The Enigma

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brand Mahatma

Mahatma Gandhi is a great person. It is no mean task to unify a country with so many diversities, introduce several new concepts like Non-Violence, Untouchability to them and yet be accepted as a leader. He achieved this, and probably much more. But, somewhere down the line, we mapped the person on to wrong things. Rather, appreciation and recognition are due to him not exactly for what he stood for India as, but for things which we attribute to him.

Somewhere down the journey in the past 60 years, we forgot that Gandhi means a foreign returned law student who gave up his studies for the love of the country, and followed his ideals of Swaraj. We forgot he was the one who delayed several things on the course of our independence. We forgot he was the one who got into deliberations at every drop of a hat and made Independence a long awaited moment for us! No offence to him for that. In fact, it was no mean task to sustain the enthusiasm and patriotism of a million or more Indians for so long and also after that, what with India going for a partition and indulging in riots after that. Had it been a revolutionary, he would have made sure it didn't get partitioned. That is because he would have not been a mute witness to blood of his brethren going under the sword of geographical boundaries so soon. He would have made sure every drop of blood that his brothers and sisters gave for the Independence of their motherland was accounted for and the returns recorded in the form of a Unified India. That would have meant, no T20 Final between India-Pak :P Jokes apart, it would have meant a different world today!

Though that is the grudge, rather dissatisfaction, of a youth who would have wanted 100 years of Independence today than this 60 yrs we are enjoying, it is nothing against Gandhi. Obviously, I and you weren't around then to judge things and try and do things. He did, so give him that merit!

The sanctity of a Brand lies in the outrage it garners at being questioned. The mirror of the success of a Brand lies in how sacrilegious its followers deem questioning or maligning it. By these terms, Gandhi is by far the Biggest Brand in India. All dailies of today are full of Gandhian news. We are so blind in his worship, we do not even want to look at 'what if not Gandhi' scenario. I do not mean he is not worth worshipping in any sense, but I do strongly feel that he doesn't need so much of adulation today, or even that day for that matter.

The success of a man, according to me, in this society is best reflected by how religiously his children pray him. To me, my dad is a super hero. But, Gandhi wasn't to his sons, at least not to all of them. Right from the likes of Chanakya, every teacher has taught this society to take care of home first and then get on to the world. Did Gandhi do that effectively? I am no one to question this vigorously, though!

To me, something I cannot reconcile to, is the fact that we want the youth of today to follow Gandhiji. With due respects to that man, I don't think that should be the case. If he was right, he was the best, probably that was in his times. Today, I do not find him fitting in the role of a contemporary Unifier of the Country. We all have read our share of Gandhian literature. How many of us think if the same words were told today, same philosophies were reiterated today, they would unify a nation? Times have changed. I do not advocate dishonesty or violence. In fact, I feel they were never exactly Gandhian virtues. Every mother in this country has taught her child not to lie, and not to indulge in fights. It wasn't something Gandhi gave us, what he had to give us was ideas of Swaraj, Non-co operation etc...

I earnestly feel we pray this man for the wrong reasons. If you do want to pray him, pray him for the right reason. That will help people learn better from him, and for god's sake, don't demean or look down upon people who don't pray him as religiously as you do. Let people evolve...

All said and done, Happy Birthday Gandhi!

To cut down on pleonasm, here's a link to my post on the same topic, same day two years ago:

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At October 02, 2007 9:29 PM, Blogger Saraswathi said...

Oh loved this post on Gandhiji! I think every person perceives Gandhiji in a different way. For some he is a father-figure, for some he is a great leader, for some he is a person who caused the partition of India, for some he was the voice of India, for some he is a great freedom fighter and so on. More than proving Gandhiji right or wrong, it is what you can learn from Gandhiji as a person. Your post covers all the aspects very well!! A good tribute to Gandhiji on his birthday:)

At October 05, 2007 6:02 PM, Blogger Sangeetha said...

Totally agree with you on this post, especially the good father part and the moms teaching not to lie part. I believe in today's world it is not Gandhi one should follow, but rather a Tata or a Steve Jobs, who were in the system, used the system, questioned the system and emerged winners....only to be respected by the world.

At October 05, 2007 11:38 PM, Blogger lalitha said...

Really good post!! I agree with you. The so-called "Gandhian" values aren't exactly his own copy-righted ones which everyone tries to emulate, but the universal human values without which humanity as a whole would fall apart at the seams and be destroyed.

At October 08, 2007 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intriguing post. Thanks for droppin bi my blog. :)

At October 09, 2007 11:48 AM, Blogger desh said...

gandhi or no gandhi, and endless debate, also the debates between a revolutionary leading the freedom struggle than gandhi doing it has no conclusions

still i find his techniques overshadowed by the brand, einstein was follower of brand gandhi, so wr mandela and martin luther, eacho one modifying his way into thr own

whetever said n done, he is the biggest brand, and a long lasting one too, ppl like bhagat singh came n went (unfortunately made a lil too popular by recent movies) but gandhi stays on.

they wr a fad, gandhi instead is a way of life :)

maybe he and his teachings hold no place, but his presence as an icon remains

nice post sir :)

At October 09, 2007 12:21 PM, Blogger Mirage said...

I completely agree with you on this one Naresh. Agreed Gandhi contributed a lot to this country's independance, but I do not see what is it that he did, that has overhsadowed other sacrifices made to the same cause? Why is he referred to as the Father of the Nation? Why do we celebrate his birthday and not the other revolutionaries' who gave their life up for India's freedom? Why does our currency have his face on it? Whatever he did, he was not an extraordinary human being. And definitely not someone we Indian should worship. I personally think he had some wonderful PR done for him!

Good post tho :)

At October 11, 2007 3:33 PM, Blogger shikha said...

ah!!!i feel so strongly about this topic...i think Gandhi is this century's most hyped personality.He was a very very good politician.He knew how to mobilise masses and he knew how to stay in power..he was at the right place at right time wid a rigth attitude...n i m sure it was his law degree that inspired him to join politics..i hav a lot of respect for him for being so confident and for being such a good politician but it all ends there.I dunt understand why he s worshipped n all???i really admire sonia gandhi cuz she s a smart female and gandhi falls into the same category..No offence, but 2nd oct is jus another holiday for me..!!gandhi or no gandhi..i really feel we would hav got teh independence..after 1st n 2nd world war , england was already weak n in position to handle its colonies..n i really dunt think gandhi never lied..he was a politician!dunt forget that!
Btw , I am a great believer of speakin truth all d time..n i always try to do dat...n that s no thanks to gandhi..but may be my dad..who taught me dat..

At October 12, 2007 1:24 AM, Blogger nag said...

The ideals of Gandhi are apt anyday anywhere, only problem is that when ppl cannot follow those ideals.

I am visiting you blog after a long time and pleased to note the continuity of articles in ur blog...gr8 dude.

How is ur MBA going??


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