Happy Birthday Gandhi Ji - I am in the land of Gandhi and today is one of many bank holidays we have in India.
Gandhi is on every currency note in India, I have met several people in my 3 and1/2 years here, who follow his ways, living simply, non violent. etc. But overall with the westernization and economic growth my perception is that most of India has forgotten about Gandhi and his practices. Non violent protests do occur, as well as the violent ones. Friends and I attended a march in support of the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender persons last month - that was inspiring. We actually followed the route of Gandhi's "Quit India" campaign in Bombay.
I think the modern day India will struggle with how to grow, modernize yet keep the teachings of Gandhi alive. Certainly the greed and corruption present in India is not what Gandhi had in mind (although I am sure there are many un publicized events of his own life he is not proud of, he is human!), I am faced with such corruption constantly when working in the development sector. What is startling to me is the unabashedly use of corruption.
I met with a local Union leader a few weeks back, he is proud (displayed on 20 foot billboards outside his compound) of his work for the people. He has a school for girls, art program for tribals, medical camps, etc. etc. He is a unitarian minister and is pleased to display the several religious symbols in his office/sitting room (minus muslim, did not see any islamic symbols). When i asked if they used only non violence in there union protests and demonstrations he said of course yes, but I am aware at my own workplace his use of force with our management. Knocking a man off his motorcycle when outside our school/farm grounds, chasing our security gaurds and threatening to beat them and union members/employees ganging up and beating up a manager.
When I asked him about corruption, he straight faced told me, he tells his people it is ok to take money as long as you are not taking money that would go to the poor. Doesn't it all end up taking away from what would go to them? What is shocking is that corruption is accepted, almost expected. I certainly am not perfect, I am not trying to pass off judgement, but trying to give an example of how the country idolizes a man and his ideals yet does not follow them. I wonder how India will grow and develop without weeding out corruption.
It is easy enough to learn the game and how to bribe and be corrupt yourself, if you play along you too can get ahead. In the short term. That is part of the issue I find here, short sightedness. Looking at the immediate benefits versus planning for the future. I face it constantly in my work the challenge of planning for long term. Perhaps in a country that is young as far as ruling itself and is experiencing and has experienced so much poverty it is a challenge to think beyond your next meal, next month's rent, electric bill, water bill, etc...I certainly have come from a privileged background in those regards.
I am not naive to believe that India is the only corrupt nation in the world. Now we are faced with an onslaught of political games and messages in the US, where of course corruption is evident. On a different level almost legalized or at least rationalized by the legal system.
I think if there is a way the world can adopt some of Gandhi ji's teachings it would be a better place (yes, i am still an idealist!) .....I am posting a link to a video of his grandson speaking. Beyond the obvious dangers of physical violence which I detest and do not see a need for, he speaks of passive violence. Our attitudes. Being Positive. This message comes at a good time for me!