Ghandi's India and the Story of a Lost Dream
"A society can be destroyed by wealth without effort, politics without values, science without humanity, enjoyment without sentiment, commerce without integrity and worship without personal sacrifice."
Ghandi is supposed to be the "father" of contemporary India. He initiated the "non violence" doctrine in his politics, and he used passive individual resistance as a means to free his country from the british collonial occupation. His name was Mohadas, but he became widely know as Mahatma, which means in India "a great soul".
During World War I, the British part had promised a self-determination status to India, as a means to gain support from approximately 1.000.000 people in India. But promises never became real. So Ghandi, organized a huge movement of passive resistance against collonialists. Nevertheless, the movement was violently suppressed.
Ghandi got arrested and imprisoned several times, but he continued his passive resistance through prison and insisted on hunger strikes, in a way to unite the country's different religious groups. Unfortunately, religious impact proved to be an unpredictable factor, that caused turbulence and violent incidents and fights between muslims and hinduists.
In 1930, he organized the "movement of the salt" and committed an act of disobedience when by disobeying the legislation posed by the British concerning the monopolistic exploitation of salt by them, he reached the coast of India and took salt from the salt marsh. He then got arrested again, and taken to prison together with 1.000.000 people who followed him.
In 1932 he got arrested in Mumbai, for requesting that Hinduists and the pariah caste were not separately represented in the Assembly. His request was approved.
During World War II, and while the british domain in Malaysia, Singapore and Bhurma got lost, England tried to carry the war to the indian borders. Ghandi, then organized a campaign which got known as "Quit India Campaign" and asked the British to leave India. Main motto for this was the "act or die" status. Ghandi, was arrested again and got imprisoned together with his son and wife. But in 1942, England conceded to India a dominion status.
India became independent while Ghandi was ruling the country. His appeal on indian society was so great, that one could speak of a political leader with charisma and recognize unique values to his face. Unfortunately due to the constant fight between muslims and hinduists, Ghandi's dream of a united country, his struggle through hunger strikes, his achievements, the fact that the country became free again thanks to his acts, the pressure he caused and his appeal on his people, all became a vague memory, covered by religious intolerance.
Ghandi was opposite to a divided India. But India got divided soon after gaining independence in 1947. The borders between India and the newly formed state of the muslim majority, Pakistan, were determined hastily.
Religion harmed the way to a united and strong India, once again. Religious differences, stood in the way of a big dreamer and leader, who achieved so many things with his efforts. Religious fights gave space and confirmed the strategy of division used by collonialists, as the strongest weapon to rule a country even after conceding a dominion status.
Nehrou and Sastri tried to continue Ghandi's efforts for an India freed from cold war disputes, with no luck.
A big dream, got lost somewhere between religious disagreements, and the arrogance of the beliefs of different groups trying to impose to one another. India gained freedom in 1947, but it could have gained so much more, if it wasn't for religion matters coming in the way.
So many years later, India and Pakistan are fighting over nothing and everything. History teaches. But it depends on people, if they are willing to pay attention to the facts or not. And they usually don't...
written by Themis Panagiotopoulou, PhD in Political Science