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   Understanding Gandhi
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
New Delhi | 06 Jul 2011

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No single Gandhi

Boat ride in the Sundarbans is an exhilarating experience, large canvas on which innumerable canals packed with nature’s amazing creation pour their riches into the sea. The sea returns the favors through backwaters that carry a cache of invaluable gifts for those who depend on it. ‘You have Gandhi to return the favors in time of moral crises, we have none,’ a young Bangadeshi had caught me unaware with his reflective query.

My spontaneous response then echoes in Understanding Gandhi now. Gandhi constitutes the moral capital of humanity, and persons as well as societies all over the world (must) draw strength from his ideas and work especially during crises. Gandhi belonged to an era and not to any nation, he is part of humanity’s collective history and would continue to be so. Close associate J B Kripalani had wondered if one lifetime was enough to understand Gandhi.

Understanding Gandhi through the minds of those who spent valuable time with the apostle of peace and non-violence only reflects that there is ‘no single Gandhi’. Fred Blum – an academician with a life-long commitment to understanding the socio, economic and spiritual dimensions of non-violence, had conversation with six of Gandhi’s close associates in unfolding Gandhi as they had perceived. The narrative conversation is insightfully enriching.

Kripalani, who taught history, had once questioned Gandhi: ‘No where in history could regimes be toppled through non-violence.’ In his impeccable style, Gandhi had responded: ‘Professor, you teach history but I’m writing history.’

Understanding Gandhi captures that bit of history which can assist readers and researchers in drawing their version of Gandhi. Without doubt, it is a valuable addition to the Gandhi literature.

Understanding Gandhi
by Usha Thakkar and Jayshree Mehta
Sage, New Delhi
550 pages, Rs 550

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

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Devinder Sharma
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Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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