Some brief points on Gandhi

By GauravL 53 Comments

A brief summary of my views about Gandhi

  • I have seen the entire “Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy” play and read the entire speech by Nathuram Godse. Till my late teens, I was impressed by parts of Godse’s arguments but today I find them misguided and half baked and his actions hasty and counterproductive (From Hindutva POV). On further reading – especially Gandhi’s own writings and other commentaries my views have changed almost 180Degrees wrt Gandhi. A lot of hatred of Gandhi in MH brahmin circles is due to the 1948 Anti Brahmin riots.
  • He would be best classified as a Brave Pacifist Extremist. He combined both Tilak’s and Gokhale’s tactics. He was not a moderate like Gokhale, nor did he condone violence like Tilak – yet he tried to encapsulate both streams in Congress before him.
  • Prima facie a lot of his pacifism seems excessive and inefficient, but when you read Gandhi’s own writings on Violence as a tool against oppression the pragmatism of his position comes through.
  • Non-violence was the path of least resistance and hence extremely helpful in building national movement while instilling democratic values in the populous.
  • His pacifism was more rooted in Jain/Jesus’ influences on him than Hindu Ahimsa.
  • His Ahimsa probably won’t have worked against other colonial powers.
  • Gandhi deserves the most credit for increasing the involvement of the Indian populous into the freedom struggle.
  • He said and did a lot of stupid things that cannot be defended no matter what. His moral grandstanding can be seen as extremely patronizing.
  • His campaign against untouchability had a significantly more impact than he gets credit for.
  • His fasts which can be seen as moral blackmail did a lot of good for the country too. The 1932 Poona pact being a primary example. I also see his controversial 1948 fast for money transfer to Pakistan (for which he finally died) as not without merit.
  • His solution for most Hindu-Muslim conflicts was naive. He can be rightfully accused of being very soft on Muslim extremists. Khilafat movement was arguably a great blunder.
  • Blaming Gandhi for Partition is extremely unfair. If anything the blame must reside with Nehru/Patel for their greed for power.
  • His ideas about bottom-up Swarajya and sustainability appear naive and stupid in the 21st century.
  • Some moments in Gandhi’s life are extremely extraordinary – eg: His Satyagrahas, his reception by Manchester mill workers, his conflict resolution in Naokhali.
  • Why he favored Nehru (over Patel) who was very unlike Gandhi is a mystery to me. Guha and others have tried but I am not convinced.
  • He understood the country much more than his peers.
  • Influence Gandhi has had on foreign movements is extraordinary – MLK, Mandela. He is along with Yoga the two strongest candidates for Indian soft power.
  • Liberal criticism of Gandhi (South African racism, Casteism, Sexism) miss the point of Gandhi. Seldom have public figures changed their views on issues with changing times so drastically and so transparently. IMO that’s the quality that keeps Gandhi apart from other famous politicians.
  • I guess distant future history will remember Gandhi as a flawed yet great human being – in league with Jesus and Mohammad.
  • He is undoubtedly the most consequential (hence Greatest ?) Indian from the 20th century.
  • In the long run, as already seen by the RSS/BJP embrace of Gandhi, his legacy is safer than others (Like Nehru)
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53 Replies to “Some brief points on Gandhi”

  1. “Influence Gandhi has had on foreign movements is extraordinary – MLK, Mandela.”

    i dont know about MLK, but I have read mandela’s autobiography, and he doesn’t even mention gandhi anywhere in it.

    make of it what you will. just stating a fact.

    1. MLK has many times acknowledged MG’s influence on him in Civil Rights struggle . MLK came to India and met Gandhians too before forming his opinions and strategy of civil disobedience. As MLK kept Civil rights basically non-violent a la Gandhi, it was successful.

        1. sbarrkum. Malcolm-X was and is a fringe figure , even though most people make suitable praises to His Name becuase that is the politic to do.
          Main thing was mobilizing as many people as possible in the open and get out the message the blacks in the US deserve as much rights as anyone , in which MLK was much more successful

  2. “A lot of hatred of Gandhi in MH brahmin circles is due to the 1948 Anti Brahmin riots.”

    are there any reliable statistics available on these riots? were people actually killed, or was it limited to looting and burning?

