Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Leading from the front

When Gandhiji decided to do something for the country—India, not South Africa—he analyzed the pertinent issues of the time by traveling far and wide. He experienced firsthand how Indians' root problems existed inside their head. Indians didn't have shackles around their limbs. They were psychologically defeated by the British thanks to the constant reminder that they were inferior to the Whites. Which is why Gandhiji took the necessary measures to reverse the situation at the grassroot level. So, for that to happen, he himself had to undergo certain changes. During that era, Britishers were dictating terms (not very different from how stupid politicians do today) by deciding how Indians were going to lead their lives and earn their livelihood. It was always about economics. Money, money and more money! The Britishers didn't care about religion (if they did, we'd be the world's largest Protestant country in the world today) but knew their politics very well. So Gandhiji got down to business by requesting Indians to stick to the truth and channel the nationalism in them towards a greater cause. He called it Swadeshi despite knowing we didn't really have a country back then. The idea was to create the idea of a nation. Youngsters today mercilessly dismiss his work by saying it took him decades to get us independence while some even argue that he didn't get us independence at all. Two factors to be noted here:

1. Both the parties don't know what the heck they're talking about.
2. To gain independence, you need to have a country first.

Physical independence was out of question anyway. Mental struggle was the way to go. So what did this lawyer from England cum freedom fighter from South Africa do? He got rid of every little thing from his personal life that reminded him of imperialism. He stopped wearing Western attire for beginners. No Saville Row suit please! He started producing his own garment. He didn't stop there. He even ditched something as basic as soap and went back to the traditional besan flour. These are little things that make a lot of difference especially when you are the leader—a soon-to-be country's first national leader, to be precise—of an impossible dream. Can you think of a greater leader than him before or after his era? And we are talking about a time when there was no Internet and his messages relied heavily on newspapers. A media that was censored heavily and read by those who could read. India didn't have a lot of literates. And yet, he managed to reach so many millions with his travels. You know why? Because Indians might have been emotional fools but they could see clearly a man who wasn't swindling. They could have easily rejected him on the ground of his foreignness but they couldn't. If 5000 people attended his speech, his messages reached 10,000. They were clear and to-the-point. Which is why he could attract talents like Jinnah and Netaji and Bhagat as his fanboys (before they decided to chart out their separate journeys). I'm not deifying Gandhiji here. Just pointing out the subtle measures needed to make a difference. And as the cliché goes, it begins with you. He might have been flawed but he wasn't afraid of flaws. Maybe that must make us understand why we don't really have leaders anymore. There are way too many followers nowadays. And the ones we call leaders are actually salespersons selling products under the guise of advancing humanity. It's all about the big P now. No, not penis. Profit. 

1 comment:

Rinku Prakash said...

Gandhiji had a mission to accomplish. Leaders now have nothing of the kind. A burning need to achieve something great and transformational forces people to take the reins and lead, whether they profit or not. That is missing now. Now only the profit and power needs remain.