Gandhian ideals

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The significance of introspecting the relevance of Gandhian values on his 150th birth anniversary and at a time when the country is reeling under not just an acute socio-political and economic distress but also facing an aggressive onslaught on the idea of India based on the ideals and values propounded by Mahatma Gandhi, deemed the Father of the Nation. In years after his assassination, Gandhi was consistently reduced to a cosmetic icon to be recalled and revered on national days of importance. But never before has the systemic destruction of his ideology and values been as brazen as it has been under the present regime which is methodologically eroding his secular and socialist ideas and complementing this effort with the process of legitimizing the worship and adulation of his assassin by overlooking the comments, remarks and actions of those within the right wing parties who openly proclaim Godse as a hero. The Narendra Modi government, ever since it came to power, has not only made all out attempts to dilute Gandhian ideology and reinvent him but also turned a blind eye to attempts at replacing Gandhi with Nathuram Godse, the man who killed him for being an apostle of peace. The BJP led government itself may not make all out efforts to raise Godse on a pedestal, call for removal of his image on the rupee notes or disrobe Gandhi of the title of ‘father of the nation’. But not only have the present day rulers maintained a criminal silence as other constituents of the Sangh Parivar go on the abashed binge of replacing Gandhi with Godse, they are systemically trying to dwarf Gandhi into a role that is far smaller than his contribution to the country and the world. While RSS makes haughty and false claims of the Mahatma having been close to the Hindu right wing to rob him of his secular appeal, the Narendra Modi led government has embarked on the mission of reducing Gandhi’s ideology from an all encompassing treatise on lifestyle and politics to simple sanitation. Gandhian values go beyond the now parroted narrative of cleanliness, hygiene and sanitation; they also include simplicity, non-violence, justice, socialism, secularism and democracy, which is being ignored. What Modi government is trying to do is to re-define Gandhi into a commercial capsule with distortions and limit Gandhi’s all encompassing role in every sphere of life and society. Gandhi was a phenomenon much more than that, invincible and steadfast in his commitment to cherished goals of humanity, simplicity, truthfulness, liberty, equality and secularism. In recalling Gandhi, which has become a compulsion for the BJP in view of his everlasting aura not just nation-wide but across the globe, these values are not only being forgotten. They are being trampled upon. When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, a distraught Jawaharlal Nehru had aptly remarked “light has gone out of our lives” and after his death, the country gradually set itself on the road to decline with regards to the Gandhian values and ethos, the form the very basis of the idea of Indian nation. In recent decades, this decline has been hastened and now the speed at which the present government has busied itself in devastating Gandhian ideology completely is shocking. If light went out of India more than six decades ago, the country finds itself steeped into total darkness now. Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology, however, could not have been more relevant than it is today in the Indian socio-political and economic landscape. The country badly needs to recall and strengthen those values specially with regards to communal amity and the socialist model of economy as opposed to the greed based corporate model by recalling Gandhi’s idea of developing the villages and village based economy to launch the country on the road to progress. That is the only befitting tribute to the great man, a man who cannot be emulated through abject lies about what he stood for.