Gandhi's India - A Vision Distorted

Visuals flashing across news channels today reminded me and many other Indians that the time has come once again to spare a moment of our lives to reminisce over the greatness of the Father of The Nation. As I watched the ceremonial homage being paid to the Mahatma by the various political leaders and their well-rehearsed speeches in praise of Bapu’s principles and values, I found myself unable yet again to ward off strong thoughts of cynicism from intruding inexorably into my mind. The bevy of political bigwigs making a beeline at Raj Ghat looked so much like a shameless exhibition of hypocrisy that the solemn occasion lost all its austerity in my eyes. Mahatma Gandhi gave himself up for the cause of an India free from the reins of imperialism. That he achieved his dream of living in an Independent India, that too without having to indulge in or abet any form of violence was an incredible feat in itself; a feat that should have heralded the beginning of a new India built on the foundation of the very values that secured its independence. Half a century on, the picture that independent India presents to the world is not one the great Mahatma would have envisaged. In spite of all the brouhaha over the surge in economic prosperity, a truer picture would be that of a rotting core lacquered with the glitz of development of an elite minority. The values of a country, which was borne of non-violence and unity in diversity, are being continually eroded by the unscrupulous and the ruthless. Politics and governance are steeped in crime and corruption like never before. Human life has never been so dispensable; religion and caste never so segregated; leaders never so insensate to the sufferings of the laity.

India has always been the source of great spiritual thought, starting from Gautama Buddha to Mahatma Gandhi (and many more in between). Barack Obama’s open admiration of Mahatma Gandhi and his principles bear ample evidence of the fact that the message of the Father of our nation is still alive in this world. Yet, the same noble values emanating from India that have been embraced and appreciated all over the world have been lost on the people of India itself. Today, truthfulness and honesty are regarded to be the assets of the timid. Non-violence is a principle that adorns the nostalgic discussions of people in the throes of their advancing years. Even the most optimistic of Indians will find it extremely hard to disagree that, peering through the flimsy veil of prosperity, one can see an India that is being continuously eaten away by a parasitic system. Selfishness, greed and complacency among the powers-that-be and the helplessness of the common man doesn’t augur well for the country’s future.

Mahatma Gandhi today is no more than a block of stone, a wall hanging or a statue of a stooping old man, a thing of display rather than of any relevance. The ostentatious show of remembrance and homage on this day every year is nothing short of mockery of everything that Mahatma Gandhi stood for. If only statues could weep, we would have seen quite a few droplets trickle down those stone-cold cheeks already.



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