concious either about their religion or their caste. What a way to show that Indians are sensitive!



  1. Consider just three things: how insistent on environmentally-sustainable practices he was, how much he strained himself to teach Indians personal hygiene, and what an enormous personal effort he made to popularize inter-caste marriages, and you will appreciate ever more deeply how far ahead of his times he was – far enough to be labelled archaic and out of touch with ‘modernity’! And as for his conviction that violence never solves problems, the world will be compelled to wonder again and again and again, unitl we either become civilised or annihilate ourselves…

  2. Gandhi has his points certainly. But in a way, mankind has marked every step of its ascent with bloodshed. That hasn’t stopped. He might certainly have been the man who was instrumental in bringing independence ultimately but would Gandhi’s principles have taken root so vociferously in pre independence India if the struggle hadn’t already begun in the last century? If the first men and women hadn’t already come out and protested with their lives? Life for life is wrong. But has blood spill ever been completely avoidable? Didn’t the massive support he received stem naturally from an already burning sense of patriotism in whatever form? Without it, I doubt, Gandhi’s principles based on principle alone would have taken such root. Such is human nature. The ‘Nam war and Iraq were nothing if not con games played by governments with “law and justice” on their sides. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi lived during a time when a lot countries around the world had fought off or were fighting against colonisation. A known enemy or oppressor. What the world deals with now is different. Perhaps right now, Gandhiji’s principles would make no sense to the reality a jawan faces on the Siachen glacier. Even violent defence against terror is natural and sometimes inevitable but the perpetrators will no stop. So where do we go from here? We cannot rewrite history. In the same way one cannot wish back the Greats I suppose. More is the pity :-/

  3. Mahatma Gandhi was certainly a rare phenomenon in the political scenario of pre-independent India.As we have seen in History, such persona can not be created through efforts.Exceptions like Mahatma comes out of situations.Mahatma sacrificed his life for the cause of the people of India but did we really care for him?
    Excepting naming some streets,institutions and residential colonies after him and erecting his statues here and there we never bothered to follow his lessons seriously.Excepting Late Jayprakash Narayan I never found any of the leaders to put Gandhian thoughts into action.
    Both Suvro and Tanmoy are remebered Mahatma at the right time.I strongly feel that we should ponder and initiate taking Mahatma’s teachings seriously,.

  4. Sir is absolutely right. However, there are a few myths about Gandhi’s insistence on ‘regressive measures’ that must be cleared. In a primarily agrarian economy, the khadi movement sought to provide employment to and supplement the income of seasonal farmers. He propagated man over machine knowing fully well that mechanization leads to unemployment in a country with heavy population burden (and that was so even back in his day). There were spiritual motivations and undertones to both of the above tenets of Gandhi, but the old man never overlooked the pragmatic ramifications on any of his ideas. Lancashire, which was worst affected by his spinning wheel, welcomed him warmly and one man who lost his job due to the khadi drive admitted that if he were in India, he would be one with Gandhi on the issue.

    The Mahatma was not fundamentally against either industrialization or machinery, as some of these new-age critics would have one believe. As long as both did not impede with the basic socio-economic and moral progress of man, he was willing to accept them into his fold. In fact, his sketch of an ideal Indian village was a self-sufficient unit that could use machinery for agrarian production according to affordability, and which had electricity in every home. Likewise, it’s a fallacy to assume that Gandhi worshipped poverty. To put it in Louis Fischer’s words, he “decried the extreme of wealth, much as he decried the extreme of pauperism”.

    And without ever preaching the abstract notion of world-citizenship, he was one of its earliest proponents, if unwittingly. His freedom struggle, it must be clarified, was not driven towards the British. It was the Indian he sought to free: from foreign rule, certainly, but also from his-self. Gandhi’s stress on fighting men and not motives, and personally identifying with people all around the world without any prejudice was perhaps the closest one man got to that hallowed portals of universal brother-hood. If that be regressive, what is progress?

    The non-violence question is inevitably the point of fallout for many; and I admit, it remains an elusive and tricky matter to convince the skeptic of its efficacy. For all we know, smashing a few skulls settles matters for the nonce a lot more quickly than peaceful non-co-operation. Gandhi’s innate love for fellow humans was where this principle was born from. As proof of its efficacy, it can only be said that some of the Mahatma’s biggest political opponents could not help being overwhelmed by his kindness. Most often, they left the battle-field because they did not wish to fight anymore even when they had enough power to crush opposition. Non-violence aims to win over the heart with firm but unflinching self-suffering.

    Violence never changes hearts. It settles scores, kills many, maims more, and embitters even more. In that lies the seeds of self-destruction of the cause.

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