Much ado about Gandhi

Well, the recent auction of Gandhi’s glasses, slippers and other personal belongings has become a matter of national debate. The current government obviously pulling the ‘sentimental’ nationalist card just before elections tried hard to out-bid or convince Mr. James Otis to hand over the belongings as they were national symbols. I agree with one thing, slippers are a national symbol which we need to throw at all politicians. Personal vendetta aside, all is well now, with Dr.Vijay Mallaya pulling off the winning bid.

In all honesty, I do believe that these items, if we do place any value, are better off in the hands of foreigners. At least one can be sure that they would be respected and be well taken care off. Many patriotic (cough …cough) people would disagree with me and string my up to a stake and burn me for heresy. The truth remains…. We Indians have no respect for our past what so ever.

You heard me loud and clear, NO respect. If not anything, we’ve tried selling our past because…oh well….it’s worth a lot. The numerous buildings we’ve engraved our many romances….Raja loves Rani, Ram loves Sita, Tom loves Jerry…erm… no…strike the last one out. We’ve successfully managed to scar history with such markings. The walls of most palaces and other monuments are used as a urinal by many. Not to forget the great Taj Mahal, symbol of love (are we allowed to talk about love…or is it against our culture too?)which has been permanently blemished by the industries that we beautifully set up right around it in the name of progress. I remember my first visit to the Taj Mahal and it was quite disappointing….repugnant even. For all I vividly remember was that dead buffalo floating in the black tainted waters of the Yamuna. Our scientific museums are places where well under educated children run amuck pressing all the buttons to see the nice shiny displays move or make some weird sound. ( "Pheobe"..."oooh.....that's a funny noise"....sorry....Friends O.D) All this while the parents catch some rest in the bench at the entrance.

And we’re honestly so bothered about giving away something like spectacles? A friend commented on this, saying that unless the bowl and plate which the Mahatma used were something that gave you magical supernatural powers…there really isnt any value. If there is any value, it is in the ideals set forth by the Mahatma, which we need to treasure. That, quite clearly, certain morally correct groups, our politicians, judicial system etc, have upheld to the highest level. Bravo !
(Cough…cough…I’m puking blood here….oh wait…it’s all the lies and filth they’ve been feeding us over the years).

Here’s the best part – Mr.Otis had certain very rational demands which were rejected by the Indian Government. Demands were to increase budgetary allocation for the poor by reducing military expenditure or create an international traveling exhibit about Mahatma Gandhi that would reach 78 countries, one for each year of his life. This quite obviously was rejected by our beloved government as they are absolutely preposterous. How can we care about the poor? And what do you mean increase awareness for Gandhi? That’s for Sanjay Dutt to do in Munnabhai part 3. Okay, fine! If you insist, we will have all theaters run a screening of Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ once in a while and will have it dubbed into all regional languages. Oh, okay, we’ll make the tickets tax free too….is that okay?

I guess, we all have a certain sentimental value in objects of the past. It’s a human tendency. But to get so attached and overly worked up about something that you have no respect for and are not even going to care, is absolutely senseless. I am sure even the Mahatma would have been appalled by us placing value in his personal belongings rather than in his teachings. And looking at the way this country is going I’m sure he would have thought twice before choosing to fight for it. Who knows? Maybe there is still some hope.The recent ‘pink chaddies’ campaign was a perfect example of why I am still optimistic about the future of this country. Maybe, someday we would actually truly deserve Gandhi’s belongings.