Naive question

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Member since: Feb 04
Posts: 148
Location: SoMeWheRe iN aSia

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 12-05-04 22:15:44

I have a question which some may find offensive. I don't want to open a can of worms, but my question may be instructive to Desi in Canada on the thoughts and outlook of Canadians in general, as I believe any Canadian would be as ignorant as I on this subject.

I was at a get-together recently and there were two Indians speaking to some Indonesian friends of mine. The conversation turned to Mahatma Gandhi. The Indians seemed to have a high level of anger and even hatred toward Gandhi. I could not believe my ears! It would be like hearing an American vilifying George Washington!

I did not enter the conversation as I felt very confused; they seemed to be saying that for many Indians, Gandhi was 'persona non grata' ! They blamed him with 'everything that is wrong with India today' (!!!).

In the west, Gandhi is seen as a visionary figure, the father of Indian independence, a holy man, a scholar and more. Is it possible that Gandhi is better loved OUTSIDE India than INSIDE India?

Or were these two Indians pulling everyone's leg for fun?

It was in very bad taste then... but I don't think they were. Could anyone enlighten me on this? I think any canadian would react with the same shock as I did.

Pls ignore this post if anyone finds it too sensitive an issue.

thank you and good day

Member since: Jul 03
Posts: 700
Location: Mississauga, Ontario

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 12-05-04 22:41:31

Well, it is a very touchy issue. Try to read various books on Indian independence movement with an open mind and you will see why many people ( including me) do not like MK Gandhi. If people blame him (and Nehru) for our current problems than I would say till some extend they are right and have valid reason to say so.

Thanks and regards.

"Change before you have to" : Jack Welch

Mishtar India   
Member since: Nov 03
Posts: 668
Location: Toronto

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 13-05-04 00:35:51

I agree with Biomed , it is a very touchy issue .

I sometimes wonder if india did the right thing by going the socialist way in beginning under Nehru . i feel india would have been better of being away from the socialist blocs but every one has their own opinion .

For Gandhi, this phenomenon of mass dislike is a new phenomenon which has become a popular thing in the 2nd and 3rd generation after Gandhi. It was not so among the generations born during and after Gandhi . My Grandfather who was a freedom fighter from bihar and passed away few yrs back said the same thing that during the times of Gandhi , the masses absolutely revered him and his word was the bible. With the passage of time and generations... when the first hand witnesses of the Gandhian times are no longer alive , some old and new biased litrature is being promoted to distort and promote hate for Gandhi .

i admire the man for two things for being the unifying force behind indian freedom struggle . there were many forces working for independence even before Gandhi but he was the strongest unifying factor ...the second thing i admire tha man for becoming the inpiration for the inspirors of the world .... when people like Einstien , to Martin luther king to Nelson mandela regard Gandhi as their inpsiration .... one has to give some credit to the man . The man who could stop a nation of 300 million by one speech on disobedience to the british .... one has to give some credit to the man . He may not have been right on everything , but i find it hard to change my opinions on him because some questionably biased sources try to bash him.

It really is an irony that when the rest of the world named him the man of the century in year 2000...his own countrymen born decades after him are beginning to hate the father of their own nation.

" Chirag tale andhera "
"darkness under the candle"

Jai hind.

What can be imagined, can be achieved.

Member since: Oct 02
Posts: 3409
Location: Mississauga

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 13-05-04 03:23:08

oh yeah, sensitive topic indeed, and you'll get some very passionate comments on this.! :)

I don't think there's anything wrong about Indians objectively analyzing the advantages and disadvantages of Gandhi's approach towards gaining independence. Gandhi was only human, after all, albeit with some very super-human qualities.

I agree with MI that Gandhi-bashing has sort of become a fad amongst "modern" and misguided (in my opinion) Indians who have a very shallow understanding of India's history and makings. But to answer your question, here are some reasons why some second and third generation Indians dislike him

1) I think the fundamental gripe here is his non-violence approach, a lot of "hot-blooded" Indians somhow liken this to begging for independence instead of taking it forcefully.

