While India takes on its should the cleanliness campaign “Swacha Bharath” on Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary, here are some anecdotes or incidents to recollect.
In the mid-80s, When Gandhi’s statue was to be placed at India Gate when Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister, the British media found it amusing as to what kind of a message it would send — peace and non-violence or military might? More so because the venue symbolises military parade on the annual Republic Day, which goes against the spirit of Gandhiji’s teachings. Eventually, the statue was placed inside the premises of parliament.
In his own words, Gandhi said, “Good travels at a snails pace… Non violence is a tree of slow growth. It grows imperceptibly but surely.” The pace needs to be faster now than before as there is a government with absolute majority and the man, Narendra Modi, has been given clear verdict to rule the country with the courage of conviction.
Modi’s initial moves have been impressive and his Japan and US visits were sending the right message across the world and he is seen to motivate many people in the process of governance via Twitter, Facebook and now Google+.
For the holy move to cleanse administration, Modi may face more challenges than he ever envisioned in a country that has steeply deteriorated into the bandwagon mentality of corruption and more corruption.
Unfortunately, we have inherited some of the demerits of the British Raj which refuse to leave the mindset of our rulers and the bureaucracy. What we witness now is not disregarding Gandhian values but a concerted effort to instill new values which may prove detrimental to our social fabric.
Helplessness of the middle class and isolation of the tribal societies and the monetized integration of minorities are some of the issues where Gandhian values differ to mitigate the sorrow of these people.
“Mere goodness is not of much use. Goodness must be joined with knowledge, courage and conviction. One must cultivate the fine discriminating quality which goes with spiritual courage and character,” said Gandhi. Here we need to discriminate between instant messages and irrelevant path suggested on social networking sites to a determined leadership to take the movement forward.
So, the question remains about the fine line between Gandhian values and modernity. The debate should be on leadership which can take the spirit forward. Hundred years ago, it was in the form of his “Letters to the Editor” that Gandhi began his non-violent freedom struggle and now is the time to make a beginning.
In fact, reaching out to people is much easier for Modi now with instant Twitter, Facebook and Google+ social networking sites.