360° Analysis

Gandhi: Where Do His Values Stand Today?


October 02, 2013 03:22 EDT

In modern India, Gandhian values must be replaced with those of other influential people.

Being born in India, when first starting to make sense of academia, the first of the names that are heard amongst the plethora of freedom fighters and national heroes is that of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — also known as Mahatma Gandhi, or Bapu. He is on India's currency notes; buildings and roads are named after him; and, most importantly, the leading political party carries out his last name through its magnetic leader, Sonia Gandhi; the name that she inherits from her lineage.

Gandhi gave India its very first lessons of tolerance, non-violence, Satyagraha, the Quit India Movement, the Dandi March, and of belief in one’s own faith. He not only played a crucial part in India’s independence, but also brought it up as a mature nation on the international platform.

He went to London to study law and started the very first movement against social discrimination while in South Africa. Gandhi witnessed the torture and discrimination of Indians in South Africa, which was also aggravated due to his personal experiences, including the incident where he was thrown out of a train because he refused to move from the first class.

This and many such incidents made him lead the seven-year struggle against prejudice in South Africa. Though Indian revolutionaries were flogged down, their voices were heard all over the world and helped in shaping the Satyagraha Movement. But the question remains: How far has Gandhi and his values brought India?

Gandhian Values?

The known and existing Gandhian values are not in use, as of now. Non-violence is certainly not the term to be associated with the present day India, which is suffering from various forms of violence on a daily basis. A country that suffers from cross-border terrorism and the highest forms of crime on a regular basis, cannot put the security of its citizens at stake by following the doctrine of "non-violence" or "patient dealings" in the long run.

The Gandhian-era and present India are in complete contrast with one another. Today, we no longer believe in tolerance, except the present government that tolerates almost everything unless its interests are on the line. The verdict on Afzal Guru wasn't passed until election fever gripped the government — and when the outcome was revealed, it was done in a senseless haste. The trust that the people had in the nation and its leaders in Gandhi’s era is nowhere to be seen.

Today, it is a fearful life when an individual thanks God for surviving a day peacefully. India, as a country, witnesses incidents where an honest Indian administrative service officer suffers suspension — a glorious self-proclamation by the state government — because she tries to investigate the mafia connections with the state government, and then the action is dubbed as a necessary means for a young and immature female officer. It is a country where a female journalist gets shot while returning home from work, and then the chief minister of the state calls her an "adventurous woman" who risked her life deliberately. Disturbingly, India is a country where a young physiotherapist is brutally raped and killed by six people in a moving bus, and then the country's law puts one of the accused in juvenile custody as he was 17-years-old.

It can be argued that if Gandhi were alive today, he would have led India on newer and stronger principles. However, Gandhi’s principles may be apt for a personal and spiritual growth of an individual, but they certainly need modification according to the present nuclear age. In fact, the very first step towards non-violence would be to disband the Indian army and to denuclearize India, which is undoubtedly impossible and somewhat foolish to even think of.

The world is changing and India is in a global setting at present. It is a time where "self-defense" needs to be the foremost guideline, then "non-violence" or "non-cooperation." From Gandhi, the youth can learn to be resolute and focused towards their purpose despite all hardships. But do they have the same vigor as the "saint of Sabarmati" had?  The lean and thin man who brought the whole nation together must be wondering from above if the able and young India has the defiance to go against the wrong single-handedly.

"Purpose" and "resolution" are interesting terms to be noted here. What if one’s purpose makes one selfish enough to pursue it at any cost? What if Gandhi’s ideals are no longer the need of his country and were just a manifestation of creating a long-run hegemony?

Who Does India Need?

Gandhi is also accused of being the man behind the deaths of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru. The condition of releasing all prisoners, according to the Gandhi-Irwin pact, would have been easily gambled for the sake of these revolutionaries' lives. Lord Irwin only agreed to release the prisoners not charged with violence and Gandhi was in a much stronger position to negotiate for it. However, he failed to do so, thus triggering the question which has been left unanswered: Why were these revolutionaries — individuals who could have earned India her independence earlier than 1947 — sacrificed?

The collective consciousness that Gandhi created suited the era that he lived in. Today, more than Gandhi, India is in dire need of Shubhash Chandra Bose, Chandrashekhar Azaad, and the trio of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. More than one man leading the nation through his ideals, present-day India is in need of leaders whose visions can match with those of the common man and especially the underprivileged ones — leaders that can be benevolent and quick decision makers, who have the ability to transform and evolve at a quicker pace.

Gandhi’s visions form the very base on which a new generation of decision makers must adapt, in order to compete on the global level. If the energy of the youth can receive honest and selfless motivation and direction from the experienced, then India can surely earn back the title of the "Golden Bird." Gandhi’s vision should not be lost in religious, political and emotional fervors. It must be reorganized and reconstructed for a brighter and logical future.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy. 

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