Ba-Poo (published in Different Strokes Youth Magazine, Delhi)
Posted June 18, 2007on:
All the recent “Gandhigiri” lip service and talk of Gandhi being back in fashion rang superficial and ingenuine. Will Gandhi in his new “cool n cute” avtaar with his toothless smile, adorable lisp, twinkly eyes; making girls go awwwww and helping males with romantic advice (i suspect he wears a jockey underwear under his dhoti), alter a nation’s moral consciousness or at least set the ball rolling? Are you kidding me????
It obviously one of those superficial media generated “feel good” waves, a passing fad, that even THEY dont take seriously. I have long detected an undercurrent which is quite the opposite of the aforestated position. Rather than just being indifferent to Gandhi I have often found people’s attitude to be scoffing if not out rightly hate filled. “Turn the other cheek indeed”, you will often hear people sneer, and “Majboori ka naam Mahatma Gandhi” is an ever popular adage. And strangely enough this co-exists with “official” pro-Gandhi rhetoric. Gandhi’s picture in every courtroom, police station and politician’s office. “Gandhian principles” being touted at the drop of a hat by everybody from college presidents to eminent businessmen.
This attitude, which to me seems to be held by a majority, has oft been reflected in popular cinema – the Gandhi of Kamal Hasan’s “Hey Ram” was cold, ruthless and arrogant; or the opportunistic Gandhi of “The Legend of Bhagat Singh” who, initially confounded by Bhagat Singh’s demands of complete freedom, graduates from ignorance “total independence?? What on earth is that??” to realization “total independence…hmmmmm” to action “we want total independence!” and of course shrewdly sidelines the Punjabi freedom fighter.
This widespread attitude is perhaps not so surprising as Gandhi’s tenets and preachings go against the grain of our animal instincts. Violent revolution and revenge seem to have a strange seduction for us, which titillates the depths of our psyche. There seems to be a profound misunderstanding of Gandhi’s tenets, nor is there any desire to seek him out, as for most, he is a symbol of a despicable polarization which represents extreme meekness, cowardice, impracticality and servility, which is to be ridiculed. The young mind especially, which is prone to the romance of radicalisim, somehow finds it synonymous with anti-Gandhisim, and it is not suprising to see a “Mein Kampf” tucked away in a corner of a hostel room shelf. The right way, for them, is the opposite way, the way of courage and honor – to make your wrongdoers pay. Gandhi was a fool, most would say. Gandhi is not relevant today, the more moderate ones will say, as if human nature has evolved in past fifty years.
Gandhi would be strongly opposed to this reading of his views. His concept of non-violence was not a non violence of fear and cowardice, but of colossal moral strength, of love in the face of hatred, of restraint and forgiveness in the face of violence. Not only was his non violence a tremendous moral force but was also immensely practicable for mobilizing popular movements. But such a moral consciousness does not make sense to most and seems to have been the ……. of a minority in all ages – Jesus, Buddha, Tolstoy,(and many others of course).
That is why movies, both Indian and foreign, especially popular ones, repeatedly depict the theme of violence. Fate and foes pile misfortunes upon the protagonist, and he overcomes them, violently, equipped with a bazooka, a gun, or merely his karate skills. The villain ultimately has to pay with his teeth, his blood or his guts. Gandhian forgiveness? Humbug! Does Indian society at large uphold Gandhian restraint and tolerance.testifies otherwise, and more recently, the maurading mobs of the recent Meena Gujjar impasse and the sword toting mobs in the Dera episode.
Gandhigiri is certainly not in, an eye for an eye is, and has been for a long time.