Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Gandhi Way? No Way!!

Disclaimer: This post is purely a substance of my personal opinion. By this, I don't mean to hurt the sentiments of the republic of India or the person regarded as the Father of The Nation, Mr. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. If anyone would be offended by reading anything that goes against the nation and its principles, even if it's pointing the flaws so that we, the next generation could live in a better India, you would rather not read it hereon, that would be my sincere request to you, as the blogger. Peace. No hard feelings.

Sitting on the stage, looking out at the crowd and people gathered around him, he rises and speaks. "I'm on a fast unto death, from now on, till my demands are met."

Around 79 years ago, M. K. Gandhi, a political prisoner, changed the way protests were held in this country, India, chiefly dominated by politics and the so-called people's movements... He then rose in this battle, while serving a jail term on political grounds for the equal status of untouchables. Looking at how this protest did wonders and got the support of the masses, he went on and launched it with almost every of his movement, including parts of the Quit India Movement and to gain the post-partition peace back in the country. Touted as a major reason for India's freedom, M. K. Gandhi and his fasts were something the country today looks up to as a symbol of his resistance and immense desire to get the much-desired independence of the nation.

Exactly 12 days ago, Anna Hazare, a social activist from Maharashtra, stood there at Jantar Mantar, demanding the greatest evil of the country, its corruption be driven out by the procurement of the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would help the citizens get their rights to drive out corruption from the country. The fire spread to NRIs too. The internet was taken over with #AnnaHazare on Twitter, events for candle-lights being set-up in most cities via Facebook, e-mails, SMSes and what not! The country rose, together, in sync...

Little do we remember, that what is proposed to be the brain-child of Gandhi, the "fast unto deaths", were rather begun by Bhagat Singh and his companions when the British prisoners were given better food, books, newspapers, etc. in the jail while they weren't. That was the year 1929. And that got them what they had demanded from the British government, then ruling over India.

So, enough of blabbering the facts, eh? Right. Time to get to the real purpose why I am writing this? I read and saw about Anna Hazare and his protest, before it began... Frankly, I just disregarded it without much attention. 5th April, afternoon, around 2 p.m., while having lunch, ET Now was the channel that was running on my TV set. The headlines running below about Anna Hazare and the Lokpal Bill. His protest at Jantar Mantar. I was stunned! A prime business news channel was showing him on a trading day!! I switched over to TimesNow (the only news channel I trust for 'genuine' news), listen to what the anchor has to say about it, as she explains what it's all about. And then I say to myself, "This Anna guy is surely going to have the last laugh out here!" I turn to mom, tell her, "The government's caught in their own game right now... Hahaha!" Mom looks at me back, perplexed... I tell her, she'll know what I meant, really soon... A wide smile spreads on my face...

Somehow, for some reason, I always felt that what Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi did to India, was unfair and ungoing with the mindset we Indians are born as. We are peaceful people, true, but, that's till you don't lift your finger against us. If you do, boy, you're in for big trouble! And Mr. Gandhi, in his ways, put down this respect we Indians had, showed us down by telling the world about how compassionate we could be, that we wouldn't slap back even if you slapped us twice, and it was then, that the world stopped fearing India. It was from then that we lost the dignity in the world where our military strength is concerned. Rumours even go on to say, that had Gandhi not been shot by Nathuram Godse, he was out to give in to the demands of Jinnah and hand over the administration of India in his hands too, just to get the peace. Fair enough? May not seem to you... Read on to know more about my opinion.

To me, Gandhi was just a political pawn, played by the Indian National Congress to get the attention he was gathering to their own political party. Yes, a pawn. Right now, I may seem to you as the most un-patriotic Indian because here I am, calling the father of the nation, a mere 'pawn' of politics. A plan of a major game...

Gandhi arrived from South Africa as a winner after he got the Indian workers in South Africa their desired civil rights. He was given a 2-minute speech slot at the end of the next meeting of the INC, where top-notch leaders of the INC were supposed to hold the center stage. To the amusement of everyone, this slender, short man ended up moving the people more than what Jinnah, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, etc. could.

Wow. How did he do this!? Every big leader there was startled, they saw it as a the beginning of the end of the two-century long British rule in India... Through Gandhi's tacts and opinions of ahimsa, simplicity, faith, swaraj and of course, satyagraha, INC saw its opportunity to get back in the political game and gain the momentum it sought, which was diluted by the likes of Bhagat Singh, etc. in the last 5-7 years... He was roped in, and one by one, allowed to take on the whole of working of Congress. Change the INC's principles to go in alignment with his. And that was when the President of INC then, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose resigned from the post because he couldn't comply with Gandhi's policies anymore.

Dominant, doesn't Gandhi seem?

Trick by trick, INC played its cards right. The people's backing for Gandhi, and his association with the INC, got INC back on top, as the top party negotiating freedom with the Britishers.

Enough said. Coming back to right now.

