Celine : Hey Hildy how have you been? long time no see
Hildy : I am fine Celine. How have you been?
C: I am fine, thanks. Btw, hey you know the significance of Jan 30th?
H : Yes.
C: What is it?
H : It is the last but one day of the first month of the year.
C: OMG! Are you serious?
H : Yes, I am serious. What’s the significance of this day that you’re excited about?
C: It’s the day when Gandhi was Shot dead?
H: oh is it? I never knew it. Anyway I don’t valorize/worship Gandhi
C : Why is it so?
H : I have read couple of articles and heard some speeches of Arundathi Roy on Gandhi’s supposed casteism & even racism.
C: Oh that writer who is portrayed as progressive, radical & anti-national?
H: Yes. She says that an aura was built around Gandhi and that he was not critically analyzed enough.
C: Did she analyze? What was her complaints?
H: I don’t remember exactly. But from the little I remember, she said that Gandhi was not for Annihilation of caste system, the depraved system practiced in India. Instead Gandhi was asking people to co-exist. When a system was built to oppress one person by the other, how can one co-exist without annihilating the very thing that make people oppress one another?
C: That is interesting.
H : There is more. Gandhi used to say India’s future lies in villages. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The oppressive caste system is more prevalent in villages than in cities. So how could future of a country lie in village?
C: Isn’t this a kind of flawed approach, where you look someone who got killed 73 years ago from today’s day and age?
H: No, in fact there were contemporaries of Gandhi, who had a radical view on this subject even then.
C: There could have been, but isn’t this an attempt to see Gandhi through only the lens of Caste?
H: No, on the other hand it is an attempt to see Gandhi as a flawed human being and not Mahatma (great soul, venerable)
C : If you start picking issues with the great figures of history, invariably you’re going to find flawed humans? won’t you?
H: Indeed. At the same time, what these eulogizing of these so called “great” persons does is that it hides other significant persons, who were contemporaries on these great men. In the case of Gandhi, Dr Ambedkar, the father of Indian Constitution, has been forced to take up sort of a supporting role in History. Dr Ambedkar called for Annihilation of caste, where Gandhi advocated for living with caste system.
C: It could be true, but you cannot deny the contributions of Gandhi, can you?
H : No one denies his role. At the same time, one shouldn’t overlook his deficiencies, either.
C: You don’t seem to remember Gandhi’s Anniversary, but you seem to have a lot to criticize Gandhi.
H : Maybe, but I am willing to see him for the person he is. Not a built up larger than life image
C: So you would be fine if Gandhi is not remembered for his deeds?
H : Of course I won’t . I would be among the many who worry about having a legislator in Indian Parliament, who praises Gandhi’s assassin openly and not face any consequences. I am worried about people believing that Gandhi’s assassin was a patriot. I am worried about the same ideology that lead to Gandhi’s assassination, is well and truly developed and governing the country right now.
C: Then shouldn’t you be praising Gandhi for his deeds and not point out his inadequacies?
H: That’s where the problem lies. One can praise and criticize the person at the same time. That doesn’t take any “greatness” away. Instead it adds nuances to the history surrounding such great persons. Only when we know these nuances, can we have a healthy discussion and use what’s needed for us in this day and age.
C: This ended up as a mini-lecture, when all I wanted to do was to talk about Gandhi’s assassination day. 🙂
H: Sorry, I couldn’t help it.
C: By the way aren’t you working on any new thesis on your indifferent life, of late?
H: Why should I? That would be meaningless.. Then why should I spend my time and effort on something that would anyway be meaningless in the end.
C: Ha! here it comes your indifferent answers.. 🙂 Go and live your indifferent life..
Gandhi in Harijhan “The task of rural sanitation is no easy one, it means nothing less than raising the village Bhangi to the status of an ideal Bhangi. The whole subject is unexplored; the profession, far from being a dirty one, is a purifying, life-protecting one. Only we have debased it. We have to raise it to its true status.” (Harijan, 5-12-1936; 64:105.)”
Tamil Speech on Gandhi’s assassin