Was Gandhi Secular ?

Shahran Asim’s contribution for PTH

I know in our Pakistan Studies we have always read that Mahatma Gandhi was not secular and he did ‘nt want Muslim minority to have their share in the post partition scenario. When I raised these questions, someone suggested me to listen to his speeches which have been posted by an organization called Gandhi Server Foundation (www.gandhiserve.org). It is a great historical resource of information related to Mahatma Gandhi, contains his audio library , his letters to Quaid-e-Azam, Nehru and others, etc.

I have selected this speech which was addressed to Hindus but is is mostly related to create peace and harmony among the Hindus and Muslims. Please listen to Gandhi on Muslims, start from 3 mins and I would suggest to
listen it completely. How he praised the contribution of Muslims to India, Urdu, etc.

Link one: Date 10-15-1947 Delhi

http://bit.ly/as9K3s

Link two: Date 10-27-1947 Calcutta
Listen to this and start from 14th minute Gandhi on Quaid-e-Azam.

http://bit.ly/bHw8XD

162 Comments

Filed under India, Pakistan

162 responses to “Was Gandhi Secular ?

  1. Hayyer

    Was Gandhi secular? Secular in what?
    Let us not confuse secularism with religious tolerance.
    Gandhi believed that politics without religion was immoral. Had he been allowed his way he would surely have introduced religion into governance. So, no, Gandhi was not a believer in secular governance.
    But he was a tolerant Hindu. You practice your stuff and I practice mine and if possible let us both take over the government. Isn’t that what he tried with his support for the Khalifa?

  2. MOMIN

    No he was not secular , he had bad intention for muslims thats why allowed Jinnah to create Pakistan ..and look whats happening to Muslims in Pakistan ..

  3. Girish

    Here are some quotes from Gandhi, from the same period from when people like to give Jinnah’s quotes to show his desires for the polity, i.e. around and after independence. The quotes are all in the Collected Works of Gandhi, Vol. 96 (accessible at the same gandhiserve.org website that the author of the post has linked. I am not giving the link since that puts this comment into automatic moderation)

    Speech at Narkeldanga, Calcutta – August 17, 1947
    (reported in the issue of the Harijan, dt. August 31, 1947)
    “Gandhiji said that there were indications that all was not well with the Muslims. Some Hindus were now beginning to feel that they had the upper hand, and some Muslims were afraid that they would have to play the underdog in the Union today. Gandhiji said that this would be shameful indeed. If a minority in India, minority on the score of its religious profession, was made to feel small on that account, he could only say that this India was not the India of his dreams. In the India for whose fashioning he had worked all his life every man enjoyed equality of status, whatever his religion was. The State was bound to be wholly secular. He went so far as to say that no denominational educational institution in it should enjoy State patronage.
    All subjects would thus be equal in the eye of the law. But every single individual would be free to pursue his own religion without let or hindrance so long as it did not transgress the common law.

    ———————–

    Speech at Prayer Meeting, Deshbandhu Park, Calcutta, August 22 1947
    Religion was a personal matter and if we succeeded in confining it to the personal plane, all would be well in our political life. The manifestation of brotherhood which was being witnessed today would prove a passing show if we did not consolidate it by suitable acts in the social and political spheres. If officers of the Government as well as members of the public undertook the responsibility and worked wholeheartedly for the creation of a secular State, we could build a new India that would be the glory of the world.”

    ———————

    Discussion with Rev. John Kellas, Calcutta, August 16, 1947 (reported in the Harijan dated August 24, 1947)
    Gandhiji expressed the opinion that the State should undoubtedly be secular.

    ——————

    Speech at Prayer Meeting, Birla House, New Delhi, November 28, 1947
    “After all, we have formed the Government for all. It is a ‘secular’ government, that is, it is not a theocratic government, rather, it does not belong to any particular religion. Hence it cannot spend money on the basis of communities. For it, the only thing that matters is that all are Indians. Individuals can follow their own religions. I have my religion and you have yours to follow.
    (this was in the context of a question about whether the provisional Government of Junagadh should spend any money from the state treasury for the rebuilding of the Somnath temple).

  4. Girish

    Correction – the last quote is from his Collected works Vol. 97, the rest being from Vol. 96 as stated in my previous post. The error is regretted.

    One more quote, this one from the Collected Works, Vol. 98. This was from an article he wrote for the Harijan on January 24, 1948 (6 days before he died) and that appeared in print posthumously on Feb 2, 1948.

    “A well-organized body of constructive workers will be needed to provide this directive force. Their service to the people will be their sanction and the merit of their work will be their charter. The ministers will draw their inspiration from such a body which will advise and guide the secular government.

  5. neel123

    India has not forgotten Gandhi’s fasting on numerous occasions in support of the muslim minorities and to dissuade the hindus from responding , when ever he feared that there would be backlash on the muslims in terms of physical violence.

  6. ved

    First of all the meaning of Indian secularism is very different from western secularism, it does not forbids or opposes any religion but allows every body to be true to his personal faith along with have equal respect and accommodation for others distinct beliefs. India can never be France, Italy or for that matter any country which takes great pain on banning veil or burqa to be shown as true champion of Secularism.

    Gandhi ji was a religious man a Hindu saint and it is not written anywhere that a religious person can not be a secular person or at least in the sense of Indian secularism. He believes that India will be a country where every religion, faith, caste and creed will enjoy its existence. He was a pure man with heart and thoughts others to be like him that’s why he went to Noakhali when religious frenzy was soaring high

    He made peace with Muslims fundamentalist of that time and these people never raised any objection on his intention, equally true is also that all this can not be said about his colleagues of that time.

    Now if we think that he was not a secular person then why so much he fought with Muslim League and Jinnah on the issue of religious representation, when he should have simply accepted the demand of League that they are only the true representative of Muslims of India and Congress is a Hindu party and then would have reached on any setup acceptable to both and avoided partition.

    He might have accepted partition but never he accepted to be called a religious bigot. It is very wrong thinking on our part that a person who wears long beard or colored cloth or have distinctly religious outlook can not be secular.

  7. Hayyer

    All those 40s quotes! Let us have some of the earlier ones about religion too. What was the khilafat movement.

  8. Girish

    Go ahead. Nobody is stopping you from giving quotes from any other time.

    As an aside, would quotes of your secular hero, Jinnah be allowed from all times? Or will they be deleted as they have been on this site when they don’t conform to the site’s preferred narrative about him?

  9. Girish

    Could you please also substantiate these claims that you have made (and not on the basis of somebody’s opinion, but hard facts such as quotes/statements)

    1. Had he been allowed his way he would surely have introduced religion into governance.

    2. So, no, Gandhi was not a believer in secular governance.

    and
    3. You practice your stuff and I practice mine and if possible let us both take over the government.

  10. YLH

    My views are the same as Hayyer.

    And I don’t think Pakistan Studies ever said Gandhi is not secular. “Secular” is not a good word in Pakistan Studies.

    The problem with Gandhi was that he tried to use religion both Hinduism and Islam to bring about a popular movement. It destroyed the original secular unity in India.

    Btw raza bhai, you can just ask me to leave if you want me to leave your website instead of sending me messages by posting stuff like this.

    Just say it and I leave you and your website alone.

  11. Hayyer

    I’ll leave the proving of Gandhi’s secular credentials in the 20s and 30s to you. YLH has quoted plenty of Gandhi on race and caste on PTH. If you ask him he can link you them.

  12. Hayyer

    that should read- he can link you to the quotes on PTH.

  13. Girish

    Nice try. But you were the ones making claims. And now you don’t have anything to substantiate three claims you made.

  14. Hayyer

    I have no heroes but as secularists who made it into independence and were prominent there were two fellows. The pre 1938 Jinnah and the post 50 Nehru.

  15. YLH

    The pre-1937 Jinnah (the glimpses of which were visible in Jinnah of post 1947) and post 1950 Nehru are the only two heroes any secularist can have from South Asian history.

  16. Hayyer

    Girish:

    Actually I am in the middle of dinner at a party and have no references to hand.

    Not Vajra: (neti neti neti, how clever)

    I did not know that the SGPC had declared its intentions to have Sikh Rajya in Punjab. If they had how would it stand up to Gandhi’s Ram Rajya.

  17. Hayyer

    Very quickly, because I am occupied with spiritual matters.
    Does Gandhi want Ram Rajya?
    Does he interject religion into his discourse incessantly?
    Can you have a secular state when your politics is religious?
    Wasn’t the old man fudging all the time?

  18. swapnavasavdutta

    Whatever Gandhi may be, he was not king.
    He was not going to be above the Indian
    parliament and dicatate laws.
    So it was not for him to decide whether India
    was going to be religious or secular.

  19. Ravi

    I find YLF’s attitude a little puzzling. He has his views on Gandhi….largely colored by his perception of History. Gandhi may have brought religion into politics but you cant fault him for trying to bring in a moral underpinning to polity. That is largely what all moderate Muslims would like to do in current politics too. Where they would want joe public to shun extremism but yet base conduct on religous context. Gandhi can no more be accused of polluting politics than MAJ. His intentions were benign rather than malicious.
    On the other hand, YLH gos thru great pains to take largely tangential references by MAJ and wants the whole world to believe w/o question that MAJ was secular. Whereas there are several counter narratives to the same. But Gandhi, whom the entire world accepts as an apostle of peace is not kosher by YLH’s standards. If this is what so called ‘secular’ pakistanis think, is it any wonder why Pureland is in the state it is. Like it or not, unless Pakistanis turn around their misconceptions and learn to have a non-revisionist view of history there is no hope. Mostly they try to act smart alecky and knowledgable but end up looking like an asses rear.

  20. Chote Miyan

    Hayyer,
    Is it right to conclude that the Indian society was secular before Gandhi supported the Khilafat movement? If you can give me resources proving such a claim that some have made here, then I would have no hesitation in blaming Gandhi for all the ills that have afflicted Pakistan, especially by the current lot, the Talibans. I would gladly accept the highly speculative arguments of one Aisha turnip. I have heard that Gandhi was a racist, a closet Hindu fundamentalist. That he was murdered by a Hindu fanatic for exactly the opposite reason makes me believe that his much vaunted communication skills were a hogwash. He was totally worthless and his message completely useless. That some others like MLK Jr. found it inspirational is more due to the steady propaganda that has been done to burnish his image than anything else. Plus, does MLK matter. As per FBI files, he used to procure prostitutes for his nefarious activities. I am beginning to see the arguments now. Silly me! Oh, before I forget, Lincoln was also a racist before the war. Of course, with such personalities, we are not expected to give them leeway as a human and that they are also susceptible to change. I am amazed that some people want to walk out of a blog just because there is an article on Gandhi. It’s a perpetual conundrum for “infidels” when dealing with Muslims. On one hand there is a vocal liberal class that makes a lot of noise but doesn’t show up when it is required, and on the other hand there is a large, deeply religious section that one wouldn’t want to deal with but they are the ones who put up their hands. Of course, if you reject them then you are against Muslims, no questions asked. If you accept them, the other section gets the guillotine ready for you. I mentioned some weeks ago that just 100 people showed up for candle light vigil in the wake of Ahmediya massacre. I was wrong and I apologize. They were 10! Hello! Even on this blog, supposedly a bastion of liberalism, more than a few people have gone on and on about how Islamic principles can be applied to a state, etc.

  21. YLH

    Ravi,

    The world can accept him as the apostle of whatever… YLH is not going to accept Gandhi as anything more than the third rate witchdoctor and religio-fascist bigot racist he really was.

  22. YLH

    Hayyer is an Indian btw.

    And tomorrow I’ll produce some genius quotes from Gandhiji which go far beyond any sense of decency or humanity.

  23. Gorki

    “Was Gandhi secular? Secular in what?
    Let us not confuse secularism with religious tolerance. Gandhi believed that politics without religion was immoral.”

    Dear Hayyer,

    As always, your short sentences are like chapter summaries; they carry distilled information and enormous wisdom.😉
    I have no quibble with the above.

    Having made my personal views public about the various historical personalities mentioned above during numerous discussions in the past; I will not get drawn into such a discussion again since I have nothing new to add.
    Professional (by that I mean full time😉 ) historians debate, and will continue to debate, their motivations, compulsions, and their conduct for a very long time.
    Let it be so.

    However after reading Ammar Ahmad’s thought provoking and excellent piece under the title ‘Can Islamic state be secular’ on the PTH recently, a question(s) comes to mind:

    Is it perhaps too much to expect of the intellectually semi-literate, semi backward societies like ours (South Asia) to be truly free of religious references in public life?

    If so, then is it immoral (unethical?) to harness faith based arguments in public life to further a liberal agenda such as equality before the law for all, tolerance, state secularism, and a general respect for universal human values?

    Another thing; is there any such thing as being too secular?
    In other words, can one be secular to the point of being intolerant?

    Finally, has any society existed, ever; in the human experience, that did not have any reference to faith in the public life?

    Can any such human governed society ever exist in the future?

    Regards.

  24. YLH

    And btw I’d like everyone to note the word “secular” in derisive quotes in Ravi’s post. In other words if one calls Gandhi a crook and spade a spade, one cannot be secular. As if Gandhiji who said politics without religion was evil and who proudly said “I am experimenting with introducing religion into politics” is Godhead of this false secularism.

    Forgive me for thinking naively that secularism was about moving from superstition to reason and from religious governance to a separation of religion and state. That is the only kind of secular one can recognize.

    Gandhi’s rejection of penicilin and modern medicine (but only when it could have saved Kasturba’s life), the denunciation of the suffrage movement as “evil signs of ravana raj” and Gandhiji’s belief in abstinence from sex as a way to be spiritual in politics does not strike me as “secular” any more than his practise of sleeping naked with young girls. Were his prayer meetings with Geeta and token Quranic verses “secularism”? I don’t think so. But then India has another weird kind of non-Nehruvian secularism … Where you have to play holi and fast in Ramadan and even do both at the same time to be secular.

    I hate the hypocrisy of Pakistani Muslims but Indian secularists are equally sickening. I also hate everyone who sells religion for a living …I make no distinction between Zakir Naik and Shiv Ravi Shankar. Religion itself is the problem so is this nonsense called spirituality.

    So no thank you … I don’t want this “Christ-like secularism” …it is an oxymoron or may be just a moron. I want the standard western secular model which progressively separates religion from state.

    And may I suggest everyone read a letter Nehru wrote to Gandhi on his return from Europe. It is a most remarkable letter …quoted in full in Jaswant Singh’s book. Later Nehru -recognizing that Gandhi was the source of power in Congress- recanted. But for a brief moment Panditjee also saw the light about Gandhiji.

  25. YLH

    Erratum “practice”

    And also make that “brief honest moment”.

  26. Rationalist

    @ylh

    I whole heartedly agree with your sentiment that there is no place for religion in a progressive secular state.

    But interestingly enough, neither you, nor any of the other Pakistani liberals on the PTH pantheon expressed this in the thread : ” Can an Islamic State be Secular? ” ….

  27. lal

    ylh,
    i dont expect u to change ur views on gandhi.but u urself have agreed than jinnah used religion as a political ploy even though he was himself a man with no deep religious sense .gandhi truly believed in his religion.how come we cant show leniency when he used it for political purpose.
    2nd argument is that he is a 3rd rate religious bigot because unlike nehru or jinnah he believed in god.now we can all be atheists here.bt the problem is 95 % of people believe in some sort of god.cant really consider all of them intellectually inferior to the 5 %
    most importantly he didnt use religion to harm others.no body has an argment that he did ot tolerate others religious believes.
    fascist??!!..pls explain that

  28. Girish

    The post is not about whether his views on sexuality were sensible or perverted (and by that token, are we free to discuss other sexual perverts from history including figures who many on this forum might hold dear?). Or whether we agree with his bizarre views on a variety of topics such as modern medicine and what one should eat and so on. It is about whether he was secular, in terms of believing that the state had nothing to do with religion and could not favor one religion over another.

    No degree of quotation from 1890 or 1920 will negate the fact that at the time when it mattered most, i.e. in the run up to independence, after India had its own Government and until his death, he believed in secularism as defined above. And it can be shown by using nothing other that direct quotations from the two gentlemen that Gandhi was more consistent in this regard than the secular hero of many of Gandhi’s most severe critics here – i.e. Jinnah.

  29. Veerappan

    Gandhi never used crass any language (staple diet of Jinnah).

    I am glad that Yasser pappu is emulating Jinnah and breathing fire on kafirs here.

  30. Veerappan

    Gandhi never used crass language (staple diet of Jinnah).

  31. Gorki

    It is true that Gandhi was careful in the choice of his words even when he was addressing people he differed with, politically. Unfortunately his followers often disappointed him by their lack of restraint.

    I doubt that he would approve of rude remarks today made by his defenders any more than the actions of his followers then.
    Please note the passage below from his court statement made in 1922

    ……” I know that my people have sometimes gone mad. I am deeply sorry for it and I am, therefore, here to submit not to a light penalty but to the highest penalty….”

