Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gandhiji the failure

I was reading another biography of Gandhi for the last week. Two things really stood out - Gandhi's ethics were malleable. You could, actually, change his mind with a decent argument. Whilst on the one hand he would do almost anything to defend the Truth (as he saw it), he was not too proud to admit he'd got some stuff wrong and to publicly change his mind. Whilst at times he had become almost a dictator to whom every other Congress leader deferred to, he would go with the consensus, even if he totally disagreed with it. When the Congress leaders (whom he knew extremely well, had been imprisoned with, etc) eventually took power, he criticised the governments inactions.

Secondly, Gandhi seemed to transcend politics. At times, he held the population in the palm of his hand and managed to influence millions with little more than the threat to stop eating. At others, particularly at the end of his life when the partition of British India into India and Pakistan led to horrific violence, he felt that all he had worked for was lost and that he was a complete failure. He was never quite able to persuade enough people to live up to the ideals he believed they were capable of.



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