Gandhiji and Modern Ideas
Gandhiji’s criticism by many people.
Gandhi’s views of Equality
- Gandhi’s “answer to doubt”, given around Independence Day in 1947 — also known as the “talisman” — is deservedly famed. In that short text, Gandhi suggested that our uncertainty over the right course to take would disappear once we ask how the most helpless person we have known would be affected by our choice.
- Gandhi’s reply when asked, in 1946, to describe the independent India he wished to see. Drawing a geometric picture, Gandhi said he wanted “not a pyramid but an oceanic circle” of complete equality. In such a circle, “the last would be first, in fact there would be no first and no last”, and the individual citizen, not a president or prime minister, would occupy the circle’s centre (Harijan, July 28, 1946).
Fraternity , Justice, Reconciliation
He wanted India’s Hindu majority to protect the country’s minorities, but he also
wanted Hindu-Muslim friendship
- Demanding justice for Dalits, Gandhi also strove for a partnership between Dalits and upper-caste Hindus.
- he asked Pakistan’s Muslim majority to protect that country’s Hindus, and, Christians and minority-sect Muslims.
Internationally, Gandhi wanted a free Palestine (a cause that many in India have
chosen to abandon) — but also Arab-Jewish reconciliation.
Gandhi on Imperialism
For some time yes, and openly so. This is no “discovery”. In fact, as Gandhi put it himself in his autobiography, the British Empire was one of his two passions at the start of the 20th century. (The other was nursing the sick.) Hadn’t Queen Victoria and other eminent Britons declared that in their empire, all the races would be equal and everyone would enjoy the freedoms of belief and expression and the rule of law? When Gandhi realised that the imperial claim was false, he became, as Winston Churchill and a succession of viceroys complained, the empire’s strongest foe, and India’s masses joined Gandhi in rebellion.
Gandhi on Racism
Gandhi had great expectation from black people.He said ” The message of Non violence can be delivered through African Americans throught the world.
Gandhi during his youth had prejudicial views about south African blacks but it was due to his encounter with bad conduct of black convicts
However on racial equality, he was greatly in advance of most if not all of his compatriots; and the struggle for Indian rights in South Africa paved the way for the struggle for black rights. Here is what Gandhi said in 1908 (in a Johannesburg speech), referring specifically to Africans, Asians, Europeans and the mixed: “If we look into the future, is it not a heritage we have to leave to posterity, that all the different races commingle and produce a civilisation that perhaps the world has not yet seen?” (May 18, 1908).
In 1908, the commingling of all the races of the world was a bold thought for anyone, Indian or otherwise, to express. The imperfect Gandhi was more radical and progressive than most contemporary compatriots. Today, in India, South Africa and the US, his legacy provides hope, not an obstacle, for the equality of races and castes.
A 1995 book contains this observation from Nelson Mandela: “Gandhi had been initially shocked that Indians were classified with Natives in prison… All in all, Gandhi must be forgiven these prejudices in the context of the time and the circumstances.”
Looking at the clash today between the need to escape from dangerous and seemingly hellish places and the lack of room in supposedly heavenly places, do we not yearn for persons with the large and just heart and wise mind that Gandhi showed?
The same may be true when people desire to improve today’s dangerous relationship between the so-called Muslim world and the so-called West. Or when we think of inequalities in India, or of conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan and Pakistan.