Social media, like any technology, gets a lot of flak. But for every bit of fake news, time-wasting app, and scare about our lack of digital privacy, there has been one positive with the seamless sharing of information. Those with a Teflon reputation built on a carefully crafted narrative have found that coating can be worn through with an impartial examination. And no one has a bigger Teflon reputation that is bound to be worn out further than Gandhi.
Not that anyone needs a reminder, but Gandhi’s legacy is astounding. He was named runner up to Albert Einstein as Time Magazine’s person of the last century. Giants in their own regard such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King drew inspiration from him, and he is among the most recognizable people ever. Given the gift of hindsight, here’s a brief assessment of Gandhi’s legacy.
Hind Swaraj. Gandhi was rooted in the Indic civilization, unlike Nehru and other brown Englishmen. Gandhi was also vocal about the importance of the village life, self-sufficiency and was comfortable in his dharmic skin. As an extreme example, note how Rahul’ Gandhi’s ‘Hinduism’ looks like a complete charade compared to how rooted the Mahatma was in his Hindu identity.
Cow protection. One of the key tenants of Hinduism is the protection of cows. Gandhi was vocal and articulate about this tenant.
Dismantling of the Congress. Perhaps Gandhi had foreseen what has become of the Congress because 3 days before his assassination, he stated that the Congress has “outlived its use” and should be disbanded and “flower into a Lok Sevak Sangh”.
Disproportionate credit for Independence. Gandhi’s struggle for Independence spanned many years, even decades depending on where one draws the starting line, but India only got its Independence in 1947. While this piece is not an examination of the key factors for Independence, there were many, including the role played by Bose and the INA, as well as the hollowing out of the stretched British empire military and economy by the end of World War II. The latter is why a spate of African and Asian countries received Independence in the dozen or so years after the end of the Second World War. That milestone is probably more important than any other when it comes to the timing of India’s Independence.
The mental capitulation of the Hindu. Gandhi through his moral stature, disarmed, and shackled the Hindu spirit into a state of mental servitude. It’s ironic that while articulating the goals of Swaraj, he enabled the replacement of subservience to the British, with subservience to a mirage of a ‘benevolent’ Hindu. Gandhi weaved a spell of hypnosis on Hindus that has spanned decades, one that the civilization is finally waking up from but not before suffering grievous wounds, many self-inflicted.
Inability to understand or ignoring on purpose, Islamism. Gandhi’s fatal flaw was in misunderstanding the nature of Islamism, and that no matter what, the Hindu would be ‘othered’ by Islamists and supported in that ‘othering’ by enough of his community. Invasions, torture, and conversions had made a space for Muslims on the sub-continent, but a common community and nation eluded the masses of Muslims and Hindus. This willful ignorance or delusion on the part of Gandhi took many forms, and its effects ripple on today
Gandhi’s legacy will continue to loom large over the people of Bharat. Here’s to the hope that we can all learn more and different lessons from the man’s life.
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