    1. are there any reliable statistics available on these riots? were people actually killed, or was it limited to looting and burning?
      Not very reliable – a lot of looting and arson took place.
      I remember reading some newspaper headlines which stated around 10-15 brahmins were killed but not sure. Foreign newspapers carried news of deaths, apparently, Indians didn’t. But need to look- I know close friends whose homes were attacked (their grandparents’ generation) – the violence was particularly widespread in Sangli- Satara – Kolhapur – less so in Pune if i recollect properly

  3. “His pacifism was more rooted in Jain/Jesus’ influences on him than Hindu Ahimsa.”

    i would say, it was entirely rooted in non-hindu sources.

    one aspect of gandhi that is not fully acknowledged is gandhi’s influence on hinduism! (yes, i mean *gandhi*’s influence on hinduism, and not the other way round). gandhi was personally responsible for changing the perception of hinduism by the world, and by hindus themselves. he fundamentally changed the way hindus saw their own religion.

    let me explain myself. if you notice, ahimsa is not a core tenet of hinduism. it is not even an important one. ahimsa as a concept is mentioned just in a couple of obscure verses in fringe scriptures, that’s all.

    in fact the most important hindu scripture – bhagwat-gita – is an unabashed call to arms. (though of course for a righteous war). vedas are full of hymns glorifying indra’s battles, which the detractors of hindus never tire of reminding them. hindus’ two major epics – ramayana and mahabharata are war-novels.

    the first generation of indian revolutionaries (bipin pal, aurobindo, tilak etc), who were all noticeably saffron tinged, took to armed resistance to british rule as a matter of course. even in the writings of the medieval historians nowhere one gets the impression that hindus were seen as any particularly pacifist people. if at all, they were seen as fools prone to make last stands in lost battles.

    it was only when gandhi entered the scene and combined non-violence with some hindu religious imagery that the perception of hinduism as a pacifist and non-violent religion took hold. today this impression is so deep seated that even hindus think of their religion as uniquely non-violent, which it definitely is not.

    1. If I am not wrong Scorpion Eater war was used as last option in both Ramyan and Mahabharat when all negotiations failed. IMO Gandhis Ahinsa is impractical in todays world. Hinduism always had Ahinsa in its core values, but its different from what Gandhi followed and I am glad that Hindu are not following his Ahinsa. I am from Maharashtra and have followed Dynaneshwari for long time which is Bhagwadgeeta in Marathi. You wont find any reference to violence in it.

      1. @Swan

        I am not passing judgement if Ahimsa as a concept is good or bad. i am just marveling how gandhi single handedly changed the image of hinduism.

        religions change their image all the time. Christianity started off as a religion of the poor and the dispossessed and the meek. its central theme was glorification of poverty. (“it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”). and yet, it was unrecognizable in 16th and 17th century when as an imperial religion it tore thru americas and africa destroying entire civilizations.

        i was reading some history of famous Dakshineshwari Kali temple of Kolkata. they still perform animal sacrifice there, but very limitedly. apparently they used to sacrifice animals in hundreds till early british period, and the some devotees used to lap up the gushing blood of the beheaded animals with their tongues! doesn’t sound very ahimsa-like too me. this is what hinduism was till barely 100 years ago.

  4. Ahimsa is overrated. It’ my least favorite part of the Jain faith I was brought up in. It also happens to be the central tenet lol. I agree with it to a degree. Hence, why I remain vegetarian. But pacifism is dumb

    1. Warlock – do you do the full Jain Diet or you eat Onions, potatoes, garlics ?
      I have quite some Jain friends who follow the most recommendations.

      1. I am not that strict. I don’t eat things that have a nervous system because they can feel pain. Plants do not have a nervous system. If I can essentially spare undo suffering, why not do it? That is why I don’t eat meat. It isn’t purely out of respect for life but rather also quality of life.

        If I were on some island and totally stranded and the only thing I could get my hands on was meat, I would eat it to survive. I have also done animal research. That is ultra anti- jain. I would kill animals in for science (I grew head and neck tumors on mice), but I won’t do it to test out a new deodorant or something.

