A distinguished professor once remarked that we condemn Gandhi as long as we are young but we have to accept him once we grow and maturity sets in us. On his birth anniversary this year, it is pertinent to assess his relevance once more - Dr. P. C. Singh introspects through this article.
Assessment of Gandhi's relevance in modern times, is demand of the time as a systematic attempt is being made in many quarters to demolish Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and delineate him from Indian subconscious by creating false stories about him and his time.
It is often alleged that Gandhi took no interest and that too deliberately, on the matter related to Amar Shaheed Bhagat Singh who was finally hanged by the British Government. It is said that in his talk with Irwin - which finally culminated into Gandhi-Irwin Pact, he could have raised this issue and could have pressurized the British Government. But the fact of the matter is that Gandhi took up this issue with the British administration as he was well aware of Bhagat Singh’s popularity. But as rightly pointed out by Nehru in his Autobiography “Nor did the government agree to Gandhiji hard pleading for the commutation of Bhagat Singh death sentence”( p.274)
Gandhi is also accused for his choice of Nehru and not Patel as his successor. Those days people in the country were obsessed with the question - who after Gandhi? When Gandhi’s attention was drawn to this issue, his remark was straight and clear. He is reported to have said "neither Rajaji nor Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel but Jawaharlal will be my successor" (edt) Nehru’s India: Essays on the maker of India. For despite all claims and logic manufactured these days, the fact remains that Nehru had emerged as the tallest leader after Gandhi in India. And this was on his own while both Rajendra Prasad and Patel emerged on national level owing more to Gandhi.
Almost similar kind of expression is noticed on the issue of Subhash Chandra Bose resigning after he won the presidential poll against Pattabhi Sitarammya of the Congress in the Tripuri session. This was because in the defeat of Pattabhi Sitarammya Gandhi found his own defeat. Morally, Gandhi was not wrong as Sitarammya was his candidate. Bose had to quit as the Congress working Committee was dominated by Gandhi’s men like Rajendra Prasad and others who refused to follow Subhash and resigned. Subhash Babu had no choice. It was a power game. Yet Subhash Babu had high regards for the Mahatma. Bose’s own book The Indian Struggle is a testimony to this.
Gandhi has been called whimsical. After the Chauri-Chaura incident in 1922, where the demonstrators had set the police station on fire causing death of several policemen and some civilians, Gandhi withdrew the Non-Cooperation movement. Both Subhash Chandra Bose and Nehru were extremely unhappy over this whimsical attitude of Gandhi as the movement had spread all over India. But when Nehru asked Gandhi about this, the Mahatma successfully convinced him how this was done by the anti-social elements as the entire congress leadership at the national level were in jail and if immediate step is not taken off to check on this type of non-Gandhian violent step, the mighty British regime will crush the Indian awakening overnight after defaming it.
Despite such type of baseless and ill-informed perception about him, Gandhi continues to stand tall. His relevance survives largely owing to his unique formula of solving several challenges in front of mankind today. Gandhi is the only answer to the question of world peace and environmental disorder.