On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the question which naturally arises is where does Gandhism stand today, while the founder himself met a tragic end at the hands of an assassin?
Though Gandhi is not amongst us, his teachings still guide several groups and individuals leading democratic movements. His significant role in the national movement for independence has made almost all political parties bring up his name to justify and defend their policies. All these factors made him evolve as the ‘Father of the Nation’ as he was the most outstanding leader of anti-imperialist movements.
Let us not forget that, Gandhi has been criticised for accommodating Muslim interest and for his pacifist beliefs by his detractors. He was shot at by Nathuram Godse and breathed his last uttering ‘Hey Ram’ for being too ‘pro-Muslim’.
Having schemes in Gandhi’s name and using his glasses as a symbol may not revive the ideology of Gandhi. “Events related to sanitation and renewable energy shall be the focus of the Prime Minister’s engagements on Gandhi Jayanti,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. This shows how unaware the ruling Government is about the worldwide reputation that Gandhi and Gandhism have.
Albert Einstein says of Gandhi “I believe that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political men of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit: not to use violence in fighting for our cause, but by non-participation in anything you believe is evil.” This shows the importance of his ideology back then and even now.
Oppressing the people who dissent for their cause and arresting them under UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act ), which is an anti-terrorism law or killing people who are protesting for the shut-down of Sterlite, is not a conversion to Gandhism.
In contradiction, the assassin of Gandhi is a patriot in the eyes of many leaders of Hindutva groups; they have also called for replacing Gandhi’s statues across the country with that of Nathuram Godse. And this raises the question: Is this the land of Gandhi or Godse?