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31 Mar, 2023
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Gandhi Jayanti

Gandhi Jayanti: Had it been Gandhi, India Would’ve Got Her Freedom in 1980s?

Today’s date is historic as India celebrates the birth of her father. October 2 is celebrated as Gandhi Jayanti, a day when a saint stepped into the world. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869. Mahatma, or as we fondly call him, Bapu, has played a very strategic role in getting India her freedom, at least that is what has been told to us for yeon years. Take any History book, and you will find it filled with Mahatma Gandhi’s various movements, including Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience, Dandi March etc. Although these events did take place during the Indian Freedom Struggle, how many of them really helped India get rid of Britishers is a point of contention.

Today we celebrate the 153rd birth anniversary of MK Gandhi, but the hatred and disappointment of Indians with Gandhi have increased tremendously over the years; why? We all were taught the same history. The topic of how much Gandhi contributed to the Indian Freedom Struggle is a hot topic among political wranglers. Some say that his ‘ahimsa’ ideology changed the hearts of Englishmen as they always respected him, while some say that Britishers had no option left but to leave due to the advancement of the Indian National Army built by Subash Chandra Bose.

Though the ideologies of Gandhi and Bose were drastically different from one another, Subash Chandra Bose is the one who had addressed Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation.

MK Gandhi is revered by most people as an iconic figure who liberated over 300 million Indians and defeated an extensive British empire. But doesn’t it sound unbelievable that a frail old man just achieved freedom without firing even a single shot? The way that Gandhi was assassinated is another reason which makes us doubt the legitimacy of his non-violent methods. These questions are very important today as the world is bleeding due to unprecedented conflicts, the recent one being Russia and Ukraine.

And what’s a better day than today to address such questions?

There are several theories that point out Mahatma Gandhi knew well how to shake the very core of the British Empire. To put it diplomatically, Gandhi was the favourite Indian child of Britishers, and he could have very extracted crucial information that could have weakened the roots of the British Empire in India. But did he? The book – Bose or Gandhi: Who Got India Freedom, written by Maj Gen (Dr) G.D. Bakshi, SM, VSM (retd), points out that Britishers were so afraid of Subash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army that they had no choice but to pack their bags and leave. So, not Gandhi, but Bose was the man who attacked the weakness of Britishers – Indian soldiers.

“Left to non-violence alone, freedom would have come to us in India somewhere in the 1980s or 1990s, just as it had come to South Africa only in April 1994 because it had relied on non-violence alone” (An excerpt from Bose or Gandhi: Who Got Indian Freedom)

But truth be told, there is no single town in India that doesn’t have a square, street or stadium named after Gandhi; his gaze follows you in all government buildings. So, you get the picture: in India, you cannot escape Gandhi. He is not just any man; he is a brand – a solid Made-in-India brand.

There are theories that say that Gandhi’s entry into the Indian Freedom Struggle delayed the country’s independence by more than two decades. If not for Gandhi, Congress would have secured India’s freedom back in the 1920s. In fact, it is also being speculated that walking on Gandhi’s non-violent path alone could have cost India’s independence another 30-40 years.

But why is it being said? Well, many political analysts argue that while many Indian freedom fighters experienced third-degree torture in jails, Gandhi never got a scratch. Some call him a puppet of Britishers. There is a growing body of scholars who often alleged that Gandhi was working for the Britishers. While there is no direct evidence proving Gandhi’s links to the Britishers, plenty of indirect ones suggest he was serving the cause of the Britishers more than the Indians.

“Should the British be thrown out of India? Can it be done, even if we wish to do so? To these two questions, we can reply that we stand to lose by ending British rule and that, even if we want, India is not in a position to end it.” wrote Gandhi in 1907, while returning from South Africa.

Another incident that has gained a lot of attention in the last few years is Mahatma Gandhi’s alleged role in the 1896 Boer War in South Africa, where he gathered around 1,100 Indians and organised the Indian Ambulance Corps for the Britishers. This happened at a time when Indians were tortured and faced racial discrimination by Britishers in South Africa.

When talking about Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence ideology, a fundamental question that needs to be thought over is – A man who said a big NO to violence and condemned every form of it, how that same man agreed to send Indian soldiers to fight for Britishers in World War 2? Well, we leave that to you!

Should we celebrate Gandhi as a true saint or a political leader who gave India her much-needed independence?

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