September 29, 2007

Some Gandhian lessons for the Gandhis
Sudheendra Kulkarni

Posted online: Sunday, September 30, 2007 at 0000 hrs

Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by her son Rahul, will be representing India at the UN General Assembly on October 2, when the world body will declare Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday as World Non-Violence Day.

In what capacity she can represent India at the UN, one doesn’t know. It would have been in the fitness of things if India were represented by our prime minister. Also, given that it is an honour for India as a whole, the Indian delegation should have included prominent leaders of the opposition. However, these objections would doubtless be considered irrelevant at a time the Congress party is getting ready to coronate the fourth member of the Dynasty as India’s next prime minister.

Since mother and son are going to New York for an event relating to the Mahatma, I wonder if either of them has seen a recently released movie about a father and his son. I am referring to Gandhi My Father by Feroz Abbas Khan, which is one of the finest cinematic narrations of the greatest hero of modern Indian history.

It tells the story of the troubled relationship between Gandhiji and his eldest son Harilal, whose life lurches from one failure to another and ends pitifully in 1955. The film’s director has handled a difficult theme with utmost sensitivity and without passing any value judgement on either father or son. At the same time, he brings out the true greatness of Gandhiji, a man who stood by his principles in small as well as big matters, in private as well as public spheres of life.

Without being overtly pedagogic, the movie is replete with messages of contemporary significance. One of them is how the Mahatma detested nepotism and would do nothing whatsoever to promote his son’s career using his personal influence. Harilal wants to study law in England and become, like his father, a barrister.

A wealthy Gujarati businessman has in fact authorised the father to nominate one student each year for a scholarship to study law in London. The father refuses to name his son for the scholarship the first year — and also the next year. Harilal is frustrated. He thinks his father neither loves nor cares for him. On the other hand, his father, who is running an ashram near Durban in South Africa, believes that all the boys and girls in the ashram are his children and must receive equal love and care from him.

Contrast this with what the Gandhis belonging to the Nehru dynasty have been doing. Rahul is only 37 years old. His parliamentary career, undistinguished by any standards, is only three-and-a-half years old. He has made exactly one speech so far in the Lok Sabha, and that too from a written text. Outside Parliament, his occasional speeches and sound bites have been a source more of embarrassment rather than enlightenment for his own partymen.

He is, at best, still a learner, and far from being eligible for a “scholarship” even to ministership. And yet his mother has nominated him for a post that is already more powerful than that of any minister in the UPA government, and is widely seen as a perch from where he would be elevated to prime ministership.

Just go back in history and see what another mother did to her son. Indira Gandhi made Rajiv general secretary of the Congress party on February 2, 1983. His only real experience till then was in running aircraft. His sycophantic partymen, however, believed that he was capable of running the country. On October 30, 1984, a tragedy became the pretext for making him, at age, 40, the prime minister of India.

How did Rajiv Gandhi govern India? Do not base your answer on the countless institutions, buildings, chowks and governmental schemes that have been named after him. Look at the truth behind the propaganda.

Look at the anti-Sikh carnage in Delhi that took place within days of his being sworn in as prime minister, and which he later tried to rationalise in a most unbecoming way; at the IPKF fiasco for which he was primarily responsible and which proved to be tragic in more ways than one; at the much-trumpeted Punjab and Assam accords, both of which are still not implemented; at how the Assam accord, which was meant to stop illegal infiltration from Bangladesh, has in fact become a legitimiser of the menace; at how he started the cover-up operation on the Bofors scandal, converting, in the process, a four-fifths majority in the Lok Sabha in 1984 into an abject defeat for his party in 1989; and look also at how the Bofors cover-up is continuing even today.

After seeing this truth behind the hagiography about Rajiv’s rule, ask yourself: Should India take the risk yet again with immaturity and inexperience? Has India’s oldest political party covered itself with glory by projecting Rahul Gandhi as its “Dhoni”? Has Dhoni earned his captainship on the strength of his performance, or because he is his father’s son? Above all, should the powerful mothers and fathers in our political establishment be allowed to practise nepotism? If you are agitated by these questions, I wholeheartedly recommend that you watch Gandhi My

Father for some answers and some inspiration.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Rajiv gandhi----Rahul Gandhi/Priyanka
Rajnath singh/BJP youth president
BalThackeray/Udhav/Raj thackeray
Praksh sigh Badal/SS Badal
MK Karunanidhi/Stalin.Alaghiri
NTR/Chandra babu naidu
Mulayam/ajai singh yadav
Dev Gowda/Kumaraswamy,revanna, i can go on if one gets the list of MPs and MLAs.

Mayawathi,Mamtha bannerjee,Amarsingh may be aberations but Indian Democracy and Public have to choose from these. I think Rajiv 's rule was one of the best in India along with the two aruns.But then Bofors got over him.
I can say the same about Indian film industry,Indian business and ofcourse the IAS,IPS and their children. VARNASHRAMA DHARMA at its best.
What the author is talking about, one family, a joke

I hope the author HAS THE COURAGE to say the truth about the need for Godse to kill Gandhi. does he approve off Gandhi's policies?