Gandhiji, after he came from South Africa became the de-facto leader of the Congress. He led the Congress and the Indian society through the freedom struggle, WW1, WW2, Partition and Independence. In this topic, however, we will discuss how today’s India would have been different if Gandhiji would have acted differently.

India, that is Bharat is founded on the below principles.

  • Democracy
  • Socialism
  • Secularism and
  • Sovereignty

All these concepts are great concepts. I would argue that the above concepts are among the best innovations of the human race. I would rate these innovations at the same level as the invention of “WHEEL” or “ZERO”.

Many Indians hate these concepts because Dictatorship, Cronyism and Jihadism is practiced in the grab of above principles. Though Gandhiji in all his talk, writings spoke at length on the above concepts, his actions spoke otherwise. He should have done things differently to build India on the solid foundations of Democracy, Socialism, Secularism and Sovereignty.

First, What should Gandhiji have done differently to build a solid foundation for "DEMOCRACY" in India?

Lets analyze the actions of the first President of United States George Washington.

The original 13 colonies who joined to form United States of America were ruled from London. Due to various reasons they wanted independence. UK did not agree and tried to suppress the creation of USA militarily. George Washington was appointed as the commander in Chief of US military and led the nation to victory in 1783. He then became the first President of USA.

His below actions laid solid foundations of the democratic culture of USA.

  1. He was the head of the nation. The designation “President” was chosen on his suggestion. Today, we perceive President as a powerful person, but in those days President meant meant the head of a club and did not carry much power. He did it intentionally to ensure that no single person becomes so powerful and become bigger than the nation.
  2. He refused to remain the president after 2 terms. This ensured transition and new blood replaced old blood. The US constitution today puts a 2 term restriction on President. This principle can be accredited to Washington.
  3. He was a part and parcel of the Constitutional Convention which drafted the US constitution. He supported the mechanism of separation of powers between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary and the principle of checks and balances between these 3 wings of Government so that no wing dominates the other. These concepts were revolutionary at that time.

Coming back to Gandhiji, he should have the following differently to strengthen the democratic culture of India.

  1. He Founded the “Supremo” based political Culture: Most political parties have a “supremo” culture in India. We see that one person remains the supremo throughout his/her life and after (s)he expires some one from his/her family becomes the supremo. This culture can be traced back to Gandhiji. How? Gandhiji during his stint in Congress had the final say in all matters. Though elections to post of President and other office bearers were held, he held the position of an unofficial supreme leader. Any one opposed to the ideas of Gandhiji had no future. This culture resulted to Nehruji becoming the PM even though he had lost elections to Patelji and S.C. Bose leaving Congress. Since all political parties are born out of Congress, the supremo culture has become the de-facto norm today. Dynasty based supremos are ruling most political parties.
  2. He should have made himself a “level 5” leader: Jim Collins in his book on corporate management (Good to Great) explains the traits of a “Level 5” leader. A “Level 5” leader keeps the institution above him/her. (S)he derives pleasure when the institution (whether the company or society or nation) grows bigger than him or her, just as a mother derives happiness in seeing her child reaching heights. In nutshell, a “Level 5” leader desires the Company or institution outgrow him/her. Did Gandhiji behave as one? No. Had he been a “Level 5” he would have relegated himself to background and have let people better than him take his place. He should have built a mechanism in Congress where leaders are identified, groomed for the top post. He should have realized that building a “supremo” based culture may give him personal satisfaction, but a nation cannot and should not rely on individuals but on institution(s). Washington on the other hand acted as a “Level 5” leader and let US become bigger than him.
  3. Gandhiji did not believe in transition or Change of power: After Independence, the situation had changed. Gandhiji had become Old. IN spite of that he wanted to cling power. Just like George Washington, he should have retired so that new blood could come in. Today we see many Indian political leaders unwilling to relegate power even at the age of 90 years.

Summarizing, the dynasty based nepotistic, anti democratic and power mongering culture should be fully attributed to the culture built by Gandhiji.

Second, What should Gandhiji have done differently to build a solid foundation for "SOCIALISM" in India?

Gandhiji claimed that he believed in Socialism. But his economic concepts were flawed and resulted to a distorted economic philosophy in India. How?

