Posts Tagged ‘Gandhi’

One day a lamb came from his hibernation. A wolf who saw him huffing and puffing from exertion asked what brought him to public life.
‘Service of course.’replied the lamb who was some eighty years old. Seeing the lamb with his mouth lathering and eyes dull with senescence the wolf asked somewhat moved with pity:’ How come you stayed alive from being eaten by one of us?’
‘I was in hibernation’. Munna the lamb replied,’ The day Bapu was felled by assassin I said to myself, ‘this calls for self-introspection.’
The wolf said with a guffaw,’The pasture is now overrun with us. We wolves run the land. We do not allow the shepherd to do his job.’
‘You mean you have bound the shepherd hand and foot?’
‘No bachara,’ wolf sniggered,’ The shepherd must follow the rules. Law states that he can only take action with prior permission from the master.’
‘Who is the master?’
The wolf replied with a short laugh,’People! But they do not know they are expected to do anything further since the shepherd is as large as Himalayas.’
Munna stamped his foot and howled with pain,’Sciatica-ouch, and I cannot run about as before. But I shall fast unto death.’
The wolf could not believe. ‘You mean you want to fight against corruption?’
‘Yes, why not?’ the lamb was certain it was good time as any.
‘Right now,’ Munna was determined to make a stand. The wolf sidled upto him and asked,’Is it wise?’
The wolf pointed that the lokapal bill was lost in a deep tunnel of forgetfulness and nothing would bring to surface.’
Munna thought for a while. He said in a last-ditch effort,’People are with me…’
While the doddering lamb fumbled for a word the wolf suggested,’to a wolf?’
‘People are not for wolves. So you don’t count.’
You think People will stand by you while their makkan, kapada, dukkan and roti are getting spoilt? May be they will stay on while the TV crew and the press are around. You think the filmi crowd who pledge allegiance to you can afford to miss their schedule or meeting their producers. What of their black money?’
‘How come you know so much?’
‘Munna, while you were sitting tapas I have been sharpening my wits from the school for rogues’. He added,’Do you know Hasan Ali, A. Raja, Mundhra?’
Munna laughed, ‘See, they are examples that corruption does not pay.’
‘ But I am made of a different stuff.’
Munna the lamb queried, ‘How do you think you will trip me up?’
The wolf smiled broadly and said,’ I will let you die in your hunger strike. After you die I shall see that you are awarded Bharat Ratna. I shall make you part of the Establishment. No way you shall escape me.’
Munna sighed and said,’Is it true?’
The wolf had the last word,’If Bapu’s death could not make the nation follow his example for more than 62 years, you think a nine day wonder like you would make any difference?’


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The Pulitzer prize winner Lelyveld’s book on Gandhi is sure to raise hell at some quarters in India. In India traditionally saints are served larger than life so much so the fluff from their plaster cast must leave the purveyors giddy. If Mother India is shown in her buff it is outrage but if she is swathed in nine yard saree looking wooden and distant there are those who light incense and sing Vande Mataram. Even as these poltroons sing you can hear meat cleavers being sharpened in their hearts and their souls shut out lest some sense should make singing carry its meaning as well. Those who sing this song of sublime beauty with murder in their heart only make Mother India immolate herself many times over. MF Husain painted Mother India with every right as an artist and as an Indian. But what upset some busybodies was more his religion than his art. Homespun khadi or saffron robes are nothing if the heart has become dead.
Gandhi has been so much reviled even while the blackguards praised him skyhigh. The biographer did not do his job in order to please some or to damn his subject. Let us at least read this book if possible with an open mind before we judge him.
I remember in my high school when I first read Bhowani Junction by John Masters I was shocked by the disrespect shown to Gandhi. It was like someone defacing the Bible or tearing the page from it to light a fire! Time has taught me to take opinions of others for what it is, an opinion.
I have come to revise my opinion of Gandhi as I came to revise on Tolstoy. Henri Troyat’s biography and few others made me realize the great man was far from a saint. But whatever faults,-his pettiness, obtuseness to see the obvious, his vision and life-work is secure. In his faults he is like you and me. He was a man, real. Baring his innermost thoughts in his diary but letting his wife read them may have spelt sincerity in his lexicon but was it prudent? I hope not. Great men also have their weakness when their mind sleeps on the job. WE Gladstone thought he was doing a great service to want to save the ‘angels’ but in working it would not work so simple. Human heart is so treacherous that the great men follows the lead based on some curious premise but sooner or later natural impulses take on the control ( DH Lawrence was right). His diary and his confession at his deathbed we may accept as genuine and that he didn’t sin; but is it necessary to prove nature had nothing to do with it? Gandhi may be accused for homoeroticism and it only makes him human. Another canard, his using his his nieces to prove his self control over his body may or may not be true. Even if it is true it doesn’t in no way detract from his greatness. His lifework of nonviolence as a political weapon makes him a great soul. Forget his fads, his political ideas and opinions. He has been proved wrong as well as vindicated in great many things. He stands 100 percent Indian since his life and its thrust made cultural icons of our past like Buddha, Mahavira Jain and their thoughts relevant in far greater measure relevant for our century.
In spite of whatever revelations the new book may carry Gandhi is secure as far as I am concerned.
He has outsoared the shadow of our night; envy and calumny..’ Nothing that any book on Gandhi may bring out can add or remove even an iota from greatness of his soul. If A Raja is the visible face of Indian politics Gandhi was and still is the conscience of India that I think of a geographical entity and people that populate it. Here we have national life in its vision and in its working. These can never be reconciled so it would seem.

