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Thursday, October 02, 2008


Courage. Kindness. Spirit. Ethics. Naive. Shrewd. Sparrow. Hawk. Peace. Love. Equality. Pride. Leader. Faulted. Faulty. Right. Wrong. Integrity. Hope. Spirituality. Passion. Education. Speech. Freedom. Inspiration. Failure. Success. Truth. Independence. Patriotic. Human. Father. Husband. Son. Friend. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Mahatma.

There are words enough to describe him. And there are words that his worst critics wouldn't dare attribute to him -- cowardice, selfish, prejudiced, treacherous.

The man who, with his colleagues, shaped the nation's destiny, is probably least appreciated in the country that calls him its Father.

Across the world, civil rights and freedom movements have been inspired, taught and achieved by what this one man believed in and propagated.

I am way too young and far removed from the defining moments of history to objectively assess the rights and wrongs of his actions.

But I am also way too young to criticise and be disrespectful of this man, just because it's fashionable to do so. From all that I've read of him, both the criticism and the appreciation, I can only respect the Mahatma. For his convictions, for his unwavering belief in truth, his simple goodness. I am sure he had his faults. He is human.

People of my father's generation, who grew up around the 1940s, are divided in their opinion of him. Some revere, some blame him for every ill the nation faces now. But few among them will discredit his achievements. Unlike the ridiculous forwards that do the rounds online, sent by totally ignorant upstarts.

For me, nearly 60 years after his passing, he remains a national pride. The mention of whose name, while speaking to people of different nationalities, makes me straighten my back, and feel good about my country.

PS: The month following his assassination, my grandmother drew a portrait of Gandhi with water colours. My dad for all his disagreements, continues to give that portrait pride of place at our home, and I know it's not only because his mother made it.

1 comment:

Teesu (very very Indian, very very good) said...

Got goosebumps on reading this one...I do envy that time -- during the freedom fight and just after the win. Feel almost as if I 'lost the chance' to be part of it all.