Monday, January 21, 2008

Relevance of Gandhian values in today's world.

Well..guys..the topic of this post of mine is going to make u avoid it right away..but then this is the essay that i wrote in my PG college..on the occassion of Gandhi jayanti..this essay though being different in its approach towards Gandhiasm, won the prize..posting it here..just for the sake of it being saved somewhere..still if you all manage to go through it..your views are welcome!!!

Relevance of Gandhian Values in today’s world.

“De di humein azadi bina khadg bina dhal;
Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamaal”

Gandhian value system, something that stirred the entire nation at one point of time and ignited a revolution, a revolution, that took the whole of the nation in its stride and lasted till the victory was ours. The value system which gave the nation the ideals of Satya, Ahimsa, Satyagraha paved way to people’s heart and resulted in a never before nationwide unrest. We are still awed by the uniqueness his principled approach. Gandhiji practiced and preached “Satya”, which compelled us not to withstand a lie. It taught us to stand for ourselves. He preached “Sayagraha” and in fact rallied a disparate mass of people with him all over the country. He taught “Ahimsa”, which asked us to show another cheek to be slapped on if we get slapped once. He endorsed simple living high principled thinking.

So, are these Gandhian values relevant today? What a cliché! When the minds of the people everywhere are contemplating whether “Gandhigiri” is a phenomenon worth sustaining, lets face this much pondered upon question in the wake of today’s realities.

Gandhiji propounded peace, tolerance, self -control, and communal harmony. Nonetheless in the ever- growing menace of international terrorism, religious wars, ethnic cleansing and genocides, these values are of immense relevance. One has to stand for peace and interdependence of human beings if one wants to survive as a human race.

Now, lets see a very simple yet convincing side of the story. Today we can’t survive without having a defence back up for ourselves. In the times when terrorism is at its barbaric best, a nation can’t simply sit back and watch its people being killed. Here lies our first challenge to the principle of Ahimsa. Shall we keep quiet and let the others kill innocent people just because we believe in Ahimsa?

The next philosophy, truth also might seem to have lost its grounds in today’s modern context. One cannot stand for truth alone when the entire world around is being selfish. In the reigning world of diplomacy and bureaucracy, the one who stands for truth and only truth is destined to lose.

Satyagraha, another philosophy from the Gandhian platter asks us to revolt silently. To protest without being loud, to deny without being violent and to stand for yourself. In modern context,when the nation is infested with underworld dons, and even the police and judicial department are under the scanners of corrupt politicians and big shots, how many silent protests can be assured of being heard?

So,where are we headed? By discussing the apparent non-suitability of Gandhian values in modern conext,do we mean o say they aren’t relevant? No. Here we come to a crucial argument. Let’s look at the same character of Mahatma Gandhi in another perspective. Mahatma Gandhi was not a philosopher. He was a strategist. A genius, who could very well analyze the situation then . He had a dream, a vision and was focused enough to know whom he was fighting with!!!
Gandhiji knew he was standing against the britishers,and hence he strategised accordingly to venture into a movement against them. There were many other freedom fighters who shed their blood in the freedom struggle, the only problem with them was that they were more driven by restlessness. Gandhiji on the other hand took each step in a well defined way and handled it analytically.

When one thinks of Gandhiji’s ideologies as strategically well defined moves one can understand their relevance in today’s modern context. To make things simpler, just imagine the same Gandhiji standing against the three mass murderers of the century: Hitler, Stalin and Mao. We are sure the same principles would have never worked with them. Gandhiji knew he was fighting the British and hence being a visionary genius that he was, he strategically implemented his set of philosophies to fight against them.

We all know how well the concept of Satyagraha worked in cases of Jessica Lal. It worked because it was well executed and had the entire nation’s support. On the other hand the strike called by Medical students went awry and resulted in a void.

Hence in today’s context, we can very well find the same set of principles very much relevant. Just that they have to be moulded according to the present times and its requirements. One doesn’t have to be in charge of the entire nation to follow his footsteps. We all can accept Gandhigiri, given that we understand the requisites of the current times, and act the way Gandhiji did.



Sandeep Jiya said...

Great ! True !

Suruchi Sharma said...

Hey Sandeep,

I saw this comment only today. Thanks! :) :)

Hasmukh :) said...

Well, for starters, you could have told me that you had this essay written and we could have chatted over it for hours. Reminds me of an editorial by Dr. Pulin Nayak (the then Director of Delhi School of Economics) when we were in our SY (2/Oct/2004). It was about the relevance of Gandhian Economics in today's world.

A topic such as this in today's life seems cliche; agreed. But more than a cliche; it seems a mockery. It is somehow understood to be "cool" to mock the Father of the Nation as a sissy. What people fail to understand is; no matter what the situation, he could command an entire country and many more outside at the snap of his fingers. We can earn the right to contest his views only if we have the confidence within ourselves that we can command even an infinitesimal percentage of what he did. Mind you, he never commanded, he only requested & led from the front!

Though I don't claim to be an authority on the subject, my understanding is Gandhiji didn't stand AGAINST Britishers but FOR Freedom. That idea of freedom resulted from his desire to stick to truth. Because truth is capable of bringing negative reinforcement at times, he thought of being self sufficient and free from all sorts of entrapments whatsoever. He fought British authorities in South Africa not because he wanted to fight against Britishers but because he wanted to fight FOR his right to be free as God intended him to be. It was only on his return to India and when Gopal Krishna Gokhale saw the practicality & potential of his beliefs that Gandhiji became a political movement.

Mind you, seldom credited is Leo Tolstoy. Apparently he left a deep impact on Gandhiji (maybe that's why his "Ashram" in South Africa was called Tolstoy Farm. Tolstoy wrote a piece called "A letter to a Hindu" in which he fantasized how the ancient Hindu beliefs of truth & perhaps its manifestation into non-violence could help the freedom struggle of India. Gandhiji came across that piece and was inspired by the same and started implementing those ideas on an individual basis. Just because people started imitating him, he acquired mass following

As far as the point of relevance of his ideas goes, they are most relevant today. You speak of Underworld Dons, Police, Judiciary or Politicians; but lets face it, these people seldom cross our paths in day to day life. If we follow truth and non-violence today, all we risk losing is pampering by our spouse or a hefty increment or the likes... Back in those days the threat of life itself was explicitly palpable. I am not saying that the Underworld/Policy/Judiciary/Politicians aren't valid roadblocks today, but let us make a small step at least in our day-to-day life.

To sum it up; I would say that strategically he was completely correct in following the chosen path; the path still remains a very valid one if somebody honestly chooses to tread on it. Not that it will be an easy one, but it sure is the path of righteousness. OK, if a few tactical changes need to be made, then so be it, it is the requirement of times after all.