When Anna Hazare applied the same principle of Gandhi, to drive out corruption, of the most prevailing and rooted problem of the country, his actions were seen as a blackmail by most politicians who preach themselves as Gandhians (here's the link to the TOI article in today's paper where he says he doesn't care even if they say he is a blackmailer). Even so, they forget that this was that principle that they talk about so often in their election speeches as the reason India won its independence 64 years back.

Wasn't what Gandhi did political extremism too, then? Wasn't that blackmail? Or wait, that was justified just because it was for the good of the nation? And so is Anna Hazare?

Well, our respectable, people's chosen, loved and always-for-people's-welfare (pun intended) politicians don't really think so. I read and heard their comments of top politicians from the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha tagging Hazare as a 'Gandhi wannabe' among other tags which I already used above (I'm sorry I can't provide with the links, I don't remember the dates for their publications and shows. If and when I come across them, I'll make sure I add an update below the post).

Compulsive politics. Such a simple way to get things done! Make an old man, a social activist, a people's figure stand up for something, make him fast unto death for the demands of the people, and there you are! You are in! The government has to bow down to you! Do they have a choice? No! Because, that's how they gained their political mileage in the just pre-independence era. And rather than being announced as hypocrites, the media would even possibly end up creating a roar over them being anti-Gandhi as that would be an insult to the Father of the nation! How can they bloody do that? No, they 'just' can't!!

Yes, I agree that Anna Hazare didn't probably have any other way. And, I'm not against him at all. Rather, I'm supportive of his movement. Why? Because, we, ourselves let Gandhi take this means to do so when we wanted freedom while there were other means. I don't find a single fault with Bose or Bhagat Singh's plans.

Now, I may sound a bit two-sided. Let me clear it out... What Gandhi began with, ended up as his ideology being imposed on the nation. If you resort to violence today, you're not a true Indian because Gandhi said that wasn't the way to be! If you don't use Indian goods, you're again not because he used Swadeshi (little did he realize then how important world commerce is for the growth of the economy of a country)! If keeping shut is what you expect from us even if a country attacks us, just because Gandhi said don't hit back, I'm surely not ready for it. Well, is that how we define Indians? Equivalence to Gandhi? I disagree, even if it is disrespectful. I'm not patriotic even if the definition of patriotism in India is being a Gandhian.

Imagine these hypothetical, but, plausible situations now, and my responses to it, the 'Gandhian' way!

1) A country attacks us, we attack back. We respond to them. Answer their brick with a stone. UN interferes, ends the war. And in the post-war discussion in the UN, the representative of the opponent asks us, "By the way, isn't yours a nation who believes in Gandhi's principle of non-violence? Then?" We have no answer, because that's the picture of India we have sent out. A weak, incapable, easily dominated over nation. I'm sorry to say that, but that's the truth (for any doubts, watch this clip from Namastey London where that Britisher points out what he thinks about India.) We know what India is, but, we portray a different image out. And that's the reason India won't ever penetrate into Pakistan to get through to the perpetrators of Mumbai 26/11, among others, while USA won't regret bringing down the whole country of Afghanistan, and north Pakistan just to get their hands on Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11.

2) A few years down the line, another of India's premier social activists, takes up the same kind of a way of protest, to introduce monetary equality, through may be even communism, in the nation. More than 60% of the country that is in the poor lot will support it. Then, are we in for a communist economy? Yeah, we have to be. We are Gandhians after all! Equality is what he preached!!

3) Students from the general category, stand out in protest, hold a mass hunger strike to remove the discriminate quotas for different castes. We got more than 65% people who are not entitled to any of these reservations, they would be in for this movement. Every new day, a parent awakes wondering if their child will secure admission in a good college even when s/he just clears the exam, or will he have to go to some other college just because someone from the 'reserved' castes secured it? Then, would our lovely (sarcasm, again) politicos be ready to give up on their beloved, ineducated vote-bank?

4) A 10-year-old child sees that Anna Hazare got what he was striving for, not even knowing what he stood for, just because he was on a hunger strike. He hears from parents and school about Gandhi and his hunger strikes. He goes out to the market with either of his parents, loves a toy or something else. The parent denies it because of some reason. And he turns back and says, "I won't eat anything till you give me this!!" What choice are parents left with? Could they see their son/daughter starving over something so materialistic?

These are striving questions in my mind. I come again on this, I'm not an anti-Gandhi. But yes, I'm against the fact that he's been regarded as the Father of the Nation and his principles are the measure of my patriotism. Yes, I'm against the fact that satyagraha is not the answer for everything you want your way. That's dominance, compulsating someone to give in. Not convincing or making them choose.

I'm just saying, I see this as a major reason India can be held back in the chains, over gaining the freedom it deserves. I'm not sorry to say this. Yes, I think so.

And, I proudly, happily, without any regret say this, 'The Gandhi Way? No Way!!'