    MAJ was a Titan and an Indian leader held in high regards by the likes of Bhagat Singh. Abusing his memory in defense of Gandhi is an insult not only to MAJ but to all those who held him dear but above all to Gandhi himself. I don’t think he would approve

  32. Veerappan

    Jinnah’s what’s finally became than what he’s b4. Bhagat Singh praised Jinnah b4 Jinnah became a fascist (pre-1931). So the BS of ‘Ambassador of H-M unity’ doesnt apply to the sum total legacy of J.

  33. Girish

    Gorky:

    Gandhi was indeed very gracious when he spoke about Jinnah, even after all that had happened in 1947. There are numerous references for this. He was also willing to work with anybody for the common good, the work with Suhrawardy in Calcutta in August 1947 being a late example of that.

    Now perhaps you will give similar advice to YLH, whose writings are based on the principle of “abusing Gandhi’s memory to defend Jinnah”. Perhaps Jinnah would not have approved of that either.

  34. Anil

    I agree with YLH that only two politicians come out as “Secular” – as if meant anything then and now. These were Jinnah and Nehru.

    Secularism is an artificial construct, mostly used for developing / evolving society. No one questions “in God We Trust” to indicate a test for secularism in the U.S. or not.

    I would more accurately describe Jinnah and Nehru as religious tolerant democrat. To both being democrat preceded being tolerant to religion. Sadly Jinnah did not live long enough to implement it, while Nehru did. Ideal for India would have been Nehru without socialism, something Jinnah was.

    I firmly believe democracy is more important than tolerance to religions. Pluralism in democracy eventually trumps and accommodates not only religious but other differences.

  35. Hayyer

    chote miyan:

    “Is it right to conclude that the Indian society was secular before Gandhi supported the Khilafat movement?”

    I made no such conclusion, nor was I making any comment on Indian society before the Khilafat movement.
    “If you can give me resources proving such a claim that some have made here,…” .

    Which claim?

    “I have heard that Gandhi was a racist, a closet Hindu fundamentalist.”

    There are quotes on PTH showing Gandhi’s racist regard for African blacks. You can locate them. I do not know who called him a Hindu fundamentalist.
    I don’t know what Martin Luther King has to do with it, anymore than Lincoln. Are there hidden analogies? If one refutes Gandhi does it mean refuting MLK and AL too. I don’t see the connection.

    ” I am amazed that some people want to walk out of a blog just because there is an article on Gandhi. It’s a perpetual conundrum for “infidels” when dealing with Muslims.”

    Taking it on the chin they should respond in kind, not run away.

    Your references to liberals are somewhat obscure, so I shall confine myself to reiterating my views on Jinnah and Gandhi as briefly as I can.

    Jinnah in my view was the great secularist till circa 1937. Out of his allotted span of three score years and thirteen He was a full blooded liberal secularist for three score and three at least. I am not a fan of the Jinnah we see after 1937 but I think he was driven to it by Gandhi with Nehru’s assistance.

    Gandhi on the other hand was obsessed with religion and his personal spiritual quest. He believed like many still do that morals derive from religion and tried to become the Mahatma that they called him. He could not separate his religious predilections from his politics and he imposed his religious eccentricities on all and sundry. Gandhi’s politics is often indistinguishable from singing bhajans, prayer and food fads connected to the cow.

    I have nothing to say on candle light demonstrations except to disapprove. It is a trite and hackneyed way of expression.

  36. Girish

    Gorki,

    Sorry about spelling your name incorrectly in my precious comment.

  37. Hayyer

    Gorki:

    “Is it perhaps too much to expect of the intellectually semi-literate, semi backward societies like ours (South Asia) to be truly free of religious references in public life?”

    I was not referring to societies but to the state and its politics, and in particular to one individual, Gandhi. If your politics is based on religion (as opposed to merely taking it into account) then your statecraft will be religiously slewed.

    Gandhi was neither semi literate, nor semi backward. He introduced religion into a political process that was trying to overcome religious biases.

    “If so, then is it immoral (unethical?) to harness faith based arguments in public life to further a liberal agenda such as equality before the law for all, tolerance, state secularism, and a general respect for universal human values?”

    I have said so earlier and I do not mind saying it again. You cannot hope to succeed with this approach. Some faith based arguments may have a universal application but most don’t; and the professional practitioners of religion will always out argue you should you engage them in religious discusssions.

    “Another thing; is there any such thing as being too secular?
    In other words, can one be secular to the point of being intolerant?”

    No there is not! Anyone should be free to practice his faith in private as much as he wants. But he should not invade the public sphere. There should be no place for any religion based linkage in governance.

    And outside of governance, in my residential neighbourhood I do not want to hear on loudspeakers the aazan the jaagratras with bhajans the granthis with their all night paath or any other form of noise that disturbs my repose.

    “Finally, has any society existed, ever; in the human experience, that did not have any reference to faith in the public life?
    Can any such human governed society ever exist in the future?”

    We are moving towards it as a result of the enlightenment. We don’t want a regression to the bad old days. Gandhi was trying hard to keep us rooted in faith. His proper sphere was in a neo- Hindu revivalist movement. He should have taken Swami Vivekananda’s route rather than messed around with politics; his problem was that he wanted power too.

  38. Chote Miyan

    Hayyer,
    “I made no such conclusion, nor was I making any comment on Indian society before the Khilafat movement.”

    I apologize. I should have addressed that particular query to someone else.

    “There are quotes on PTH showing Gandhi’s racist regard for African blacks. You can locate them.”

    That is pretty well known. My reference to Lincoln was in this context. The War changed Lincoln. To be fair to Gandhi, he acknowledged his mistakes.

    ” I do not know who called him a Hindu fundamentalist.”

    Some people here, who I decline to name, have done so.

    “Jinnah in my view was the great secularist till circa 1937….I am not a fan of the Jinnah we see after 1937”

    I totally agree with you. Only the most biased person can disagree with that.

    “but I think he was driven to it by Gandhi with Nehru’s assistance.”

    That is a speculation, I think. Even Gandhi thought that Jinnah leaving congress had to do with politics rather than religion. I think we do these personalities a giant disfavor by boxing them into our own rigid thought compartments.

    “If one refutes Gandhi does it mean refuting MLK and AL too.”

    That the preoccupation with Gandhi’s sexual fads is really quite useless. And, yes, I do believe that if you criticize Gandhi on the basis of the religious underpinnings of his message, you can say the same thing about MLK or Tolstoy. Talk to blacks about MLK’s supposed encounter with prostitutes and they will laugh you off. We may not like it but for a bulk of population, religion forms the basis of morality. That’s the way it is, not only in subcontinent but even in the West.

  39. Chote Miyan

    Hayyer,
    “I do not want to hear on loudspeakers the aazan the jaagratras with bhajans the granthis with ..”

    I don’t mind it as long as the person has a nice voice.

  40. Chote Miyan

    “I also hate everyone who sells religion for a living …I make no distinction between Zakir Naik and Shiv Ravi Shankar. Religion itself is the problem so is this nonsense called spirituality. ”

    I totally agree. Anyone who peddles religion for self aggrandizement is a {EDITED}

  41. Majumdar

    Gandhi ki kahaani, Gandhi ki zubaani meticulously researched by my friend Yasser.

    On What Gandhi wanted

    The last week has been very busy. We have not had a moment’s leisure. We saw
    Mr. Theodore Morison of Aligarh and the well-known Mr. Stead of the Review
    of Reviews. Mr. Stead has boldly come out to give us all the help he can. He
    was therefore requested to write to the same Boer leaders that they should
    not consider Indians as being on the same level as Kaffirs

    Indian Opinion, 15-12-1906, CWOMG Vol. 6, pg 183

    On What Gandhi wanted (3)

    CLASSIFICATION OF ASIATICS WITH NATIVES

    The cell was situated in the Native quarters and we were housed in one that
    was labeled ‘For Coloured Debtors’. It was this experience for which we were
    perhaps all unprepared. We had fondly imagined that we would have suitable
    quarters apart from the Natives. As it was, perhaps, just as well that we
    were classed with Natives. We would now be able to study the life of Native
    prisoners, their customs and manners. …Degradation underlay the classing
    of Indians with natives. The Asiatic Act seemed to me to be the summit of
    our degradation. It did appear to me, as I think it would appear to any
    unprejudiced reader, that it would have been simple humanity if we were
    given special quarters. …the Governor of the gaol tried to make us as
    comfortable as he could…But he was powerless to accommodate us beyond the
    horrible din and the yells of the Native prisoners throughout the day and
    partly at night also. Many of the native prisoners are only one degree
    removed from the animal and often created rows and fought amongst themselves
    in their cells.

    Indian Opinion 7-3-1908, CWOMG Vol. 8, pg 120

    Apart from whether or not this implies degradation, I must say it is rather
    dangerous. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized — the convicts even more so.
    They are troublesome, very dirty, and live almost like animals. Each ward
    contains nearly 50 to 60 of them. They often started rows and fought among
    themselves. The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian
    thrown into such company

    Indian Opinion, 7-3-1908, CWOMG Vol. 8, pg 135

    On What Gandhi wanted (2)

    INDIANS ON PAR WITH KAFFIRS

    There, our garments were stamped with the letter ‘N’, which meant that we
    were being classed with the Natives. We were all prepared for hardships, but
    not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with
    the whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed too
    much to put up with. I then felt that Indians had launched on passive
    resistance too soon. Here was further proof that the obnoxious law was
    intended to emasculate the Indians.

    It was, however, as well that we were classified with the Natives. It was a
    welcome opportunity to study the treatment meted out to the Natives, their
    conditions [of life in the gaol] and their habits. …We were given a
    separate ward because we were sentenced to simple imprisonment; otherwise we
    would have been in the same ward [with the Kaffirs]. Indians sentenced to
    hard labour are in fact kept with the Kaffirs.

    Apart from whether or not this implies degradation, I must say it is rather
    dangerous. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilized — the convicts even more so.
    They are troublesome, very dirty, and live almost like animals. Each ward
    contains nearly 50 to 60 of them. They often started rows and fought among
    themselves. The reader can easily imagine the plight of the poor Indian
    thrown into such company

    Indian Opinion, 7-3-1908, CWOMG Vol. 8, pg 135

    On What Gandhi wanted (1)

    I have, though, resolved in my mind on an agitation to ensure that Indian
    prisoners are not lodged with Kaffirs or others. When I arrived at the
    place, there were about 15 Indian prisoners. Except for three, all of them
    were satyagrahis. The three were charged with other offences. These
    prisoners were generally lodged with kaffirs. When I reached there, the
    chief warder issued an order that all of us should be lodged in a separate
    room. I observed with regret that some Indians were happy to sleep in the
    same room as the Kaffirs, the reason being that they hoped there for a
    secret supply of tobacco, etc. This is a matter of shame to us. We may
    entertain no aversion to the Kaffirs, but we cannot ignore the fact that
    there is no common ground between them and us in the daily affairs of life.
    Moreover, those who wish to sleep in the same room have ulterior motives for
    doing so.
    Obviously, we ought to abandon such notions if we want to make progress.

    Indian Opinion, 6-1-1909, CWOMG Vol. 9, pg 149

    On What Gandhi wanted (9)

    Gandhi’s disdain for black people continues:

    It is one thing to register Natives who would not work, and whom it is very
    difficult to find out if they absent themselves, but it is another thing and
    most insulting to expect decent, hard-working, and respectable Indians,
    whose only fault is that they work too much, to have themselves registered

    What is a Coolie, Indian Opinion 2151904, CWOMG Vol. 4, pg 193

    CWOMG: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi

    On What Gandhi wanted (8)

    The whole affair is as much a disgrace to the Indian community as it is to
    the British Empire. The British rulers take us to be so lowly and ignorant
    that they assume that, like the Kaffirs who can be pleased with toys and
    pins, we can also be fobbed off with trinkets

    Indian Opinion, 29-2-1908, CWOMG Vol. 8, pg 105

    CWOMG: Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi

    On What Gandhi wanted (7)

    More on SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL theory of Gandhiji…

    His Excellency has, moreover, justified the definition of ‘coloured person’
    on the ground that it is a legacy from the old Government. But British
    Indians object to the definition for that very reason. Their position is
    this. The ordinances will not in practice apply to them. The Boer Government
    insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs. Now there is no
    occasion to perpetuate a needless insult

    Indians in the O.R.C, Indian Opinion, 6-1-1906, CWOMG, Vol. 5, pg 177-178

    Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi: CWOMG

    On What Gandhi wanted (6)

    More on SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL theory of Gandhiji…

    His Excellency has, moreover, justified the definition of ‘coloured person’
    on the ground that it is a legacy from the old Government. But British
    Indians object to the definition for that very reason. Their position is
    this. The ordinances will not in practice apply to them. The Boer Government
    insulted the Indians by classing them with the Kaffirs. Now there is no
    occasion to perpetuate a needless insult

    Indians in the O.R.C, Indian Opinion, 6-1-1906, CWOMG, Vol. 5, pg 177-178

    Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi: CWOMG

    On What Gandhi wanted (5)

    It reduces British Indians to a status lower than that of the aboriginal
    races of South Africa and the Coloured people.

    Indian Opinion 15-9-1906, CWOMG Vol. 5, pg 419-423

    On What Gandhi wanted (14)

    On Minority White rule in South Africa:

    We, therefore, have no hesitation in agreeing with the view that in the long
    run assisted Asiatic immigration into the Transvaal would be disastrous to
    the white settlement. People will gradually accommodate themselves to
    relying upon Asiatic labour, and any White immigration of the special class
    required in the Transvaal on a large scale will be practically impossible.
    It would be equally unfair to the Natives of the soil. It is all very well
    to say that they would not work, and that, if the Asiatics were introduced,
    that would be a stimulus to work; but human nature is the same everywhere,
    and once Asiatic labour is resorted to, there would not be a sustained
    effort to induce the Natives to work under what would otherwise be, after
    all, gentle compulsion. There would be then less talk about taxing the
    Natives and so forth. Natives themselves, used as they are to a very simple
    mode of life, will always be able to command enough wages to meet their
    wants; and the result will be putting back their progress for an indefinite
    length of time. We have used the words ‘gentle compulsion’ in the best sense
    of the term; we mean compulsion of the same kind that a parent exercises
    over children

    Indian Opinion, 9-7-1903, CWOMG Vol. 3, pg 359-360

    CWOMG: COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI.

    On What Gandhi wanted (13)

    On Minority White rule in South Africa:

    We, therefore, have no hesitation in agreeing with the view that in the long
    run assisted Asiatic immigration into the Transvaal would be disastrous to
    the white settlement. People will gradually accommodate themselves to
    relying upon Asiatic labour, and any White immigration of the special class
    required in the Transvaal on a large scale will be practically impossible.
    It would be equally unfair to the Natives of the soil. It is all very well
    to say that they would not work, and that, if the Asiatics were introduced,
    that would be a stimulus to work; but human nature is the same everywhere,
    and once Asiatic labour is resorted to, there would not be a sustained
    effort to induce the Natives to work under what would otherwise be, after
    all, gentle compulsion. There would be then less talk about taxing the
    Natives and so forth. Natives themselves, used as they are to a very simple
    mode of life, will always be able to command enough wages to meet their
    wants; and the result will be putting back their progress for an indefinite
    length of time. We have used the words ‘gentle compulsion’ in the best sense
    of the term; we mean compulsion of the same kind that a parent exercises
    over children

    Indian Opinion, 9-7-1903, CWOMG Vol. 3, pg
    359-360

    CWOMG: COLLECTED WORKS OF MAHATMA GANDHI.

    On What Gandhi wanted (12)

    What the British Indians pray for is very little. They ask for no political
    power. They admit the British race should be the dominant race in South
    Africa. All they ask for is freedom for those that are now settled and those
    that may be allowed to come in future to trade, to move about, and to hold
    landed property without any hindrance save the ordinary legal requirements

    Petition to Natal Legislature, CWOMG, vol3, pg 330

    On What Gandhi wanted (11)

    Ah… and they said Plessey Vs Ferguson was bad…

    Well here is Gandhi with his theory of “Separate and Unequal”

    …The petition dwells upon “the co-mingling of the Coloured and white
    races”. May we inform the members of the conference that, so far as the
    British Indians are concerned, such a thing is practically unknown? If there
    is one thing, which the Indian cherishes more than any other, it is the
    purity of type. Why bring such a question into the controversy at all?

