Why is Gandhi so special?

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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 Special on Gandhi Jayanti

Why is Gandhi so special?
 Why is Gandhi so special?

Today, Gandhi is almost a synonym for India abroad. Closer home in India, he's become a ubiquitous phenomenon. Even 155 years after his birth, he continues to be relevant- he is just everywhere- from his bust in front of government offices to textbooks of almost all subjects to statements of purpose of different organizations to our currency notes. But what's so special about this man?

 In my understanding, there are precisely three aspects that make him so special

First, is his insistence on debate and argumentation. This is clearly evident from the fact that none of Gandhi's close followers were his silent imitators. Be it Narhari Parikh, Nehru, Sardar Patel or C Rajagopalachari, they differed from Gandhi on different issues and engaged in a vigorous debate with the latter. But, in no case did Gandhi's relationship with any of these turned sore. In fact, Gandhi even managed to earn a position of respect in the heart of some of the fiercest critics of his ideas. Subhash Chandra Bose's hailing Gandhi as the 'Father of the nation', is a case in point.

Secondly, Gandhi was in many respects, a man with privileges who openly challenged those. His opposition to caste discrimination might seem quite mild today, but in his day and age and given the fact, that he himself was an upper caste Hindu male and a considerable chuck of his supporters the same, this was an act of great courage and determination. Similarly, his views on women were far ahead of time. As far back as 1927(if not earlier) Gandhi came to conceive that 'a woman is not the husband's bondslave'.

Thirdly, Gandhi led a simple yet fully transparent life. Gandhi's sayings and doings were no different. And hence his famous quote, "My life is my message". This is best put by Louis Fischer when he says that Gandhi unlike Stalin, Roosevelt or Churchill come across as conspicuously open-minded.

In all these respects, Gandhi appears to be far ahead of his time, and perhaps even ours. However, this is not to say that he was perfect or above fault. In fact, he himself admitted most of his faults in public. This, if anything, further testifies how special Gandhi was.

Rajdeep Mahanta

A student of history, Guwahati, Assam

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