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The Question:

Dear Ramesh uncle,

I m a bit confused regarding a certain issues which are creating a bit of a problem.

In such a situation I felt you would be the best person to help me out.

I would like to know whether Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was a fraud or not….

Some people are totally in awe of him and some are against him.

Some say that he was partial towards the British and it was because of him that the partition of India took place.

Whereas the others say that it was because of him that we are free from the British.

If you ask me personally I m not able to make up my mind and form an opinion of him….

Hope you will take out some time from your busy schedule and answer my question and give your opinion .

Thanking you, M.


Two Sisters

The Answer:

Dearest M:

Life itself being confusing, it would be unnatural if one were not confused about things. So on that count, not to worry if you get confused once in awhile.

In any case, with regard to whatever your problem is with Gandhiji, here are replies specific only to the misgivings that you have expressed in your email:

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was definitely not a fraud (except in some of the most minute ways, in which all of mankind is equally culpable). The word fraud is very strong, and I recommend that in your life, you use it frugally. 'Fraud' implies someone who is insincere, who knowingly tries to fool others. Gandhiji, on the contrary, was passionately, even fanatically, sincere in his beliefs. Whether we agree with them or not is another matter. He was among the greatest of men known in the history of mankind. But then, there is nothing, or no creature, or no human being, in this universe, who is unflawed.

The partition of India did not take place because he was partial to the British, although he was. It took place because of historical suspicions and errors which, at the time of their occurrence, could not be perceived by the people who perpetrated them. Muslim suspicion of Hindu dominance of India cannot be denied total validity, although, at the time that it occurred, it was inopportune and unfortunate. This suspicion catapulted Jinnah to raise his level of ambition, putting every other consideration, human and humane, in peril. Gandhiji's error was in not comprehending the force of this inevitability; and not accepting, even in abject helplessness at the failure of his idealism, the ground reality. This was one of the gravest political errors in our country. The consequences were plunder, murder and untold misery that it brought to people who had lived in harmony. It tore them apart, and the toll of the dead surpassed any other so far in this country. And all this while he talked of non-violence.

Gandhiji, and he alone, was responsible, because most of the other thinkers and historians knew better. He, in the deepest recesses of his mind, realised the result of his obstinacy and did what can be called the severest penance, or self-punishment and self-denial. But that did not help him, or do any good to others. Therefore, one can conclude that, no matter how one loved him, he was guilty of a catastrophic, unpardonable, and unforgettable error of judgment, the consequences of which fell upon others to suffer.

As to whether he freed us from British rule, the fact is that all colonies were freed from all colonisers; we were going to be granted freedom circa 1938. He is responsible for not accepting it, because he wanted to persuade Jinnah to come round to the one-nation theory, even by offering him the highest position of power in independent India. This delay resulted in our having to allow Indians to be killed in a war with which we had nothing to do: World War II. It was only at Gandhi's command that Indian soldiers joined the British, and therefore, Allied forces, and laid down their lives in a war that they did not comprehend. All this because Gandhi did not accept independence when it was offered, in his hope and stubbornness that he will convince Jinnah to accept an undivided India, which everyone knew was impossible.

I have answered only the questions you raised in your note to me. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi cannot be dealt with so summarily and briefly. I would be delighted to talk on more aspects, good, bad and worst, of Gandhiji; or on any other subject, whenever you wish, or in whatever manner that you wish.

Ramesh Uncle