    The Transvaal Chambers and British Indians, Indian Opinion 24-12-03, CWOMG
    Vol. 4, pg 89

    On What Gandhi wanted (10)

    More on Gandhi’s theory of “separate and unequal”

    Why, of all places in Johannesburg, the Indian Location should be chosen for
    dumping down all the Kaffirs of the town passes my comprehension. …Of
    course, under my suggestion, The Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from
    the Location. About this mixing of Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess
    I feel most strongly

    Indian Opinion, 10-4-04, CWOMG Vol. 4, pg 130-131

    Other Gandhian Statements that we need to consider…

    ‘Sanghtan is a really sound movement. Every community is entitled, indeed
    bound to organize itself as a seperate entity’ : Mahatma Gandhi

    (Young India January 6th 1927)

    A translation of a Gujrati essay he wrote in 1922 for Niya Jawan

    (1) I believe that if Hindu Society has been able to stand it is because it
    is founded on the caste system.
    (2) The seeds of swaraj are to be found in the caste system. Different
    castes are like different sections of miliary division. Each division is
    working for the good of the whole….

    (3) A community which can create the caste system must be said to possess
    unique power of organization.

    (4) Caste has a ready made means for spreading primary education. Each caste
    can take the responsibility for the education of the children of the caste.
    Caste has a political basis. It can work as an electorate for a
    representative body. Caste can perform judicial functions by electing
    persons to act as judges to decide disputes among members of the same caste.
    With castes it is easy to raise a defense force by requiring each caste to
    raise a brigade.

    (5) I believe that interdining or intermarriage are not necessary for
    promoting national unity. That dining together creates friendship is
    contrary to experience. If this was true there would have been no war in
    Europe…. Taking food is as dirty an act as answering the call of nature.
    The only difference is that after answering call of nature we get peace
    while after eating food we get discomfort. Just as we perform the act of
    answering the call of nature in seclusion so also the act of taking food
    must also be done in seclusion.

    (6) In India children of brothers do not intermarry. Do they cease to love
    because they do not intermarry? Among the Vaishnavas many women are so
    orthodox that they will not eat with members of the family nor will they
    drink water from a common water pot. Have they no love? The caste system
    cannot be said to be bad because it does not allow interdining or
    intermarriage between different castes.

    (7) Caste is another name for control. Caste puts a limit on enjoyment.
    Caste does not allow a person to transgress caste limits in pursuit of his
    enjoyment. That is the meaning of such caste restrictions as interdining and
    intermarriage.

    (8) To destroy caste system and adopt Western European social system means
    that Hindus must give up the principle of hereditary occupation which is the
    soul of the caste system. Hereditary principle is an eternal principle. To
    change it is to create disorder. I have no use for a Brahmin if I cannot
    call him a Brahmin for my life. It will be a chaos if every day a Brahmin is
    to be changed into a Shudra and a Shudra is to be changed into a Brahmin.

    (9) The caste system is a natural order of society. In India it has been
    given a religious coating. Other countries not having understood the utility
    of the caste system, it existed only in a loose condition and consequently
    those countries have not derived from caste system the same degree of
    advantage which India has derived. These being my views I am opposed to all
    those who are out to destroy the caste system.

  42. yasserlatifhamdani

    Lal,

    What I have said has been recorded in very clear terms.

    Therefore no point misquoting me.

    There was a qualitative difference…. very late in life Jinnah had to appeal ambiguously to Islamic principles because he was left with no choice… but when he did do so he tried to explain to his people why being modern and democratic and learning modern education and commerce was not unIslamic. The issue of Jinnah’s secularism has to do more with fighting our clergy which in any event was opposed to the creation of Pakistan.

    Gandhi had no reason to use religion except his own Mahatmafication. In retrospect the “mass movement” Gandhi created by using religion did nothing for independence. I have not been able to convince myself that Gandhi’s Movements in any way helped the cause of independence….

    What happened in 1947 was … as Aruna Asaf Ali put it… a transfer of power… a transfer of power that was envisaged as early as 1872. So what did Gandhi’s “mass movement” achieve except make religious identities non-negotiable on the one hand and give the British an excuse to stall on the dominion status (if you don’t believe me read Irwin-Gandhi-Jinnah correspondences of 1929)…

  43. yasserlatifhamdani

    ‘Now perhaps you will give similar advice to YLH, whose writings are based on the principle of “abusing Gandhi’s memory to defend Jinnah”. ‘

    I didn’t know this article was about Jinnah.

    Anyway I don’t have time to waste on a dead Mahatma who is of no consequence to me.

    Rahul Gandhi once said he doesn’t spend 5 minutes thinking about Jinnah…

    I consider even spending one minute thinking about Gandhi a waste of time and effort.

  44. Girish

    YLH: That is quite interesting coming from somebody who has written so much trying to slander Gandhi. It is there for all to see (including in some cases cached versions for material you wrote and then deleted).

    Hayyer: Granted that Jinnah was a secularist in his early career, though that did not prevent him from having double standards from early on, for instance when he claimed to be against separate electorates but went on to benefit from it personally immediately afterwards. In my own reading, his first movement away from secularism happened not in 1937, but when he won from a Muslim seat and started representing Muslims exclusively, so I would challenge even the claims about how long he was a secularist before he turned his back on it.

    BTW, you are still to substantiate three very specific claims you first made about Gandhi.

  45. Gorki

    “If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
    Atticus Finch (To kill a Mockingbird)

    I wanted to stay away and not get drawn into this type of discussion but I should have known better before I posted my comments. A non South Asian observer wrote recently in a US paper, even at the diplomat level, the discussion between Indians and the Pakistanis is one of the most vulgar that any one can remember elsewhere. He wrote that they have developed their own very personal vocabulary of coarse taunts and issue habitual ‘warnings’ to the other against any ‘misadventures’ and promise to ‘teach lessons’ and what not.
    It is depressing because it seems that of all the peoples in the world we South Asians excel at bringing out the worst out of the other side.

    In such a juvenile atmosphere the only hope is that perhaps someday the somewhat sane, liberal and hopefully better informed elements from each side can take a lead in holding a decent conversation regarding issues that affect us both.

    A part of being informed is to learn to judge people not by today’s standards but by those of their times and complete with their set of fears and hopes. As Hayyer pointed out, till 1937 MAJ was a stalwart who was a hope and a dream for the nationalist rational elements in India then. Without going into reasons (which have been covered several times on the PTH) he turned away from the Congress in 1937 after his offer of a coalition was rejected by them.

    Compared to the congress tag team of MKG and JLN who could take turns to use both the faith based and nationalist arguments alternately to keep the congress followers focused on the freedom struggle, MAJ had to do both all by himself in regards to the ML followers.
    Thus his speeches sound as if coming from two different sources, some times even contradictory. However if one were to put up speeches by both MKG and JLN together on one side and all of MAJ’s on the other they would be quite similar in respective faith based and nationalist sentiments (if not the harshness of rhetoric which was a question of style).

    That was MAJ’s compulsion; he was one man trying to be everything to his followers.

    The secularist in JLN failed to stand up to MKG in the 30s and the 40s because he was young; and inexperienced; and in awe of the great man. Above all no one here today really seems to understand the hold MKG had on his followers. He was the congress in those days; standing up to him meant being left out in the cold with fine noble and liberal sentiments but no flock to preach to!
    Gandhi had the kind of messianic hold on his followers that was matched in the 20th century by only one other man; Adolph Hitler. (YLH will get a kick out of this comparison). Mercifully MKG used his magical skills in a lot more ethical way than the German Mahatma (I tip my hat to Majumdar Da for coining that expression).

    Anyway MKG had a rare gift of being able to touch the soul of millions of his mostly illiterate followers in such a way that neither the lack of modern day communication gizmos like phones faxes and computers nor the might of the British power or propaganda could keep him from turning millions of peasants into his ardent, almost robotic disciples.
    Einstein wrote at his death that MKG would be remembered by posterity among the founders of great religions; he was not far off. Gandhi indeed could have started his own religion if he had so desired. JLN instinctively learnt something that people like Bose could not; that the Indian masses were mostly peasants who could not be taught Western ideas of enlightenment by angry and impatient liberals; no matter how well intentioned they may be. For that they needed a Gandhi to communicate those ideas in a language and cues that they could understand and respond to. That was JLN’s compulsion.

    The YLH of today too has a compulsion which is quite similar to that faced by JLN and MAJ. He too has the same maddening and illiterate millions of countrymen who possess a medieval mindset; suspicious of outsiders and their ideas. That drives him crazy.
    His other handicap is that a large number of his countrymen (educated and uneducated alike) have been raised on a staple diet of anti-India rhetoric from the time that they could walk. Only he and a handful others in Pakistan seem to understand that the brand name that they all have been told to hate (India) is the one that holds the key to the dream of a secular and modern Pakistan.
    It would have made their task much easier if the name (brand name) India had been retired in 1947 and India was called something else. Then denying the enemy would not mean denying one’s own heritage. (The old Mughal era name ‘Hindustan’ too sounds too unfortunately un-Islamic for the masses). For all this YLH holds MKG (an easy enough symbol of the congress) responsible.
    YLH is a young man; well intentioned but impatient for change that has become all the more difficult due to the partition and events surrounding it.
    That is his compulsion.

    MKG was human too. Regardless of his western training and noble impulses rooted in enlightenment, he was an Indian and a Hindu. He was both fascinated and revolted by his ancient roots. In his personal life he experimented with weird theories and ideas but like every other human of some consequence who walked this planet, he evolved with age and experience.

    It is no surprise that the MKG of 1947 was a very different man than one who once went to South Africa. He too evolved just like the Siddhartas, the Ashokas, the St. Augustines, the Emperor Akbars, before him and the MAJs along with him. To hold him alone to a difficult and a different standard from all others is unfair. MKG possessed a noble spirit with an inherently strong honest streak in it which forced him to own up everything and anything he had ever done or thought of doing in his long life; he did it without any embarrassment. Perhaps that was his compulsion.

    Finally Gandhi saw himself not only as a politician out to win political freedom but also as a social reformer who saw the superstitious and irrational beliefs of his coreligionists and the modern liberal in him found it offensive. He understood that to reform his deeply religious people one had to couch the liberal message in a religious language that they all could relate to. There was then no other ‘western enlightened liberal’ besides him who was willing to get down and dirty with the Indian peasants so as to communicate that message to them.
    That too was his compulsion.

    Regards.

  46. Gandhi was not secular, His personal beliefs, his views on Non violance and State Army, his views on Heavy Industry all have nothing to do with the modern India and its reconstruction on Secularism, Nationalism and Industrialism is a landmark achievement. It is though undeniable that he is a great personality of South Asia. We are proud of the Mahaatma Jee….

  47. karun1

    Waiting for Gandhi
    By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
    Published: July 9, 2010

    Despite being stoned and tear-gassed on this trip, I find a reed of hope here. It’s that some Palestinians are dabbling in a strategy of nonviolent resistance that just might be a game-changer.

    The organizers hail the methods of Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., recognizing that nonviolent resistance could be a more powerful tool to achieve a Palestinian state than rockets and missiles. Bilin is one of several West Bank villages experimenting with these methods, so I followed protesters here as they marched to the Israeli security fence.

    Most of the marchers were Palestinians, but some were also Israeli Jews and foreigners who support the Palestinian cause. They chanted slogans and waved placards as photographers snapped photos. At first the mood was festive and peaceful, and you could glimpse the potential of this approach.

    But then a group of Palestinian youths began to throw rocks at Israeli troops. That’s the biggest challenge: many Palestinians define “nonviolence” to include stone-throwing.

    Soon after, the Israeli forces fired volleys of tear gas at us, and then charged. The protesters fled, some throwing rocks backward as they ran. It’s a far cry from the heroism of Gandhi’s followers, who refused even to raise their arms to ward off blows as they were clubbed.

    (I brought my family with me on this trip, and my kids experienced the gamut: we were stoned by Palestinian kids in East Jerusalem, and tear-gassed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank.)

    Another problem with these protests, aside from the fact that they aren’t truly nonviolent, is they typically don’t much confound the occupation authorities.

    But imagine if Palestinians stopped the rock-throwing and put female pacifists in the lead. What if 1,000 women sat down peacefully on a road to block access to an illegal Jewish settlement built on Palestinian farmland? What if the women allowed themselves to be tear-gassed, beaten and arrested without a single rock being thrown? Those images would be on televisions around the world — particularly if hundreds more women marched in to replace those hauled away.

    “This is what Israel is most afraid of,” said Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, a prominent Palestinian who is calling for a nonviolent mass movement. He says Palestinians need to create their own version of Gandhi’s famous 1930 salt march.

    One genuinely peaceful initiative is a local boycott of goods produced by Jewish settlements on the West Bank. Another is the weekly demonstrations in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah against evictions of Palestinians there. And in Gaza, some farmers have protested Israel’s no-go security zones by publicly marching into those zones, even at the risk of being shot.

    So far there is no Palestinian version of Martin Luther King Jr. But one candidate might be Ayed Morrar. A balding, mild-mannered activist, he was the mastermind behind the most successful initiative so far: nonviolent demonstrations a half-dozen years ago in the West Bank village of Budrus against Israel’s construction of a security fence there. More than many other Palestinians, he has a shrewd sense of public relations.

    “With nonviolent struggle, we can win the media battle,” Mr. Morrar told me, speaking in English. “They always used to say that Palestinians are killers. With nonviolence, we can show that we are victims, that we are not against Jews but are against occupation.”

    Mr. Morrar spent six years in Israeli prisons but seems devoid of bitterness. He says that Israel has a right to protect itself by building a fence — but on its own land, not on the West Bank.

    Most Palestinian demonstrations are overwhelmingly male, but in Budrus women played a central role. They were led by Mr. Morrar’s quite amazing daughter, Iltezam Morrar. Then 15, she once blocked an Israeli bulldozer by diving in front of it (the bulldozer retreated, and she was unhurt).

    Israeli security forces knew how to deal with bombers but were flummoxed by peaceful Palestinian women. Even when beaten and fired on with rubber bullets, the women persevered. Finally, Israel gave up. It rerouted the security fence to bypass nearly all of Budrus.

    The saga is chronicled in this year’s must-see documentary “Budrus,” a riveting window into what might be possible if Palestinians adopted civil disobedience on a huge scale. In a sign of interest in nonviolent strategies, the documentary is scheduled to play in dozens of West Bank villages in the coming months, as well as at international film festivals.

    I don’t know whether Palestinians can create a peaceful mass movement that might change history, and their first challenge will be to suppress the stone-throwers and bring women into the forefront. But this grass-roots movement offers a ray of hope for less violence and more change.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/opinion/11kristof.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage

  48. Chote Miyan

    Gorki,
    I must say I haven’t read a post like yours in a long, long time. Thank you for saying it so succinctly. I should save it for future reference, if you don’t mind. I think the following lines perfectly capture the dilemma facing anyone who has tried to do something of a consequence in the subcontinent.

    “He understood that to reform his deeply religious people one had to couch the liberal message in a religious language that they all could relate to. There was then no other ‘western enlightened liberal’ besides him who was willing to get down and dirty with the Indian peasants so as to communicate that message to them.”

    That is essentially my problem with the “enlightened liberals.” They just fail to understand their constituents and more often than not, run down their intelligence. It’s ok to criticize Gandhi, but we could do well to remember that it’s the tip of the spear that gets blunt. It’s all very well to say that freedom was just like a ripe apple waiting to fall in our lap. What the same people fail to realize that it took years of work to get the country ready for it. I am just going to quote verbatim from another column that was posted here a few days ago:
    “The grass-root approach adopted by Congress, particularly Gandhi — going to villages to raise awareness — also helped in establishing democracy on a stronger footing than in Pakistan where the Muslim League co-opted feudal elements.”

  49. Prasad

    Why should Gandhi be declared as a Secularist? what for? and further What did he do to deserve abuses from rastachaaps?? Disgusting to say the least

    To understand what Gandhi did in bringing in righteous values of fabled Ram into Indian Politics, writers here should know the core of Hindu way of life. I am an atheist however I understand why Gandhi brought in Ram into politics (pls note I am deliberately not bringing in the word ‘religion’ since it has no relevance in Gandhi’s style of freedom struggle and inclusive participation of Indian society in the movement)

    That in noway meant he followed ‘Hindu Religion’ ie practising Shudratwa, encouraging Sati etc ( Please note belief in God has nothing to do with Belief in RELIGION – both are completely different)

    Gandhi incidentally was an out and out capitalist with a vision to build/grow/develop everything inhouse. It is not coincidental that he blessed almost all the big business tycoons of that era

    What Gandhi did to Kasturba or for that matter his children is none of anybodys business ( it is between him and his wife)

    Souls like Gandhi grace mother Earth only once in a few thousand years.

  50. Prasad

    Brilliant post by Gorki //July 12, 2010 at 11:25 am //

    Thank you.

  51. Harriss Khan

    for all jandhi lovers read, schedule caste leader Dr. AMBATKAR’s book, what gandhi did to us.
    Now gandhi said all the good about muslims for his personal political sake as JINNAH was not a meniac to leave him for a different course.

  52. AKA

    Great leaders are great for their struggles and their ideals. Behind their lofty ideals and struggles lies a complex and fallible character. Vulnerable and utterly human, prone to tragedy, hope and sadness like any other human being.

