ELSA Meet was organised on 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 17 November, 2019. The topic covered was “Contemporary Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi”.
Many distinguished literary scholars discussed many issues related to the topic. Following is my perspective on the same.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was not a man of values but a whole lot of values were born as a collection and in collaboration inside a man. It is often said that Gandhian values are old fashioned and are worthless with the changing politics. But there seems a loophole in this sentence itself. We hear some illicit practices in Indian political arena such as horse trading, defection of politicians, freebies, electoral corrupt funding, political funding, casteism and class-based politics.
Was this type of India imagined by the great nation makers or the citizens of India?
Mahatma Gandhi is credited to be one of the nationalist leaders to play an important role in India’s freedom struggle. Often addressed as “Bapu”, the father of nation, his preaching and values are of utmost importance. One of such important value, which he mentioned in Seven Social Sins in Young India was “Politics without principles.”
Not being directly involved into politics, he was one of the best political guru who exhibited excellent political neetis during early 20th century. If his decisions, the pathway of his quest towards attaining freedom, are analysed with an open mind, then the sharp and witty politician can be seen.
Politics in any nation helps it to get shaped in a refined manner. Even after years of independence, politics in India still plays a major role. And so does “Gandhian Political Style” which was excellent in attaining freedom struggle is also most efficient today if applied very wisely. There are many citations of his political decisions. Few of which are discussed over here.
In 1915, when he returned to India from South Africa, he was a famous personality and so was invited to join the political front. Yet he, without getting lured, chose to travel the whole of India to explore its conditions and study the scenario from scratch for a year. Like today’s pseudo neo politicians, he could have easily joined any leading front and would have bargInained for high status in the party.
Second example is he always worked for and with the sufferers directly. In Champaran, Kheda, Ahmedabad mill strike etc., he always closely worked with masses. Masses have always been the key to the success of any struggle or event. Also, he took one goal at a time and left it only when it was achieved unlike the pseudo neo politicians, just introduce or rename the names of numerous schemes that sadly either do not start or just hang like pendulum sluggishly during beginning years itself.
Thirdly, when he saw the up-surging demands of separate electorates for minorities, he in spite of facing criticism, changed the functioning of the Congress politicians. He saw the liking of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar among the masses and so adopted the concept of “Harijan.” He introduced the concept, “One should do all work by oneself.” He very ardently followed it to the core of his heart.
A leader is a great leader when he brings in change as per the need and legitimate demand. When he introspects and if finds wrong functioning, he adapts the new system whole-heartedly. One’s growth and improvement stop when the person considers oneself and one’s decisions as ultimate over all others. And we do find this as a common ill habit among shallow politicians.
His speeches and their words were free from irresponsible statements, foul language, sharp criticism, egoist authoritarian decisions etc. He always had soft pitch and a decent way of conversation both with the supporters and opponents. The status of language in speech has degraded to the lowest of all time in India. Most of the time in debates, discussions, interviews and above all on the floor of Parliament, monkey-like behaviour and unmeaningful baseless foul or false statements are encountered. And this is not over, the shame is that on the next day one word of apology is published in media and actions are again repeated.
Gandhi, even if he was the “Chanakya of Politics,” his actions and decisions always ended at great aims focussing on societal benefit, self-reliance and Indian rural industry upliftment. But now parochial and self-focussed aims overpower the Pseudo neo politicians. Their objectives are always the gratification of self needs.
He was considered as the person who tried his best in bringing in Hindu-Muslim unity. For this he took many initiatives, one of them was Congress Khilafat Movement. This was the first time after a long period where Hindu-Muslims worked in sync and harmony. Divide and rule based on caste, religion, race, colour, class is the new culture of neo politics. There is absence of ethics or value system now a days.
Political field once valued and seen with respect is now considered as the worst profession. It is often stated that people with shrewdness and wrong practices can enter this field. There is no room for the intelligentsia, a person with aims of societal benefit and a person working as clean as white colour. Gandhi never gave up on ethics, value system, morals, upliftment of society, non-violence and simple living and high thinking. If a survey is done about how many youth see political field as their future objective, the sad fact is that only a handful will agree. Out of those 70-80% will be pseudo neo politicians and the remaining would be blank about how to join the field and their success rate.
It is ironical that India with a rich cultural background and political heritage is devoid of “politicians with values and principles.” To take the nation to highest peaks of success, it is essential to have more and more quality, intelligent, well learned and broadminded young politicians with high valuable goals.
The need of the hour is to have more and more open-minded political Gandhis in the nation as the Gandhian values are not archaic or old fashioned but well framed, everlasting set of virtues similar to the constitution of India.