Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mahatma Gandhi and Anna Hazare

Comparison between Anna Hazare and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is inevitable in view of the ethical foundation of their approaches to social issues. Their modus operandi, atleast apparently, is similar. Hunger strike and Satyagraha lend commonality to their campaigns. How do we make a comparative assessment of  the roles played by these two gentlemen?

Gurudas Dasgupta, an erudite parliamentarian, avows there is no second Mahatma. In a caustic criticism of Anna's ways, the Bombay High Court says,"One man's Satyagraha may be another's nuisance". (This was what the British used to say!)  The Mahatma is held in high esteem by the entire country and rightly so. Ofcourse, praising the Mahatma's approach does not seem to preclude the self-proclaimed Gandhians from adopting unethical and corrupt ways in their life. Such Gandhians are a dime a dozen among particularly the politicians.

The Mahatma was a legend in his lifetime and has taken on divine dimensions in his afterlife. Therefore any earthly characterisation of even his mundane dealings is considered profane. Hence I attempt only a tentative comparison between the two giants.

The Mahatma was well educated in India and in the inns of London. He had advisors / followers like Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji, Satyamurthy, Vallabhai Patel and others. He was a gifted writer and an orator equally at ease in English and Hindi (and ofcourse in Gujarati too).  Most of all, he fought for India's freedom from aliens who had not forsaken all vestiges of integrity and decency.

In contrast, Anna Hazare is barely educated, had never been abroad to facilitate broader vision, and has to fight against a cabal of corrupt, dishonest and unethical persons whose overpowering aim in life is to amass wealth (if the economy is destroyed in the process, why should these venal elements bother?). He can speak only in vernacular languages.

If inspite of these disadvantages, Anna Hazare is able to make the kind of impact he has already made and has stirred the nation's conscience through his crusade (albeit misguided at times, because of the limitations mentioned above), is he not in some ways atleast (yes, I am commiting the sacrilege) better than the Mahatma?

Anna is no Mahatma. The Mahatma was no Anna either.


Rahul Gupta said...

The media coverage made anna and his gang mad. first one should give credit to anna and his team for creating awareness against corruption.but why the target cogress and politicians as villans.Afterall they are elected by the people and people can vote them out and can bring the new govt. free from corruption. everything is corruption but one should be live by example sothat others can follow. MGR said in his films theft can be eradicated only when thief changes his mind and become good. likewise corruption can be eradicated by us only. we should not be corrupt and not to support corruption. even if it is our own father,mother,son,daughter,brother,sister or friend,we should fight.Gang anna should uderstand this and stop this nonsense and go to thier house do some thing useful for the country,instead of telling parliment what to do(ther are big fool and i lost faith on Indian media also when they give unwanted importance to anna and his gang.

Anonymous said...

Some more points. Annaji has changed the outlook of an entire village, Ralegaon Sidhi. Don't write him off as just a preacher.He worked in the army as driver, got shot by the enemy and providentially escaped with a few pellets still embedded in his body. He has no family. His boldness and sacrifice is remarkable.