  1. Profit motive is a fundamental animal nature: In a single sentence what is the fundamental flaw in Marxism? Marxism believes in eliminating profit motive from the means pf production. But Marxism failed to realize that “profit motive” is a basic animal tendency. Any living creature whether your body cell or a human being works with a motive. Communist nations forcefully tried to suppress the profit motive. What was the outcome? All communist nations today are the most corrupt and plutocratic ones. But Capitalist nations like US, UK, India openly accept that profit motive cannot be eliminated from business. Hence, they have put in a system where businesses are regulated(and operate within the framework of laws). Gandhiji’s socialism was impractical. He wanted all the profits to be given to the society. You may donate a part of your profits for social cause but cannot give away everything. This ideology laid the foundation of anti-business ideology in India. The hatred towards private business can be attributed to the flawed definition of “Socialism” by Gandhiji. A country can become rich and strong only by business.
  2. Gandhiji should have adopted Modji’s definition of Socialism: Modiji’s philosophy of socialism believes in improving the ease of business so that businesses can generate wealth and the taxes so generated are utilized in improving the lives of the people. We see Modiji taking all steps to make it easier for businesses to thrive and spending tax money on welfare schemes.
  3. Gandhiji should have encouraged adoption of technology: The significant reason why Indian manufacturing fell behind West is: they surpassed India in technology. Gandhiji adopted the “Charkha”. A Charkha can never beat a power loom in terms of volume, price and market reach. He should have instead promoted Indian businessmen to adopt technology to compete with western Manufacturing. The Japanese on the other hand adopted technology (after 1867 Meiji restoration) and within just 50 years went on to challenge the western powers. Gandhiji should have learnt from Japan. He should have taken a forward step instead of a backward one. The leaders in Independent India made every attempt to suppress machine manufacturing which made Indian goods and services uncompetitive in world market. Had Gandhiji adopted power loom (instead of Charkha) and promoted technology India would have been an economic giant today.

Third, What should Gandhiji have done differently to build a solid foundation for "SECULARISM" in India?

Secularism is an extremely noble concept founded on the below 3 principles:

  1. Unlike Communism, in a secular state, State and religion co-exist.
  2. Religion would have minimal influence on politics. For e.g. Pope may have all spiritual powers but he cannot take any political decisions.
  3. State will have powers to regulate the “non-religious” activities associated with a religion. For e.g. State may make laws banning “triple-talaq” or “untouchability”.

Gandhiji defined “Secularism” as “Samabhava Samabhava” which means equal closeness to all religions and is a great concept. Lets analyze how did Gandhiji fare on this:

  1. Mophah and Noakhali riots: In both these riots innocent Hindus were the sole victims. Gandhiji did nothing to stop the slaughter the Hindus, rather supported the slaughter of the Hindus.
  2. Pro-Pakistan Stance: After partition Gandhiji pressed for a 20km wide corridor between East and West Pakistan and also ensured that Pakistan gets Rs. 55 crore from India. Pakistan used that money for sending troops to Kashmir.

Due to such mentality of Gandhiji, “secularism” got to be interpreted as “anti-Hinduism” and “minority appeasement”. Hence, many political parties view organizing Iftar parties a secular act but celebrating Diwali a communal act. They treat Cow a communal animal but Camel a secular animal. Today’s Congress and many political parties are Talibanized (i.e. they support the orthodox elements within the Islamic society). The Talibanization of Indian politics can be attributed to Gandhiji.

Gandhiji should have followed his own principle of “Samabhava Samabhava” in letter and spirit instead of just giving lip service to it. That would have resulted to the building of a truly “secular” India.

Fourth, What should Gandhiji have done differently to build a solid foundation for "SOVEREIGNITY" in India?

Khilafat movement, 1919-24.

The Sultan(Emperor) of the Ottoman empire was the Khalifa till 1924. Khalifa was accepted as political and spiritual leader of Muslims world wide. The Young Turks abdicated the Khalifa and made Turkey a republic. Point to note here is, the British supported the Khalifa where as the democratic Young Turks wanted his removal. The Khilafat movement in India was targeted to restore the pro-British Khalifa. Gandhiji and Congress supported the pro-British Khalifa and lent their support to the Khilafat movement.

In a sovereign nation, the post of the leader should be accepted as supreme. For e.g. irrespective of who is the President of India, the post of the President should be accepted as the supreme post by all Indian Citizens. Indians are not supposed to accept the US president as their president. By supporting the Khilafat movement, he accepted the stance of Muslim leaders who accepted the Ottoman Sultan as their leader. The citizens of a nation accepting the leader of another nation as their leader is detrimental to the building of a sovereign nation. Hence these actions cast doubt on Gandhiji’s desire to build a sovereign India.

As great leader Gandhiji was, he had fundamental flaws in his political philosophy and India is still suffering due to that.

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