October 01, 2009

On Gandhi

I was wondering what would a Gandhi do if he were born in the India of today … If the country that he was born in were not under British rule, what would he do?

May be, grow up to become a lawyer as he had done originally and become a practicing lawyer — may be in the Supreme Court — and make money … Or, would be notice the inequities existing in society and find them incomprehensible and intolerable and seek to remove them?

May be, he would notice the glaring differences in living standards: such as people traveling in cars and simultaneously people begging.

But then socialistic notions of distributing wealth amongst everyone in an equitable manner probably doesn’t work: as has been shown by the failures of socialism/communism in Russia or China. The Soviet Union of course imploded while China’s leaders were smart enough to recognize the imminent failure and decided that “a cat has to be able to catch mice whether it’s black or white.”

Another thought is this: what if Gandhi were to revisit the land he helped free … perhaps, he would be disappointed with all the inequities that still exist. On the other hand, he might feel completely at home in the India of today … that is to say, he would feel that his country had not changed all that much! Which perhaps doesn’t say too much about us!

In the same vein, I was wondering what if all the founding fathers of America were to revisit the United States today — I’m sure they would be mighty proud of all that America has accomplished in the ensuing 200 years after their spectacularly successful revolution. But slowly as they see the rising discord in the political arena and how much of a pseudo-democracy it has become and how much the lobbyists are able to influence the decision-making process in Washington, they might slowly get somewhat disenchanted that the system they had built had been compromised to such a sorry extent.

I guess both the United States and India are in some ways still works-in-progress — the task of building a more perfect union continues.

When Manmohan Singh and Barack Obama have their prolonged get-together in Washington in Novemember, may be they will have time to reflect on all this ... or, may be, they won't ...

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