Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India

The permanent temptation of life is to confuse dreams with reality. The permanent defeat of life is when dreams are surrendered to reality.

Friday, November 17, 2006

On the Mahatma, Bhagat Singh and changing priorities

I was just reading a post on Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh and wondered...

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it - Santayana

Most of us in our generation at large and the previous generation to a certain extent did not really know the importance of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and how he managed to bring in the unity that was necessary to form a more cohesive struggle for Independence. Prior to his arrival, the freedom struggles were localised and didnt create that much of an impact. That said, it didnt mean that we didnt have capable leaders, but I believe that none of them had the ability to make the struggle a common cause and spread the idea of a united India to wider regions. The greatness of Mahatma Gandhi was not in his writings nor in how he lived his life on a daily basis, but in his principles and his methods of the struggle that were emulated by millions in the country and brought about probably one of the first non-violent crusades that was sucessful. He managed to bring in almost all of our leaders under a common fold and lead the fight for Indepences as one single unit. There are detractors who point out to the differening relationship he shared with Jinnah and Nehru, but that was more due to individual frialities and aspirations of these two men rather than Gandhi.

Bhagat Singh was another great intellectual revolutionary who also - if you read him properly - didnt believe in violent methods. The bomb throwing was not meant to harm anyone, but more of a brave protest. People these days categorise Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat in extremes, but the truth of the matter was that both of them had ideals and were more intellectually inclined and their visions of a future India were not built on roads of blood and hate. In fact contrary to the stories that form the basis of todays elitists discussions, where talking about Independence struggles is a badge of intellectual acuity, Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh had mutual respect for each other and thier approaches were not very different.

Today it becomes easier for us to sit in the comforts of the security provided to us as free citizens of this world and criticize and deride the contributions of our freedom fighters and blame them for the ills of our present day world. In the safety of knowing that we didnt have to do anything, we ride rough shod over their sacrifices and berate them for having been responsible for everything that is wrong with our country now not understanding that these half baked coffee table and bar room discussions are based on ill informed and intellectually deficient arguments. I mean even if you look at the second half of the last century, how many statesmen did we have other than Nehru. The elitist ten percent in todays India that includes almost 95 percent of our media may declare the sad old bag Vajpayee as a greater visionary than Nehru - the same media who proclaims the present day occupant of the Rashtrapathi Bhavan as India's best President - but that is a sad reflection of our changing priorities where the divide between the have and have-nots are widening and the media is using and being used to cater to the elite. Look at the problems we face as a nation..poverty, primary healthcare and education, problems associated with basic necessities and more. But where in the media do you see anything about these issues.

We had so many people involved in bringing the idea of a free nation to frutition, frome where we could built a place in the sun we could call ourselves. Indeed, we are a sadder generation who refuse to try and learn about one of the greatest Independence struggles in the history of man.


Blogger Sachin R K said...

Good take on the widely held view of the extremities of Gandhi's and Bhagat Singh's positons.Bhagat Singh threw a smoke bomb into the Assembly and stood there, knowing he would be caught , intending to use his trial as a platform for his views.. To view him as a violent agitator is to show an ignorance of facts.

Only one bone to pick with you. I belive comparisons are odious. To show one man was great you need not belittle another. Comparing say Dr Rajendra Prasad with Kalam is as flawed as comparing Tendular with Viv Richards. Each of them is great in his own way - their ideals and vison being necessarily shaped by the circumstances of the times they live in.

January 03, 2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger ReadnRyte said...


I believe you are right in that one cant compare two people from different generation. But the challenges faced by men and their response to the needs of changing priorities is what diffrentiates is what makes the difference between visionaries and people with myopic outlook.

In todays worlds where hype and and the elitist media combine to give us illusions to our well being, in reality we see that the bridge between the have and have-nots are increasing. Why is it that States like AP or Karnataka are identified as Bangalore or Hyderabad. Though I have a lot of grouses against a State like Kerala, one should give in to the fact that in the social development scale it is by far one among the top states in India. I leave this for further elaboration on a different post.

I digressed, but all I wanted to state was that, our responses to social needs that includes all strata of the society, determines our ability to build a just society and this can happen only if we have visionaries. India's priority now is not to put a man on the moon...or is it?



January 04, 2007 6:32 AM  

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