This 2nd October marks the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Growing up in India I was repeatedly taught about Mahatma Gandhi that he is the Father of the Nation and he was the greatest among the freedom fighters .But as I am growing up I am witnessing a lot of contradictions to the same. I am seeing how youngsters today view him. Initially I didn’t like their views and couldn’t stand them. But as am diving deeper into the topic I see the reason why these people don’t like him. Popular conspiracy theories (which may be true) and some “leftist books” are partly the cause of the agitation. The root cause however for some is The Partition of India and Pakistan.
Partition cannot be blamed on a single person. There had always been an explicitly Hindu majoritarian streak in Indian nationalism that equated Indian identity with Hinduism and defined India in Hindu terms, for example as a mother goddess akin to Kali and Durga. The literature that this strand of thinking produced was explicitly anti-Muslim in character. Organizationally it took the form of the Hindu Mahasabha, an exclusivist Hindu party set up to defend the rights and privileges of the Hindu majority, and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a proto-fascist paramilitary group that spawned a number of other organizations. The RSS propagated a militant Hindu supremacist ideology that defined the Muslim Indian as the other. M. S. Golwalkar, the leader of the RSS from 1940 to 1973, openly declared that “in this land Hindus have been the owners, Parsis and Jews the guests, and Muslims and Christians the dacoits [band of armed robbers].”( Later the RSS was banned by Vallabhai Patel himself)
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the leading figure of the nationalist movement from 1920 until independence, professed that above all his mission was to bridge the gap between Hindus and Muslims; yet large segments of the Muslim elite consistently considered him to belong to the implicit Hindu nationalist tradition. In their view, Gandhi imperceptibly equated Hinduness with Indianness by his dress(he dressed like a saint), vocabulary, and demeanor and his obsession with the protection of cows, considered sacred by Hindus. He is said to have used words like ram rajya for India, which was highly opposed by Jinnah at that time. Consequently, the Muslim elite felt their identity under greater threat with Gandhi at the helm of the Congress than they had before he became the undisputed leader of the party.
The elecrions in 1945 clearly showed the change in the shift of view of Muslims when the Jinnah won most of the seats. In reality, Gandhi opposed Partition until the very end. However, the Congress leadership had increasingly sidelined him by the end of 1946. By that time, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel had come to accept the idea of Partition. Eventually, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) accepted the Mountbatten plan to divide the country. It is instructive to note that at the CWC meeting that accepted the Partition plan there were only two dissenters, both Muslim. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan opposed the plan declaring, “You [the Congress] have thrown us to the wolves”. Maulana Azad, a trenchant critic of Jinnah and the Muslim League and fervently opposed to Partition, remained silent in deference to his friend Nehru who had moved the Partition resolution. Everyone else, including Prasad and Govind Ballabh Pant, voted in favour of dividing the country. If Gandhi had desired partition himself he wouldn’t be fasting in calcutta to oppose it and also would have become the prime minister of India. Although it is evident that he could have used his influence on the party and on the nation to prevent partition.
Partition in my view could have been prevented and is something that no single person can be blamed for. In the All parties conference(in which Muslims were ready to give up demands of separate electorate) M.R Jayakar strongly opposed the efforts of compromise, and thus was one of the main reasons for the Partition of India. The demands for reserved seats weren’t unfair in my point of view because today we have ended giving muslims reservations. Maybe if Jayakar had agreed partition would have been prevented or maybe it was inevitable.
One of the other the things I have found is the diary of Manu Gandhi. She is one of the most recognised faces in Indian history, always by Mahatma Gandhi’s side as his “walking stick” in his last two years. Yet, she remains a mystery . On various pages if you search you will find the stories from her diary. The diary as the net says tells that Gandhi experimented his sexuality of which she was a part of. Vallabhbhai Patel is said to have in a letter to Gandhi on January 25, 1947, currently among the Patel papers housed in the National Archives, asked him to suspend the experiment which Patel called a “terrible blunder” on Gandhi’s part that pained his followers “beyond measure”.
I personally was shocked to read this. The other thing I have heard people mention a lot is the speech of Nathuram Godse. It is very disturbing to hear of this revisionist version of Gandhi’s assassination that by implication justifies Godse’s action. It not only tarnishes Gandhi’s reputation, but also flies in the face of recorded facts. Gandhi despite his flaws has done a lot for the country.
Through this article I don’t favor both pro or anti Gandhi’s but I personally feel that disrespecting the Father of the Nation is not a good thing , as it tarnishes the countries reputation.