A moo point, basically …

Arbit/ Random


with 8 comments

The best thing that could have happened to Gandhi was to get assassinated at the time when he did. Read this from a non-religious, apolitical, unbiased point of view. Don’t colour your opinion with whether you condone the killing or condemn it. Read on, and see if it makes sense.

His role was pretty much done once India got independence. Non-violence had pained the Brits out of India because it was more sensible (sensibler?) than their most sensible sensibilities. The compromises Gandhi (and the country, as a consequence) had to make in terms of partition and other demarcations were starting to have their fallouts, most of them quite ugly. Gandhi’s methods faced a real risk of becoming redundant if not obsolete. Non-violence/ civil disobedience/ non-co-operation works if you’re the underdog or the oppressed. But once you’re unshackled, what are you going to do? Protest silently until people are guilted into avoiding crime? Go on a hunger strike when prices rise? Voluntarily, that is, and not because you have to because food becomes unaffordable. Not really. He was on the verge of becoming a liability for his party. And then he was shot dead.

During the US elections in 2008, I kept feeling that it was the worst time for a person of messiahic potential like Obama to come to power because things were just too big to manage for anyone. The wheels had been set into motion before he took over and there wasn’t a lot he was going to be able to do. The Republicans and their patriotic/nationalistic jingoism would have been the appropriate (albeit a bit misguided) shot in the arm that a disillusioned, distraught and debt-ridden populace needed. But Obama showed them the real picture, gave them bare facts. They were not pretty. The situation was grim and bleak. He told them what was true but what they shouldn’t have been told so pointedly. Sarah Palin would have been such a nice distraction – her delusions and unshakeable beliefs would have been ‘just what the doctor ordered’. But she didn’t get a chance to do that, and now people hate Obama for failing to deliver. His failure – the main one – isn’t that he didn’t give people change they could believe in. It is that he didn’t manage expectations well. ‘Yes we can’ should have been more like ‘Yes we can … Eventually. Hopefully. Painfully.’

Of all the smart things the Congress Party of India has done – and that list isn’t particularly long – the smartest has been to have Dr. Singh and P. Chidambaram as the heads of the government – the titular heads, at least. Their credentials as economists or visionaries are so immaculate that they compensate for their shortcomings as political leaders. They’ve been seen as the good guys and thus have always emerged with a clean chit from most messy situations. But they have to understand that it all comes with a shelf life. Eventually, people will get tired of waiting, of hoping that they will do something. It will take something quite trivial for the public’s patience to snap. Eventually, they will too descend (in the public eye, if not in reality) to the level of the muck they currently are so entrenched in.

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”, said Harvey Dent. So true, sadly. Martyrdom ain’t easy, but living through battles takes real cajones.

Update: It might seem like I have an anti-Gandhi undercurrent here. That is neither true nor false – it is irrelevant. His death, like the other examples, are meant to indicate different stages in the ‘die a hero’ to ‘live long enough to become a villain’. He was killed in the ‘hero’ stage which perversely ensured his immortality. This post was in fact motivated by Dr Singh’s diminishing credibility due cabinet reshuffles and other oversights, and my diminishing sympathy for his plight.

Update2: Here’s a beautiful (albeit somewhat cynical) thought I came across here

The limit to martyrdom is the cruelty of the human imagination. There is a saint for every torture the pious mind can conceive.


Written by sujaybedekar

January 20, 2011 at 9:34 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Gandhi had become redundant long back.The Congress went against his opinion and decided supported the allies in WW II on the condition of complete independence.
    Gandhi’s economic policies were never really accepted by the congress in their agenda. He was more of what management books call “the crisis manager”.
    I really do not believe governing India was Gandhi’s battle.

    MMS and PC are in real shit though.

    Anirudh Patil

    January 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm

  2. Also, appreciate the analogy.

    Anirudh Patil

    January 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm

  3. Disclaimer: Flippant comment, so take it with a pinch of salt.

    “He was on the verge of becoming a liability for his party.”

    Shouldn’t this make the first line

    “The best thing that could have happened to the party (not Gandhi) was for Gandhi to get assassinated at the time when he did.” ??


    January 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    • Would appreciate a better name than Frankie (unless it’s you Suyash!) and a shady email, but still –
      Comment appreciate, not that flippant it is, actually. Guess I was going for two things –
      1. The first line kind of ties in with the conclusion at the end (and the subject) of the post – Martyrdom. Him becoming a liability was an affirmation of him living long enough to become a villian – almost.
      2. It was a slightly pathetic attempt at sensationalizing the post, although I now realize that it wasn’t a good idea. My point is not about Gandhi per say, he is but just one of the three (equally important) examples in the post. The post was, in fact, prompted by Manmohan Singh’s diminishing credibility and my diminishing sympathy for his fate.
      Still – point taken!


      January 21, 2011 at 12:44 am

  4. Yeah, in a perverse way, Godse assured Gandhi immortality by assassinating him.
    The whole post was motivated by the recent cabinet reshuffle and how it’s eroded MMS’s credibility.


    January 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm

  5. As much as I like the analogy, here is something to prove it wrong.


    January 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

    • Haha … MJ is pretty much a saint, he’s had a massive inflection in popularity ever since he died.All hail St. Michael


      January 21, 2011 at 11:14 am

  6. […] the risk of sounding overtly dramatic and repeating myself, I will quote Harvey Dent here – “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see […]

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