Mahatma Gandhi has lived through books and memories as one of the pioneers of humankind. While adhering to his austere lifestyle underlying his simplicity, he inspired us to look out for peace, tranquility and morality in this fair country of ours.
Every year on the 2nd of October, we celebrate Gandhi Jayanti for all of those reasons. His grit to expose the truth and fight for free will no matter what the stakes will always be enshrined upon, but what if he was alive today? Here, walking amongst us. Would he be proud of how his beloved country has progressed or would he stand against what we’ve become with every inch of his fibre?
The answer to can be found in the balance between individual freedom and social responsibility which remain the cornerstone of his philosophies. If the recent news-breaking landmark Supreme Court rulings in 2018 are a direction, India is on road to become a more inclusive, peaceful and progressive society in the true Gandhian sense.
To say Gandhi was big on cleanliness would be an understatement. He strived to make our community cleaner and more sanitised in its entirety. He often espoused that cleanliness was next to godliness. 70 years on and we’ve got mounds and mounds of waste piling up in different nooks and crannies of our country with nowhere to go. With a newly mobilised India under the Swachh Bharat programme, localities, cities and states now compete with each other in being the cleanest — this would be welcomed heartily by the father of our nation.
In light of recent events, we’ve seen quite a few polarising judgements on behalf of our lawmakers. Section 497 of the IPC has also been struck down which criminalised adultery. Although adultery is still grounds for a divorce, it is not a crime or a punishable offence in itself. At least for women.
The Supreme Court struck down the archaic Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) due to its “manifest arbitrariness” in punishing only men for adultery and for treating a woman as her husband’s property. This is a great victory for women’s rights in India, even though the verdict has been welcomed with mixed emotions. Mahatma Gandhi was most vocal about the emancipation of women and their equal rights. In our opinion, he would definitely support any move, where women weren’t reduced to being second-class citizens.
Yet, Gandhi who was a celibate for much of his public life, spoke extensively on sex and religious chastity throughout his public discourse. His autobiography is replete with examples of his experiments to contain the “vice of lust.” Maybe he would have mixed feelings about this one.
Mahatma Gandhi dreaded the slaughter of animals and believed in strict vegetarianism. He grew his own vegetables and took care of several animals. In his own words, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” In India, we have much to deliver with relation to animal rights.
India still witnesses much animal abuse, but for a few brave hearts who continue to give voice to the voiceless. Gandhi would definitely advocate the promotion of more humane animal rights in the country.
Anyone with a working pair of eyeballs knows of this epidemic which plagues our country. In the post-demonetised India and on the backs of the new currency re-issue, reports suggest that not much has changed in the way we deal with corruption in India. Mahatma Gandhi wouldn’t stand for corruption in any form. Gandhian principles pushed freedom fighters like Anna Hazare to pick up the issue of India Against Corruption. Austerity and transparency were very dear to him, and he would support its implementation especially amongst the ruling political class.
Eradication of poverty and service to the poor
While the gap between the poor and rich seems to be widening, we can all do our part in providing a helping hand to the needy. Most assuredly, Mahatma Gandhi did. He believed it is the gap between manual and intellectual labour that was the main reason behind poverty in India. He believed that if all of us partook in our own manual labour our wants would be reduced and lives, simplified.
Self-Sufficiency, but with a distaste of western culture
As time heads on, Indians continue to nosedive into western culture. The shows we watch, the food we eat, the clothes we wear; making the choice for everything has become oversimplified. Just do what the western world does. Mahatma Gandhi despised western culture influencing our lives. He believed that motive of Indian civilisation “is to elevate the moral being”, while “that of western civilisation is to propagate immorality”. Yet in a truly globalised world, ideas and cultures transcend borders. A young India seems quite adept at juggling both the Indian culture with the Western ethos of the world.
The doctrine of bread labour
This is probably the one we, as a society have withered away from the most. The doctrine of bread labour stipulates that we only consume after indulging in adequate labour to earn it.
“The needs of the body must be supplied by the body.” Gandhi would have very telling points to make of the state of affairs here in India.
For better or for worse, it is clear as day we have transcended beyond his ideals as a society for most part. Still the principles he enshrined are evergreen, and continue to inspire millions to do and be better. We’ll leave you with this;
“The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree … we reap exactly as we sow.” The father of our nation knew.
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