Mid Day - Twenty-third Anniversary
MAHATMA GANDHI, THE GREAT PERSUADER
difference between you and me is this: You believe in
gradualism; I stand for revolution."
Jawaharlal to Gandhi after advocates of purna swaraj
clashed with those plugging for dominion status at the
1928 Calcutta Congress.
dear young man, I have made revolutions while others
have only shouted revolutions. When your lungs are exhausted
and you really are serious about it you will come to
me and I shall then show you how a revolution is made."
Gandhi to Nehru
He's there everywhere: on roads, in offices, on stamps,
in our wallets - so much a part of our landscape that
it's easy to overlook him.
It's also convenient. For, Gandhi is an impossibly demanding
icon; begging to be rebelled against.
celibacy, he advocated.
We became the second most populous nation in the world.
We converted it into a symbol of high fashion that even Devika
Bhojwani wouldn't wear in private.
Believe in non-violence, he said.
the man who stakes nuclear bombs our next President. So there!
By calling him Mahatma and putting him on a pedestal so high
that no one could reach him, we thought we'd taken care of
him. But the clever coot refuses to go away.
we fight, we revile, we kill, we butcher, we corrupt, we lie,
we annihilate, he's there. That keen-eyed, bald, toothless,
big eared, all-limbs shape of our collective conscience -
no wonder Godse shot him.
Gandhi realized that the only way to succeed was to mobilize
people by tapping into their emotional energy. He did so by
evolving a clutch of evocative symbols, the most powerful
of them was the spinning wheel - to rebel against modern technological
civilization and affirm the dignity of the rural way of life.
Over the next 25 years, partly by design and partly as a spontaneous
expression, he himself became a symbol of a way of life, through
his dress, language, food, the way he spoke, sat, walked and
laughed. (While we do disservice to him by-calcifying these
symbols, Apple inc. understood the genius of his tactics and
used his symbolism to sell Macs.)
when he was tried for his leadership of the non-cooperation
movement Gandhi went alone and pleaded guilty. "He brilliantly
- turned his trial into a trial of colonial rule itself using
the occasion to explain why ‘from a staunch loyalist
and co- operator' he had become ‘an uncompromising disaffectionist
and non co-operator", writes Bhikhu Parekh. ‘Forcing
the judge to acknowledge that there was something profoundly
wrong with a system of rule that required the incarceration
of the likes of him.”
The British never tried him again.
is full of great saints, great leaders, statesmen, show men,
moralists, great organizers but only one was all of these.
Think Satyagraha, think Dandi, think civil disobedience.
While Nehru spoke of tryst with destiny in Delhi in 1947,
Gandhi, traumatized by the violence of Partition, stayed in
the East, walking from village to village, using all persuasion
at his command to stop the killings. On September 2 he announced
a fast unto death. Within three days he had performed a miracle.
Many who had been busy killing wept at his tormented body,
surrendered their weapons and gave a written undertaking that
they would die before letting more violence occur.
He was not just a Mahatma, he was as also Bapu and which is
why he refuses to leave us.