Again, these are mostly second or third generation Indians who don't know what India really looked like in early 1900's, not the first generation Indians who were there to witness the formation of India.

2) Gandhi's stature and prominence sidelined to some extent the achievements of a lot of other Indian heroes (especially on an international level), although that was never his fault. A lot of people are angry because of this. (You have to understand here that India is a country made up of regions as opposed to geographical states and there are a lot of regional sensitivities involved here too. Gandhi was from a specific region in India and many people from other regions despise this fact.)

3) After independence, Gandhi was adamant about having Nehru as the leader of new India, who a lot of people blame for India's problems today. In the process, Gandhi sidelined Sardar patel, another very able leader.

But then Gandhi was an idealist and Nehru appeared to him to be one too. Sardar on the other hand was a strategist who didn't mind bending the rules a bit for the greater good.

4) Gandhi's approach and vision was always a long-term one, and required constant effort and sacrifice. Its hard to swallow stuff like that in today's instant gratification culture.


Does any of work to diminsh the man's greatness? I think not. What Gandhi pulled off was unimaginable prior to his coming. It remains as unimaginable today. And to think that despite the gravity of all that he did, he managed a pretty decent sense of humor and curiosity.

I think it was Einstein who said something like "A couple of hundred years later, people will refuse to believe that such a man walked in flesh and blood on this planet". I concur.

Are you there?

Member since: Sep 03
Posts: 2962
Location: Montreal

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 13-05-04 07:31:10

Orginally posted by BlueLobster
I think it was Einstein who said something like "A couple of hundred years later, people will refuse to believe that such a man walked in flesh and blood on this planet". I concur.

I agree...he was on a different path. He somehow convinced millions to try to follow that path and played a huge part in driving out the colonial rulers at the same time. Almost too many super-human abilities(mental) packed into that tiny frame. High up there on my list of role-models.
I have spoken to many who vilify him especially for Indias partition. Though I agree to some cannot overshadow the greatness of the man.

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Member since: Jul 03
Posts: 135

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 13-05-04 12:01:00

It is actually very simple to understand.
Everyone needs "someone" to blame.
Go to any third world country and they will always blame the colonial powers for all the problems that society had.
Similarly it became a trend" in india to blame everything on Gandhi esp from 1980 onwards
It is a typical characterstic that can be found in any third world country.


Member since: Mar 04
Posts: 157
Location: Toronto

Post ID: #PID Posted on: 13-05-04 12:43:53

The most important issue during the Indian Independence struggle was to achieve "freedom". Under the leadership of Gandhi we did achieve it but at a certain price i.e, the partition. After all, Gandhi was a human being albeit an extraordinary individual. He was brilliant in leading the people to the cause. When we hero worship somebody we're also blindsided to their faults. As time passes, some of the charm fades and people start analysing what went wrong, etc. you realise that you've blindly followed somebody's footsteps but haven't been rewareded enough. Which is what happened in Gandhi's case. For the people in his generation he is a God. To later generations he is not a god like figure but an ordinary human being. The choices which he influenced like election of Nehru as first prime minister are somewhat dubious.

In spite of being educated in the West, etc. Gandhi and Nehru were all socialists. I don't know what would have happened but I keep thinking what would have happened if our economic model was based on America. But I am also conscious of the fact that in 1947 there was hardly any infrastructure to start with. It took decades to develop the heavy industries and other infrastructure which private sector would not touch - simply because the gestation period for returns is too long. But maybe when Indira Gandhi in 70's and 80's should have slowly started the liberalisation process. Maybe maybe.....things would have been different.

Idle speculation I guess. We can't change the past but hey we can learn from it and change the future if we can try.....

To cap all my rambling, Gandhi was what the hour has produced at that time and what he did along with millions of unnamed patriots was truly mind boggling. We can find weaknesses in Gandhi but would rather not as I have enough of my own to start with and most importantly I am happy to have been born in a "free" India


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