By Soumya Raj:
He was a frail man, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. But as his life progressed, his conviction in his beliefs brought an entire country under one umbrella, a country which was previously divided on territorial, historical, political and sentimental aspects. Today is Gandhi’s 144th birthday, and the set of ideals he passed on to us through his actions and lifestyle is still with us, even though he is not. The portrayal of Gandhi’s existence is so colossal, and larger than life to be believed, how can a man dressed in a simple hand-woven loincloth, walking around with a stick, has managed to hold the world by a leash even beyond his death.
When I visited the Gandhi Ashram at Gandhinagar last year, the enormity of his being struck me. The ashram is still preserved with Mahatma’s items of daily use, his charkha, his glasses, his khadaus, and his utensils. Before I went there, he was just a man whose contribution to the country was magnanimous, who was a historically revered figure, who propagated non-violence and passive aggression, whose face was on our currency notes. There is a wall in the Ashram where letters from people are scanned and printed in flex, and the addresses written on the envelopes are bizarre, one for example being, “Gandhi ji jahan ho wahan.” Albert Einstein had made a very prophetic statement on Gandhi. “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a man as this ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this earth.” I wonder how much better our country would have been, had he been alive today.
Gandhi’s principles live on but majorly in text and extempore, quoted as promises by the front runners of India. His idea of economic sovereignty, socio-economic sufficiency, and decentralization of industries are but forgotten, and the falling rate of rupee-to-dollar, or the resurgent poverty in our country is a mark of that. He struggled for equality his whole life. Equality among races, as in South Africa, equality among classes, as in Champaran’s indigo farmers, equality among castes, as in Dalits and the “untouchables”, equality among Hindu-Muslims, as the national situation was during our independence, and was unfortunately assassinated by a right-wing-extremist, Nathuram Godse at point blank, for his radical ideas.
How relevant is Gandhi today, after his death? Till what extent do we implement his philosophies today, as a mark of our respect for the father of our nation? The recent Muzaffarnagar riots, or the recent unpopular ordinance which gives a chance to the convicted lawmakers, are examples of blatant disregard for his ideologies of truth, transparency, non-violence and his hatred for terrorism. He wanted a diverse country like ours to be united and integrated, we came forth with the 29th state. He wanted moral regeneration, we gave the world one of the worst rape cases witnessed in decades.
Mahatma exists in thin air for us now. It is a shame to see what a dire state our country with much potential is in. Gandhi’s ideologies are, one could say, the prophetic solution to whatever is going wrong with India right now. The man had a vision which not many could foresee at that time, but right now, we feel its relevance. India could’ve turned out to be much, much better and progressive, had we chosen to inculcate even half of what he gave us. For a man who dedicated his life for our freedom (even the fact that Youth Ki Awaaz exists right now, is a mark of this freedom he worked for), just one day to celebrate or remember him is not enough.