    Yes Gandhi was a great leader, but he also has his flaws. He could not fully appreciate the concerns of India’s minorities, indeed arguably no Hindu leader could hope to understand this. Indeed today this has precipitated the Muslim minority in India is struggling, as seen in this article:

    In numbers

    Muslims form 14.7% of India’s 1.1 billion population but only

    3% or less of the Indian army

    7% of public administrators

    5% of the railways staff

    3.5% of the country’s banking employees

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/05/india.randeepramesh1

    The caste system is still finding support in India even among the urbanized elites:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/24/caste-india-marriage

    In India the political elite have practiced token politics towards the Muslim minority with no substantial social or economic engagement, to the extent Muslims are doing the worst in India:

    http://www.twocircles.net/2009mar03/indian_muslims_annually_lose_over_rs_64_000_crores.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/6159178.stm

    Practicing token and symbolic expressions of tolerance is shallow and superificial and for too long India has does exactly does.

    Jinnah was no theocrat that much is known, indeed he is a secularist, (some argue in the British, personally I see him more in the American tradition). He was a champion of minority rights, indeed his liberalism informed this, a regard for minority rights.

    Jinnah’s project was in the end a defence of minoritarian rights.

    Indeed many political theorists such as Robert Dahl would agree with Jinnah that a certain form of homogenity is needed for a democracy to work.
    Gandhi’s greatest failure is perhaps that his beloved nation has turned its back on his vision for India. In the end in India everyone pay lip-service to Gandhi in false admiration but few are willing to tackle the thorny issue of what Gandhi actually said about economics for instance, which is hopelessly utopian, and is more airy fairy guru spirtuality than hard empirical analysis.

    The epic of Gandhi is such that as soon as it tries to enter the corridors of power it fails. Gandhi was always best suited to staying outside the corridors of political power. This is his paradox, he fought for independence but could never find a seat at the table of India’s future political path.

    At heart he was a social reformer and spiritual leader, a populist leader. Such personalities can never take on the burden of political leadership in office.

  53. Tilsim

    @ Gorki

    I appreciated your comment very much.

  54. lal

    @gorki
    gr8 again sir.thanks for summarising the arguments and guiding everybody back to our sensible self.as o some of u elders in this forum believes,we have no problem with YLH as a person or for that matter Jinnah.ofcos the words that some among use may not amuse u,but u kno dat we get back as much or more than we give.so it is a fair deal.i dont think there is any undercurrent of hostility.
    @ylh,actually ur views on gandhi and jinnah is known to anybody who has been in pth for some time.i think raza sahib is on record somewhere in PTH that he doesnt agree with u on gandhi.it will be nice to kno other pakistani views on gandhi.this post has been dominated too much by indians.

    @ gorki

    “The YLH of today too has a compulsion which is quite similar to that faced by JLN and MAJ. He too has the same maddening and illiterate millions of countrymen who possess a medieval mindset; suspicious of outsiders and their ideas. That drives him crazy”

    is ylh starting a new religion of jinnaism with himself as the prophet🙂

    ( @ylh….if u have any plans of putting me in some basket and abuse me dont call me right wing fanatic pig and gandhian in the same sentence🙂 )

  55. yasserlatifhamdani

    Yawn.

  56. yasserlatifhamdani

    Girish mian,

    Reproducing Gandhi’s views from his collected works is not slandering him.

    Do you want me to reproduce some of what he said without my commentary?

  57. Girish

    YLH: you can reproduce what you want. There will be nothing new in that – you will bring out the same tired quotes, which we have seen repeatedly. But if you have time to waste, it is your choice. Your slander, including comments that you wrote just a few days ago on another thread and then asked the moderator to delete are available online (most content being cached quite quickly). So please, don’t insult everybody’s intelligence by pretending that slandering Gandhi has not been one of your main agendas. Perhaps the second most important agenda after raising Jinnah to the status of a virtual prophet.

    BTW, if you were so unbiased and focused on the truth, you would not delete or edit posts that have nothing but quotes from Jinnah, merely because they happen to be inconvenient. Posts that had no other content and can therefore not be accused of any violation of etiquette or any other offence. You and/or other moderators have done that even relatively recently.

    Gorki: brilliant post.

  58. Ravi

    I just want to make one point about all the slander on Gandhi. Most of it was acknowledged by the man himself. He wrote books about it! So this is some inverse logic where the self same confessions are used to pillory the man. As if he wasn’t human.

    And frankly ylh, i giggled when i read the bit about what you think of the man contrary to what the world thinks. Maybe you are preaching your gospel to the wrong audience. As if to spite ylh…there is Mr. Kristoff today. Anyway…ylh you need to take a less biased view of history. You are an intelligent and persuasive man, make that very intelligent and you can make a real change if you could show a little more subtelity.
    And Gorky sahib = word.

  59. Hayyer

    Girish:

    Nothing to it.
    1. Had he been allowed his way he would surely have introduced religion into governance.
    He was old and feeble after 1946. ‘No one listens to me anymore’ or some such thing he said in 46. Had he been the vigorous Gandhi of the 30s whom only Bose had the guts to oppose he would insisted on religious imprint t0 the constitution. He died in Jan’48 and of course no one listened to him any more. Thank God!

    2. So, no, Gandhi was not a believer in secular governance.
    If your politics is religious as Gandhi’s was, or as he wanted it, then your politics will enter your notions of government. Stands to reason.
    Ramrajya as a synonym for good governance? Sorry, it does not wash. How about all those gender and untouchable issues under Ram’s rule? Even as a metaphor Ram Raj fails.

    and
    3. You practice your stuff and I practice mine and if possible let us both take over the government.
    Why, I thought that is the very thing he was attempting when he wooed Muslim fundamentalists, starting with the Khilafat movement.
    Only Gandhi could have referred to Jinnah as the Mohammadan gentleman at the Gujrati get together in 1916. He had religion on his brain.

    Jinnah had no choice but to stand on a Muslim seat because that is how things were. He deprecated the need even as he got elected because there was no other way to get elected. That is also why he got his Parsi wife converted to Islam before marrying her. He was not allowed to marry a Parsi.

    But this thread is about Gandhi’s secularism. Gandhi was so constituted that he could not have been secular in any aspect of his existence.
    He was religiously tolerant, but full of religious whims and eccentricities.

  60. Hayyer

    Quite aside from governance, the word secular means…”Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body”. Gandhi was incapable of such disassociation.

  61. Girish

    Sorry, Hayyer. I thought you knew better than to present your own opinions as support for claims.

    In your worldview, everything Jinnah did, even some terrible things was because of what others and society forced him to do. Everything had a context. Everything Gandhi did was unvarnished evil, without context and without a justification. You are free to hold that opinion, but then don’t complain when your already eroding credibility plumbs new depths.

  62. Girish

    Now coming to specifics of your so-called support for your claims. The “nobody listens to me anymore” was about a very different issue, not about religion in politics. You base your claims on hypotheticals on what he could have done, but he himself could not have been more unambiguous about the desire to keep religion purely in the personal sphere, and out of governance. It is not a hypothetical issue at all, if you were to only open your eyes. The quotes are in this very thread.

    On the Ram Rajya issue, you have answered yourself. The concept, which is not a new one, does not relate to specifics of what the mythical Ram’s rule was about. Ram was not even a historical person. But it was about an idealized condition of justice and fairplay. In Gandhi’s own words,

    “Sometimes we tread a dangerous path in believing that Rama and Krishna were historical entities and we are compelled to take recourse to all manner of arguments to prove that”

    He was not referring to any historical kingdom and trying to follow its rule (which in any case we don’t know anything about with any reliability, even if it actually existed). As he himself clarified, it was about the sense of justice and fairplay.

    That said, when it mattered, he was totally unambiguous in stating that religion had nothing to do with the state. He was more unambiguous about this than the contemporaneous Jinnah was, by an order of magnitude.

    Your comments on Khilafat and what that meant are pure conjecture. If you took the trouble to read what he himself said at the time and later about the motivations for aligning with the Khilafat movement, you would perhaps understand this better. But seemingly, you have no time to read anything other than what YLH writes about it, as your references to his comments show.

  63. Hayyer

    Gorki:

    You are admirably gentle and understanding. If you will permit a rogue pov-:

    “JLN instinctively learnt something that people like Bose could not; that the Indian masses were mostly peasants who could not be taught Western ideas of enlightenment by angry and impatient liberals; no matter how well intentioned they may be. For that they needed a Gandhi to communicate those ideas in a language and cues that they could understand and respond to.”

    I don’t think those poor peasants learned anything about secularism or democracy from the Mahatma; but they did learn, as is their wont, to worship him.
    Ambedkar was right about the Indian villager and the Mahatma was wrong.

    “That was JLN’s compulsion.”

    JLN’s compulsion was his hope to be PM. I am sorry that I sound so harsh, but these fellows were no saints. They were, including Jinnah, ordinary humans like you and me. ‘… we are little men serving a great cause. Because the cause is great some of that greatness falls on us also’ as JLN did say.

    By the way, did Gandhi ever do one of his guided peasant tours in the Punjab? If he did they seem to have had remarkably little effect. (This last para is not addressed to Gorki)

  64. Hayyer

    Girish:

    My credibility or lack thereof is not the point. It is Gandhi’s that we are discussing. Of course what I have said is my opinion. Of course you can refute it and question my credibility. My views on Gandhi predate my introduction to YLH, but I am indebted to him for his quotes on his anti black prejudices. I don’t keep copies but they are all there on PTH if you can locate them.

    On Jinnah YLH and I have differed comprehensively, from the first day of my visit to PTH, sometimes quite acertically, but as a late comer you would not have read the early comments. If you have the time, and the inclination to read trivia you would have to go back to about 2008 August I think. Please do not spin theory from partial information.

  65. Hayyer

    acerbically not acertically

  66. Girish

    Hayyer:

    I agree with the idea that everybody, Gandhi certainly included, was human. They were not saints. They had human instincts and human failings.

    JLN’s desire for power was no different from MAJ’s desire for power, over a part of India if he could not lord over all of India. The key difference lay in the means they used to get that power and the lasting harm the latter caused for the future of one fifth of humanity in that rush for power. Perhaps he himself tried to undo in the last year of his life what he had done in the previous few years, but it was clearly a case of too little too late.

  67. Girish

    Hayyer:

    Please note the word, “seemingly” that I have used in my post. I acknowledge clearly that I nay not have complete information.

    When I get the time, I will certainly look at some of these past discussions you refer to. If you have written about these issues elsewhere, perhaps on a blog of your own or anywhere else, please let me know so that I can have more complete information. Thanks.

  68. Chote Miyan

    Girish,
    I guess people have attachment to different personalities based on some personal beliefs rather than hard core logical evidence. Objectivity is a much maligned word. Like you, I have been rather disappointed by Hayyer’s arguments.

    “I don’t think those poor peasants learned anything about secularism or democracy from the Mahatma..”

    If democracy is about one man one vote, they did learn a lot. If you have ever talked to some of the older folks in villages who had heard Gandhi they will tell you that for them, the illiterate folks, casting a vote was a religious duty or Dharma as they call it. It may be a wrong way to sell something, but as Gorki mentioned it, he had his compulsions. Above all, he was a religious man. Apart from the communist folks, I have never heard anyone anywhere not include religion when they are trying something similar. Once again, I will mention Lincoln when he undertook the Civil war. It may not appeal to your logical instincts(nor does it to me), but it has held us in good stead.

    “Jinnah had no choice but to stand on a Muslim seat because that is how things were. … That is also why he got his Parsi wife converted to Islam before marrying her…”

    I must say, arguments like that take my breath away. I don’t know if he is complimenting Jinnah or deriding him. I guess Jinnah’s insistence on his daughter marrying a Muslim can also be similarly explained.

    That Hayyer keeps harping on the Ram Rajya stuff surprises me. It was meant as a concept. How hard is it to understand that? If we are talking about untouchability, who did more than him to decry that evil concept and do concrete things to eradicate it rather than give homilies from a podium.

    Hayyer,
    I am quite disappointed by your arguments. Most of us who criticize Jinnah don’t have such a illogical hatred for him. I must admit that I am a little confused about Jinnah now. Before coming here, I took Sarojini Naidu’s description of Jinnah to the heart(no matter how biased it was, since it seems like she had a huge crush on him.) Now, I am not sure whether to understand him as a splendid idealist whose politics was borne out of frustration, or a cold-calculating politician who played his politics as a poker player. Well, if you do that, you should be ready for losing as well.

  69. Chote Miyan

    Hayyer,

    “My views on Gandhi predate my introduction to YLH, but I am indebted to him for his quotes on his anti black prejudices.”

    I am quite shocked that you didn’t know that bit of info before coming here. That is very widely known as well as his subsequent recant.

  70. Hayyer

    chote miyan:

    I am sorry that you should have a lesser view of me than hitherto, but such is life, win some lose more.

    “I am not sure whether to understand him as a splendid idealist whose politics was borne out of frustration, or a cold-calculating politician who played his politics as a poker player.”

    Life isn’t digital. We are more nuanced than your statement would have us.

    To briefly resume my labour-

    “That Hayyer keeps harping on the Ram Rajya stuff surprises me. It was meant as a concept”

    Indeed! By whom? You may be privy to the evolution of the concept; for me religious reference is to be shunned like the plague. I am not preaching here, it is my practice. If some fellows feel that there is no harm in it I am willing to demonstrate a contrary point of view. Your Ramrajya is not compatible with my dar ul harm, even metaphorically speaking.

    “If democracy is about one man one vote, they did learn a lot. If you have ever talked to some of the older folks in villages who had heard Gandhi they will tell you that for them, the illiterate folks, casting a vote was a religious duty or Dharma as they call it. It may be a wrong way to sell something, but as Gorki mentioned it, he had his compulsions. Above all, he was a religious man. Apart from the communist folks, I have never heard anyone anywhere not include religion when they are trying something similar.”

    The poor peasants of Punjab fervently believe in one man and one vote and they never heard Gandhi’s lectures. Nor have the million of peasants in the rest of the world who never heard Gandhi, and who still believe in one man one vote.
    Let us not be so patronizing of the peasants. They are normal humans like us and they are just as intelligent. They didn’t learn their first principles from Gandhi.

    On the so called scheduled castes, untouchables, Harijans it is best to rely on Ambedkar. Gandhi was patronizing, as his followers still are. Gandhi was not a rural fellow. He invented the myth of the ideal village. Anyone who has lived in or near an Indian village knows what an ugly place it is, mentally and physically. Gandhi’s first visit to a village must have been at the age of 50 or thereabouts and they must have been out in their Sunday best.
    Let us remember that anti SC prejudice is strong in the upper classes despite Gandhi and that they are fighting their own battles as dalits not as Gandhi’s harijan.

  71. Karaya

    This should be a cracker of a thread.🙂

    Shahran,

    The Jinnah being secular debate is usually a solid one, even though one side does, more often than not, have the upper hand. Gandhi being secular might turn out to be somewhat lop sided. But, kudos, for trying.

    Of course, this whole exercise in ‘blaming’ the G-man for not being secular is a futile exercise—there was no other way to be a mass politician in South Asia at the time (and things aren’t awfully different even today, to be honest).

    Yasser,

    What happened in 1947 was … as Aruna Asaf Ali put it… a transfer of power… a transfer of power that was envisaged as early as 1872. So what did Gandhi’s “mass movement” achieve except make religious identities non-negotiable on the one hand and give the British an excuse to stall on the dominion status (if you don’t believe me read Irwin-Gandhi-Jinnah correspondences of 1929)…

    Why ‘1872’, specifically? But yeah, I think we’ll all agree that 1947 was no revolution. Just a transfer of power to the Congress and AIML.

    Btw, there’s an interesting thesis by Jalal (which I’m sure you must be aware of) which seeks to explain democracy in India (in whatever form) as an outcome of the politicisation of Hindu India by Gandhi/the Congress. The AIML (or any other political force), of course, could do nothing of the sort in the areas that now constitute Pakistan. So maybe the mass movements (no need for any qualifiers because the Congress did launch fairly popular movements, whatever be their end outcome) weren’t totally useless.

    Another benefit, from the Congress POV of course, was the ginormous bargaining power the Congress had with the British when the End-Game was being played out because the Congress could, at any time, threaten to launch a mass movement which could seriously imperil the Raj. The AIML of course had no such stick, which is one reason why the British could afford to treat the leader of one-fourth of India with such utter disdain.

  72. Majumdar

    Those who have no problem with Ram Rajya shud have no problem with Hukumat-e-Ilahi as well. Both mean rule of God and according to their adherents, merely just rule on this world.

    Regards

  73. Firstly there was no ‘partition’ as the subcontinent was never one country. Secondly Gandhi’s hatred towards blacks (blacks as in people of African descent) and women is well documented.

    While Gandhi and India are paraded as the secular peace lovers and Jinnah and Pakistan Islamist radicals, the truth is quite the opposite.

