By Life Positive October 2002 We live in troubled times. Ethics are a defunct concept. Given a choice, many would choose to be on the side that wins, even if it calls for wanton bloodshed. So how does Gandhi fit into the scheme of things? Is he even relevant today? In the previous issue we published a questionnaire. There was a tremendous response, with almost everybody feeling that the Mahatma’s teachings are becoming increasingly relevant. Here’s what our readers think: NONVIOLENCE Majority of our respondents chose to sit on the fence when asked if the concept of nonviolence is still valid. Though one should not instigate violence, one is sometimes compelled to resort to violence as a defensive measure, is what they feel. Ahimsa, most feel, is possible today provided we have a leader of Gandhi’s determination and conviction. Most insisted that passive resistance such as fasting were not a form of emotional blackmail, since it did not harm any one. It was a rational way of demanding what is right. ECONOMICS A need-based economy and not greed-based, is what Gandhi advocated. A large section of our respondents agree with him. Sustainable development is still called for and India must boost its small-scale and cottage industries to create employment and income-generation opportunities. His charkha, symbolic of simplicity as opposed to the technology , serves to remind us that we need to initiate development from our grassroots. And yet, most feel that Gandhi would not have been averse to the technological breakthroughs the past decades have seen. Instead, being the visionary that he was, he would be proud of man’s achievements. SOCIETY Gandhi’s notion of community living, many feel, will help bring about the much-required feeling of togetherness in society. Yet not everyone subscribes to his theory of celibacy as a means to spiritual evolution. People are of the opinion that it is not a viable option today as it goes against nature. However, other facets of Gandhian living such as vegetarianism have a lot of takers who see it as a more natural and wholesome way to healthy living. A majority of our respondents opine that we must look towards Gandhian methods to eliminate social ills that persist. Just as visionaries such as Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela carried forth Gandhi’s universal message, we too must persist with Gandhi’s prescriptions to cure society of its ills. SAGE OR POLITICIAN? It is not easy to categorize a phenomenon like Gandhi, but when asked to choose between Gandhi-the-sage and Gandhi-the-astute-politician, nearly everyone opted for the former. It takes an enlightened soul, they aver, to do what he did. READERS SPEAK: Gandhi was a crusader against religious fanaticism, a proponent of simple living within technological advances, an advocate of spirituality. Janev Veettil, USA Had Gandhi been alive, India would have never won wars against Pakistan. And though respected, if he tried fasting today, he would die of hunger. Shreesh, India If Gandhi was alive today, he would be running the Sabarmati Ashram as a religious missionary and would steer clear of politics. Bhavani Subramaniam, India Gandhi can never be anything but a Mahatma. If he was alive today, he would have been an icon for the youth. Pravin Kumar Baranwal, India Gandhi would have been a disillusioned, heart-broken and shattered old man in modern India. Amitabh Chatterjee, India The great soul, Gandhi, would not be shocked or surprised by modern society. His X-ray vision had helped him look into the future. Padmini Dev Kumar, India
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