        My vegetarianism to outsiders looks quite orthodox for someone who was raised in America and has Jain parents. But the reality is that it’s more liberally minded and frankly practical than people would think.

  5. Whatever weird things he tried out, attempting to reinvent the wheel of economics was his worst crime. Such idiots are hailed as heroes in India (demonization by our current Gujju also comes to mind).

  6. BJP must come down heavily on the Gandhi-killing-gloating fringe , even expel them . Otherwise it gives a very bad image for the party – as if there is no other image problems. Iron hand in a velvet glove is not BJP’s forte

  7. non violence is part of Hinduism too. Its political usefulness came through because the violent types failed and he succeeded, our impressions are merely due to that. No one would care about non violent jews either or in any religion for that matter unless history remembers them. This is one part where gandhi is right.What Gandhi said about history which is correct, every day most problems are resolved peacefully, no one seems it worthy to put it on pages of history, only acts of violence are often seen worthy to record. Polytheism always has many strategies within it inherently. which succeeds depends on conditions.

    1. What Gandhi said about history which is correct, every day most problems are resolved peacefully, no one seems it worthy to put it on pages of history, only acts of violence are often seen worthy to record.
      Nice Line

    2. Good point. In history, like newspaper headlines, most exciting or gory stuff grabs the headlines and themes

  8. This is the kind of weirdo leaders seven centuries of colonization produces. Because everyone (i.e. Nehru and his intellectual planning commission) is so DIY, incompetent and out of place, hero-worship and sloganeering are needed.

    Whatever convoluted things Gandhi (ji pbuh) tried out, attempting to reinvent the wheel of economics was his worst crime. Such idiots are hailed as heroes in India (demonization by our current Gujju also comes to mind).

    India has all the talk and grandstanding of the US without the money or olympic medals (achievement), we want to make software without sweating in factories, we want to lecture others on religious/racial unity after having been shafted by creation of Pakistan/Bangladesh, we want to teach the world non-violence after having been colonized and loosing land in war, we want to teach gramodyog despite such unthinkable poverty. Caricatures of vanity and self-importance, fucking idiots.

    Gandhi was the wet dream of caste Hindu people, almost like that lying idiot Barak Obama of those days. He came from (almost) the right caste, massaged Hindu religious ego, delivered face-savers, said meaning-less thing… extrapolate from here, you guys would have got the point.

      1. But the choice is ours – to take what we want and laugh at what we dislike. Had he been born few years the cult couldve been far greater. That’s why I compare him to Founders of religion

        1. What is there to take from Gandhi?
          1) Khadi/Gramodyog? Hell no.
          2) Bringing religion into politics? No.
          3) Satyagraha? Was it really Gandhi who taught us to sit at India gate with candles?
          4) Banning untouchability? Dr Ambedkar did atleast 10 times more.
          5) Hindu-Muslim unity? Did it work?
          6) Secularism? Nehru rightly gets credit.
          7) Mass mobilization? Others were doing it long before him.
          8) Weird experiments in sleeping? Keep it to himself.
          9) Truthfulness and other lame virtue signalling?

          Please point me to what were his specific achievements? What was it that we should take from him? He had his good days but he is given far more credit than he deserves.

          I repeat Gandhi is the wet dream of caste Hindus, especially Brahmins, his indic thinking and mysterious conduct aligned with the fantasy of the anaemic, misformed, enslaved Hindu mind seeking an anchor in a disrespectful world and offered succor from a shameful history. Sadhus were the only untouched spring of Hindu creativity left, we didn’t have any great writers or thinkers, our military leadership was non-existent, our nobility were cucks, Gandhi played this mad-sadhu part to perfection.

          Similar is the case with Indic pride people get from Rabindra Nath Tagore(who btw I respect), all his fans talk tall but take the first flight ticket to leach off western societies.

