“His values are definitely important in the world we live in today, but I don’t think they are being followed in the way they should be.” This is the common refrain among the young generation in the capital when asked whether the Mahatma’s teachings and values still matter.
“The post-truth world in which we live in today is easy to get swayed by opinions on social media where campaigns on misinformation and disinformation are carried out more passionately than striving for accuracy,” pointed out one youngster. What the young Indian thinks of an exceptional figure like Gandhi shows the lens through which they reflect on aspects of Indian nationalism and patriotism.
Ahimsa (non-violence) and Satyagraha (holding firmly to the truth) are the two main values of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi that come to the mind. He led the movement from the front. He believed that without ahimsa, it is not possible to seek and find the truth. The two are intertwined and it is impossible to separate them. He put them as two sides of the same coin: Ahimsa, he said, is the means and Truth, the end.
So are these ideals and values handed over by Gandhi trying to reach too far in the world we live in today? What is the world that we live in today like? When asked, many young Delhiites said that violence comes easy in today’s world and being non-violent in today’s scenario is considered a major weakness. Ironically, this is exactly what made for an excuse (for being violent) even when Gandhi was alive.
Professor Akhilendra Kumar Pathak from the Indian Institute of Technology writes, “The greatest misstatement on Gandhi is about his Hindu credentials. The fact is that he was a more devout Hindu than many who are championing the cause today.” That is the discourse that one Delhiite pointed out raising the question whether the youth are exposed to Gandhi extensively and more importantly are they exposed to Gandhi through an unbiased lens. Critics are quick to point that Gandhi’s personal life, if up for debate, would raise questions. But then the big question is: should the way an individual lives behind closed doors be up for debate with the motive to demean their larger laurels?
Problems were mentioned. Issues were mentioned. Conflicts were mentioned. Religious Intolerance was mentioned. And the fact that all of them would be easier to solve if we just plainly followed Gandhi’s non-violence module was also mentioned. The other aspect that often surfaced was how Gandhi’s idea of Satyagraha could bring transparency in the working of the government and get rid of the red tape caused by inbuilt infrastructural corruption.
The Mahatma’s values and teachings may be fading away but that does not mean they are not relevant today. As one gentleman pointed out, “Gandhi’s message for peace and harmony is relevant not even today, but for tomorrow and many years to come.” Let us imbibe the goodness the Mahatma sought for us to follow.