Yesterday was Gandhi’s birthday and country celebrated it the usual way. Another holiday to the burgeoning list, no alcohol sold, processions, speeches, garlanding of Gandhi statues and the like. Came evening all were back to their typically ungandhian ways of living.
If there is one country where Gandhian values are practiced least, that is present day India. Let us take one by one. He preached nonviolence as the credo of his life. We have become violent and growing more violent by the day both in verbiage and action. Our movies preach violence and our politicians condone it. Mafia dons and Goonda bosses are given tickets to contest elections by major political parties.
Next in the line of importance of Gandhian teachings was communal tolerance and harmony. He gave his life for this cause. Many are not aware that he was a deeply pained man at the time of Indian independence. He did not want this kind of independence where men of different religious faiths butchered each other. Now not only this intolerance exists but has extended to different sub sects and languages. The major political parties, in Gandhi’s name are actually fostering this and today the country is deeply divided on communal cast and language lines.
He preached minimal needs and manual labor. What do you see around now? Conspicuous consumption and possession of materilals.No one wants to use his hands which include all classes of people. Everyone wants a white collar job. Man who walks wants a bicycle, a cyclist wants a two wheeler, a two wheeler guy wants a car, a car owner wants two of them and better ones. Same applies to money, clothing, jewellery, house and what have you. He advocated spinning yarn as the best mode of providing millions of jobs. Today who wears Khadi? It has become a dirty word as our politicians wear it to show off!
He did not believe in going to temples to prove his piety. But he led the socially oppressed to gain entry into our sacrosanct temples. Untouchability still exists if not visibly but in the mind of people.
Gandhi’s dislike of alcohol was more to do to its capacity to destroy and degrade human life and not because it was bad [it is bad, like too much of food]. In fact his close followers, Maulana Azad and Pandit Nehru were not averse to an occasional tot. Where are we now? every nook and corner we have a liquor shop and Hooch is freely available.
He advocated personal and environmental hygiene and practiced it and preached. We have the worst sanitation and environmental pollution in the world.
Of course he had his quirks. The major one was his advocacy of celibacy as a method of limiting family and was against family planning methods. I am sure he would have changed his views had he been alive.
He probably would have agreed to industrialization where ever it was absolutely required. He would certainly have objected to the loot of our natural resources. Had he been alive he would object even to the export of stones, let alone mineral ore.
So, year after year we celebrate the birthday of this man and venerate him. But follow his teachings, we shall not or will not. As one of my good friends said half in jest and half mocking my stupid idealism,’ he is irrelevant in today’s world’