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'Modi Is Totally Ignorant About Mahatma Gandhi'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
Last updated on: May 30, 2024 07:44 IST
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'Modi will do himself a favour if he starts studying about Mahatma Gandhi.'
'I feel pity that we have a PM who has no idea of our own history.'

IMAGE: On March 27, 1942, Mahatma Gandhi called at 3, Queen Victoria Road, New Delhi, and had an interview lasting over two hours with Sir Stafford Cripps. Sir Stafford sees Gandhiji to his car. Photograph: Photodivision
 

Prime Minister Narendra D Modi in an interview with ABP News on Wednesday, mAY 29, 2024, stated that Mahatma Gandhi was not famous across the world until the movie Gandhi was made.

In Modi's own words, 'Across the world, Mahatma Gandhi was a great person. Was it not our responsibility in these 75 years to ensure that the entire world knows Mahatma Gandhi? I am sorry to say that no one knows about him.

'The first time when the film Gandhi was made, it was then that there was curiosity across the world as to who this person was."

'It was the task of this country to ensure that if the world knows about Martin Luther King, South Africa's Nelson Mandelaji, then Gandhi was no less. One has to agree and I am saying this after travelling across the world, that India should have got that importance due to Mahatma Gandhi.'

Congress leaders reacted with outrage to Modi's statement.

'Gandhiji was an inspiration to the entire world. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein were all inspired by Gandhi. Crores of people in India follow Gandhi's path of truth and non-violence. This is the fight between truth and untruth, between violence and non-violence,' Rahul Gandhi said in a video message.

P Chidambaram said he was appalled by the prime minister's comment. 'Has Mr Modi heard of the name Albert Einstein? Does Mr Modi know what Albert Einstein said of Mahatma Gandhi? Did Albert Einstein (died 1955) know about Mahatma Gandhi only after the film Gandhi was released (1982)?'

"He (Modi) wants to make people believe that if he was not there, Mahatma Gandhi would have been an unknown person," Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma's great grandson, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.

What was your first reaction when you heard Prime Minister Modi stating that Mahatma Gandhi became famous only after the film Gandhi?

It is laughable. The statement is like that of an illiterate person and I don't have the words to express my feelings after hearing him.

I can only oblige him by imparting my knowledge about Mahatma Gandhi to him.

If you compare before the film Gandhi and after, was there a huge surge in the Mahatma's popularity?

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, condolence messages came from across the world. Every top world leader of that time sent condolence message and the movie Gandhi was not made at that time in 1948.

Prime Minister Modi had spoken about Martin Luther King earlier and I want to inform him that Martin Luther King started his civil rights movement on the path of Mahatma Gandhi's passive resistance. He followed civil disobedience and made satyagraha the model for his movement. And this too was before Gandhi was made.

Martin Luther King's followers came to the Sabarmati ashram and Wardha ashram to take training in Ahimsa and Satyagraha. This too was before Gandhi.

He also said that people know Nelson Mandela and not Gandhi, and see the irony of Modi's statement, Mandela himself wrote that whenever he was in solitary confinement he was not alone as Mahatma Gandhi (his philosophy) used to accompany him all the time in his jail cell.

And if Modi wants any more clarification on the popularity of Mahatma Gandhi, then whenever he visits his samadhi on January 30 he should see the condolences that the Mahatma got at the time of his death because all this is recorded.

Modi will do himself a favour if he starts studying about Mahatma Gandhi. I feel pity that we have a PM who has no idea of our own history.

Is it ignorance on Modi's part or it is due to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh philosophy which tries to show Mahatma Gandhi as a lightweight because they opposed his ideology when he was alive?

The RSS does it deliberately, but Modi is totally ignorant about Mahatma Gandhi.

And now it is arrogance and ignorance together for Modi on his knowledge about Gandhi.

It is I, me and myself factor for him. He wants to make people believe that if he was not there, Mahatma Gandhi would have been an unknown person.

As far as the RSS is concerned they have plotted in belittling the Mahatma's stature. They have never been able to reconcile themselves that the right-wing Hindu element which murdered Gandhi could not murder his spirit.

Mahatma Gandhi's spirit is still alive and that bothers them. This is the constant pain and agony the RSS suffers about the Mahatma.

Being a Gujarati and having studied in Gujarat, it surprises one that Modi seems ignorant about the Mahatma who too hailed from the same state.

Please do not judge Gujaratis via Modi.

What was the reaction among the public when Gandhi was released in 1982?

The film was made because Gandhi had a larger than life image in the West. For the generation of that time the film contributed to Bapu's grand image.

The reason the film was made was because there was awe for Mahatma Gandhi in Western countries and therefore a Western director like Richard Attenborough made the movie.

Any interesting anecdote you can recall about the movie?

Before this movie was made there was a documentary on Gandhi made by Vitthalbhai Jhaveri. This documentary was five-and-a-half hours long. People like me also found it very difficult to sit through the entire stretch of this documentary.

Attenborough, when he came to India, saw Vitthalbhai's documentary back to back twice. He sat for 11 hours and watched the movie silently after which he scripted the movie Gandhi.

The effect of Gandhi was on Attenborough's mind and that is why he was inspired to make a movie on him.

How has Modi contributed to popularising Gandhi's philosophy in the 10 years of his rule?

He only contributed by doing nautanki or you can call it as drama for (Gandhian thoughts). And the statement he made shows how ignorant he is about Mahatma Gandhi.

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
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