I recollect a program attended by Barack Obama at the Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. A student asked him if he could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who it would be.
Barack Obama said if given a chance he would like to have a meal with his “real hero” Mahatma Gandhi, although Gandhi did not eat a lot. The response is quite interesting because it is both hypocritical as well as ironical. Hypocritical, because of his Afghanistan war and droning of Pakistani villages. Ironical, because Gandhi is truly the finest personification of this hypocrisy.
I am writing this article after reading several facebook posts defending the actions of Naturam Godse, I don’t subscribe to that school of thought. No one deserve to be assassinated. We should learn to see everyone as a human, instead of constantly searching for heroes and villains. Vast majority of the Indians see him as a hero, and great chunk of people see him as a villain. In my opinion M.K Gandhi, like many great leaders of the world is a bag of contradictions, selfishness, cunning and inspiring leadership. It goes without saying that Gandhi is one of the greatest leaders of world, in fact he sits right there at the top as the most successful leader to unite a highly diverse country with a huge population. Gandhi was an excellent social activist, great communicator and an inspiring leader. However, he definitely doesn’t deserve to be called as Mahatma. He had several serious flaws and shortcomings that were not brought to light.
I will just try to highlight some of the issues in which Gandhi’s hypocrisy and lack of vision destroyed many lives, rather than highlighting his greatness as I strongly believe that there are countless books and literature dedicated to his greatness.
Gandhi’s Hypocrisy During First World War
In my opinion Gandhi is the world’s most famous hypocrite. There is a famous incident during one of his satsangs, one of his followers was so confused with his changing viewpoints, that he asked Gandhi “Why do you say one thing this week and another thing the next?!” Gandhi replied, “Ah! Because I have learned something new this week!”
He just tried to sound smart, but that is a very weak argument.
Some instances of his hypocrisy:-
- He preached ahimsa, and asked people to follow non-violence. In the Boer war he enlisted people for logistics and ambulance duties, even if we discount that as recruitment for logistics and ambulance for wars, we cannot forget his role in world war I. For World War I, Gandhi agreed to recruit Indian soldiers not for logistics or for the ambulance corps, but for combat. To show his support for the Empire, Gandhi agreed to actively recruit Indians for World War I. In a June 1918 he sent out pamphlets about an “Appeal for Enlistment”, Gandhi wrote “To bring about such a state of things we should have the ability to defend ourselves, that is, the ability to bear arms and to use them. If we want to learn the use of arms with the greatest possible despatch, it is our duty to enlist ourselves in the army.” When he vehemently denounced armed struggle against the British, he recruited armed men to fight for the oppressor. When the Indian National Army marched in to India through Myanmar he asked people not to provide logistical support or food for our men who were fighting for our Independence citing Ahimsa. However he was more than happy to help the British by recruiting our men for a meaningless war. The reward that British gave us for fighting for them was nothing but betrayal, disillusionment, and the massacre at Amritsar (Jallianwala Bagh) in 1919. Exactly 1,524,187 Indians fought for the British, to put that number in perspective, it is more than the current strength of Indian army. 1,12,000 Indians were killed during the war and more than a 100,000 men went missing. The European soldiers have war memorials, injured European soldiers were well taken care of, and dead soldiers were buried. However thousands of civilians who enlisted in the army just because Gandhi asked them to join the army were not even buried. According to Gandhi – Killing for independence is wrong but killing for the British is okay.
- While he opposed imperialism in India he supported the Whites in South Africa, he went on record saying “that the white race of South Africa should be the predominating race.” (Ref: The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Government of India (CWMG), Vol. I, p. 105.)
- He opposed untouchability but supported the caste system and wanted it to continue.
Gandhi’s Twisted ideology:
What is Gandhi’s ideology? Non-violent resistance, complete freedom, self-reliance and equality; this is what we were taught. But there are some unsaid parts of Gandhi’s ideology;
“My way or highway” [This is not his quote, it is just that his actions demonstrated this statement.]
In 1927 Mahatma Gandhi, referring to C. Rajagopalachari, said, “I do say he is the only possible successor”, Rajaji was clearly his favorite then. But because of a disagreement between both these men in 1942 about the Cripps commission, Rajaji was kicked out of the congress! And Gandhi was quoted to have said “Not Rajaji, but Jawaharlal will be my successor.”
Why because Rajaji did not agree with Gandhi. (Is this an action of a Mahatma or that of a dictator?)
He also aggressively forced Netaji to resign from the INC. This forced Netaji to deal with fascist regimes like Japanese Imperialism and Nazism.
These are not isolated examples, he preferred Nehru over Sardarji.
He also opposed science and technology deeming it to be “satanic”. He stuck to this ideology so blindly that he let his wife die instead of giving her an injection because he argued that injections are violent.
Even the best initiative of his entire political career – The non-cooperation movement, killed numerous Indians indirectly. The British for the first time after the First War of Independence feared that they might lose India. However Gandhi himself called of the movement because of Chauri Chaura incident. Once he called off the movement, 19 people were sentenced to death, 110 were sentenced to life imprisonment and 6 were killed in police custody. Is this Ahimsa?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will write more about Gandhi, his hypocrisy and the people who died because of his hypocrisy, in a series of blog posts.