  74. yasserlatifhamdani

    “The Jinnah being secular debate is usually a solid one, even though one side does, more often than not, have the upper hand. Gandhi being secular might turn out to be somewhat lop sided. But, kudos, for trying.”

    Ian Talbot is usually seen as unsympathetic towards Jinnah…. and he is certainly the favorite of Sadna Gupta clique with his biography of Khizer Hayat Tiwana…

    Well I think since you brought it up… Ian Talbot’s biographical note on Jinnah from page 387 of “Pakistan A Modern History”:

    “Jinnah is still revered as Pakistan’s founding father. Islamists improbably And secularists more soundly have attempted to claim his mantle. Recent revisionist scholarship has speculated that Partition was the unintended consequence of his trumpeting the Pakistan demand as a bargaining counter for power in a United India”.

    I hope this was the “one side” you spoke of.

    I don’t wish to comment on the other point… I do not have any high opinion of mob rule masquerading as democracy anywhere. If that were true, Pakistan is the most democratic society on earth.

    Democracy is representative rule… based on logic. It is not about your MP getting the local thanedar to get your buffalos released from the local thug.

  75. yasserlatifhamdani

    First educate yourselves gentlemen…. on some basic facts. For example… whatever nominal conversion Ruttie went through was because the law did not allow – at the time – marriage between two people of different faiths without each renouncing their faith. Since Jinnah was the leading Muslim member of the Congress at the time and had joined League at the insistence of Gokhale to bring it closer to Congress… this would have been disastrous. Jinnah actually tabled the original bill towards the law that finally allowed inter-faith marriage … but sadly it was passed in India only in 1949… and did not pass in Pakistan. Ruttie, who brought Ham sandwiches for Jinnah to work, was the farthest thing from a Muslim… and Jinnah liked her that way. After all on two different occasions Jinnah walked out – once at Lady Willingdon’s dinner party … once from Begum of Bhopal’s palace- after both ladies objected to Mrs. Jinnah’s fashionable low cut dresses. Similarly Ruttie Jinnah lectured every year from 1920-1924 in Duke University on Theosophy and Indian Philosophy. She didn’t do so as a Muslim.

    So gentlemen… get a life… defending Gandhi’s oddities by beating up on Jinnah (and that too based on lies) is hardly a technique worth much. But since this is about Gandhi not Jinnah… can someone tell us why Gandhi had a nervous breakdown when his son converted to Islam? And let us not even touch Nehru’s problems with Feroz “Gandhi”.

    Also it would help… if someone looked at the meaning of the word “slander” and how it might be applied. Quoting Gandhi’s absolutely disgusting racist views against black people… or quoting Ambedkar’s views on Gandhi cannot be called “Slander”.

  76. Girish

    Here is what Gandhi wrote on his son’s conversion.

    “TO MY NUMEROUS MUSLIM FRIENDS

    The newspaper report that about a fortnight ago my eldest son Harilal, now nearing fifty years, accepted Islam and that on Friday last 29th May in the midst of a large congregation in the Juma Masjid at Bombay he was permitted to announce his acceptance amid great acclamation and that after his speech was finished, he was besieged by his admirers who vied with one another to shake hands with him. If his acceptance was from the heart and free from any worldly considerations, I should have no quarrel. For I believe Islam to be as true a religion as my own.

    What Gandhi said in the same letter was that he was pained by the fact that pecuniary considerations, rather than his conscience, was driving Harilal’s conversion “to the highest bidder” (Harilal, who was deeply in debt, had written to the press about converting either to Christianity or Islam, not done so when he got a job and then converted to Islam later when he again had monetary difficulties).

    Nehru married his daughter off to a Parsi, didn’t he? There is any case nothing whatsoever to suggest that disagreements he had with Feroze before or after his marriage to Indira had anything to do with his religion. They did have political differences, but on issues totally unrelated to religion. In Jinnah’s case, his rift with Dina Wadia was precisely because she was marrying a non-Muslim.

  77. YLH

    Yawn. Not another genius who buys history off of the publisher’s bookshelf.

    “married his daughter off to a parsi didn’t he”

    Excuse me? Ha ha… ROTFL. FYI Nehru was opposed to the marriage… Indira insisted on marrying Feroze… just as Dina insisted. Amazing… Nehru opposes the marriage… but Indira marries and Girish mian declares: “married his daughter off to a parsi didn’t he” … what nonsense. Then are you suggesting that Jinnah somehow managed to stop his daughter’s marriage? Or that he got estranged… that second bit is historical fiction and nothing else.

    (An aside: those who know a bit about history know that Feroze “Gandhi” was not a Parsi nor was Gandhi his last name… he was from a far more sinister faith…. But let us leave that aside for now… because we don’t want to get into controversial stuff and I would’t want to name my sources which include people who have known Pandit Nehru personally. In any event… it is not Jawaharlal Nehru who is the issue here.)

    Now … Jinnah’s objection to Dina’s wedding is subject of much conjecture but there isn’t even a single primary source evidence about what Jinnah’s objection actually was. On the other hand, we know that Jinnah did not bring up Dina as a Muslim, did not make any effort to have her schooled in the Quran and brought her up in boarding school in England. At best- if Jinnah objected- it could have been the same reason Ruttie nominally converted to Islam… lack of legislation allowing inter-faith marriage– legislation which Jinnah had himself worked towards and failed at getting passed. And mind you there was no “rift” between Jinnah and Dina. That too is made up- there is absolutely nothing in Jinnah’s letters to Dina and her responses that establishes this… on the contrary as Patrick French points out they always ends with “lots of love, hugs” etc … hardly an “estrangement”… and those biographers who have claimed so have only repeated Pakistani officials’ claims and we know the penchant of Pakistani officials to lie about the Quaid.

    Otherwise Jinnah’s primary objection to Neville Wadia – it seems – was Neville Wadia’s own colorful reputation… Jinnah believed that Wadia was not a good match… and he turned out to be right when Neville and Dina divorced only a few years later. Dina did not then become a Muslim woman… but her relationship with her father was perfectly alright. Read Patrick French’s Liberty or Death where he too disputes the story of Jinnah’s rift with his daughter. So you can spin it any which way… but I am afraid facts cannot be denied.

    And mind you… Jinnah’s personal objections -whatever they were and by no means does the record show that these were religious objections- are completely irrelevant to the issue of secularism (same is true of Gandhi’s objection to his son’s conversion and Nehru’s objection to his daughter’s marriage to a Mu… hmm… ok “Parsi”). Are we suggesting for example that the entire Parsi community is non-secular because it does not allow marriage out of the faith doctrinally? I know many parsis who are very strict about marriages out of the faith but believe in a secular state… Ismaili Khojas are the most secular of all Muslims… and untill recently all marriages outside Ismaili sect were banned.

    As for Gandhi’s “apology” for his behavior later… the truth is that Gandhi was deeply upset by his son’s conversion to Islam and flew off the handle. This “letter” did not appear till much later. It is typical hypocrisy ofcourse and nothing else in my view.

  78. There is a brilliant play Gandhi vs. Mahatma, by Feroz Khan that explores the father-son relationship. Whatever else, brilliant art came from this tragic relationship.

    http://www.ferozkhan.com/fz_mahatmasynopsis.htm

    http://www.rediff.com/news/1998/feb/23nandy.htm

  79. YLH

    BTW… that Indians have been forced to defend Gandhi by making up stories about Jinnah’s personal life just shows how indefensible Gandhi’s case really is. Gandhi was NOT secular by any stretch of imagination. And Gandhi laid the foundations of poisoning politics with religion.

    Many many perceptive and honest Indians have accepted this fact. So it doesn’t matter if a few still insist that this amounts to “slander”.

  80. MOMIN

    For Pakistan Jinnah will always be a better leader and visionary then Gandhi after all they grew up with this.
    http://www.sdpi.org/whats_new/reporton/State%20of%20Curr&TextBooks.pdf

    They have invented their Logic and worldview with an education system which glorifies their perception .

  81. YLH

    Majumdar’s post outlining Gandhi’s views on black people and Gandhi’s real views on caste has been approved above.

  82. Girish

    Double yawn!

    Point to one made up story about Jinnah on this thread before making baseless accusations. The only reason I have referred to Jinnah on this thread is to show that that by the standards applied by people on this blog in declaring Jinnah the greatest secular icon, Gandhi was definitely secular and more consistently so in the last few years of his life than Jinnah in the same period.

    I guess you must be aware of M C Chagla, a more personally connected and reliable source than your favorite Patrick French on the personal relationship between Jinnah and his daughter. I did not first bring up this issue about Jinnah. I only referred to it by way of contrast.

    To the contrary, you have told lies and half truths in this very thread. For instance, your reference to Gandhi’s nervous breakdown on the conversion of his son (first there is no evidence of any nervous breakdown and second, his public statement on the issue shows that he had no objection to his son’s conversion to Islam due to the religion itself, but due to the other well-documented aspects of his son’s character). There is no evidence to show that Nehru objected to his daughter’s wedding to Feroze because of his religion. And there is no evidence to show that Feroze was a Muslim as the conspiracy theories that you seem to buy in totality state. There is evidence to the effect that Jinnah’s objection to Dina’s wedding was on account of Neville’s faith.

    By “marrying off his daughter”, the point was that Nehru accepted the wedding and conducted it in his ancestral home, Anand Bhavan. Did Jinnah attend Dina Wadia’s wedding? (I ask only because I don’t know the answer to this question and a search on the topic has not helped).

  83. Girish

    YLH:

    Do you want to embarrass yourself by being pointed to the slander that you have posted online, on this blog and elsewhere? Entirely your comments, not quotes from anywhere.

  84. Veerappan

    EDITED.

  85. Girish

    I think most of the points have been made and now onwards, people will only be repeating themselves. Hence, I will stop posting on this thread, except to defend myself from attacks on my person by some of the esteemed members here.

    There are some who are convinced that Gandhi was evil incarnate. At the other extreme, there are some who think that he was a saint. Similarly, there are those who consider Jinnah to be just one step lower than a prophet, while others think of him as a devil. And then there are many of us who think of both of them as human, with their own high points and low points, their own compulsions and their own circumstances. Gorki’s post is a good example of that point of view.

    My only suggestion to all is to examine the evidence from all sides before coming to conclusions. And to use similar standards while judging different personalities. I have read Zakaria as well as Jalal. Hodson as well as Bourke-White. Chagla as well as Seervai. Wolpert as well as Gopal. Talbott as well as Brass. The list continues. And by no means can I consider myself fully knowledgeable about the issue – I am still learning. Unlike some here who in their arrogance think they know everything there is to know.

  86. YLH

    Girish mian,

    I think you don’t understand the English language terribly well. I have already explained why the story of Jinnah’s estrangement with his daughter is a figment of Pakistan’s state sponsored hagiography to prove Jinnah to be the great apostle of Islam sadly picked up by some but not all western scholars. Your Jamaat-e-Islami brothers believe in it as much as you do.

    My point however was that Jinnah’s or for that matter Nehru’s or Gandhi’s objections to their children’s choices were immaterial to the question of secularism. Hayyer has argued this point very well. But I too have added a fair bit with the obvious example of Parsis as a community as well as Ismaili Muslims till last decade.

    So let us leave it aside shall we…

    On the question of Jinnah’s secularism… we have Ian Talbot (who is no Jinnah-sympathizer) saying that Secularists have plausibly laid claim to the mantle of Mr. Jinnah… refer above to my earlier post. This is the same Ian Talbot whose book on Tiwana is the article of faith with Indians such as yourself.

    So far your inability to defend Gandhi’s so called “Secularism” has been hilarious. As for the slander, I maintain: Gandhi was a racist casteist Hindu fascist supremacist misogynist bigot…. but this is not slander. This is a conclusion based on the writings of Gandhi the medieval Hindu fascist.

    On Khilafat Movement you accused of Hayyer of only reading “YLH”. Could you tell me if Patwardhan only read YLH as well?

    ‘It is, however, useful to recognise our share of this error of misdirection. To begin with, I am convinced that looking back upon the course of development of the freedom movement, THE ‘HIMALAYAN ERROR’ of Gandhiji’s leadership was the support he extended on behalf of the Congress and the Indian people to the Khilafat Movement at the end of the World War I. This has proved to be a disastrous error which has brought in its wake a series of harmful consequences. On merits, it was a thoroughly reactionary step. The Khilafat was totally unworthy of support of the Progressive Muslims. Kemel Pasha established this solid fact by abolition of the Khilafat. The abolition of the Khilafat was widely welcomed by enlightened Muslim opinion the world over and Kemel was an undoubted hero of all young Muslims straining against Imperialist domination. But apart from the fact that Khilafat was an unworthy reactionary cause, Mahatma Gandhi had to align himself with a sectarian revivalist Muslim Leadership of clerics and maulvis. He was thus unwittingly responsible for jettisoning sane, secular, modernist leadership among the Muslims of India and foisting upon the Indian Muslims a theocratic orthodoxy of the Maulvis. Maulana Mohammed Ali’s speeches read today appear strangely incoherent and out of tune with the spirit of secular political freedom. The Congress Movement which released the forces of religious liberalism and reform among the Hindus, and evoked a rational scientific outlook, placed the Muslims of India under the spell of orthodoxy and religious superstition by their support to the Khilafat leadership. Rationalist leaders like Jinnah were rebuffed by this attitude of Congress and Gandhi. This is the background of the psychological rift between Congress and the Muslim League’

  87. Girish

    YLH:

    The only way you seem to be able to debate is through abuse. Your pathetic rant does not deserve a response.

    I have made my points and don’t have more to say.

  88. YLH

    Huh? Where is the abuse in my post? I pointed out the basic flaw in your argument.

    No my friend you’ve only proved that you don’t have a point.

  89. Girish

    Your abuse is there for everybody to see, except seemingly yourself.

    Have you even read the Gandhi’s quotes on secularism that I posted very early on this thread? Can you find a single quote contradicting that in the period leading up to independence and afterwards? I can show you plenty of contradictory quotes by Jinnah (but on another thread a few days, you or your buddies edited out or deleted every quote that was contradictory, even in posts that had nothing but the quotes). Since Jinnah is this great champion of secularism according to you, by those same standards Gandhi stands infinitely taller than Jinnah on the issue of secularism in the same period of time.

    Regarding slander, the most recent slander on Gandhi was a rant you posted on a thread that discussed Jinnah (only a few days ago), got embarrassed about and had deleted within a few hours. It was cached online before it was deleted and is there for everybody to see. I can’t post links here due to blog policies and don’t want to pollute the thread with your senseless rants but they can be easily found.

  90. Hayyer

    As everybody has had his say let us now conclude by agreeing that Gandhi was tolerant of Islam but had too much religion on the brain.

  91. Girish

    That’s your opinion, Hayyer. There is no agreement on that and there cannot be for something like “too much religion”, for which there are no absolute standards.

    YLH:

    Since you know English better than me, you might not need these. But for the benefit of those of us who understand English very little, here are some definitions from the Webster dictionary.

    Fascist: follower of a political philosophy, movement or regime, that exalts nation and often race above the individual, and that stands for a centralized, autocratic government led by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

    I point this out since you make the claim that Gandhi was a fascist. I won’t bother to type the meanings of supremacist, misogynist and other labels you used – one can look it up easily in the dictionary.

    Now, on to the definition of slander

    slander: the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation

  92. YLH

    Girish mian,

    The principal author of your constitution Dr. B R Ambedkar called Gandhi a medieval Hindu fascist.

    A medieval Hindu Mahatma is mortally estopped from claiming secularism.

    I am not sure why you keep hiding behind Jinnah’s so called contradictory statements…let us put it this way …even Talbott largely unsympathetic to Jinnah says very clearly (I have quoted him above) that Secularists can lay claim to Jinnah’s mantle solidly and islamists cannot.

    Perhaps you would like to produce a similar quote from any historian who claims Gandhi was secular.

    Don’t tell me taller this taller that. Had Gandhi been in Jinnah’s place, his use of religion would have been much more blatant. Jinnah and Nehru essentially were the secularists with the essential difference being between one being majority and one being minority. Every historian who has studied Jinnah accepts that Jinnah was imbued with the secular ideal. No historian claims that about Gandhi.

  93. Karay

    He was thus unwittingly responsible for jettisoning sane, secular, modernist leadership among the Muslims of India and foisting upon the Indian Muslims a theocratic orthodoxy of the Maulvis

    Could anyone on this board please tell me just who all constituted this “sane, secular, modernist leadership among the Muslims of India” in 1920 that Gandhi screwed over? I’m dying to find out.

    Yasser,

    I do not have any high opinion of mob rule masquerading as democracy anywhere

    While you’re welcome to your opinions of India’s political set-up, I think it’s a fair argument to make that Gandhi, being the giant he was, did influence Independent India’s political outlook.

    Girish,

    As Hayyer points out, you’re confusing secularism with tolerance. But since the Indian State often makes the same mistake, at least you’re in august company.