  9. It is strange for me to defend Gandhi, but he was a genius, a Hindu, his ideas also come from Hinduism too. But Hinduism is a spectrum of ideas, its a combination of strategies, other ideas failed, because other people did not upgrade themselves, so his idea succeeded under perfect conditions. That’s it. As to failures afterwards, Hindus failed not for 7 centuries of colonialism, they failed even before a single muslim set foot on India. As I have already explored in “Do Jati Varna’s Learn?”. It is easy to put all blame in one nehru and one Gandhi, I do it myself, but I do it from point of view of accountability . To hold leaders to account. But fact is, the people themselves were idiots, are idiots even now. Our knowledge of the world was always poor, we were always inwardly, even now we still are. This is the reason for our failure. It is simple enough for us to speak of capitalism if we study other countries, learn from others. But even now, we do not look to vietnam or even Singapore. Because they are small. Our failure is mostly due to our ignorance. And we should be lucky that in midst of such ignorance , we still had a Gandhi or a nehru. Flawed as they were, the society was even more so to have chosen them. As always, what stopped others from doing better?. what stops you from doing better?.

  10. “Blaming Gandhi for Partition is extremely unfair. If anything the blame must reside with Nehru/Patel for their greed for power.”

    I’m surprised there’s no mention of Jinnah here, Nehru and Patel weren’t the ones demanding a separate nation based on a different religious identity. If anything, they called Jinnah’s bluff and prevented him from getting East Punjab and West Bengal/Assam and implement his hostage theory there on the non-muslim majority.

    1. RONEN –
      I did not bring Jinnah in the partition saga coz blame of Jinnah is obvious – and I was focussing on Indian blame. There was haste/selfishness to get power while they were fitter part in Nehru / Patel and that was one of the reasons why talks post 45 failed. Gandhi was systematically sidelined by Nehru/Patel/Mountbatten who had personal ambitions that conflicted with their said objective – maintaining a united India.
      In retrospect had independence been delay by a year – Jinnah’s death wouldve really changed the equation – But thats not a very strong argument i must agree. more of some counterfactual wishful thinking i agree

  11. In human history, there seems to a near universal theme of ‘wars of modernization’. As they modernized, nearly every society on this planet experienced devastating wars that killed hundreds of thousands, razed entire cities and left deep authoritarian legacies. Europe, Russia, Mexico, China, nearly everyone.

    India has been an exception to this, and a large part of the credit goes to Gandhi. He also formulated an ideology of political resistance that brought farmers into the political system, setting the stage for our society’s continued stability.

    It’s easy to read the news of the day and react, but the truth is that modern India is overwhelmingly a success story. The vast majority of the country has not seen a major conflict since the 1850s.

  12. @Bhimrao
    Gandhi’s biggest contribution was building a mass movement and creating publicity in the international media due to his novel non violent approach. There were others who did what Gandhi did; however, he was the first one to present a set of consistent principles and apply it with aplomb. India — splintered into numerous groups — needed someone to unify the people and create a mass movement; something that was not pursued fully by INC before him.

    1. I too used to think mass movements were very difficult. Then I saw the numbers Jinnah pulled off in less than 10 years.

      On publicity, whoever was the leader of INC would have gotten the same publicity.

    2. I agree somewhat. Jinnah was mooching off the success of INC; what favored him was the unique nature of Muslims to put their religion above anything else, and the hidden support of Britishers. Furthermore, Gandhi also created a mass movement from scratch in South Africa.

  13. Bhimrao –
    1. Mass movement – Only Mass leader of renown before Gandhi comparable to him was Tilak, If you see the masses who gathered after Gandhi – its at least tenfold or more. He took the message of Swarajya to the remotest villages and brought them into the mainstream. Something ignored is how Gandhi encouraged families to have at least one breadwinner to spare if they participated in agitations risking incarceration. EG – of two brothers he advised one to stick to Arthakaran for the welfare of the family. This might not seem much but no one else had thought of this.In addition to timepass’s point
    2. The side effect of the mainstream non-violent congress movement was the deepening of democratic values in the country. Check Vikram’s point above , no matter how much one desires from India – India has done a lot better than was expected of India. As I said his pacifism might appear excessive, but given the examples from across the world – the point of Ahimsa – Once weapons are legitimized it’s tough to control the use of them by further generations once the common enemy is given up.
    3. He groomed the next generation of leaders – Nehru, Patel, Rajaji, and a range of others all of whom were were sort of together till Gandhi’s death. he was the glue that held together congress.
    4. WRT Untouchability – No matter Ambedkar’s greatness – his low birth meant in the larger Hindu community his words were not taken seriously as a reformer. A guilt ridder Dviji was needed for loads of casteist Indians to give up untouchability – he is from the Savarna caste made him more effective and his use of Hindu imagery meant he couldn’t be brushed aside unlike others. RSS and Hindu Mahasabha also ran campaigns against untouchability, but none had the reach of Gandhi. So by the sheer number of people who followed him – he was far more successful than others whose framing of the debate might be more to our taste today – Ambedkar/Savarkar
    5. Ambedkar was inducted into cabinet on Gandhi’s advice. He still held moral sway over his party.
    6. Ability to change/modify views transparently – not something common in others.
    7. Cleanliness – focus on things you may call foolish – personal self-reliance.