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I shall begin by quoting Churchill and also end with him.
India is not a geographical reality anymore than as Churchill had observed,’the equator is’. In short India is what every Indian would make of a concept of union of certain states. Of course historically is a reality since we won freedom ‘at midnight’ in 1947 and subsequently we passed the Constitution by an act of Parliament into law. The Constitution is a visible proof of the will of people and it enshrines the union of all citizens; as such an union would expect every Indian to preserve it.
But how did we celebrate it for the past 61 years?
There has been without let up every community playing a communal card to serve its narrow ends. No cabinet was workable without giving adequate representation to the communities that considered themselves a power unto themselves. Of course Government passed some laws to give hitherto untouchables representation. We have even a Chief Minister who is a Dalit and what does she do? She shows she has indeed ‘arrived’ by spending crores of the public Exchequer for elevating herself in public memory. We have Taj Mahal built by a Mughal emperor to perpetuate his eternal sorrow for his queen and was she moved by such archetypal emotions as love and bereavement? Ms. Mayawati knows she would not be missed by the end of her term in office. Naturally she has safeguarded the lapse of public memory by the powers bestowed on her. The charter of Constitution means many things to many and to the ilk of Ms. Mayawati it is a license to indulge in the worst excesses of vanity.
The other day I read a news item that a DSP who is in charge of her security detail stooped himself to wipe her sandals. Remarkable to see officers in India who has completely effaced their dignity to this level. Having seen the manner politicians bend backwards to please narrow vested interests and represent them I am immune to such abject abasement. Constitution means securing power and some are willing to pander to it totally!
So we have a Constitution but who I wonder has ever read it with care as to understand its intent? 28 percent of MPs as the CVC PJ Thomas claimed the other day, are criminally charge-sheeted. Of course he has, as implied in his words, been under a cloud and a charge-sheet has been served on him. How come the Center has let him to be Chief Vigilance Commissioner? The Caesar put away his wife on the principle ‘Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.’ Julius Caesar as we know ‘was wife to everyman and husband to every woman.’ But then Romans loved their Caesars to be above every rule including moral laws. A Caesar can flout all laws of middle class decency but in the modern India even Chief Vigilance Commissioner ought to be clean, absolutely. Anything less would be like taking the millions of Indians for granted. The elected representative does not think of himself bound to be a citizen, laying the highest example in honor of his position. It is in a way showing his courtesy to the people he is called to serve. Whatever may be their shortcomings both Morarji Desai and Sardar Patel had rectitude and courage of their convictions. The latter even forbade his sons from wheeling and dealing from his official residence. The iron man didn’t even want a smell of suspicion cling to him. Instead we have politicians extending both arms to shield those who are criminals. Politicians who are partial to the lawless and ‘tainted’ individuals with a view to votes and advancement in their political career are laying ground for every sort of mischief possible. They even condone ‘contributions’ as means to secure votes. It is thus how all good intentions are slowly eroded. Mr. PJ Thomas as an individual forgets himself that he with a criminal charge against him he cannot be an arbiter, and the Cabinet pretends everything will turn out all right if no one makes a fuss about it. This is how citizen and his elected representatives govern the nation, with their minds not fully engaged.
From that stirring speech from the ramparts of Delhi Jawaharlal Nehru spoke of a tryst with destiny.’ Then came a license Raj as a sop to some business houses. Nehruvian model was not homespun like Khadi but from ‘socialism’ that he imbibed in his school days in England. If our national life is blighted by missed opportunites and puerile ideals of our leaders what have we done to counter them? Those who toadied upto the British and stirred the base passions as to religion and community, they now openly pass for the voice of ‘moral order!’
Is it to be wondered then that we are ‘according to Transparency International, the world’s 87th most corrupt nation with an integrity score of 3.3? ‘
If we cannot live upto the highest ideals that we swear by we must not wonder why we have criminals laying our laws and speak platitudes. Our spiritual fathers were not living in the best of times but their highest standards set for themselves came out inspite of the worst excesses of their times. Mahatma Gandhi didn’t ape the British in order to become the father of the nation. Living as he did among conflicts his ideals connected with a great soul of ancient times. Gautama Buddha didn’t live when non-violence was the norm. But his spiritual strength to find a Golden Mean made millions of men in Asia find a standard to live by. Paradoxically India is his birthplace and we allow violence as a matter of course. If one group will right the past wrongs by destroying an old archaeological landmark those who were in power pretended as though did not see it.
If the Center cannot ensure religion to be kept in its place our secular claims are suspect and of little worth. If our leaders do not have courage of their opinions how can the Constitution be held up as a venerable article?
Here is a mail received this morning from one of my friends:

Sir Winston Churchill argument against granting india / Pakistan Independence 

“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . . . 
All leaders will be of low caliber; and men of straw. . . 
They’ll have sweet tongues; and silly hearts. . . 
They will fight amongst themselves for power; and the two countries will be lost in political squabbles. . . . 
A day would come when even air and water will be taxed. 

He wrote this 64 years ago. . . 
Incredibly we’ve worked very hard to prove him right. . .
 (Funny I was checking the Google for this particular quote without success and to get it as soon as I wrote this piece! Is it not something fortuitous? Coincidence pure and simple!-b)


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