Sunday, October 02, 2016

Gandhi Jayanti 2016

October 2. I was almost content to let it pass without comment or angst. But I read three morning papers and none had a front page or half page or even quarter page ad about Bapu/ Gandhi ji put out by the government. There is one ad with a Gandhi figure sketch, paid for by a private corporation stressing 'swadeshi' enterprise. Other ads urge us to shop without pause - Snapdeal, Flipkart, Sony, etc - and no polite nod at Swadeshi values. I spotted one government ad with the PM's photo where he is posing with a long-handled broom, and the message is cleanliness.

Whatever discussion there was about MK Gandhi and what he means was confined to a few editorials. So I thought, perhaps it is time we took Gandhi back from advertisements paid for by sarkaari public relations departments and private businesses. Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at the idea of Swadeshi and the notion of enterprise.

Gandhi ji endorsed hartals. Gandhi ji worked through collective action, which also includes unionisation and the right to strike work. Gandhi ji did not just endorse local fabric manufacturers. He also sat at a charkha himself, and not just for a few minutes for the photographers. He made cloth. And he did so not just because he was boycotting British-made fabric but also because there is great value in making things for your own use and to trade with your local community. He wanted us to have skills and the confidence that follows. Human beings must not allow themselves to be reduced to fuel for the enormous appetites of factories, nor as fodder for the fires of religious institutions.

Gandhi ji cleaned toilets. Gandhi ji dressed in a half-dhoti, hand-spun. Gandhi ji asked for donations but he also insisted on careful and transparent account-keeping. Gandhi ji wrote about his own struggles with different ideas including religion, food choices, sex and violence. He argued and sometimes he changed his mind. Gandhi ji certainly did not spend 10,000 rupees at a mall simply in order to avail of a free steam iron worth 299 rupees.

Also, as long as he lived, right down to the last minute of his life, he took the side of peace. He begged for peace. He worked and prayed for peace. Those who killed him did not kill him because he was on a murderous rampage. They killed him because they could not beat his courage. For it did take enormous courage to go out where the riots were, after all the bad decisions and messy politics that led to Partition, despite knowing that the leadership (himself included) was to blame, and to beg people to stop the madness and the violence. To say, no matter what has happened so far, let us have no more of it. He was right in doing so. We all know he was right to do so. We all also know that it takes far greater courage to try to stop violence than to start or join the violence. I suspect that is why some of us try to shut up those who have greater courage. Because we don't have a courage to match theirs, and it frightens us.


rj said...

"I suspect that is why some of us try to shut up those who have greater courage. Because we don't have a courage to match theirs, and it frightens us."
Finally a wonderful read to end the day with. As always, thankyou so much.

rj said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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