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Gandhi would have been appalled by the treatment of minorities: Ramchandra Guha

Gandhi would have been appalled by the treatment of minorities: Ramchandra Guha

"Mahatma Gandhi would have been appalled by the treatment of Muslims and Dalits in India, Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, Rohingyas in Myanmar or people subjected to discrimination and violence elsewhere," says veteran Indian historian, Ramachandra Guha.

Launching his new book "Gandhi: The years that changed the world (1914-1948)" at London School of Economics, he said: "My job as a historian is different from an astrologer therefore I would not do any prophecy however, from my understanding of Gandhi, he would have done everything possible to bring harmony in the community.

When asked by a member of audience from Pakistan about how Gandhi would have resolved the Kashmir issue, he quipped: "A lot of people think that Pakistan would have been a utopia had Jinnah lived long or Gandhi for that matter. In fact Gandhi was about to visit Pakistan to talk about the plights of Hindus there. But we don't know what would have happened with regards to the nations. But he did what one could for maximum. He lost his life because he wanted Hindus and Muslims to live peacefully."

Professor Guha has penned two other books on Gandhi titled "India after Gandhi and "Gandhi before India". The new edition is an account of Mahatma's life on the basis of new released documents especially those written by his aides and people corresponding from different parts of the world. For example, the letters written by Churchill to the Viceroy showing how the British politician was paranoid about Gandhi's good health despite a hunger strike. Another example showing the relevance of Gandhi is how an American suit company advertised showing people sitting on a railway track which said "Gandhi doesn't wear suit therefore he doesn't need it but for those who wear here is where to look for".

Among other interesting events of Gandhi's life in the book, there is one where Gandhi is selling his photos to gather funds for the poor. "He takes out his photo from the bag and asks people how much would they pay, then he takes out Maulana Azad's photo so that the Muslims would also contribute and finally he has Nehru's photo too as he was popular among youth and women."

In response to a question regarding what has been called "The Statue of Unity" - Sardar Patel's statue in India - and the politics around it, he quoted Gopalkrishna Gandhi. "The Congress disowned him and the BJP mis-owned him", he said.

With politicians treating each other as nemesis over disagreement he cited the relationship between Nehru and Gandhi.

"Gandhi had a different view from Nehru about the economic development but he chose Nehru over others because he was the most liberal among them. Bose didn't agree with Gandhi but he was the one who called him the Mahatma. The politicians need to learn from them."


Anilesh Kumar

Anilesh Kumar

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