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Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in India 2019

Law Centre 1, Faculty of Law New Delhi 04 Nov 2019

A story which I’m sure everyone has read that how Mahatma had once during his childhood had repudiated to cheat in an exam in spite of his teacher commanding him to do so in order to create a repute in front of a school inspector. This anecdote of him must have seem to be of negligible importance but now it can be deemed to be the need of the hour when pondered upon it. In this era of technological advancements where good morals and human virtues seem to be useless and sabotaging, Mahatma’s life serves as a haven from this. Ranging from his Satyagraha to his belief in vegetarianism, Mahatma owes success of these movements to his high sense of morality and strong determination of never quitting the good cause even when no one else is believing in it.

The personality of Mahatma is so vast that he was christened by Subhash Chandra Bose as the father of the nation. This phrase is so much adhered to the name of Mahatma that when any other leader is tried to be given such a title, no matter the latter being our current Prime Minister, considered as a divinity, the way Mahatma has earned it cannot be reached to.

 The virtues of Mahatma are the ones which proved to be the tool in accomplishing the great goals, one of the formers being Simplicity. The simplicity of his character is considered a reason behind success of most of his movements. The simplicity implies his endeavours of not complicating and manipulating his objectives, with any of personal benefits pertaining to politics. That is also the reason of him being considered as a leader and not a politician. His conscience complied with simplicity also inhibited him from being influenced by peer pressure; going back to the days of his student life, he never gave into quitting vegetarianism even after being mocked and coerced by his English friends during his sojourn in England. The factor of simplicity was not merely for fulfilling macro goals of acquiring freedom but he followed simplicity in his lifestyle as well; he followed simplicity in living. He followed simplicity of life not only for himself but also as a supervising for others to follow; which can be exemplified by the fact he invoked basic practices be followed.

Another virtue of his character is his belief in truth. The stature of his intrepidity can be assumed by the manner of implementation of using Satyagraha as a weapon to acquire freedom for the whole nation. The seeds of the concept were sprouted when he utilized  journalism as a means to communicate the jan  of his country his ideas about the nation, and also, to unite them all through it, for the efforts to be carried out in favour of all. His writings in his own paper “Harijan” and several others are considered as most integral source of communicating his ideas and thoughts regarding the freedom. Another instance of a strong character can be held by the fact that he never gave up being a vegetarian, even after living in such an inducing and unfavourable atmosphere. He lived in England where his peers were consistently putting ideas of giving up on vegetarianism, and he seldom came into dilemma too as any normal human being; only to put those ideas behind his mind and refusing to give up. That was the kind of metal our Mahatma showed during his adolescence and early adulthood. Not only he kept his kept his cultural lifestyle intact, but also propagated it, by forming a society for the said purpose. The society was christened as London Vegetarian Society. He declined to restrain himself here, rather he went on to write two books on the health and moral aspects of being a vegetarian.

The factor of simplicity also gave rise to Mahatma’s belief in eco-friendliness and natural therapy. Gandhi was a great supporter of natural therapy and organic way of life. Though it is implied through his vegetarianism, there were several other ways by which he progressively explored and shared the organic way of life. He considered that any ailment can be treated and remedied by making changes in lifestyle and divulging oneself more, into the natural environment. It is said that by the time he turned 76 he had attained quite a knowledge regarding the subject; whenever anyone used to visit him in his Ashram in Ahmadabad, he used to suggest alterations in sleep pattern and diet. In order to add weight to his assertions he himself had started implementing such altercations.

Thus, it remains an indispensable fact that Mahatma had an abundant amount of sway over others, through his lifestyle and manner of living. He introduced to the world including his own country, the way of pure life in the modern world of 20th century. Except the fact, that this was not the actual antecedent of him gaining immortality through the world renown he reaped throughout his life; the political ideas he bestowed  which eventually established as the guiding light for several of the world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and the most pertinent to the Indian soul, Mr. Narendra Modi, are the gems which is causing a stir in the world politics. His political ideas and philosophies which are highly platonic, also emerge from the factum of simplicity. Mr. Prabhat Patnaik, a former economics professor of JNU has beautifully portrayed in one newspaper column about the Mahatma’s ideas on capitalism and his stand regarding the form in which it can be applied in a country like India without giving in to the problem of lack of employment. He notably pointed Mahatma’s idea of restricting the use of technology when it comes to overcoming the need of manpower required in the industry. He was not against industrialization as such, as much as it serves the purpose of benefitting the mass and empowering the various sections of society; he only contradicted the one we address as the English system. As the author notes down, the English system thrived high on technological advancements which moreover created a vacuum for the people to gain employment. It had caused exodus in England as people left in search of places where they can acquire employment. Gandhi was against this system and against this form of nationalism too. He theorized a form which was inclusive of all classes of people, and showed firm faith in it too. He condemned capitalism only for this reason because it was leaving people behind and was more for the fulfillment of the high economic demands, serving the few only.

Mahatma was a believer in governance, rather than politics. He was so committed to this belief that he had also voiced the assertion that the Congress shall be dissolved after the independence is acquired as the purpose of its formation would have been fulfilled then. This approach is a product of his simplicity and honesty. The approach of Mahatma was somewhat apolitical, and more inclined towards human values of love, compassion, humaneness and inclusiveness. He was the one who first thought that every part of society is significantly worthy of contributing to the great struggle of freedom, hence every part of it must be empowered enough to contribute to the same. Hence, he contributed to the cause of downtrodden people of the society especially the untouchables, which subsequently remains the history.  He was such master of this art; of infusing human values into such a gigantic thing of something like a national freedom struggle and turning out to be successful too, that he is acknowledged globally.

Thus, there remains an inexhaustible list in which Mahatma had influenced the mass at large, not restricting to the Indian land, but elsewhere too. The important thing to ascertain is how it remains significant in today’s time period. The significance of Mahatma through these principles is indispensable. Firstly, Mahatma is followed in many ways already, ranging from the inclusion of Gandhian Principles in the Indian Constitution to the overwhelming inclination towards vegetarianism, where we see that this habit is trending, as put in the modern urban slang. The Mahatma’s philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam adopted from Maha Upanishad is what India’s approach is right now. The economic policy of shunning English capitalism is a rather universal policy and remains relevant throughout, though as contended it’s what India needs now and namely Japan is already following it by restraining technological overuse and employing people. The infused morals within political strategies as in Swachh Bharat Mission and Make in India project is another way of imbibing Mahatma. Mahatma’s attitude towards the Harijans is what lead to the empowering Act of the scheduled class. The institution of the Patanjali company with the aim and purpose of utilizing natural resources and to flourish the Indian market is another way of implementing Mahatma’s ideas of Swadeshi-ism. The relevance of the emphasis upon natural resources increases further in this time of Climate Change.

It is  highly unlikely to make an exhaustive scope of defining the ways in which Gandhi had tried to influence the humanity. But to summarise the significance of Mahatma it’s imperative to point out one of his own quotes as a mark of recommendation, which is My life is my message, or to put it better as it was originally said in Hindi, MERA JEEVAN HI MERA SANDESH HAI.  


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