The relevance of Gandhi today
The recent fast by social activist Anna Hazare against corruption has pitchforked Gandhism to the forefront though there is a raging debate on whether one can use fasting as a tool to arm-twist a democratically elected government. The Mahatma believed in fighting social injustice and it did not matter if the injustice was perpetrated by a foreign regime or by local rulers. For example, his fight against a ban on temple entry for Dalits in Kerala or fighting untouchability in various corners of India were more against local authorities.
Today, the path and means used by Mahatma Gandhi have become more relevant not just in India, but elsewhere too where people have been suppressed or injustice has been institutionalised. The Jasmine Revolution is an example of Gandhian path at work. The Jasmine revolution that started in December-January in Tunisia was a peoples' movement that helped end the autocratic rule of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 15. The revolution was ignited by the self-immolation of vegetable vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, when he was humiliated by a woman constable on December 17. Though, self-immolation is not within the tenets of Gandhian principles, the outrage against social injustice got a new spark.
What were the people of Tunisia fighting for? Unemployment, food inflation, corruption, lack of freedom of speech and poor living conditions. All issues concerning common people for whom Gandhi raised his voice. The movement soon spread to Egypt and other Middle East nations.
US President Barack Obama recalled how the revolution in Egypt that threw out a defiant Hosni Mubarak had the seeds of Mahatma Gandhi's tryst with truth and justice. When Mubarak was forced to step down, Obama recalled the non-violent methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr as he praised the people of Egypt for their peaceful protests.
"While the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can't help but hear the echoes of history: echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice," Obama said in his speech hours after Mubarak resigned as President of Egypt.
Does the low turn-out at Mumbai's MMRDA grounds indicate a gradual disillusionment with the Anna movement?
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- Yes, people are losing interest in the long drawn-out battle
- 65 %No, numbers at the ground say nothing; India supports Anna with full fervor
- I cannot say