I usually avoid hero worship. I generally dislike thinking of any one single person having realistically made a significant change to the world all by themselves. They never really do.
Today is 2nd October, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He was born a 146 years ago.
‘Father of the Nation’ is a epithet that I dislike at times to describe the great man that Mahatma Gandhi was. It enshrines the entire credit of modern India to a single person. I never really feel comfortable with such notions. That said, Gandhiji was a man who had an exceptional impact and his generation was truly a magnificent one in history.
These men and women in their thousands were flawed in more than one way. They were often in many respects, beliefs and ideas, products of their times.
They were also exceptional from many other generations as they forged and nurtured a union that we know of today as India, together with several hundreds of languages, different ethnicities, religions, caste and so much more which could have torn us apart.
India today is a chaotic democracy but a beautiful experiment at the same time. The experiment that we could refer to our “tryst with destiny” is still ongoing.
A friend, rightly point out on Facebook today . (Not linking to the post as it was private and he wants to stay anonymous)
but we should also remember that Nehru, Gandhi and all those leaders of that massive pervasive and diverse National Independence movement represented a generation. A generation that in early twentieth century was thinking of us in the 21st century, thinking of our future our well-being and our dignity. They were not just bothered with then and now, they had a vision — for a world where people like you and me can live with our heads high.
That dream came true for you and me but is not yet fully accomplished for millions of our fellow humans. That dream might not come true for our future generations and descendants. That pledge with destiny has not yet been fully redeemed. Lots of work left.
My friend is right.
In recent times, India feels more divided than ever. People are often casually hurling abuses and insults towards each other for having differing political opinions and views. We would do well to remember Gandhi’s generation for a few moments.
In this generation were founders of modern India. Our nation’s fathers and mothers. They thought about the world, about India and humanity. They forged a nation with no experience and several differences even among themselves by investing in institutions and civil traditions that continue to outlast them by many a decades. We should be grateful to them, but lots of work is still left to be done.
The responsibility is now ours. This age is now ours and we have to nurture this idea of India, make it better and leave it behind for generations to come.
As goes one of Gandhiji’s famous quotes “The future depends on what we do in the present”.