Saturday, 2 October 2010

Saint of Sabarmati

It is October 2nd and that time of the year to remember the great soul who sculpted India - M. K. Gandhi. Our awareness of, love for, pride about Gandhi peak today. Politicians spend endless time talking about Gandhi. Typically, the innocent children of Primary School and not-so-innocent of the High School end up as victims of long, non-coherent speech about the Mahatma - rendered by people, more often than not, having least respect for the great soul.

We listen to Asha Bhonsle's song - Sabarmati Ke Sant, watch black and white fast moving silent video clippings of the Mahatma, crib for the fact that October 2nd "fell" on a Saturday which means "loss" of one public holiday. Old generations pick of Khadi at some 60% discount, at least a handful of the young ladies consider stitching a chudidhar out of Khadi. Non vegetarians and connoisseurs of interesting multi-coloured liquids (aka alcohol) postpone their feasts and parties - not out of respect but perhaps due to the non-availability of the desired stock.

Intellectuals speak about the influence of Gandhi on the global politics, whether it was a bad idea not to award Nobel Peace Prize for Gandhi, some go a bit deep and compare and contract Churchill and Gandhi. Pseudo intellects think that Godse did the right thing and circulate his last speech, stories about how the judge cried while sentencing Godse. Some channels are likely to show excerpts from the epic movie Gandhi or Lage Raho Munna Bhai. Had she watched either of them, my granny would’ve complained saying ‘Gandhi wasn’t that fat’ 

What do I do? The usual, the one thing that I am good at. I rant. I would like to scream "Godse: You are not my hero. Now Get Off!" 

Let's see – The Indian Embassy in London has not yet posted anything about Gandhi on its website. Under “What is New” section, we still see Cameron’s visit to India followed by Commonwealth [CommonFilth] Games. Right side of the header has a picture of Gandhi’s statue at Tavistock Square – London – but it isn’t a hyperlink to anything. 

There are no major press releases on any of the newspapers. Or have I missed them? That’s really odd. There was one last year from The Indian High Commission in London.

Chalo – let’s forgive them. It’s a weekend. Perhaps people are busy taking care of their weak ends.

About Tavistock Square
For those of you who don’t know, there is sculpture of Gandhi in Tavistock Square - Central London. It is in between Russell Square and Euston tube stations. It is very close to my office in London. Sometimes, if the weather is nice, I walk along Tavistock Square resting for a while in the Peace Park – where Gandhi’s statue is located.

The sculpture is generously big. And quite detailed. Wikimedia has its best photo. It was made by the British sculptor Fredda Brilliant and was erected in 1968. 

When London was under attack in 2005, a bomb went off at Tavistock Square –very close to this statue. Thirteen people died as a double-decker was blown off. The sculpture and the serenity have survived since then. Isn’t it ironical? I think that it was meant to be that way.

Yet another Statue of Gandhi in Parliament Square
In 2007, Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone said that he would like to see a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the parliament square. He had very nice words to say about Gandhi. He said that “.... Gandhi’s achievement must be enshrined...” What a nice word – enshrined! He also said something to the effect that “... the millions who come to see Big Ben, Churchill’s statue would still know Mahatma Gandhi, even after thousand years. Whereas if you wander round Trafalgar Square and see the two generals there, you have to go and check the history books...”

I hope that that his idea is still on track and quite soon we will have yet another statue of Gandhi where it matters the most.

Gandhi’s London
Just when I was about to conclude that I must see London from Gandhi’s perspective, I found about – Gandhi’s London: A two hour’s guided walking tour of London sights associated with Gandhi. Check it out here: http://gandhislondon.com/

I would love to translate this book to Kannada: Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age. I will keep you posted on this effort.

4 comments:

  1. Nice flow of thougths.. On this day (for that matter any day) i never get bored to watch the movie 'Gandhi' by Richard Attenborough for the nth time..

    The most nonsense critisism about gandhi i have heard is that 'gandhi failed as a father!(for his own son)

    Its a time to send some patronizers of mayavati to indian embassy in london. They will teach the value of a statues.

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  2. Very well written sir and also good emphasis to minor details. I've my 2 cents, if I'm eligible enough to comment on him.
    1. Yes, we have got independence and I’ve heard it first hand from my grandfather (who was my guru) that kudos to Gandhiji n co that we have got our independence. I've no problem in admitting him as the father of nation either but like people say about Sachin, for his calibre, he should have won India at least 1 WC, similarly for Gandhiji’s calibre, I wanted him to have got us a better India (Hindustan part of India to be exact).
    2. And sir, admit it or not, call me pseudo intellect but in my honest opinion, Patel would have made a better India than Nehru and his dynasty. I blame Gandhiji for showing lack of strength while deciding this and I hold him partly responsible for what his congress were to give India in the next 60 years. Yeah I'm talking in hindsight but then we are discussing about the great visionary, our father of nation was, is not it? How did he not see it?
    Saradendu

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  3. Guru and Saradendu: Thanks for your comments.

    I believe that Gandhi has done enough for me to stand up and say “Boss – you are great. Thank you.” My respect for him is absolute – not relative. I am not putting any IF THEN ELSE clause to respect Gandhi. I am not saying that Saradendu or others are putting such clauses. I know that they already respect Gandhi like I do. They are saying that there were things that Gandhi could’ve influenced/handled better.

    Please see my recent post titled “MK Gandhi and IF-THEN-ELSE clause”

    Regards
    Mahesha

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