Gandhiji’s Relevance in the 21st Century

Why I feel Gandhi ji’s Ideologies are highly relevant in today’s world.

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a name whom no one can ever forget for all he did to get India its freedom from the British colonialism. He echoed the dreams of the colonized Indian nation. Just like a desired father who takes every responsibility of his children, Gandhi bore the hope of the millions of Indians who were bowed under the weights of years of slavery.  He was a man who could speak to the crowd with his virtue and befriend with the king while not lose touch with the common man.

Gandhi’s ideologies are not just for politics or economies or societies but for the way of living. His philosophy can be incorporated at every stage of life in every century and that’s what his relevance is all about. Many people will see Gandhi as a freedom fighter but he was much more than that. His staunch belief in non violence was his power to win every battle. It takes a lot of courage to face the lathi (police stick) when you are empty handed. We are living in a world where there are such high rates of crimes and the only way to counterattack all the evils can be fought with non violence because non violence does not give birth to the feelings of hatred and revenge.

Gandhi was a man ahead of his times. He foresaw many of the problems which we are facing today. In 1927 he wrote “a time is coming when those who are in the mad rush today of multiplying their want will retrace their steps and say, what we have done?”

If we look closely we would know that much of our contemporary problems are due to unnecessary development. Due to industrialization and high technology are creating ample amount of waste which we don’t know what to do with. We also don’t know what to do with the huge stack of nuclear weapons that the world powers have. Only a part of these nuclear weapons are enough to destroy the entire world more than once. If a part of this money would have been spent for social welfare agendas then world would have been a better place to leave in. Since we live in a capitalist world we only believe in accumulating more and more which force us to create market demand for every possible goods and services. Gandhi could foresee this and thus he wrote in Hind Swaraj (1980) that the modern civilization is a few days’ wonder and then it will sink into its own weight.

When Gandhi was preaching Swaraj he didn’t only meant self rule but also to become independent from the British way of living. Today after so many decades of India’s independence we see how much West driven our life and the entire system of Government are. British left India physically but mentally we are still slaves of British in our way of thinking and working. The white collar jobs have been replaced and given to the browns and nothing else changed. Gandhi never supported the Westminster form of Government for it divides the society into two – rules and the ruled. This form of Government gives the power into the hands of a few whereas in case of a decentralized form of Government power is shared among many which help to reduce corruption and advocates for better governance.

Gandhi strongly believed in secularism and had to give up his life for being a secular at heart. Today’s world has a different meaning of secularism. For now secularism has become just to respect one’s own religious which is a paradox to what Gandhi had preached all his life. Gandhi has lived for poor. He believed that God lived in poor but the increasing number of poor and their sad living condition shows how Gandhi’s ideologies are falling today. Gandhi could feel that the cities would always remain unstable as they are man made and not natural. Whereas Gandhi believed that villages where mostly of the population resides are natural and are far more sustainable. In order to have a sustainable livelihood villages have to developed and utilized efficiently. Gandhi believed that even politics has to be dealt with moral values which we can’t see in today’s politics. Politics has become a bad word now. Politics doesn’t mean service for the public anymore but to be powerful.

Gandhi’s ideologies are very much needed to be practiced in the current world of growing inequalities between the rich and the poor. The world which is a witness to so much of terrorism, torture toward the females and children needs to be under control and only Gandhian philosophy of living can achieve that. Although many people would praise Gandhism but they would deny practicing them in real life as they would say that Gandhism is not realistic. Gandhi has become a figure of history. Everyone believes that his ideologies were just great to fly away the British but that’s not just what Gandhi meant to do. He wanted to make people realize the value of truth, non-violence and Swaraj (as per Gandhi’s understandings) and implement them in their way of living. The day Gandhi’s ideas of Sarvodaya, Swaraj, truth and non violence would take off the world would be the best place to reside.

For the people who believe that Gandhi was against science and technology I would like to say that he was not against technological advancement but was a pro people and protective of the environment personality. He thought no matter how much we develop in terms of technology we should attain sustainable ways of livelihood and if technology hampers sustainable living then it makes no sense to develop our technology.

Gandhi’s ideologies are only remaining in the pages of books which need to be fleshed out in front of the present world because I strongly believe that Gandhism is the instrument to make the world a better place.

Sports and nationalism in India

by megha sharma(@megha0111) on 5th October 2016



​The views of historians and novelists  on sports and nationalism are worth noticing!


 
George Orwell, a novelist, defines nationalism as the worst enemy of peace. He says, “The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.” 

In his essay, “The Sporting Spirit,” Orwell says that sport can be just as violent as war. The idea of fair play is only a myth. The athletes feel the same hateful and violent feelings as do soldiers in combat. He called the sports as “war minus shooting.” 

Sports act as the glue that binds people together and offers a collective identity at local, national and supra-national levels. It is one of the most emotional forms through which we experience and express our nationalism. The teams or the individual who plays at a national or international level does not represent religion or caste but the region and nationalities. 

E.J. Hobsbawm, a British Marxist historian, in his book, “Inventing Tradition”  mentions the inventions of national tradition. According to him, Sporting pastimes, rituals, ceremony, institutions, costumes, anthems, symbols, plays are a great invention of tradition. Along with the participants, spectators of the sports event are also the symbol of being a part of the nation. Even any individual, who is present in the sports event cheering up, also becomes a symbol of his nation. Sport is important in the emergence of national identity.

On April 2, 2011, when we won the Cricket world cup, the streets of India were flooded. There were strangers embracing and sharing their praising words. It was not a matter of being a Hindu or Muslim, a lower caste or an upper caste. It was an Indian Identity that emerged and transformed a diverse community into united.    Ramchandra Guha, an Indian historian, and writer, in an article in Outlook magazine, said that the institutions that keep us together are those bequests of the British: the civil service, the army, the railways, and cricket. All the linguistic, pluralistic, regional, caste barriers are superseded by the feeling of brotherhood and nationalism. 

The feeling of national identity even resides in the heart of Indians residing in other countries of the world. Indian Diaspora across the world rooting for the Indian team is the identity of a nationalist sentiment. It was clearly seen in the cricket match recently held in Florida. It was the first time when America hosted the international cricket match. Half of the stadium was filled with Indian immigrants. The national flags flying all over the stadium, people cheering the Indian players, praising India in a common voice, depicts the Indian Diaspora’s feeling of being a part of India. Sport not only has the power to influence community identity but the nationalist sentiments also. Sports manage to maintain the links between the Indian Diaspora and Indian culture.

Sports create a shared experience which inculcates a collective consciousness among the people. There is no powerful medium than sports to inspire and bring people together for a common purpose. Other than cricket, sports event like Olympics is of phenomenal importance to create a feeling of nationalism. Recently when summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, every Indian living in any part of India, belonging to any religion or caste realised that they are the part of a single identity “Indian”. The badminton women’s singles final between PV Sindhu and Carolina Marin was being watched by Indians sitting in different corners of the Nation. But they all shared a common thought. Irrespective of different caste, religion or region, they all had a common wish of PV Sindhu winning the finals. It shows how the citizens of our nation who holds different opinions and views for different incidents held the common imagination of winning the Gold medal. This is the strength of sports, which makes our nation united and brings us under a common umbrella.

Benedict Anderson, a historian, political scientist, and polyglot, calls the nation as an imagined community which is limited and sovereign, in his book “Imagined Communities”. The imagined community of millions of people in a nation  appears to be real when a few individuals or a team represent the whole nation. Despite various disparities, there are factors that bring the citizens of our country together, with common views – sports being the most important of all.

Megha sharma is pursuing M.A in public policy @ mount carmel college in Bangalore.