Monday, March 9, 2009

Yes, we have managed to get back Gandhi's spectacles but what about his vision?

Finally, the auction of Gandhi's items took place and they were bought by Vijay Mallya for a stupendous amount of 1.8 million dollars ( more than the price of Kevin Pieterson in IPL!! ). But the one thing that amazes me is the hypocrisy of the people. As you are aware, news channels these days show feed messages at the bottom of the screen. During on such programme on discussion about this auction, I was surprised at the kind of messages that people sent in. Almost 99% of the people blamed the government for letting it happen and wanted the government to buy them. I totally disregard it when people blame everything on the government whatever it does and blame all responsibility on the government. Run a country as diverse as India and say what have you done for your country.I mean why should they tell the government to buy the items, if they love Gandhi so much why not go get it yourself. The government would do whatever it feels right.

Barkha Dutt in her weekly column Third Eye writes

As Indians, we have a fatal flaw. We are high on sentiment and low on substance. So, we love Gandhi in the same way we admire the Indian soldier. We are loyalists as long as we have to commit nothing of ourselves. We like the idea in abstraction, but couldn't be bothered with its intricacies in our everyday lives. Then, of course, we suffer from that other congenitally desi trait of only valuing something when the rest of the world wants it. We needed California, for example, to make yoga cool for the rest of us. And pathetic though it is, international validation of Gandhi makes us feel prouder of him than we would have felt otherwise. So when Time magazine nominates him as the person of the century we boastfully celebrate him. When we discover that his cult wire-frame glasses may be sold off to a moneybag who may not be Indian, we suddenly rediscover our nationalism. But for the rest of the year, we couldn’t be bothered to even pause and think about him.

We teach Gandhi to our children in literal and dull textbook homilies. We have failed to contemporarise his politics. It took a Munnabhai to make Gandhi briefly fashionable again. But for the most part, we keep Gandhi confined to museums and tomes, and we forbid modern, dynamic interpretations of what he could stand for today.

I am totally in sync with her. I still remember the scene from Lage Raho Munnabhai, when Munnabhai visits the museum, the curator is surprised that a visitor has come and asking for books on Gandhi which are gathering dust for years. How many have us have read and understood Gandhian philosophy apart from the non violence and his three monkeys? I haven't but I will not shout at the government to bring his memorabilia back which I presume would be forgotten in a week and have dust on them in a museum which no one will visit. Does anyone remember that in 2007 also there was such a brouhaha over Gandhi's last letter which was to be auctioned by the Christie's. Where are they now? Does anyone really care? How many of us saw Gandhi My Father which showed an altogether different aspect of Gandhi? So let us not be that emotional about this and rather understand his vision for India that even great men such as Martin Luther King and Barack Obama consider Gandhi as their idol.Today's editorial in HT The Pundit writes a beautiful saying and I will end it by using the same "Yes, we have managed to get back Gandhi's glasses but what about his vision?"


  1. Nicely put. What about his Vision? - is a question for all of us.

    Here is my take -

  2. Ya, agree with you but my point is the people should not blame the govt. for being responsible for this whole issue. Yes, it should remove the formal procedures of taxation and all. It has precedence. Even Rehman's 2 Oscars were exempted from paying duties.


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