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October 30, 2012 Lets revisit Gandhi…

Gujarat Congress pays homage to Gandhiji

Today, we will be having ceremonial functions all over the country to celebrate birthday of one of the greatest soul the world has seen, felt and lived with recently. However, as it happens in almost all such cases, a person is made God and all salutations to him become ceremonial.

I did not see Gandhi, but I have read Gandhi a lot. It changed my thinking about him and it gave me an insight into a personality which was complete, which stood by conviction of good of all and proved that all this was possible in a small structure of flesh and bones like ours.

People remember him mainly for his role in getting India independence. No doubt it was a historical feat the entire world lauded. But it was just a part of the great personality of Gandhi which we have recognized. However, in the shadow of this towering achievement of Gandhi, we have missed many other much more powerful aspects of his personality. As a result, there seems to be an organized effort to paint Gandhi in terms of Independence of India and its fall out. Younger generation is either not aware of the great personality of Gandhi or there is a planned attempt to paint Gandhi in a single colour to suit the ideology of those who are responsible to his physical death.

I strongly feel that present day youth must read Gandhian literature, the literature other than his much acclaimed autobiography. This literature introduces Gandhi the genius. He had his views about everything right from medicines to rural development. His view about education is what we talk when we say that today’ education must help get employment. In newly attractive catch phrase of inclusive growth is the idea of good of all of Gandhi and the hyped Human Development Index (HDI) stands for Gandhi’s idea of complete growth of a human being.

In the present market driven world we need Gandhian philosophy of simple living to meet new challenges of consumerism. Otherwise, we will be in a mad race to exploit everything to gratify our desires. And ultimately we will have to live in a vastly divided world with all imaginable evils where some have most of resources. Leading economists and politicians have coined a phrase equitable distribution of wealth. Is it not the core idea of the Gandhian philosophy?

Gandhi was a great marketing man. He sold the concept of welfare of all. During Dandi Yatra he visited hundred of villages, stayed in many and got food from a group which had moved round the village and thus created awareness about his idea of Salt Satyagrah. It was to unite and not divide like present day yatras of many leaders.

Today values seem to be fast disappearing from our public life. People do not stand for conviction but for convenience. And with self centered intellect we smartly shift our convictions as per convenience. Like a character from stories of Guy de Maupassant we have all logic and reasoning to justify our most ugly actions.

Contrary to this Gandhi stood for his conviction. I recently read Trail of Gandhiji which has been republished by Navjivan Press this year. Gandhi was tried on the charges of sedition for his articles in Young India in 1921.          He stood by what he had written despite the fact that he could be given any punishment. I would like to produce here the dialogue between Gandhi and the judge Broomfiled which shows what Gandhi was and also the stature of the judge Broomfield.

Gandhi said in the court “The only course open to you, the judge, is either to resign your post-which I know is impossible for you to do- and dissociate yourself from evil if you feel that the law you are called upon to administer is an evil thing , and that in reality I am innocent; or to inflict on me the severest penalty, if you believe that the system and the law you are assisting to administer are good for the people of this country, and that my activity is , therefore, injurious to public.

Judge Broomfield- Mr. Ghandhy; you have made my task easy in one way by pleading guilty to the charge. Nevertheless, what remains, viz. the determination of a just sentence, is, perhaps, as difficult a proposition as a judge in this country could have to face. The law is no respecters of person. Nevertheless it would be impossible to ignore the fact that you are in a different category from any person I have ever tried or am likely to have to try..

I do not forget that you have constantly preached against violence and that you have on many occasions, as I am willing to believe, done much to prevent violence; but having regard to nature of your political teaching and the nature of many of those to whom it is addressed, how you could have continued to believe that violence and anarchy would not be the inevitable consequences, it passes my capacity to understand…

The judge gives him sentence term and says “And I should like to say in doing so that if the course of events in India should make it possible for Government to reduce the period and release you, no one would be better pleased than I….”

The book was first published by Gujarat High Court in 1965 and the second edition has come out after 47 years. The trial which is regarded second after Socrates shows the power of conviction of Gandhi and the judgment shows what it can do. Conviction may affect our convenience. But that is temporary. What we get in return is power of endurance which further reinforces our conviction.

I just request you to read Gandhi and rediscover him to be your master in 21st century.

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