    I will add more points if they come to mind
    But the best way to judge men is by what their peers did and thought of him. He was the leader of a range of men who would go on to lead India. Even Bose was deeply affected by Gandhi though they parted ways. See Bose’s references to Gandhi post-split up.

    1. On just (4) i would differ that the ‘guilt’ within UC Hindus were marginally accentuated by Gandhi. Perhaps the project he was least successful on. Perhaps from a UC POV it might have come across as successful, but not from the views of dalits.

      I see that the guilt of UCs manifested primarily due to 2 things. The whole western educated liberal-ism in our early leaders which did beleive in solidarity, democracy, helping the less privileged, concepts sort of alien to subcontinent. For example Ambedkar himself wanted reservation for dalits in lieu of the population percentage rather than “100 of years of injustice” meted out to the community. Fair, democratic and achievable not SJW.

      The second being due to reservation, barriers being taken down which itself led lot of UCs to first hand come out of their ghettos to see how improvised dalits were/are. This led to realization which no amount of theory or preaching can achieve. Of course the recent “merit vs reservation” debate is the fallout of the same barriers broken down , since now there are enough dalits who have attained some social power for UCs to feel not that much guilty about.

    2. Not being combative but here are my counters:

      1. “Mass movement” – Fair point, but applies equally well for Jinnah. Concern for followers – Good but aren’t we splitting hairs at this point?
      2. “The side effect of the mainstream non-violent congress movement was the deepening of democratic values in the country. ”

      I disagree, other people also had positive vision for India, my own great grand father was a member of Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, he was jailed for a failed bombing attempt. There was not a violent or non-democratic bone in his body after independence. Even the RSS has always respected democracy, no member of Indian National Army ever disrespected democracy.

      “Check Vikram’s point above , no matter how much one desires from India – India has done a lot better than was expected of India. As I said his pacifism might appear excessive, but given the examples from across the world – the point of Ahimsa – Once weapons are legitimized it’s tough to control the use of them by further generations once the common enemy is given up.”

      This is a strawman I did not even mention. I am irreconcilably opposed to Gandhian self-reliance nonsense and Nehruvian Socialism that it inspired. He can do Ahimsa, he can promote classical dance, he can promote eco-tourism I just don’t care, world is full of nutjobs but his ignorance of fundamental economics is something that needs to be called out.

      3. “He groomed the next generation of leaders – Nehru, Patel, Rajaji, and a range of others all of whom were were sort of together till Gandhi’s death. he was the glue that held together congress.”
      Fair point, but the ones before him and after him also maintained this tradition.

      4. “WRT Untouchability – No matter Ambedkar’s greatness – his low birth meant in the larger Hindu community his words were not taken seriously as a reformer.”
      Ambedkar had reasonably big numbers behind too, those who did not take his words seriously were the reason why this country was colonized for 700 years they were welcome to continue being miserable immoral wretches they were.

      “A guilt ridder Dviji was needed for loads of casteist Indians to give up untouchability – he is from the Savarna caste made him more effective and his use of Hindu imagery meant he couldn’t be brushed aside unlike others.RSS and Hindu Mahasabha also ran campaigns against untouchability, but none had the reach of Gandhi. So by the sheer number of people who followed him – he was far more successful than others whose framing of the debate might be more to our taste today – Ambedkar/Savarkar”

      Again the whole point boils down to he had numbers, my counter remains so did Jinnah!

