A Gandhian Correction !

By Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar
24 May 2015 17:54 IST

Violence in any society is directly proportional to the inequality in it. Inequality may be social or economic.

Violence need not always be physical. It can be at the plane of thought. Any attempt to impose one's thought on another is psychological violence. And there may even be a spiritual violence. Any attempt to forcefully vacate one's consciousness of thought or any attempt to climb the so called spiritual ladder by modifying the content of consciousness through a technique is also violence.

And if physical violence is terrorism, then psychological and spiritual violence is also terrorism.

Division is violence. Division of people into religious communities or economic classes. Division of consciousness into clusters of thoughts related to ideologies, ambitions. All division has violence integrated.

And non violence was Gandhi's master key. Non violence requires an ending of inequalities in society. It requires an ending of ideologies in society.

But we of the mankind, by our very nature, are violent. Over centuries of existence, the habit of thought has been firmly installed in the brain of man. Thought is self preservative in nature. Thought is also self propagator in nature. Hence children think less than adults. Thought is self interest. Self-interest is division. And division is violence. Thought is therefore always violence, although it can imagine non violence.

Gandhi therefore becomes the most misunderstood of all public figures of yesteryear.

On the other hand it is quite easy to understand terrorism and violence. Thanks to thought which justifies selfishness, physical, psychological and spiritual violence comes naturally to man. There is never any difficulty in understanding God and Godse. Both are violent and full of self interest. Both mirror the thought of man.

Power is violence. Hence Gandhi stayed away from power. He renounced the membership of the Congress and also renounced the opportunity to occupy the highest position in the government of independent India.

Nationalism is violence. Hence Gandhi's aim was not political independence or power to India. His fight was against the exploitation of one section of humanity by another.

To a mind that is stuck in the habit of self preservation, holistic concept of global humanity (Gandhi's Jai Jagat) becomes incomprehensible. Nationalism, regionalism and such other communal-ism is the easy way out and appeals to the fragmented mind as reasonable.

Non violence made Gandhi's approach to life unique. He could easily take an untrodden path. He could easily envisage and construct meaningful alternatives in every sphere of life.

Gandhi was fully exposed to the Western model of industrial development and found it unsuitable to a highly populated and socioeconomically debilitated country like India.

In a similar fashion, Gandhi was opposed to the centralization of authority through a representative democracy. He regarded the decentralization of power to the Gram Panchayats and the strengthening of cottage industry as the core of development process in India. Most Congress leaders did not share Gandhi's ideas of decentralization and social reconstruction on decentralized, village centric lines. Since 1937, Gandhi was not even an ordinary member of the Congress.

When the Constitution was drafted in the Constituent Assembly, Gandhian principles were largely left in the lurch and Western model of representative democracy with industrial development adopted.

At the fag end of framing the Constitution, Dr Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Constituent Assembly wrote to B.N.Rao, the Constitutional Adviser to recast the Constitution to accommodate the Gandhian view. But the Constitutional Adviser politely declined saying it was not possible to recast the Constitution at the last minute.

As we approach the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma we find people of India disenchanted with centralization, violence, divisions of our society and unequal development. We find our people troubled with superstition, religious fanaticism, gender and caste related discrimination.

As we walk further and further from the time Gandhi walked on Earth, we find him becoming more and more relevant. Decentralized democracy, movement for socioeconomic equality and non violence are rapidly becoming a social necessity.

Perhaps on his 150th birth anniversary, India could give itself a gift of a Gandhian correction -- even if it is six and a half decades late.

Jai Jagat !

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Dr Mukul Pai Raiturkar

Dr Mukul R Pai Raiturkar is a consultant pediatrician & neonatologist practicing in Margao. He is the co-convener of Ami Goenkar, an organisation of secular young Goans working towards a novel approach to religious-political issues of Goa. Son of veteran Goan freedom fighter Mr Ravindranath Pai Raiturkar, he exudes unshakable faith in a liberal, secular and free spirited democracy of India.

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I think, Gandhi taught importance of little little things. Such as, be truthful, never lie, do your own stuff, maintain cleanliness, accept every other individual as equal. And he practiced it. For our leaders and philosophers, it is easy to preach-- but hard to practice or follow simple right things.

In todays Indian hierarchical society the castes at the op of the ladder want to maintain their supremacy over the other. Instead of science and rationality we fall to the feet of Swamis in the Matth, and our politicians are running after naked swamis, etc. I think the best place to understand Gandhi is read 'my experiments with truth'.

- Jayesh, Goa | 30 th May 2015 19:36


Hi Jayesh,

Thank you for your good question.

Gandhi was a pathfinder for the individual and by virtue of that a social reformer.

Essence of Gandhi lies in three things which Indian governance and Indian individuals can easily adopt in thought and action--- justice, compassion and truth.

Equality and scientific temper follows these three.

At present, all these things are missing or vague at best.

I will cover more of Gandhi's modus operandi in subsequent blog posts. So do keep in touch.

- Mukul, Margao | 29 th May 2015 11:30


Perhaps on his 150th birth anniversary, India could give itself a gift of a Gandhian correction -- even if it is six and a half decades late.

A. And how exactly would you like India to self-gift it?

- Jayesh, Goa | 27 th May 2015 22:55


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