From Suhas Patwardhan, MI
As a government servant I was all the happier to celebrate your birthday this year as it coincidentally happened to be the first Monday of the month giving us two consecutive holidays in a week. Many of us would be out of station for a weekend picnic. We remember your birthday only because it’s a public holiday. Otherwise almost all of us might have forgotten your birth date. Leave alone remembering your ideals of truth and non-violence.
During your lifetime there were no hoardings and banners put up in public places in India highlighting birthday celebrations as we do nowadays.
Your statues and photos are decorated with garlands by all the who’s who in the corridors of power, who unfortunately have hardly read even a single page of your autobiography, “My Experiments with Truth ” leave alone candidly confessing their shortcomings. Very few know that it was Ravindranath Tagore, a Noble laureate who first respectfully referred to you as Mahatma and Subhash Chandra Bose called you ” Rashtrapita ” in his address to the INA. The government of India when it first introduced a 500- rupee note with your photograph thereon mentioned your name as M. K. Gandhi belittling your greatness. However, the authorities subsequently realized the unpardonable error and printed your name Mahatma Gandhi beneath your photograph in the subsequent issue of currency notes. Not concerned about your name, fame, and publicity, you might have forgiven the lapse had you been there at that time.
You had expressed your displeasure way back in December 1947 a few months after India gained Independence while interacting informally with some Congress men in the following words:
“There is so much corruption today that it frightens me. Everybody wants to carry so many votes in his pocket because votes give power. “
It is distressing to note that corruption today has assumed gigantic proportions in a multiplied and magnified form which you could have never imagined.
The computer —- a technical electronic device which lets you know about everything under the sun instantly — savvy generation today looks upon you as if you were timid and shy given to passive resistance devoid of fighting spirit. Hardly a few could digest your ideology that an eye for an eye mentality would soon make the whole world blind. The unique formula of Ahinsa and Satyagraha (Non-violence & fight for the truth) worked wonders and forced British to quit India, that too without any loss of dignity. You advocated Ahimsa not just at the physical level but also at the level of thought and speech as well. As far as the young generation is concerned you are for most of them ” NOT REACHABLE” and your ideology ” OUT OF RANGE “. Your success story of peaceful struggle against a mighty British power with a touch of spiritualty will continue to be a mystery for mankind for millions and millions of years.
Your dream of wiping out every tear from every eye eludes us even after as many as 75 years since you left us. Dear Bapuji, we could hardly do anything as visualized by you in your pre- Independence days.
We tender our apology from the bottom of our heart for forsaking your path as if it has ceased to be of any relevance and impact today. Forgive us, Bapuji! We are far too immature to recognize your greatness to leave alone following in your footsteps. Of your numerous quotes the one I like most is: Nobody can hurt me without my permission. One of the seven dangers to human virtue
noted by you was politics without principle. We are enveloped in politics without principle. Sorry, Bapuji. Mahatma, as you are, please forgive us for our lapses. Anyway, accept my best wishes for and on behalf of like-minded Indians.
Mr. Nobody, (What’s in a name?)