P. S.: Don't doubt the facts. I cross-checked them with Wikipedia before posting them here.


  1. You Have Time For Blogging :P ill read sumday else
    -Akshay D

  2. Honestly, I did not read the entire post... I'll read it again tonite...
    Btw, 1 peculiar observation...saw more of 'dots':D
    And as for the pawn thing.... i wont agree but definitely not disagree on that point... it is relli...well in a way, agitating fr gandhi lovers, accidentally swallowing a chewing gum for the rest...yes this is the most idiotic example... but u know... we have swallowed the thing... but cant digest the word 'pawn' fr gandhi...(u cud have titled this as 'setu pWns gandhi'!)
    and well.... research more if u can..... gandhi...was the most epic attention seeker.... dunn remember the entire story and too sleepy to type... but try finding bout how he sidelined Subhaschandra Bose and many other leaders.... im wid ya... gandhi caused much damage... but he indeed did keep his words... and speaking the truth all the time is definatly not easy...but....he's done...soo much..harm...

  3. Setu,
    Ur blog is jst way 222 good! I mean its incredibly WONDERFUL!!
    N ur point of view abt him actly actly actly makes sense :-)!!

    via SMS on 18th April, 10:04 AM.

  4. Yep I agree to your insight that in India patriotism is kinda of equated to Gandhian principles which is wrong. But, what I didn't get is what is your point of view regarding the practices of Gandhi. Is satyagraha, fast unto death an ethical effective and idealized method of getting rid of corruption or is it just pure blackmail. If you look at its core actuality, it is essentially a threat to whom you are fighting against "give in to my demands or my death will be in your hands(murder)". So is this ethical? This is the point of view we should explore because the objective of looking at the issue is through this opposing viewpoint. Your thoughts please!........

  5. Hey!
    First of all, Im reALLY impressed to see the kind of research uve done before putting ur point forth...Its amazing, and such an effort commands appreciation..Hats off! :)

    This topic, is one that has been debated, talked about and ruminated time and again, ever since Gandhi put his ideology in practice. The first person who openly opposed the idea of Silent protest was, as u rightly pointed out, Bhagat Singh and other radical groups that had surfaced at that moment. Those were highly elite parties,they knew how to get funds for their operations (like the kakori train loot)..
    These guys rebelled with violence, n differed from Gandhi's non-violent ways..
    It is to be noted, that these ripples wer 1st seen wen the INC 1st split into two, under the leadership of Tilak, with Gandhi, his non-violent followers on 1 side, while Tilak, and latr, Bhagat Singh, Savarkar, Bose and the rest who went about knocking off British officers at will, on the other. They had different ways, but the same objective. This, however, caused no rift personally between the 2 sides, atleast in Gandhi's case. Infact, Both Bose and BHagat Singh did meet Gandhi, and it is said that when gandhi knew he couldnt convince them about satyagraha, he did, in the end, give them the freedom to fight in their own way...
    The leaders,and every other Indian who participated in this struggle were damn passionate about the country, patriotism burning in them. It is, therefore, not appropriate to accuse thE INC of thinking abt their political interests when they backed Gandhi...There wasnt any opposition as such to them...Im sure, theres no harm in believing that everybody was working in the nation's interest, united, and it is completely befitting of us to assume they had their personal interests in mind...You wont think of your pocket money if Theives break in and take control of ur house...The ONLY thing you have in mind is to get them out, by any means possible, and thats the same case with those guys...Politics, and its evils came into picture a few years after our newly found freedom...That happens when too much power comes to your hands too soon..
    Besides, coming back to Gandhis way of dealing with it, tHEers a reason Why the non-violent guys were more successful than the others.
    The vast majority of our country, just like today, was rural. Farmers, fishermen, mill-workers, countless others...You cant expect them to hold arms and fire...India was financially too crippled by the english 4 us to revolt with arms on a large scale...The fact that most indian revolutionary societies were either run by the wealthy, or had international support proves this. Bose got help from japan. He even joined hands with Hitler, though i duno abt Germanys involvement...His army, though posed a threat to the british, failed to do what Satyagrahis did. Non-violent fights needed nothing, just an undying will to succeed. And when you have a population as large as India, where every man was striving to get rid of foreign power, Satyagraha was indeed the best way to kick em out...Dey cudnt build as many prisons as there were prisoners...the british were outnumbered..
    As for anna hazare, him emulating gandhi is indeed smart. It worked once, and he gave it another try. And suceeded 2!..iN THe end, thats what matters. Such revoultions are the easiest thing the common man can do to bring about change, and this is exactly what attracts a huge number of people to join hands. That pressure can crumble anybody. This is how you use the power or "The human resources" of a 1.2 billion strong population to good use. Thats what they did.
    P.S. Anna said he didnt care if any1 did think it was blackmail. Yes, it is blackmail. But if blackmail can bring about productive change in this manner, its the best weapon we have, ahead of our nuclear arsenal. Becoz the former is D weapon to change our own selves. n dis Change we need. The girl who used blackmail for the popsicle needs good parenting. Thats all. Theres no other connection.

  6. And when I read the same article today, I tend to oppose almost everything that Ive said above! Strange!


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