What if…?

From all kinds of questions that can be asked, ‘what if’ questions are the most interesting. It does not need a practical base, a backbone of reality as-we-know-it, and is generally free from the social, political, administration-al, religious, national, anti-national, survival, and all different kinds of norms or bans that have become an integral part of our lingo, thinking, or rather, being – all thanks to touch-me-not attitude that we have all developed. Cough. Cough. Intolerance. Cough.

One such interesting question is – What if Gandhiji were alive today? (Yes, nerd level – GandhiTopian).

My first instinct is that he would take a pillow, shield himself with a comforter, and pray that this is just a bad dream! I am sure Gandhiji’s worst nightmare is our reality – harsh or not – today!

And then of course, he would be thrilled to know that we have put him to such good use! I mean with his picture on our currency notes, which are daily used for wonderful acts of “kind”ness, and violating one of his most important principles – Honesty. Corruption and politics have grown to become the two sides of the same coin- more inseparable than ‘Saamna’ and controversies.

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This reminds me of something that Kumaraswamy had said during the Anna Hazare’s India against corruption movement –

“Today, politics and corruption are synonymous. If someone in politics says he is not corrupt, he must be lying. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today, he would have had only two options: either stay in politics by becoming corrupt or to get out of politics and remain clean. It would take a greater movement than the country’s Independence movement to stamp out corruption…”

I was baffled when I read this. It had wiped out all the left-over faith that a girl in young 20’s had with the system or this country! (Not that I am any older today, but yeah, the faith – umm – completely wiped out).

It’s just ironical that India plans the surgical attacks in the birthday week of the one person who preached non-violence till his death-bed! I am not saying whether it’s wrong, or right, but it definitely is incongruous. I mean we certainly have come a long way from Swachch Bharat to Swachch Pakistan!

Having said that, I believe we wouldn’t have been so religiously intolerant in the first place, had he been alive today, and all through these years! Considering his intent to dissolve the congress (oh, how I love the sound of this!), or his opposition to bifurcate the states based on languages, may be the scenario today would have been a tad-bit different!

But alas, we can only think, and day-dream – because who dreams of a corruption-free India at night. Come on!

To sum it up, had Gandhiji been alive today, this is the meme that would do the rounds –

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Can’t you all see? Oops!” – Mahatma Gandhi, 2016.

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!