  94. YLH

    Hayyer,

    Gandhiji was tolerant of all backward dogmatic religious traditions in every faith and hostile to modernity and liberalism of all kinds.

  95. YLH

    Karaya,

    My feeling is that they were referring in main to Jinnah who had opposed Congress’ flirtations with the Mullahs.

    Gandhi was not a giant. He was pygmy. His “martyrdom” came as a blessing in disguise for the real giant Nehru who then went full force …especially after Patel died …with his secular vision.

    The positives of the political system in India are owed in main to two men Nehru and Ambedkar and then to the legislators of independent India including Muslim Leagers like Mohani and Ismail. It was a unique achievement of a unique Prime Minister and his unique law minister.

    The negatives of Indian polity – and Pakistani polity- have to do with unconstitutional agitation, mob mentality and hartals. This in my view is Gandhi’s legacy.

  96. Girish

    Karay,

    I am not confusing anything with anything else. My very first post on this thread was focused on giving quotes directly from Gandhi about secularism – he was totally unambiguous on this front in the run up to independence and afterwards. There have been subsequent posts giving other quotes in support of this argument. No amount of sophistry by YLH or Hayyer or anybody else can negate that point. . Please read that if you wish to understand my point.

  97. Hayyer

    Girish: (and other Gandhi fans)

    The short point is Gandhi’s secular credentials. You have quoted Gandhi in favour of secular governance, mostly in the forties. But his life and his actions speak betray quite the reverse. Read my lips said Bush 41 and did the reverse after 1990.
    Some of us Indians don’t judge ourselves by the degree of our Gandhiolatry. That is the requirement of the official narrative. I cannot say about now but in the past you could not get into a government job at senior levels unless you had mugged up on Gandhian nonsense. In the General Knowledge paper for the All India and Central Services exam the first question was always on Gandhi. e.g ‘Describe Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship’. If you did not have the prescribed routine pat you couldn’t expect to pass. And this was General Knowledge.

    If politics requires religion as Gandhi maintained then the BJP, Akali Dal and the MMA of yore in Pakistan fitted his bill. But even without them the Congress managed to introduce a little bit of faith in government anyway.

    What’s a little bhoomi poojan at each foundation stone ceremony of a bridge, or whatever development work on the agenda. And why not a granthi and a maulvi too. And after that why not a little bhajan before the day’s work, and an afternoon prayer especially on Friday. The Kashmir Maharaja had temples built into his secretariat. After 47 why not a little mosque -and a Gurdwara too. We had this British thing about cutting tapes at inaugurations. Now we light lamps like in a temple. That’s Indian you might say, as is Bhumi Poojan. Sure, and you can add to that all the religious ceremonies of the Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and the Buddhists can be asked to invent some.

  98. YLH

    Describe Gandhi’s concept of trusteeship?

    Whoa!

    I have always thought Gandhiism was the equivalent our Islamic ideology.

  99. Girish

    Hayyer,

    I am not a “fan” of Gandhi or anybody else for that matter. I see no utility for many things he preached and think that some of his ideas were downright crazy. But I do believe that he was sincere and well-meaning in what he did, and was honest enough to own up to his own mistakes.

    He was faced with a man whose ego had no bounds, who was unprincipled in turning his back to everything he claimed to stand for whenever that was expedient (and not just after 1937, but in the peak of the supposed “secularist” phase of his career), and directly and indirectly caused death and misery to millions to people, with consequences we are still bearing today. I just don’t see the intellectual honesty here when people consider the latter the greatest secular icon bar none and don’t apply the same standards to Gandhi.

    I am for a healthy debate based on facts, with no holy cows whatsoever. I will however not accept gross untruths and misrepresentations without contesting them and this does not apply to Gandhi alone. In this particular discussion, you have made claims you have been unable to support. YLH has been abusive, without really making any points relevant to the discussion.

    On the issue of secularism in India, I think it is a highly screwed up version of it that exists at the level of the state and even in terms of its popular understanding. Even at the outset, there was a confused vision of what it stood for, and since then it has been distorted immensely. Secularism is alive in India, but only barely so and because of a relatively liberal Constitution. But its application is patchy to say the least. I root for a truly secular India, and for that purpose, I certainly don’t have to invoke Gandhi, or Nehru or Ambedkar, and certainly not Jinnah. I want secularism for India not because X or Y wanted it, but because it is a necessary condition for building a liberal, vibrant democracy (which India is far away from).

  100. Hayyer

    Girish:

    Gandhi’s ego was the most massive. Sure Jinnah had one too and possibly the equal of Gandhi’s but the latter had suborned Mahatmadom to serve his. Poor Jinnah only had attitude to fall back on.
    Gandhi began unbending around ’43 but it was too late. Jinnah began unbending around ’46 but it was too late.

  101. Girish

    Whatever. You and I are not going to agree completely. Let’s just leave it at that.

  102. Karaya

    My feeling is that they were referring in main to Jinnah who had opposed Congress’ flirtations with the Mullahs.

    Which is tickety boo, other than for the fact that at the time, Jinnah was hardly a leader of India’s Muslims—most IMs in 1920 wouldn’t even have heard of his name. As late as 1937, the man still couldn’t claim to represent anyone other than UP’s Muslims—he had no presence in the areas that now constitute Pakistan and of course Bengal.

    So, again, just who did the G-man topple? Or did he just step into a vacuum?

    The positives of the political system in India are owed in main to two men Nehru and Ambedkar and then to the legislators of independent India including Muslim Leagers like Mohani and Ismail. i>

    You seem to think that “The positives of the political system in India” are a gift from above—Ambedkar, especially was a political nobody during his lifetime, whatever be his other towering achievements.

    I disagree, of course. Not totally—India’s constitution had its role to play–but I think there’s more to it than peremptorily authoring a cut and paste of the World’s Top 10 Constitutions.

    Btw, lest you be accused of hypocrisy, I’d advise not dissing Gandhi and praising Mohani in the same breath.

  103. J.Krishnan

    Fighting over whether someone was secular or not is a waste of time today. They all had their lures and allures (with no cures). They stumbled – just as we are doing today. A man’s legacy dies with him. That is the purpose of death.

    Better if YLH founds his own party and starts doing what he thinks is right for his beloved Pakistan. Trying to convince indians is a lost effort. Jinnah bungled as he died and died as he bungled. Let us be merciful to him, a mere human being. With Gandhi it may have been worse. May be he too wished that his bungled-disappointed life comes to an end.

    India has some real-cum-imperfect secularism and even the hindu right is held in good check by it. Let Pakistanis acknowledge the good that India has achieved as exemplary for itself – the otherway round, for India to acknowledge what good Pakistan has achieved, that is rather meagre. That is no reason to feel hurt or insulted, but a spur for better achievements. That Pakistan’s religion and religious scene will be largely a hindrance in this is now all too clear. The hindus’ religions of today seem to be more agile-progressive and less obstructive.

    I wish YLH does not waste his talents and time on trying to fight down indians on the PTH. If Jinnah inspires YLH, so be it. If Gandhi brings forth only scoffs, so be it. Fighting over dead men – is this what PTH is to be about?

  104. Gorki

    Dear Hayyer
    I don’t doubt your claim that in their purist zeal the post Independence congress governments tried to shove Gandhian ideals down everyone’s throats. Ironically it seems that the people doing the shoving did not understand the first thing about him which was that he never insisted on doing anything by compulsion. His writings clearly came out in the favor of governance by consensus rather than by coercion; but then that is South Asia for you.

    It may be very satisfying to criticize a dead man who has been dead for 60 years but does that absolve others of all responsibility? Where are we today compared to then?

    The following is a report that I read a while ago somewhere on the net.
    All Indians should read it and hold their head in shame after reading it.

    “In the early 90s, when the Ram Mandir issue was at its peak, veteran Gandhian Dr. Sushila Nair (also Gandhi’s personal physician) went to Ayodhya to promote peace and held an interfaith prayer meeting outside the Babri Masjid. They were singing “Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram” and at the phrase “Ishwar Allah Tere Naam” some Hindu militants who had gathered tried to disrupt the meeting. Being a Gandhian, Dr. Nair peacefully went up to them and asked them “Aap aise kyon kar rahe hain? Aise mat kijiye. Hum Gandhiji ki taraf se aaye hain” and the response of the militants was “aur hum Godse ki taraf se aaye hain” (“Why are you doing this? Please don’t do this. We have come on behalf of Gandhiji”, to which the militants responded “and we have come on behalf of Godse”).”

    Gandhi may have held silly personal views; he may have used his fasts as a method of teaching his errant countrymen religious pluralism, he may have even alluded to religious symbolism to make them more tolerant but no one can accuse him of inaction in the face of inhumanity; that is more than one can say for all of us and the present day secularist.

    Secular\fundamentalist\bigot are but labels. One can decide to call anyone anything. It does not matter. What matters is what one does. I am not sure he would have let a Babri Masjid happen without fighting a good fight if he was alive.
    And that is all that matters!

    Regards

  105. Bade Miyan

    I am re-posting this one as it did not get posted yesterday. Hayyer, this is for you. I hope you get this.
    Thanks to the moderators.

    Hayyer,
    “Let us not be so patronizing of the peasants. They are normal humans like us and they are just as intelligent.”

    I am a farmer’s son, financially better than the variety you see in Mother India, but I guess I can qualify for a rural fellow. I have lived in a village long enough to know how the village dynamics work. People who think of villagers as ill informed, illiterate folks do so at their own peril. On an average, our villagers are politically more sophisticated than they are given credit for. I don’t need to go into further details. My comment was about the idiom that Gandhi used, as Gorki has correctly pointed out too. To a person(the villagers in my area, at least) who has been brought up on a staple diet of daily renderings of Tulsidas’s RamCharitraManas, abstract things like democracy and freedom for rights were easily explained if couched in the terms that he/she is familiar with. That doesn’t denigrate his wisdom but merely is an attempt to find a common medium for communication. Now, you can explain to them the finer points of democracy by quoting Locke, Hume,Paine etc., but I doubt you would get very far. Lest it be construed that I am speaking primarily about the Hindu audience, I would like to mention that my village has a substantial Muslim population who have taken with alacrity to the caste system and duly segregated themselves into various caste groups. Pathans form the highest echelons and, ironically, pride themselves on their Rajput ancestry. They have an interesting history. As the story goes, at the battle of Chunar, they were on the losing side(Humayun’s) and converted en masse to escape punishment from Sher Shah. 500 years hence, they still consider themselves superior to the lesser flavor of Rajputs because they belonged to the more “authentic” Parmar or Ujjainiya tribe of Rajputs. At election time, caste considerations supersede religious affiliations.They all belong to the Barelvi sect. I didn’t want to go into these prolix details but I have heard the term Hindu nation, and questions about identity bandied about quite a few times and thought I should put these details out. I am sure before Partition this scenario was not too uncommon. So, this was the audience that Gandhi was working with. I never claimed that he is responsible for all the work that has been done. The one man one vote was mentioned as an example. It required years of work to explain to the people what it really meant. I hope I have made my point clear about the Ram Rajya thing. In my view, Gandhi understood perfectly the rottenness that was at the core of our society, including our villages. That he attempted to do something about it is what I admire most. Of course, my experience is different from yours, so I can understand your point of departure.

    “Harijans it is best to rely on Ambedkar. Gandhi was patronizing, as his followers still are. …”

    That is an unfortunate development of our caste politics. You are damned either way. I hope you know that Gandhi himself was at the receiving end of much of the caste abuse.

    “Life isn’t digital. We are more nuanced than your statement would have us.”

    I agree, which is why it surprises me that you don’t accord the same standards for Gandhi. It always amuses me how people try to justify one side of a person using the other.

    “I am sorry that you should have a lesser view of me than hitherto, but such is life, win some lose more.”

    I know and I was quite shocked that you didn’t know that aspect of Gandhi. For most of us who have done their bachelors in India, that stuff about his sexual perversion and his views about blacks was a common knowledge. He was the favorite punching bag for all and sundry and, above all, we had more colorful vernaculars for him rather than hackneyed phrases like humanoid, etc.

    Lastly, I remember you classifying me as a Kayastha. I have an inkling why you did so, but I’ll let it pass. We all have our biases.

    I guess I am going to resist posting such long comments. I must say I am extremely thankful for the views that have been shared here and it’s has been a really good learning experience.

  106. Bade Miyan

    Here is a piece by Swapan Dasgupta. Quite useful to the current discussion, I think.

    Gandhi, the only visionary among many patriots

    By Swapan Dasgupta

    March 23 was the 69th anniversary of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh. Like most sarkari occasions, the commemoration was characteristically tokenistic and would have remained confined to telecasts of “Rang de Basanti” and “Legend of Bhagat Singh” had it not been for two contrived controversies. First, there was a protest by Leftists over an official ad showing Bhagat Singh with a turban rather than his hallmark trilby; and, second, a legal notice was sent to actress Preity Zinta for allegedly hurting “sentiments of the people” by depicting the freedom fighter in a Kings XI Punjab poster.

    The great Indian penchant for tamasha has not spared its hero worship. The various commemorations of freedom fighters such as Bhagat Singh, Chandrasekhar Azad and Subhas Chandra Bose is invariably followed by complaints that ‘official’ India has been woefully selective in projecting the freedom movement. Soap-box orators have even hinted at a ‘conspiracy’ to reduce India’s recent past to a family history.

    Suggestions of a conspiracy may be hyperbolic but there is a basis for the perception that the grand narrative of the national movement doesn’t accord due recognition to the little struggles that either complemented the Congress’ battles or followed an entirely different course. Textbook history, which aims at turning the past into a manageable package, cannot accommodate the different strands and many loose ends. In the quest for simplicity and homogeneity, rich complexity is a casualty.

    That Bhagat Singh and many others have been downsized by capsuled history is undeniable. However, there is a rash temptation by many, not least those who accept celluloid and comic book versions of the past as the hidden reality, to suggest that it was the revolutionary nationalists rather than the Mahatma and his followers who really brought about Independence. This was certainly the theme of many 140-syllable interventions on Twitter just days ago. Many tweets argued that nonviolence prompted a compromise with the British Raj and prevented India from disinheriting the entire colonial legacy.

    Youthful impetuosity has invariably been at odds with the ethical quirkiness of Gandhi. As impressionable undergraduates, many of us internalized the British Stalinist R P Dutt’s catchy assessment of Gandhi as “mascot of the bourgeoisie”, “that general of unbroken disasters” and the “Jonah of Revolution”. The Mahatma’s abrupt withdrawal of the non-cooperation movement after the violence at Chauri Chaura, his initial prevarication over Purna Swaraj, his settlement with Lord Irwin, his unequivocal disavowal of “Bhagat Singh worship” and his spiteful campaign against Subhas Bose in 1939 were held out as examples of Gandhi’s unwillingness to release the full tide of anti-imperialist passion. The likes of Bhagat Singh with his fervent commitment to socialism were never similarly inhibited.

    Rubbishing the Mahatma has become an unofficial national pastime. Militant Hindus charge him with betraying Hindu interests and facilitating Partition; Muslim separatists always perceived him as a wily Bania; radical Marxists see him as an upholder of the status quo; and a new breed of Dalit activists accuse him of social condescension towards the community. Compared to his passionate critics, the Mahatma’s defence seems piteously proforma. No eyebrows are even raised at his transformation into an icon for selling fountain pens and tabloid newspapers. The few remaining Gandhians have painted themselves into a faddist corner, obsessed with temperance, vegetarianism and naturopathy.

    Gandhi is a victim of India’s impatience with historical rigour. It is casually assumed that India was forever ready for a grand anti-colonial explosion and that Gandhi used his moral standing to derail the process. It’s a romantic proposition which, unfortunately, cannot be historically sustained.

    First, it was not until the late-1930s that self-rule became an accepted goal for all Indians. This realization was itself the culmination of the many campaigns waged by Gandhi since 1918. Bhagat Singh was a fierce patriot but his belief that a few exemplary acts of violent protests would trigger a revolution was wildly optimistic, if not naïve. The young Bengalis who raided the armoury in Chittagong in 1930 shouting, ironically, “Mahatma Gandhi ki jai” made a similar miscalculation. Their spark awed India but it didn’t light a prairie fire.

    Gandhi realized better than many of his colleagues that the biggest impediment to India’s self-awakening was mass passivity, even fatalism. Unlike the revolutionaries, he shied away from grand proclamations and focused on creating awareness. He knew the human costs of armed liberation struggle and consciously chose the path of a moral struggle using India’s greatest strength — its sheer numbers. He turned adversity into advantage and spared India the bitterness and inhumanity of China’s revolutionary violence. Gandhi bequeathed to independent India a stable society, not one devastated by civil war.

    There were many patriots in the freedom movement but Gandhi was perhaps the only visionary. He doesn’t deserve to be mocked.

  107. YLH

    J-krishan mian is a genius. I write on a Pakistani website … But somehow I am picking fights with Indians.

