2nd October: Gandhi Jayanti. This date comes each year and goes like all the other days of national holidays. But this year, I saw a fresh realization of a man and his ideals, lost perhaps in the pages of history. I was watching this movie on the television ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Mara’ and was quite stuck by the brilliant narration and the fact that it effectively roused a question in the viewer’s mind…Have we really forgotten ‘The Father of our Nation’?
For the generation next, our knowledge of Gandhiji is limited to what we study in our history text books or watch in the recent gamut of critical movies. Whatever these mediums want us to believe, we end up staggering on those paths. It would be so much better if children were made to read some of Gandhiji’s self written books at school, to allow them to understand what kind of a man he really was! Some people denounce him for being responsible for the present communal disharmony… while few others sigh at our present state of affairs, saying this was not what he would have liked. All this has left the younger lot completely baffled. Most of us have become mouthpieces to what we hear others saying, be it political leaders, corporate magnets or even the so called social friend circle who are just as ill informed….Suddenly it’s hip to criticize Gandhi! How I wish, there was some better way of introducing him to Indians!
Everyone seems dissatisfied with the present political scenario, but equally unanimous is our helplessness in getting it solved. Today, The Mahatma’s pictures in the newspapers are being carelessly flung in the bins, while his statues await the politically significant dates, when our national ‘leaders’ would come to confer the honour of a few garlands, flung around his neck… the messages on mobile phones mock his dress and the pearls of his wisdom, that he so generously bestowed. We are handling our freedom too lightly, forgetting that whenever something is taken for granted, it is lost, eventually.
I remember my talks with my grandfather who passed away some seven years ago. He had migrated to Kanpur in 1947 from Multan and had been a silent witness to Indian history-in-the-making. He used to be filled with an unnamed and unimaginable sadness and used to say…..I see the young generation crammed with disgust for what Gandhiji did. It’s probably because they have not experienced life under the ruthless rule of an ‘outsider’ and partly because they have closed the doors to reasonable thinking. If you feel that India is too large now to be effectively administered, can’t you also imagine how tough it would have been then, for one Gandhi, to wake up an even larger India, to stand, without arms or even basic knowledge, against those mighty foreigners, who had snatched from them, their own rightful homes and lives? Why should we forget, he was only a man with the same amount of conviction, tolerance, patience, resources and energy that anyone else has?
So it’s little wonder if a crisis comes again… Can we find among our ranks someone to match up to that kind of sacrifice or stand strong before the dilemma of taking such decisions, that determine the fate of a country….?
Today, if we ask a young Indian to tell, what is Shahrukh Khan’s ranking in the 50 most powerful people of the world, he would not take a second extra to answer! Ask this same Indian if he knows that Gandhiji featured in The Times Magazine list of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the world in the last century’ and he would look back at you as though you’ve been talking in air. He would be able to tell what all, the great physicist, Albert Einstein invented, but would not know how greatly even he revered this tiny and unassuming Indian.
While we have got our freedom, we still have not imbibed his ideals. While he taught us ‘ahimsa’, there is not a state left now, which the brutal hands of terrorism has not disfigured. While he preached ‘truth’, there is no working office anywhere, which is not ridden with corruption and dishonesty. Where did we start from, where have we come today and what hope do we have from the future to come?
I guess forgetfulness is a habit that has become an inseparable ingredient of our character… so this thought would also pass… as would perhaps our life itself!