      5. “Ambedkar was inducted into cabinet on Gandhi’s advice. He still held moral sway over his party.”
      I mean OK, good! but is this something that big? Was there a better man within Congress for this job? This mahar boy had risen to earn a PhD from Columbia, D.Sc. from U-London and Barrister of Law from Gray’s Inn. His words, originality and clarity put Nehru and Azad to shame, his patriotism on Kashmir matched that of Patel. Such raw talent and still his appointment is being called a favor! at best Gandhi can be credited for being fair nothing more. Ambedkar’s intellect was a force of nature.

      6. Ability to change/modify views transparently – not something common in others.
      7. Cleanliness – focus on things you may call foolish – personal self-reliance.

      I mean these are simple virtues, so many other people have things like these. This fawning is unnecessary. And even all of these virtues taken together do not counterbalance him unthinkingly poking nose into serious matters and coming up with stupid ideas of Gandhian economics. It is just all wrong! laced with crudest variety of self aggrandization and narcissism.
      I borrow this general argument from George Sowell, Gandhi did not know anything about good economics, he just wanted to feel self important.

      I see similar tendencies in other ‘spiritual’ swindlers like Osho and Sadhguru, these guys will say some made up random thing that goes against all established wisdom and try to pawn such bullshit as deep wisdom. Idiots believe them and waste their potential on false, fundamentally incorrect theories.

  14. I am surprised no one mentioned Thoreau’s influence on Gandhi’s “Civil Disobedience”

    It was while leading his “Passive Resistance” agitation against the apartheid government’s new law that he read Thoreau’s essay titled On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. Written in 1849 at the age of 32, the transcendentalist thinker vouched for deliberate resistance from people against unjust laws enforced upon them.

    Gandhi was greatly moved by Thoreau’s concept that prison is where a just man belongs under an unjust government and referred to him as his “teacher.” He even credited the American thinker with giving scientific confirmation to his non-violent mode of agitation.

    https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/oct/01/thoreau-to-tolstoy-thinkers-who-influenced-mk-gandhi-and-how-2041787.html

    1. Yeah, Thoreau was such a central figure was Gandhi that inspired him to try many of his concepts. His autobiography quite clearly states that.

  15. Some of @GauraL’s points are nice.

    There are fundamental reasons why Gandhi is so well respected; is considered a brilliant mass leader; and a great human:

    1. When he went to his first INC meeting, he did not sit near the stage; could have done so as he was famous in India by then because of South Africa. He went and did manual scavenging, i.e, cleaned toilets because he found the venue to be dirty and smelly. So different from normal Indians!

    2. After 1857, Britishers had ensured that India was disarmed; arms were illegal; with no industries and money, a violent revolt needed a lot of nurturing.

    3. Furthermore, if you see Russian, French revolutions, etc., they were successful because masses had been united by concerns related to their own lives. In India – whether moderates or extremists – nationalist intelligentsia was only concerned with fighting the British. They forgot the peasants and downtrodden in their mission. Tilak and Besant tried to remedy this with their Home Rule movement, but they never tried to solve concerns of common man.

    4. <3% (don't remember the exact figure) Indians was educated. How could they understand the Naoroji's wealth drain theory, or de-industrialization policy of Britishers?

    5. For example, no INC leader spared time for a cultivator who had come to the INC meeting for help from evil white owners; nobody helped; he was the only one who went with him – that too he met him coincidentally when cleaning the toilets at the INC venue IIRC. For nationalist leaders of that time, a poor, servile, downtrodden peasant's pressing situation was not worthy of attention; for Gandhi it was. This is what makes me like him over his thousands of fault; such a rare breed of human he was.

    6. He recognized the limitation of public's sacrifice and timed the movement before Britishers could start their repression. It was not because Britishers were benevolent, but Gandhiji was smart enough to not provide any reason for mass incarceration.

    7. Salt satyagraha was a brilliant PR exercise. The exploitation was given a tangible form that could be understood from the educated to the peasant. What could be more unifying than that? The symbol electrifies me to this day. I can imagine what impact it must have had at that time with no social media and censured newspapers.