    I don’t need to convince people of anything. All that I have claimed has been claimed by credible historians and other authors. Therefore I am just stating it.

    Karaya,

    I am not in the mood to waste another 20 posts proving how what you’ve written is historically inaccurate on many counts. You may educate yourself further on all the pointless points you’ve made.

  108. YLH

    I will say this however : Hasrat Mohani was in Indian politics before Gandhi came along. Hasrat Mohani believed in his own synthesis of Communism and Islam but he was from the Tilak camp and his famous ode to Tilak ought to be read by everyone. So people with little knowledge ought to stop claiming nonsense.

    As for India’s achievements… it has a fine secular constitution safeguarded by an excellent judiciary (though they royally messed up for countries like Pakistan when Indian judiciary gave the “basic structure theory” and the judges’ appointment method) …
    however on ground Indian society is as bigoted, religion-obsessed, communal, backward, poverty stricken and cut throat as Pakistani society if not more. So the achievement is indeed limited to the constitution… India was far too big a country for one army to take over. That ensured democratic continuity but all the advantages were squandered.

    Even till a few weeks before her assassination at the hands of her bodyguards (which led to retaliatory massacre of the worst kind) Indira Gandhi was forced to produce a photograph of her “hindu wedding” in court. To me this is telling of the reality.

  109. Bade Miyan

    “however on ground Indian society is as bigoted, religion-obsessed, communal, backward, poverty stricken and cut throat as Pakistani society if not more. ”

    True. If that gives you satisfaction, so be it. I would like to add, however, that you would have a hard time finding donation boxes for supporting bombers in Karachi, Lahore, etc., and open banners proclaiming deaths for wajib-ul-katl like nonsense. And, we do manage to get in more than 10 people to protest massacres.

    In case you forgot, there was a time when Indira Gandhi imposed emergency and she was far more powerful than your tin pot generals. The so-called backward, religion obsessed country came out in full force and she had to beat a hasty retreat. And yeah, it was a Gandhian who led the revolt.

  110. Bade Miyan

    I wonder why Mohani choose to stay back in India.

  111. Bade Miyan

    “India was far too big a country for one army to take over.”

    It didn’t stop the British and the country was far bigger then.

  112. Karaya

    I am not in the mood to waste another 20 posts proving how what you’ve written is historically inaccurate on many counts

    Quite.😛

    On Mohani, we are obviously coming from very different directions. I for one can’t fathom how somebody who disses the Khilafat Movement left and right can sing paeans to somebody like Mohani.

    As for Tilak, he’s hardly a gold standard for secular probity, my man. But even if he was, Mohani being in his “camp” (in 1907, who’s camp was Jinnah in?) means squat when you look at his politics.

  113. Hayyer

    Bade and chote miyan:

    Thank you for the detailed post.

    As a farmer’s son you well know what I am talking about but I differ with the following, as I do with Pakistanis who believe that the way out of their mess is a modified religious discourse. Read AA Ahmad’s piece on hermeneutics.

    “…abstract things like democracy and freedom for rights were easily explained if couched in the terms that he/she is familiar with. That doesn’t denigrate his wisdom but merely is an attempt to find a common medium for communication. Now, you can explain to them the finer points of democracy by quoting Locke, Hume,Paine etc., but I doubt you would get very far.”

    I did not mention Locke Hume and Paine, not do I think it is necessary to talk to illiterate in a religious idiom. Humans have an innate sense of justice. If you tell villagers that everyone is equal under the law and each one has one vote they will very easily understand the idea. No religious analogies are required. The idea of justice came first, religion came later. Behavioural economics has established that as have evolutionary biologists. Don’t ask me for references because I shall have to trawl the net and I have a very slow connection where I am currently.

    “I would like to mention that my village has a substantial Muslim population who have taken with alacrity to the caste system and duly segregated themselves into various caste groups.”

    No doubt this is the fancy fractal recursivity that Shiv was referring to.

    “It required years of work to explain to the people what it really meant. I hope I have made my point clear about the Ram Rajya thing.”

    I don’t think that it required years of work to make people accept the principle of one man one vote even in Bihar. The proles jumped at the chance, it was the upper class guys who were in fear of the idea, and the British were careful to restrict voting in the early years of the 20th century just to the propertied.

    “In my view, Gandhi understood perfectly the rottenness that was at the core of our society, including our villages.”

    I don’t think so. Gandhi idealized the village. He had no idea what it was all about.

    “Life isn’t digital. We are more nuanced than your statement would have us.

    I agree, which is why it surprises me that you don’t accord the same standards for Gandhi. It always amuses me how people try to justify one side of a person using the other.”

    My dear Bade Miyan I do believe that Gandhi was highly nuanced, excessively so. On this thread I have only said that his views were not secular. I knew about his sexual eccentricities but I had not read much about his African days.

    “Lastly, I remember you classifying me as a Kayastha. I have an inkling why you did so, but I’ll let it pass. We all have our biases.”

    If I did it must have been because you hinted it somewhere in one of your earlier posts on some other thread. If I misunderstood I apologize. Actually all the Biharis I know happen to be Kayasthas or Bhumihars. I also knew a Rajput and a Muslim. Besides the literary classes of Bihar tend to be Kayastha. There is certainly no bias. As they say, one of my best friends is a kayastha. My niece married a kayastha from Bihar.

    I wont discuss Swapan Das Gupta’s article, because it is very long, there is nothing new in it, and because it has nothing to do with the thread. There are Gandhians and there are non Gandhians. I find Gandhi rather creepy.

    Swapan Das Gupta a BJP apologist, represents those born again Gandhians that have taken over the icon only to selectively burnish their own tarnished credentials.

  114. Hayyer

    On the rotten villages:
    Panchayat elections were held in Haryana last week. In one neighbouring village the Sarpanch spent one lakh to get elected. He got 108 votes and won by seven. In two neighbouring villages which are considerably larger the Sarpanches spent 20-40 lakhs each.
    What on you may ask? It was chicken and whiskey and beer for a whole month and a half, and thanda for the ladies. In some villages the demand was Rs 5000 for a vote.
    Things are not quite so bad for elections to the state legislature, and even better for Parliamentary elections; but it should give an idea of the noble villager’s order of priorities.

  115. Karaya
    July 14, 2010 at 9:04 am

    As for Tilak, he’s hardly a gold standard for secular probity, my man. But even if he was, Mohani being in his “camp” (in 1907, who’s camp was Jinnah in?) means squat when you look at his politics.

    In 1907, afaik, Jinnah was aligned with Gokhale, not with Tilak; I hope you weren’t implying that Jinnah was ever a member of the ‘garam party’.

    Happy Bastille Day, btw.

  116. @Bade Miyan
    July 14, 2010 at 8:11 am

    “India was far too big a country for one army to take over.”

    It didn’t stop the British and the country was far bigger then.

    An outright conquest, and an internal take-over through a coup d’etat are two different animals. I hope you are not seriously equating the two?

  117. YLH

    bade miyan…

    Yes… but then in Pakistan, not even the most bigoted of Mullahs would get to contest elections and then win after claiming “we will cut off the heads of ____” … not even against Ahmadis who are the most victimized community in all of South Asia. That happens in secular India though. Varun Gandhi, grandson of Indira, great grandson of Nehru, great great grandson of Motilal ji… is an MP.

    Karaya mian…

    Read a good book on Hasrat Mohani. Read about his role in Communist Party. In any event… I am not singing “paens” to Mohani… simply pointing out his contribution to the Indian constitution.

    On Tilak… I suggest you read a bit about him. Tilak was – whatever people might say- someone willing to allow a unity at the top permeate down to the bottom. That was the most important thing.

    Anyway kindly don’t respond anymore. I don’t have time for this nonsense.

  118. YLH

    I suggest everyone reads A.I.R. 1916 Bom 9 whoever can access it.

  119. Yasser: thanks for a robust debate. May I suggest that you post the links to your pieces on PTH instead of answering to people who have pre-conceived notions and who believe in one version of history ignoring that there are many histories!!!
    Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone. Typos are regretted

  120. A A Khalid

    We should not be surprised that Pakistani and Indian societies have very similar problems to do with the far right, xenophobic nationalism and religious extremism.

    The difference as YLH has said is that India has made constitutional safeguards and has a judiciary. Apart from that corruption is endemic in India, and many of my Indian friends have similar complaints as Pakistanis have about their nation and the tribal mindsets which dominate the political discourses.

    Frequently India in the Corruption Index and Rankings wallows below the 3 point mark or is just on it which indicates ”severe corruption”.

    Furthermore very interesting documentary on Dispatches a British investigation documentary on the endemic discrimination filmed on camera which occurs against Muslims and those in the caste system till this day.

    Type in ”Dispatches: The Indian Miracle?”, where prominent British Indian journalist Guru Murthy uncovers epic discrimination in India. India does have a great constitution, but it faces the same challenge as Pakistan in applying to society.

    We all have our demons, and God knows the only thing worse is to deny there are demons in your own backyard……

    Here is the description of the dispatches documentary:

    The new India has a high-tech, highly-skilled economy. The country’s universities are churning out thousands of highly qualified science and computer graduates working in software, biotechnology and engineering firms in metropolitan India.

    But in rural India, where more than three-quarters of the population live, Guru-Murthy discovers the story could not be more different. He meets some of the thousands of widows of farmers who have committed suicide after being driven to despair by debt. More than seven hundred million people depend on farming to make a living but the cost of buying tractors, fertilisers and irrigation pumps for small farmers has left some in debt and with no way out.

    “I don’t know what we are going to eat now. When my father was alive – he used to provide for us. Now I don’t know what we will do,” says the 10-year-old son of a farmer from Punjab. His father killed himself by dousing himself in kerosene and setting himself alight. And as India’s economic boom powers ahead, farmers’ land on the edge of the expanding metropolises is being seized to make way for yet more factories. Unskilled farmers are finding themselves without land and without a hope of working in the new factories in what’s becoming a hidden disaster of epic proportions

    MS Swaminathan, the founder of India’s original green revolution in the 1960’s fears a different kind of revolution if the problems of rural India are not tackled. “Any society which transgresses from the principle of social equity beyond a point then you have an explosive situation,” says Swaminathan. “If you want a country of 500 million landless labourers – then the country will be completely ruined. It will be social chaos of unimaginable dimensions.”

    In Mumbai, India’s financial capital, Guru-Murthy investigates the renewed support for Hindu nationalism which many argue is resulting in widespread discrimination against India’s 150 million-strong Muslim minority. He finds discrimination is excluding Muslims from the new prosperity as they struggle to find employment and buy property. Going undercover in one housing complex in Mumbai, Guru-Murthy is told by security guards that Muslims are not allowed to buy or rent property there. “I feel insulted. I feel humiliated”, says Muslim businessman Salim who has spent the last four years being refused the opportunity to buy property in the complex.

    In Delhi, the country’s capital, Guru-Murthy examines the way in which Indian society also discriminates against huge swathes of the majority Hindu population via the caste system. The Indian government is supposedly trying to tackle this age-old social stratification system which defines the jobs people do through a programme of affirmative action policies in education and employment. The notion of ‘untouchability’ – which defines those at the bottom of the caste system who carry out the most menial jobs and have no physical contact with upper-caste Hindus – was meant to be banned 60 years ago.

    But Guru-Murthy discovers that the caste system is still alive and well and forces those at the bottom of the ladder, dalits, to do jobs like clearing up human excrement. Satish Kumar belongs to the low caste Valmiki community, his job is to clean sewers and toilets, he says: “When my children ask me why I do this and tell me it is dirty, I tell them I do it to feed them. If I don’t they will die of hunger.”

    India’s economy is powering ahead, growing at an incredible nine per-cent a year. But Guru-Murthy argues it is merely widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The ultra rich are now able to live behind electrified fences in entire self-contained cities away from the degradation, poverty and despair of the rest of India.”

    Secularity does not come into play here but developing a popular kind of liberal humanism which I believe can only be grounded in the religious discourse (in Pakistan anyway). It would be helpful for an enlightened religiosity fighting against the Caste system and other discriminatory Hindu practices (I believe associated with socio-historical factors rather than the Hindu scriptures per se).

  121. Bade Miyan

    Ylh,
    “Varun Gandhi, grandson of Indira, great grandson of Nehru, great great grandson of Motilal ji… is an MP. ”

    I agree. That is, along with the Modi’s rule, a very shameful episode. I cannot offer any excuse. The only thing I can say is that Varun Gandhi was excoriated across the spectrum and had a criminal case filed against him. To balance the skulduggery, we had an Samajwadi MP who is a Muslim openly declare a bounty on the Dutch cartoonist’s head. With respect to Modi, we can only wait and watch. As you may know, he is a virtual “untouchable” in political circles outside Gujarat. Democracy has its pitfalls. You can see it unraveling in Europe too. By the way, I am quite shocked by your unbridled praise for the judiciary in India. Having been involved with a few court cases, I doubt if anything can be worse than our judicial system. It stinks!

  122. Bade Miyan

    Hayyer,
    I shall write more later.

    Vajra,
    I admit I was lazy in conflating the two. I have no idea why the army has such a hold in Pakistan. I guess they got the taste of power very early on and it’s hard to wean them away now. Pakistan is not alone in that. Turkey is only now beginning to sideline the army.

  123. Bade Miyan

    Hayyer,
    I shall write more later.

    Vajra,
    I admit I was lazy in conflating the two. I have no idea why the army has such a hold in Pakistan. I guess they got the taste of power very early on and it’s hard to wean them away now. Pakistan is not alone in that. Turkey is only now beginning to sideline the army.

    Khalid,
    Those are well known stories. Thing are changing, however, and at a really fast pace. If you took a random sample of municipal workers in Delhi, you would find a whole spectrum of castes, not just Dalits.

  124. AA Khalid

    ””’Those are well known stories. Thing are changing, however, and at a really fast pace. If you took a random sample of municipal workers in Delhi, you would find a whole spectrum of castes, not just Dalits.””’

    That is optimistic of you. I still do not know of a single Hindu scholar opposing the caste system in uncertain terms living in India. Where are the Hindu reformists, who advocate a reform in religious traditions? Its fine to advocate reforms in secular constitutions, but to really get through to the Hindu majority where are the liberal Hindu theologians?

    Indeed I regularly read reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the UN about human rights issues not only in Pakistan but also for India, and on both sides of the border the abuses are harrowing and shocking.

    To my mind in this respect India still suffers, and progress though is being made (which cannot be said for Pakistan in the same respect) is extremely slow and not effective in the legislative arena.

    Since 1996 the Government of India has also argued that caste falls outside the scope of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Still they insist upon this and its shocking. India still refuses to acknowledge the inherent discriminatory and racist aspects of the caste system hence their refusal to discuss the issue at the UN.

    Having said that, Pakistan too is a repeat offender when it comes to minorities.

  125. AA Khalid

    ”uncertain terms ”’

    should read ”certain terms”.

  126. J.Krishnan

    So long you think caste system is a result of some conspiracy (by the brahmins) you are not going to understand this phenomenon. You will not be able to explain why there is a caste system in every complicated society (leave alone the likes of Iceland or Fiji).

    Postulating equality between humans is only for propaganda purposes. It is populism. It has no basis in material, economic, genetic or cultural reality. Some religions and ideologies have inflated their demographic numbers by making sweet-false promises only – promises which they do not, will not and cannot fulfill.

  127. AA Khalid

    I think I have been very gracious not to equivocate the caste system to the spirit of the Hindu religion, I have said it is the result of socio-historical factors imposed on Hindu scriptures.

    This is a very forgiving position, many scholars would say the opposite but I believe in intellectual empathy.

    So grow up and stop making excuses for the caste system……..

    You must really hate the American Declaration of Independence Krishnan when it opens with the powerful and beautiful words:

    ”We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”’

    That must make you sooo mad! Ridiculous what planet are you living on Krishnan, arguing against equality……….

  128. J.Krishnan

    Nothing makes me mad in this world anymore.
    I know many declarations.
    230 years after this declaration – where is USAmerica today on the scale?

    Muslim countries refused to sign the universal declaration of human rights because of the postulate of freedom to practise or preach any religion whatsoever. They could not allow non-islamic missionaries coming into muslim lands. They opposed the abolition of the death penalty also. etc.

    Nature argues against equality – and you think you are a better holier human being by accusing me of it (as if I am the creator of this mess) and showing-off pious anger at me. USA or muslim leaders or any other humanists can declare what they want (populism!) – nature has its own uncompromising harshness. And God, if he be, has his own separate unpredictable harshness too.

    Read a bit of Nietzsche also. Human beings can manage their life on the earth better if they stop being sentimental.

    In India today there is a huge propaganda against brahmins, they are vilified and ridiculed at every step. Simultaneously India has sunk into worse corruption and filth than ever before. Poor behave foolishly and the blame for their added sufferings is then put (by our professional bleeding-heart socialists) on the rich. If someone goes to the poor and tells them that they suffer because of their own foolishness then he will be lynched by them.

