Although Gandhi’s legacy is mired in conflict and debate most of us would agree that he is the most sellable Indian leader in the contemporary world and his idea of Hind Swaraj has not been achieved even remotely.
By Veerendar Kumar, Research Associate, at Rashtram.
No Indian leader stands as tall as Mahatma Gandhi in Modern India. His ideas have rightly or wrongly shaped India’s identity in the last 100 years. One may agree or disagree with his opinions, specific decisions or actions. But almost everyone would agree that he is probably the most sellable brand for India as India is looking for a greater engagement at the world stage.
Gandhi meant something for everyone. Therefore, instead of getting into his diverse set of ideas, let us discuss his groundbreaking book Hind Swaraj which is considered the most lucid argument for decolonization of India. Although he did not define Swaraj for tactical reasons, however, he clarified it well that what it did not mean:
..In effect it means this: that we want English rule without the Englishman. You want the tiger’s nature, but not the tiger; that is to say, you would make India English. And when it becomes English, it will be called not Hindustan but Englistan. This is not the Swaraj that I want.
This thought stemmed from his clarity of thought regarding Civilizational Conflict to which India has been pushed by the invaders and colonizers. Today when we revisit this Gandhian idea, we find that concerns of Gandhi are still relevant. Bharat or Hindustan has been pushed to oblivion and we currently live in Englishtan. The idea of Englishtan is so pervasive that it has outlawed all other possibilities. For example, let us take the case of the higher judiciary. Except for few High Courts, Indian higher judiciary works exclusively in Queen’s language to which the masses have no access. Similarly, STEM Education which is considered the bedrock of growth and success is exclusively provided in a foreign language. Presence of thousands of colleges have made STEM education accessible for the middle class but the linguistic barrier has made this education a waste because around 80% of graduates are non-employable. Gandhiji talked about Sarvodaya through Antyodaya. But in Englishtan, the colonial bureaucracy uses the Queen’s language to keep the masses uninformed and ignorant so that corruption could be facilitated and non-performance and inefficiencies could be concealed.
In true Gandhian sense, Swaraj is yet to be achieved. Now a fundamental question arises – how to achieve true Swaraj. The answer is difficult and multidimensional. But there is one dimension in which Rashtram is putting its best efforts – decolonization of mind and presenting an Indic alternative of education, governance, wellness and so on. The journey has just begun and it has miles to go to reach its destination. In this journey, our supporters, well-wishers and alumni are very crucial and we are indebted to them. Please keep asking tough questions and offering tough problems to test our resolve and intensify our rigour.
- Gandhi, MK, Hind Swaraj Chapter- 4.
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Management