    In short: Gandhiji was the first person to give attention to the society's poorest section, and mold their grievances into a mass movement. Unity of the hearts is the fundamental criterion for a mass movement'ss success.

  16. Gandhi ( a bit like Nehru) was (perhaps?) unfairly worshipped before and now unnecessarily pilloried (Ambedkar , Soft-Hindutva ). It helps no one but RSS/Hindu right, so they aren’t that concerned.

    The view in the liberal/Secular folks that RSS cannot appropriate Gandhi/Ambedkar because of Godse/Brahminism will live to regret this day. With a Gujju already successfully appropriating Patel, the same facist Gujju has helped appropriated Gandhi for Hindu Right. Because the left doesnt understand, ethnicity/identity triumphs “liberalism” in India. Because at the end of the day, Gandhi was a gujju, just like Ambedkar a dalit and Shivaji a Maratha. They don’t really belong ‘equally’ to all Indians

  17. A good and timely article. I am actually quite enraged by the hate Gandhiji gets online. These fools mostly have never ever read anything about him and they hate him for many things which he did not even do.

    What most ignoramuses dont get is that Gandhiji was a great thinker in his right. Someone like Nehru cannot hold a candle before him. One of his under-appreciated qualities was how viscerally self-effacing he was. An ordinary man can simply not do it.

    His genius regarding the method of India’s independence movement is not understood at all. I think Gandhiji knew that the British were quite few in nos. perched at the top. Most of the oppression of Indians was being done at the hands of fellow Indians. A violent movement would cause much greater harm to the British foot soldier, an Indian, then to the British themselves.

    The non-violent non-coperation or civil disobedience movement of Gandhiji essentially meant that Indians stopped taking orders from the British – Indians would just refuse to be party in their oppression. If all or majority of Indians refused to co-operate, how were the handful of Brits going to run the massive country ? I think this is the genius of his movement that is not appreciated.

    1. Agreed on the ignorance about Gandhi’s leadership.

      Leadership metric is how influential and attractive an idea stays with public. On that, there aren’t many who was as successful as Gandhi.

      When reading his autobiography and articles about him by others in his era, it is very clear that he started with a handicap among Indian politics. His execution of being “common man” was so successful (traversing India using railways built by the British!) that it is executed again and again by many leaders afterwards (Advani Rathayatra, NTR).

      He was willing to walk the talk and quite radical just for that. (He remained wearing dhoti while neither Jinnah nor Nehru could forego their formalwear). That is inspirational beyond any leadership because he integrated varied sources of ideas to generate his own philosophy.

      He gets blame for the use of the so-called religious ideas in a political movement, but he figured what motivated Indians the best (others shouldn’t get credit for copying his playbook). He also figured that negotiation on British terms was not going to work and what kind of power he needed to bring to the table. I don’t think many people appreciate the depth of his strategy and originality.

      He could be a flawed human just as much as anyone, but that shouldn’t take away the credit where it was due.

  18. is there ever was a man ahead of his times, it was gandhi. see how…

    1. veganism/vegetarianism is a big thing now. gandhi was the lifelong proponent of vegetarianism.

    2. intermittent fasting – gandhi’s long fasts are famous.

    3. walk 10 thousand steps a day? well, gandhi’s long marches on foot are well known.

    4. eat low sodium – gandhi eliminated salt from his diet long before it was even known to be bad in large quantities.

    now, this is what i truly call a foresighted person. 🙂

    1. Call it what you want, but you got to admire that he followed through with all his crazy ideas.

      Remember our cultural handicaps with golf, make-up, beef….?
      How did Gandhi do two Round Table conferences being shirtless in a society that moved around in full suits to be considered a civilized person of the right class?
      That’s some flex man…

      1. How did Gandhi do two Round Table conferences being shirtless in a society that moved around in full suits to be considered a civilized person of the right class?

        Exactly – truly exceptional

  19. He was a precursor of Mother Teresa viz western medicine;
    the way is acted with Kasturba – not allowing her basic medicines probably is his darkest hour IMO

    1. gandhi’s aversion to machines and heavy industry was an early premonition of unease we all are now feeling about artificial intelligence and rampant automation.

      just goes on to prove my point. the man saw all these things coming 100 years ago! 🙂

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