    You can’t manage human society like that.

  129. AA Khalid

    Where is USA on the scale?

    In a damn better position than Pakistan or India mate……..

    The behaviour of Muslim states you cite is disgraceful and wrong. I have always argued against this rather than make excuses for like you do for Hindu right wing nationalism.

    Nietchze? Give me a break, he was senile and mentally disturbed. His writings are controversial to say the least connected with misogyny, fascism, anti-semitism and anarchism. Read a real philosopher not someone who spews out absurd rantings…..

    Read Machiavell or Hobbes if you want to understand the futile nature of human beings working in a political context…….something sensible and less vulgar.

  130. AA Khalid

    ”’nature has its own uncompromising harshness”’

    I am tired of your futile social darwinism, if you want to live as if you are in a jungle then do so, and reject humanity’s innate capacity to do good…….

  131. AA Khalid

    No wonder Krishnan your views are absurd, you have been reading Nietchze after all, and it seems taken him close to your heart…….

  132. Voldemort

    Khalid mian, what Krishnan says in his posts is absolutely true. Nature is predisposed against equality; you see examples of such inequality just about everywhere. Not all of it is perpetrated by one man on another. However, we as human beings who have been given the faculty to think and excercise discretion, must strive towards it. That is the innate goodness of humanity you are talking about.

  133. AA Khalid

    ”Nature is predisposed against equality; you see examples of such inequality just about everywhere. ””

    Yes nature might be because animals do not have a sense of reason or any intelligible free will. Human beings have moral autonomy and conscience, hence we cannot attribute our evil to nature.

    That’s shifting responsbility, which Krishnan has been doing a lot of………

  134. J.Krishnan

    Humanity’s innate capacity to do “good” is being demonstrated in Pakistan. 20 – 100 being killed per week in terrorist attacks and honor killings since last few years. And the killers absolutely believe that they will be in some god’s heaven soon after. Cowardly judges have even joined ranks with them. In Sweden (a very advanced society?!) there was a case of a man eating his own friend. He killed him and stored his flesh in his refrigerator. In Germany a homosexual man raped and killed a girl of 14 and later said he just wanted to try it out once with a woman.

  135. Tilsim

    @ AA Khalid

    To my mind Islam is focussed on trying to tame the ego (as are other religions in their essence). Ego and evil are different things. We may not be by nature pre-disposed to evil but we all have differing capacities to resist it. It may be that the stronger the ego, the lesser one’s ability to have empathy and to be humane and the greater the tolerance for inequality.

  136. AA Khalid

    @Tilsim

    I totally agree. By nature human beings are predisposed to do good, we have the choice (Free Will) to do good or to do bad, we cannot blame nature or anyother external factor since responsibility for our actions lies with us.

  137. Tilsim

    @ AA Khalid

    At it’s core, it seems an epic struggle for mankind. J Krishnan and others appear to have bought the argument that one’s ego cannot be effectively quelled. However, I would like to think that the broad thrust of history suggests that mankind is on the whole getting better at it and is deploying different means to achieve the same aim. The challenge though is indeed immense.

  138. Voldemort

    It may be that the stronger the ego, the lesser one’s ability to have empathy and to be humane and the greater the tolerance for inequality.

    Tilsim, it is also the ego that drives man towards striving for equality. The refusal to accept inequality for oneself and also others also has its genesis in the ego. That is the “good” ego. When it is “I, me, and myself”, it becomes the “bad” ego.

  139. Tilsim

    @ Voldemort
    “The refusal to accept inequality for oneself and also others also has its genesis in the ego. That is the “good” ego. When it is “I, me, and myself”, it becomes the “bad” ego.”

    Yes that makes sense to me.

  140. P. Vengaayam

    J. Krishnan:”Postulating equality between humans is only for propaganda purposes. It is populism. ”

    No, it is an ideal to be practised/enforced by living humans. There is no natural tendency for fairness and equality in nature (in line with Darwin’s principles), but such a principle is required in human populations at this time to make the notion of a nation-state work.

  141. Tilsim

    “There is no natural tendency for fairness and equality in nature (in line with Darwin’s principles),”

    However there is remarkable interdependency in nature. Extinction of species is also caused by the loss of balance. I think the same holds true for human ego.

  142. Raj

    “Extinction of species is also caused by the loss of balance. I think the same holds true for human ego.”

    Firstly Balance is Human Idea , constructed by our mind which seeks pattern
    Secondly from our perspective ,Nature never looses its balance , extinction is a part of natural selection . Thats why we human construct culture , in order to protect the meek .

  143. Raj

    @ AA Khalid

    “We should not be surprised that Pakistani and Indian societies have very similar problems to do with the far right, xenophobic nationalism and religious extremism.”

    India and Pakistan don’t have similar problems .
    In India Criminals are problem , in Pakistan the Problem is Law and the Society which makes that law .
    In Pakistan the society and the Law encourages the criminals ( for eg Blasphemy Law )

  144. Tilsim

    @Raj
    “Firstly Balance is Human Idea , constructed by our mind which seeks pattern”

    Really? Forget observational, philosophical or hypothetical arguments about nature, is that what the scientific evidence tells us from a study of biology, chemistry or physics?

  145. AA khalid

    @ Raj

    Ijust use statistics, studies and reports conducted by reputable organizations and basing my conclusions on that.

  146. Raj

    @ Tilism
    Science doesn’t talk about mind .. Science can only talk about brain

    @AA Khalid
    So do I

  147. J.Krishnan

    Vengaayam wrote:
    “No, it is an ideal to be practised/enforced by living humans.”

    If it has to be enforced then it is going to end up creating many hypocrisies and subtle and not-so-subtle subversions.

    Furthermore: to treat equals as unequals is unjust, but to treat unequals as equals is even more unjust.

    Taming the ego (intelligently and wisely) is a way of being happy, content and relaxed. It has nothing to do with any equality among human beings. Equality has to be enforced through a totalitarian system containing many hypocrisies. Even in religions it is that same story.

    Don’t mix up things merely because you wish to capture them politically and then make capital out of it.

    To raj

    Pakistanis have developed this habit of saying “India has the same problems as Pakistan”. That satisfies their ego mightily. It makes them feel better. {EDITED}

  148. AA Khalid

    ””””””’Pakistanis have developed this habit of saying “India has the same problems as Pakistan”. That satisfies their ego mightily. It makes them feel better. So they will equate hindu violence (the defender’s violence) with muslim violence (the aggressor’s violence) also. The kuran explicitly allows muslims violence when muslims are the defenders. When non-muslims use violence to defend their lands or regain their lands then kuran seems to disallow it. So much about fairness in the kuran! Does the kuran allow defensive violence to the non-muslims also?””””””””

    You’re confused and talking rubbish. How can you portray xenophobic nationalism and fanatacism as ”self defense”?

  149. AA Khalid

    Krishanan get out of your victim mentality and grow up (start by stop reading Nietcheze’s fascistic rubbish):

    ””’hindu violence (the defender’s violence) with muslim violence (the aggressor’s violence) also”””

    How childish…….., as if Hindu violence used in whatever context is always defensive, what a joke.

  150. P. Vengaayam

    J. Krishnan:”If it has to be enforced then it is going to end up creating many hypocrisies and subtle and not-so-subtle subversions.”

    Well, that is your opinion, and not supported by facts, such as the existence of societies that have a high level of development precisely by enforcing that ideal.

    If there is no push to create an environment of equality, there will be no such thing, which is a simple and powerful reason to not pretend that nation states should not work towards the ideal of equality of man. Such things are self-fulfilling prophecies — if a country does not consciously work towards such an ideal, then the ideal will not be achieved.

    As an aside, One view is that a “Developed country” is a state of mind that arises from believing in the construct of “equality of man” at the individual level. Countries that are not smart enough to realize the power of peaceful cooperation are disparagingly termed as “developing countries”. it is not a matter of money and wealth, but mindset. A country gets developed when citizens realize and internalize that there are rules to be followed that will benefit everyone, even with the possiblity of mistakes, errors, and abuses in the implemenation of such rules.

  151. P. Vengaayam

    J. Krishnan:”Don’t mix up things merely because you wish to capture them politically and then make capital out of it.”

    Do you even know the meaning of an “ideal”? Go look it up in the dictionary before you continue to make a jackass of yourself contradicting well-established reality.

  152. P. Vengaayam

    Tilsim:”Really? Forget observational, philosophical or hypothetical arguments about nature, is that what the scientific evidence tells us from a study of biology, chemistry or physics?”

    Actually, Raj is right in that the brain is the kind of machine that likes patterns and may see patterns where none exist. This is turn is the reason why scientific experiments are double blinded, i.e., the person/team that wants to prove something scientifically is always different from the entity/team that analyzes the results, and these two groups are supported by a third group that just blindly obeys the instructions on how to conduct the experiment. Even if any of these group of people fool themselves, they will not be relevant to the outcome of the experiment, and thus the fidelity of the scientific experiment is protected. Nothing kills science like preconceived notions.

  153. Bade Miyan

    Khalid,
    You have made some good points and I am not going to wade into discussion of why/when caster system came into being, nor about its salubrious effects, if any.

    “That is optimistic of you. I still do not know of a single Hindu scholar opposing the caste system in uncertain terms living in India.”

    I am a little surprised that you didn’t find a single Hindu scholar opposing the caste system. The whole JNU campus in Delhi is a bastion of far left.
    The entire tribe of (some people are going to wince on hearing this) Gandhians have written tomes about the inequalities of the caste system. It would little short of miracle to expect that something rooted in Hindu psyche for centuries would be eliminated by a few legislative moves. Yet, I can assure you, things have changed quite a bit. Now, it is politically incorrect to defend caste system and people who do so are kicked right and left. In case you missed it, Mayawati, the chief minister of UP, which is as large as Pakistan when it comes to the population, is a Dalit, and her power is real. My personal view is that caste system would never go away. What would happen is the blurring of boundaries and some sort of contract between different groups. I am not sure if you know this, but the worst anti Dalit offenders in modern times come from people who were/are themselves classified as backwards.

    ” Where are the Hindu reformists, who advocate a reform in religious traditions? …… but to really get through to the Hindu majority where are the liberal Hindu theologians?”

    Once again, they are a legion. The only reason you don’t hear them loud enough because the general view has settled down to the fact that the caste system is deeply pernicious. Of course, the implementation has still a long way to go. The most famous name who died recently was Baba Amte. I am not sure you can classify people who comment here as scholars, but apart from a few people, it would be hard to call them as pro-caste Hindus. I think Hayyer, Vajra, et al. would strenuously object to that. That is a rough sample but gives you some sort of window to the liberal class in India.

    “is extremely slow and not effective in the legislative arena.”

    On the contrary, the legislative arena has been relatively quick in passing anti hate laws, so much so that now it has become a little comical. It’s the implementation that is lagging behind. For example, the anti dowry law was passed in the 60s, but I doubt anyone can say that it has stopped dowry. On the contrary, it’s been on rise after a dip in the 80s. Now even some Muslims have forgotten the directives of the Prophet and have conveniently taken to the dowry system. The “mehr” ceremony has become a formality. It’s the dowry that they haggle about now. I know this from personal experience.

    “Since 1996 the Government of India has also argued that caste falls outside the scope of the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD). Still they insist upon this and its shocking.”

    That is more due to the govt. paranoia about outside interference than anything else. Though, it can be said that the caste system doesn’t strictly fall under the purview of “racial” discrimination. Racial discrimination is a relatively modern phenomenon.

  154. J.Krishnan

    to khalid

    When afghans kill US soldiers then the afghans are freedom fighters,

    but when hindus fight against the representatives of islamic imperialism then the hindus are xenophobic?

    Hindu violence within India is defensive violence. I{EDITED}. In India muslims are the ones with extra-territorial loyalties, hindus are the ones who have no extra-territorial loyalties. You can’t change a whit on that ever. The muslim in India is doomed to have extra-territorial loyalties. He can’t change a whit on that.

    To vengaayam

    ALL societies fall apart into strata of inequality. That is human nature. No point calling me a jackass – I did not create mankind or human nature. Don’t try to be a holier-than-thou populist by giving sentimental promises. Well-established reality is that inequality and totalitarianism are especially strong in societies that are formed/created on promises of equality.

    BTW, the remark on which you commented was not meant for you.

  155. AA Khalid

    Bade Miyan,

    Thanks alot about Hindu reformism and liberalism. Its nice to hear some opposition to the caste system in India and it has broadened my horizons thanks alot.

    My personal view is that the caste system on closer inspection of the Hindu faith and scriptures goes against the spirit of the Hindu faith, and I put it down to socio-historical factors and of political control and hierachrical oppression.

    I know the Indian government tries hard to fight discrimination and repression, but I feel that in terms of legislation it simply isn’t strong enough. The intent is there, I am not questioning the sincerity, but apart from token politics and token gestures of affirmative action of a few untouchables there is nothing concrete or of great substance in the public sphere.

    I do disagree with your comments about the caste system not being ”racial discrimination”, it is still discrimination, and falls under the the International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

    I think the caste system is repungnant to the spirit of Hinduism.

    @ Krishanan

    You’re talking rubbish and attributing to me opinions I do not hold, so grow up.

  156. P. Vengaayam

    JKrishnan:”Well-established reality is that inequality and totalitarianism are especially strong in societies that are formed/created on promises of equality.”

    Well-established reality is also that inequality and totaliatarianism are stronger in societies that are formed and created without any promises of equality, like a lot of dictatorships and theocracies.

    So what’s your point?

    Just having a nice looking constitution does not help, if it is not implemented propertly by the citizenry — the implementation of justice for all citizens equally depends on the implementation of the framework provided by documents that demand equality for all.

  157. Girish

    Actually, religious reformers who tried to do away with the pernicious aspects of caste (i.e. caste based discrimination) if not caste itself date to much much earlier than the 16th century, when we saw the emergence of Sikhism. Many of the hymns in the Adi Granth (which went on to become the Guru Granth Sahib) were actually those of these earlier reformers, Kabir being an example.

    Reformers did not come merely from the set of mystics/poets such as Kabir. It would be worthwhile to read about the teachings and actions of Ramanuja (one of the foremost Saints of Vaishnavism, comparable in status to Adi Shankaracharya on the Shaivite side) in the 11th century. Besides writing about it in his role as a philosopher, he also took practical steps to get rid of caste-based discrimination in his role as a religious leader, for instance in the matter of entry into temples or access to wells and so forth.

    And like NotVajra said, there was a series of reformers subsequently in every century who took concrete steps to do away with caste or at least discrimination based on it.

    I would even venture to say that without these reformers over the centuries, Hinduism would probably not have survived, or would at least have been severely restricted in number of followers.

    The less said about the absence of scholars in modern times who argue against the caste system itself, leave alone discrimination based on caste, the better. To the contrary, it would be hard to find any scholar writing to retain caste based discrimination and few, if any who argue in favor of the caste system even if they decry discrimination based on it.

    Hence, I find it surprising when people are willing to make strong assertions about the complete absence of religious reformers or scholars who are against the caste system. It demonstrates absolutely zero knowledge of the issue.

  158. J.Krishnan

    to khalid and vengaayam

    Do fight against the caste system – like Don Qixote and Sancho Panza fighting against wind-mills.

    Equality has to be got through one’s own performance. If vengaayam does not regard me as his equal then I must perform to achieve that goal. No law, constitution etc. can help – quite the contrary. Making laws to postulate equality will only bring forth subtler and more entrenched forms of the caste system.

    Dictatorships and theocracies have always promised equality. Such promises are often the first announcement made by these dictators/theocrats to the people. No system can enforce or deliver equality, nor should we try to create such a system, because it will end up in disappointment and more conflicts and more hypocrisies. The caste system is for protecting the weak against the strong. In a usual human society the honest are the weak ones and the dishonest are the strong ones. The (original) purpose of the caste system was to protect the honest against the dishonest.

  159. Karaya

    Vajra,

    I hope you weren’t implying that Jinnah was ever a member of the ‘garam party’.

    No, not at all. I was just illustrating that being or not being in Tilak’s “camp” means little in this context. And on PTH, it helps if you make your points with Jinnah in them; gets the message across better.

    Yasser babu,

    simply pointing out his contribution to the Indian constitution

    On the contrary, the only remarkable achievement of Mohani wrt to the Indian Constitution was that he was the only member of the constituent assembly to not ratify it.

    Btw, Mohani and Jinnah had no love lost for each other, if that helps. Which is not surprising—i mean Mohani was a weird sort of pan-islamist (like Gandhi, he was “multi-religious”) and a leading Khilafat walah ; IIRC, he also condoned the Moplah massacre with some very specious reasoning (again, like Gandhi).

    But to his credit he did stay back in India when it wld have been a lot easier to go off to kiranchi.

  160. J.Krishnan

    I hope khalid and vengaayam respond to my post here. (post of July 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm).