Now, Pseudo-Gandhiism

Putting words in the Mahatma’s mouth

Bibek Debroy takes apart Manmohan Singh’s invocation of Gandhi in his recent address to the nation.

“As I share with you the priorities of our government, I am reminded of the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhiji had said that his mission in life was “to wipe every tear from every eye.” Think of the poorest person you have ever seen, Gandhiji would say, “and ask if your next act will be of any use to him.” That message of Bapu resonates in our ears as we settle down to the business of government.” [Manmohan Singh/FE]

Debroy argues that Gandhi never actually said either of those things, nor did he ever imply these to be directive principles of state policy; rather this was his advice on how individuals should carry themselves. Interestingly, the reference to wiping tears from every eye actually comes from the Bible’s Book of Revelation and was used by Nehru in his ‘Tryst with destiny’ speech.

More generally, the Gandhi’s greatest success was in espousing a political philosophy based on high morals but in simple, easy-to-understand, do-it-yourself packages. Gandhian thought and action are as relevant in today’s world as they were a half-century ago, specifically where people strive for democracy and self-determination against oppressive rule. Gandhi was probably the greatest anti-terrorist ever. But Gandhi’s economics was rejected even by Nehru as being unimplementable in the real world. Again that is as true today as it was a half-century ago.

4 thoughts on “Now, Pseudo-Gandhiism”

  1. but then, Nehru’s economic policies were equally flawed. His policies based on socialism took India precisely nowhere.

  2. I remember reading exactly the same thing on the back side of my NCERT textbook for X and XII standard. And the quote has a signature of “M.K. Gandhi” below it. Of course it was meant to be a guide to “individuals”.

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  4. Nehru’s economic mindset was in tune with the Bi-polar world of the 50’s & the 60’s.No wonder he spearheaded the NAM movement subsequently. Though in today’s Unipolar world it is utterly irrelevant.But to be historically just to Nehru there was seemingly no option available for India post independence but to maintain it’s sovereignity internationally.
    Gandhi wasn’t a politician.He was a noble soul whoose consience revelled against the crass materialism of the western Civilization.He had little understanding or concern for Industrialization or economic growth based on the western model.However the same Gandhi broke the Backbone of British empire by abolishing salt tax,which was a major revenew earner for British imperialist.He stopped the mills of Manchester by initiating swadeshi (1920’s).He paralysed the British colonial appratus by Introducing Civil disobedience or Satyagrah.(1937,Fight for Truth.)These were effective, novel & innately Gandian tools to win the much coveted freedom for us Indians.Indeed not an economist yet a saviour who followed the footsteps of the path shown in the bible.A true soldier of christ.

    Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship was too knaivee to be implemented anywhere in the world leave alone Indian society.For eg. French revolution.French Aritocracy was guillotined in order to obtain the secular principles of liberty,equality & fraternity for the social good.The Bolshevik Revolution-The octoberists shot dead Czar Nicholas’s family.Therefore Gandhian belief that the rich which hand over the wealth to the have-nots on their own out of good will & trust and hence they are the trustees of social good was way too knaive.Or to put it in better words whenever there was a Gandhi,Martin Luther,Mother Teresa,Su-chi or the as the bible says ‘The holy spirit ‘ in a mortal skin such miracles are realized or such movements are born.Economics is a science based on the crude market priciples of profit & loss.

    Todays India is a baby whose burnt it’s hands.First the Debacle of Marxism & communism then scourage of communalism.Our economy has been devastated by the onslaught of unbalanced ,irrational planning & superflous thought.I recall as a kid that Rajiv Gandhi’s economic policies (1985)were a waft of fresh air in the bizzare economic situation of the time.Abolition of Liscense -Quota Raj,Implementation of New Industrial policy (1990),Granting of Tax-holidays,revenew exemption,
    setting the trail of the new IT age with the introduction to computers,Brinnging in Maruti Suzuki & pepsi cola were the winds of change.Untill ofcourse He was returned the gratitude by the country & blown to pieces at shree Peremboodoor And hence I was happiest person when Sonia Gandhi refused to accept the Prime-minister’s seat recently. No honour can wipe away that scarr that she & her family has received with the killing of Rajiv Gandhi,not even the prime ministership.

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