Saturday, November 07, 2009

Outdated Philosophies - Gandhi, Gandhigiri and Gandhism

Outdated philosophies – Gandhi, Gandhigiri and Gandhism
(A critical review of True Gandhism by Pirumal Koshy –The Herald of India, Sunday, 8th November, 2009. See website link below)

In his article “True Gandhism”, published in The Herald of India, Dr Perumal Koshy argues that “ GANDHISM and Gandhigiri are distinctly different. Wearing a Gandhi-topi or emulating Gandhian methods does not qualify a person or a movement to be termed as Gandhian”. Further he goes on to say that “For Mahatma Gandhi, freedom was part of a larger reality. It was a search for the truth or Satyagraha. The Gandhian concept of freedom was very comprehensive and had economic, political, social and spiritual implications”.

Let us stop at that. Especially that he has referred to Gandhian concept of Satyagraha to mean a search for truth.

The first point: Was sleeping with two women on either side an acid test for Gandhi to prove that his sexual drive had finally gone to sleep? Or was it not (sexual) harassment of two women and the disgraceful display of insensitivity towards his wife, in public and private quarters?

The second point: Was making his wife Kasturba Gandhi too wash the toilets of harijans and their own, failing which she was threatened to go back to her father’s house, also a litmus test to prove that he was always right? And socially free of all caste bias? And if so, by cleaning the excreta deposits of all humanity, could one be free of casteism?

The third point: Was his leanings towards swadeshi not disturbed by his choice of an affluent and highly Anglicized man, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as his torch bearer for a free India? And if that was not so, why did he not choose Jinnah instead, who was Anglicized to the point that he even forgot his own religion, ramzan *et al? Moreover, if Koshy is right – “Wearing a Gandhi-topi or emulating Gandhian methods does not qualify a person or a movement to be termed as Gandhian” – Pandit Jawarhar Nehru can be accused of the above. What made Gandhi blind about this fact?

When one on hindsight claims that Gandhi’s concept of freedom was comprehensive and had economic, political and spiritual implication, one has to answer this question: Was he not lenient to Jawaharlal, more than Jinnah or Subhash Bose, and if so, does that not imply that the so called “spiritual” implications he so believed in was threatened by “favouritism” on his part? Satya stands for unblemished TRUTH, with no kleshas (impurities) of the mind, of thought, action or emotion. Sadly, favouritism, falls short on all counts – it is an action of mind that is coloured by personal preferential emotions, which have NOT arisen from purity of thought and intent.

Naturally it gave rise to some conclusive responses:

As Koshy states “Unfortunately most of his political contemporaries could not grasp his ideals. For a section of the Indian National Congress (INC) leaders, it was an opportunity to establish their presence in the political arena and get a share in the power structure. For Gandhi, freedom was empowerment of the people. He wanted the INC to stay away from the power struggle and be an instrument of nation building. The idea was rejected”

And rightly so. At least they had provided a competition and not a monopoly of I, me and My choice!

However, Koshy draws conclusion from the above to say that “Sixty-three years after power was transferred to Indian hands, the aam admi does not feel free. Programmes meant for poverty alleviation or employment generation are, in fact, helping to enhance dependency and 'un-freedom'.

Gandhi could not have done better. His ideas were unsustainable. He never saw America as a super power. His world was confined to England. He was not realistic to the degree that society at large is dependent of each other and the Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest, applied to all societies at large. His concepts of weaving one’s own cloth and growing one’s own food was short of vision of an India with a growing population and more mouths to feed than can be fed if you take his own community – Bania - practice of hoarding food to rise prices of commodity.

By promoting rural and village industries, Gandhi envisioned the eradication of poverty. The government in Delhi, on winning freedom, forgot the Gandhian plan for economic revival, Gram Swaraj and village self-sufficiency.

While we would like to blame the Mall culture as the # 1 killer of Gandhian principles of the above mentioned swadeshi movement, let us not forget, that it is the Marwaris and the Gujaratis of India who have taught the world to do business and their petty hoarding to increase prices have only given rise to “open theft” at Malls, whether they are in villages or cities, to cash in on consumerism.

The “Self-sufficient villages and Gram Swaraj, a Gandhian dream, are far away. Village shopping malls are in plenty, as are schemes to pump in money to enhance rural purchasing power and facilitate brisk business for MNC brand products…..Gigantic PSUs came into being, offering jobs to engineers and technicians. Simultaneously, the Tatas and Birlas of the private sector got state patronage. The Licence Raj literally killed the emerging private sector, small-scale enterprises as well as ventures in rural India, thereby increasing unemployment, rural poverty and migration to urban slums.”

Perumal Koshy laments that terms such as Gandhigiri are not synonymous with Gandhism. They “undervaluing Gandhi's way of living.”

It does not matter. Gandhi, Gandhigiri or Gandhism are dead philosophies. Be grateful that they are kept alive by The (un-Gandhian) Gandhi Family, colourful and stylish garments at Khadi Bhandar and catchy words like gandhigiri to fall back upon and have a good laugh.

“Freedom for Gandhi ,” Koshy writes “was empowerment: economic, social and spiritual. With terms such as Gandhigiri and other symbolic expressions, we are, in fact, undervaluing Gandhi's way of living. He meant what he preached.”

I don’t think so. Sixty three years after independence, I would like to say that there were many a slip between cup and Gandhi’s lip, between what he said and what he practiced. To reiterate my point, I would request my Readers to go back to the beginning of my article.

- x -

Dr Perumal Koshy works for Samadhan Foundation


* It is believe that Jinnah once called a high English Dignitary to an exquisite non-vegetarian party in the month of fasting – Ramzan. Apparently, he had forgotten about it.

This critical review is dedicated to Subhash Bose, who was forced to form the rebel INA because Gandhi was blinded by his zidh to hand over the power of independent India, to his pet male obsession – Jawarharlal Nehru.

Note: All pictures are from our family album

Gandhi's Sex life: