Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Happy Birthday Bapu! [276/365]

More than a year ago, when we celebrated Anna's vision of an India without corruption, we cheered him along and our rulers trembled. The strength of our cheering only grew. The ground shook under our feet and we all thought we were witnessing history in the making. We hung onto every word that he spoke. We paid his rejuvenation bills and hospital stays. It was a small gesture for a short man in khadi who'd captured our imagination, again.

Circa October 2nd, 2012, the magic has long gone. In a sad turn of events that lacks any inspiration or direction, the Team is now fighting amongst each other. The man has become a mere shadow of his former self. I won't say why the team broke up but I can say how they could have stayed together.

Decades ago, when Gandhi fought for our independence he faced a lot of setbacks too. The Empire didn't take him seriously and when they did, they either punished him severely to make him an example, or didn't punish him at all so that he does not become a martyr. They paraded him as the small man who dared to take on the might of the Empire. And when the Empire wasn't trying to break our morals, we fought amongst ourselves and behaved in a manner completely unfitting and kept straying from our path of nonviolence and noncooperation. We showed how violent we were. Gandhi came dangerously close to abandoning his movement several times during the struggle and eventually we killed him. 

Predictably I watched the movie 'Gandhi' again today. One of the most endearing quotes that he makes is 'An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind'. As I let that quote sink in, I thought of the many leaders and beauty pageant winners who quote Gandhi as their role model. While I won't deny how Gandhi is a wonderful person and probably one of the finest human beings to have walked this earth, I question how despotic politicians and tyrants can claim to follow a man who propagated nonviolence and won.
Case in point- Obama. He is a eloquent orator and a charming leader. However, as a man who proudly presided over the execution of another man he does not deserve to quote Gandhi.
Anna does not deserve to claim Gandhi to be his role model either for the way he has given up his movement only because he didn't get the footfall he expected. Gandhi fasted unto death to mourn the fact that he fought for the independence of a country where her people were killing each-other in vengeance. Anna fasted to arm-twist the government to agree to his terms. Gandhi could have fasted to arm-twist Jinnah and the Empire into not dividing India, but he didn't. He could have fasted to get justice for the killers of innocent civilians in the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. He could have fasted for vengeance but didn't.

Gandhi could have been the small man but he wasn't the simple fool that the British thought him to be.
Our mistake was that we put Anna into Gandhi's sandals and expected him to run a marathon. Anna is a simpleton. Surely, his intentions are good but he is no Gandhi.

Advice to Anna: Watch the movie 'Gandhi' pronto.

And oh yeah. Happy Birthday, Bapu

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