Saturday, 25 June 2016

FB Discussions - Arundhati Roy and Gandhi

There is a 'thinking activist crowd' that admires Smt Roy's views and her book which is aimed at pulling down Gandhi. 

"What does Arundhati Roy want? Mahatma Gandhi's memory to be wiped off the face of the earth? All she has to do is stop thinking about him all the time.. She seems to be obsessing about the man.
He was an NGO sponsored by corporates. So what did Gandhi do with the money? Do foreign trips, buy suits, cars? For every quote Roy sites to condemn Gandhi, I can site 20 pointing to the contrary. Should Gandhi have refused Birla or Bajaj when they gave land or money to run the ashram? Should Ambedkar have refused sponsorship of his Columbia education by the King of Baroda? All Roy has to do is to fight the land acquisition bill by leading walk of a group of men and women through interior villages where the richest and the poorest walk shoulder to shoulder... then I will listen to her.

Gandhi was Gandhi, with his good, bad and ugly, like any other politician of his times and dealt with situations in his own inimitable style. He let his life be an open book for, just about anyone, to read, remark or reject. I don't understand writers who constantly rake up issues for nothing. The only way I see it is that they might have what in clinical terms is called a 'attention deficit syndrome'. This makes people do things time and again to attract every kind of attention. On the other hand, Ms Roy is a fantastic writer ( undoubtedly one of the best female writers from India in the English language, for sure), a good orator and all that. Unfortunately, most of her activism is highly exaggerated and perfectly misplaced. She has become a poster-girl for every other issue and Delhi-media hyped her further. From Kashmir to dams to mine workers to naxalites to whatever else, she decided to be a spokesperson. She takes up causes she can't seem to understand anything much about. Be it Kashmir or Telangana Naxals, her sense of putting things in perspective is highly disproportionate, just like her own reading of history. I think I prefer reading her works of fiction. Everything else about her needs to be taken with a bucket full of salt. Thinking of salt, we return to Gandhi's salt Satyagraha. Irony comes beautifully dressed.  

This phenomena(Gandhi bashing/icon bashing ) has been studied quite in detail by shrinks and social scientists. The First reason is that a significant part of our generation seems to trust random Facebook articles more than well written history books. Secondly as a society I think majority of us have completely rejected the idea that selfless altruistic people can exist. We reject the idea of a man standing up for his principle in the toughest of situations. In our hearts we say " he must have gained by doing this somehow...probably we are hearing only one side of the can people like  Gandhi exist in reality...something is wrong" because we don't seem to see any such souls in our day to day lives and interactions with people around. Thirdly (and for this I draw from MKG's 'My Experiments with Truth'), we are guilty, because we were/are weak ourselves when we ourselves encounter/(ed) similar dichotomies between instant gratification and long term principles.

Then again, we are not the intended audience for this latest round of western intellectual pop shows  of Miss. Poseur. India, her history, people and politics, are instead convenient props in an outstanding performance aimed at Western readers and their sensiblities, who have indeed romanticized the Mahatma. In the Western imagination, Gandhi occupies a hallowed hagiographic space in the pop culture pantheon of saints, right alongside Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, and most recently, Aung San Suu Kyi. And much of this vitriol is aimed at knocking him off that particular pedestal while earning personal brownie points for doing so. We, Indians, are irrelevant in this discourse, and are entirely besides the point. This is about their 'revered' Mahatma, not our more familiar Bapu.

You cannot discuss with ignorance. You cannot argue with arrogance. You cannot convince greed. Leave them to be!

Gandhi was criticized even during his lifetime and afterwards too. There were major exchanges between several people and him including Tagore and Nehru. But not one of them spoke of him or to him disrespectfully.. This is what I object to not the criticize Gandhi .. He opened it out himself..

SS, you obviously know nothing about Gandhi's actions for saving Bhagat Singh's life while not condoning his action and his total objection to partition and his saving lives in Naokhali during that time.. He risked his life walking into killing fields, getting opposing groups to talk to each other.. Criticize him for the things he should be criticized not for being the most active person during partition and saving lives.

When do we stop discussing,talking,wasting scarce public funds on seminars,establishing chairs in universities, researches and dissertations of Gandhian studies,erecting statues in unwanted spaces,places and countries,praising and abusing the personality called M K Gandhi?.He never needed us and our all out efforts to glorify him.Ironically it is we who need him for our livelihood evident everywhere !He must be turning in his grave all the time! When do we live him?  In everday life and actions? Especially the common people and children of India! Do the parents and children follow any discipline at their homes? Like getting up early,sweeping and cleaning the house and surroundings,sharing house hold chores before leaving for school and work,wear simple clothes,help others,be righteous,avoid telling lies as far as possible,not stealing other's belongings,washing your own cloths and utensils,develop attitude of self-help,....the long list of mundane aspects of daily life which are fundamentally the Gandhian ways which indeed he himself derived from our age old practices are absolutely the basics that have to be practised to shape the future of India! All the empty talks,writings,arguments and the rest of itare just bullcrap!!!

 As far as Gandhi and his statements and weaknesses, all humans do have, the difference is - did he accept it? Did he try to learn and improve? Did he open up for criticism? Answer to all these (differentiating) questions is (overwhelmingly) YES. Any leader, worth discussing, would have had to make tough choices in life, and Gandhi was no exception, he did make his. In the hindsight, they may turned out to be wrong, but question is - did he choose for personal gain? did he live up to his principles and values?  Different times, different people, and hence it is unpredictable what will work and what won't. Unfortunately, we are too caught up with the end-result and not the journey, despite being aware that it is only the journey which we can determine."

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