Sunday, 10 October 2010

MK Gandhi and IF-THEN-ELSE clause

A few people seem to have misunderstood the phrase pseudo-intellect that I have used in my post Saint from Sabarmati. Also, I came to know about a few reasons for not “fully respecting” Gandhi. Hence I wrote this post.

The phrase 'pseudo-intellect' does not apply to all those who hold a negative opinion about Gandhi. I have applied it only those who take the extreme view of justifying murder of Gandhi.

Many things have happened during the heat of post-independence months. Perhaps people saw Gandhi as a mere tool to get the independence - and - not to formulate free India. Perhaps once India was free, a few were strong enough to push their own agenda and Gandhi was sidelined - being unable to influence this new lot of "awakened" followers of his. Wasn't Gandhi almost alone in his ashram when India was being shaped up - as if he became irrelevant suddenly? Other seemed to behave like a shop keeper whose attitude towards you changed as soon as you paid for the item. 

It is also said that Gandhi, given his calibre, should have got us a better India! Can we define what it is? On one hand we say that he is not a factor in getting us independence and he isn't that great. And, on the other hand, we say that he should have gotten us a better India given his calibre! Aren't we contradicting ourselves? 

Some people say that Gandhi should have predicted the Jawaharlal-Indira-Rajiv-Sonia-Rahul power-train of leaders and the adverse impact of the same on India. Isn't it a bit too much to expect?

Other point against Gandhi is that he should have made Patel the Prime Minister rather than Nehru. Patel was the Deputy Prime Minister and did play a key role in shaping India till his death. Perhaps he had a chance in the first general elections of succeeding Nehru and may be Nehru would have looked at a career at a different level. But Patel passed away in 1950. How is that not a significant factor? Who knows what could have become had Patel been alive! And let's assume that Gandhi had "made" Patel the PM and Nehru something else. Would that have forever stopped Nehru from becoming PM of India and build his dynasty? To formulate an opinion, we must take into account all other possibilities too - not just those that we like. An integrated view helps to formulate a justifiable opinion. Since we are not dealing with manufacturing and engineering, we cannot draw a straight line - linking cause and effect - between Gandhi making Nehru PM - and - Nehru building his dynasty. 

Charisma plays a big role (not the one from RK family) in choosing a leader. Nehru was more "attractive" compared to others. Look around in your own workplaces - for how are the leaders chosen and people promoted? Based on their true merit? Do you blame the company's founder for what is happening in reality - all within established legal frameworks?

We cannot blame Gandhi for not building the nation "properly" because

  1. It is we who named him as the "father of the nation" and it is we who have failed over the 60 years to properly govern ourselves. It is Nehru's strength that made him to stick to power. If other elected people did not have strong personalities to shake up the Nehru dynasty, how is Gandhi responsible for that? It is like crying "Oh shoot - I cannot take Ricky Ponting's wicket in this test match. I blame Bradman for this situation". 
  2. We didn't give Gandhi a chance to influence Indian policies and Governance because we killed him at the earliest. It took him several decades to build up crowds behind him. Isn't it fair to give him 3 to 5 years to shape up India?

If Gandhi had lived beyond 1950s and failed to influence Indian Governance, then yes, let’s blame him. But, expecting Gandhi to play a vital part in getting independence and then to get everything right during the hot days of post-independence is too much in my view.

My question is this: Hasn't Gandhi done enough to command our respect? Can't we say "Sirjee you are wonderful. I bow my head in respect. Thank you for what you have done." Heck! We say such things to Tendulkars and Khans of Mumbai! But poor Gandhi has to pass through several IF-THEN-ELSE structures, SELECT-CASE clauses and look right (even after 60 years and two generations) against all labels that we give him! He has to get thousands of other parameters correct before we could say - yes - he is great!

IF-THEN-ELSE or SELCT-CASE predicates are not needed for Gandhi bashing. The logic is smooth and direct. Some examples

  • Want to name the class where the poor sit - be it a movie or a train? Call it Gandhi Class.
  • Need to make fun of someone who plays things by the book? Sarcastically call him Gandhi. Get the angle of your hand right when you point him in the face.
  • Need a solution for a problem that we were unable fix in the last sixty years? Don't hesitate, blame it on Gandhi whom we killed 58 years ago.
  • Looking for a reason to express frustration against the reservation system of India? You are right - It is Gandhi again - because it was he who called the untouchables as Harijans out of love in the first place. Wasn't he?
  • Can't get a girlfriend? Stoop low - make fun of Gandhi who had had his arms around two young women while he walked to prayer meetings! (Yes - I had the misfortune of hearing this logic from an educated crack who was also a team leader!)
I accept – there were things that Gandhi wasn’t equipped or able to do during his days. That doesn’t bother me much. What bothers me is that we are “not hesitating” to circulate Godse glorifying articles on October 2nd and seem to look for reasons to put down Gandhi. The fact that we have sunk this low is more relevant for us now, than what Gandhi did or did not do sixty years ago.

Don’t you think so?

[PS: IF you don't know what IF-THEN-ELSE or SELECT-CASE clauses are THEN catch hold of a passing-by geek and ask ELSE ignore them and SELECT the easier CASE of assuming them to represent a few obstacles]


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