The problems that our society faces today are very different from what Mahatma faced during his time. So after 64 years of his death, are his principles, practices, procedures and value-systems still relevant? What do we learn from Mahatma?
In the early 20th century the British were ruling the world. They had a superior army, superior technologies, superior understanding of our nature and were leading the civilization progress of human beings. How could Gandhi even think, let alone dream of fighting with British and getting back the rights of his people, who were poor, backward and in-fighting?
At that time, there were established political models across the globe for getting back the rights of people. French, American and then Russian revolutions had established political models based on guns and bullets. The economic models that were getting established were clearly based on Industrialization. The social models were based on ‘each unto themselves’ or ‘dictatorship of working class’. Mahatma did not follow any of them. He innovated.
If Mahatma had looked for a ‘world-tested’ model or discussed it with ‘experts’, then he would have never embarked on Satyagraha and Ahimsa. The world laughed at him as a half-naked fakir, who is nuts and can do nothing to the mighty British empire.Mahatma had the ‘guts’ and ‘understanding’ to bring in a whole new set of un-tested theories that were more practical for the nation, that were more economical, that were more sustainable, that he can more sustainably evolve and lead/guide them through their implementation.
But for his innovative approach, we would not have got our freedom in such a sustainable, evolving way. The world would not have got such a wonderful, peaceful method of struggle that appeals to the logic of the enemy.
Mahatma was a master of innovation.
Look at our political leaders of today. Contrast them with Mahatma.
If our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in the place of Mahatma. I am sure he would have raised funds by selling/leasing part of India’s resources or pledging alliance, acquired arms/ammunition using those funds and fought the British, only to fail. Netaji did it because that’s what everyone else did and is a world-proven model.It take guts to embark on the path of Satyagraha, dare to fight the British with just mind and no weapons? It needs ‘vision’ to provide the world with a new model and new way of thinking. Not just MMS, the establishment of current times have no innovative ideas that are based on people’s strengths, no vision for the sustainability of future.
Mahatma was innovative. He knew he had no chance in a violent struggle. He devised his struggles based on the strengths of his people and weakness of enemies. If Mayawati/Mulayam were in the place of Mahatma, they would have formed an alliance of major castes/regions to fight the British, leaving the minority to ally with British, as India was deeply divided between castes, regions and religions. Because that’s what everyone else did and was a world-proven model.
Would people of their nature have the guts to embark on the path of an internal social reform much against the wishes of their own supporters, while also fighting an external enemy? Would these people dare to stress their weakness (as Mahatma did when he coined the word Harijan)?
In doing so, he not only acknowledged the aspirations of these people, but also signaled that Independent struggle is first phase of their social struggles, which held the divisions at bay till Independence.
Can Sushma Swaraj, LK Advani and their lot, wear their religious beliefs on their sleeve, yet be seen as secular, in the sense, trusted by majority of people?
Mahatma wore his religion on his sleeves (though he did not have one). Songs sung at this rallies were highly religious in nature. Lord Ram was on his lips ever. He was never ashamed of his religious roots and beliefs. But none accused him of being communal.His views and acts were like a Hindu saint that identified him with the masses, his talk was rational and secular, which broadened his appeal across all religions.
Lord Ram ever present in Mahatma’s lips did not invoke any communal violence. Forty years later, those who NEVER uttered Lord Ram’s name, except when Lord Ram became an emotional commodity to vend, used Lord Ram to invoke communal violence.There are very many good things that we can learn from Mahatma’s life. The most important is to innovate,to provide solution to the problems we have; not create problems for solutions that are available.