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Henri Carter-Bresson
Mid Day - Twenty-third Anniversary

Meenal Baghel

"The 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.

"My 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.

Practise celibacy, he advocated.

We became the second most populous nation in the world.

Wear khadi, he advised.

We converted it into a symbol of high fashion that even Devika Bhojwani wouldn't wear in private.
Believe in non-violence, he said.

We designated 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.

Each time 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.)

In 1922, 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.

History 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.