ஆன்மீக அரசியல்/Spiritual Politics 2 :Vinoba

March 13, 2018

In Bihar I was given another kind of gift in the name of God. In Baidyanathdham at Deoghar I went along with some Harijans for darshan of the sacred image of Mahadev. We were not able to have that darshan, but we got our prasad in the form of a good beating at the hands of the God’s devotees. Those who beat us did so in ignorance, so I did not want them to be punished. On the contrary, I was very pleased that the hundreds of brothers and sisters who were with me all remained calm. Not only that, those of my companions who got the worst of the beating all said that they felt no anger at all. I believe that this will prove to be the death-throes of the demon of discrimination.

I had no desire to enter the temple by force or by the authority of the law. It is my custom never to enter any temple into which Harijans are not allowed entry. I had made enquiries, and was told that Harijans were allowed to enter, so after our evening prayer we all went reverently for darshan, keeping silence on the way. I myself was meditating inwardly on the Vedic verses in praise of Mahadev. That being the case, when we were unexpectedly attacked and beaten it was for me a specially moving experience. My companions encircled and protected me, intercepting the blows which were aimed directly at me. Still, I did get some taste of them to complete our ‘sacrificial offering.’ I remembered how, in this same dham, the one whose servant I call myself (Mahatma Gandhi) had received the same kind of treatment. I had experienced the same blessing, the same good fortune, as he did.


I went to Jagannathpuri for the Sarvodaya Sammelan (in March 1955); and we went to the Jagannath temple, but had to turn back without entering. I had gone there in a mood of great devotion, but I had a French lady with me, and it was my principle that if she could not go in, neither could I. I began in early youth to study the Hindu religion, and I have continued to do so to this day; from the Rigveda to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Mahatma Gandhi, I have studied the whole tradition as reverently as I could. I claim with all humility that I have tried my best to practise the Hindu religion as I understand it. In my opinion, it would have been a very unrighteous act for me to enter the temple and leave the French lady outside. I asked the authorities there whether she might enter along with me, and they said No. So instead of making my obeisance to the Lord, I saluted them respectfully and turned away. As I said at the time, I do not look down upon those who had refused us entry. I know that they too must have felt sorry about it, but they were enslaved by ingrained ideas and were unable to do the right thing. So I don’t blame them much. I say only this: that such an incident bodes ill for our country and for our religion. Baba Nanak was also refused entry into this temple and was turned away from its doors. But that is an old story, and I hope that it will not again be repeated.

[Gandhi had once castigated Mahadev Desai for not advising Kasturba and his wife against entering this temple.]


At Guruvayur there is a temple, so famous that it could be called the Pandharpur of Kerala. Years ago Kelappan had fasted there; Gandhiji had come and joined him. He asked Kelappan to give up his fast, saying, ‘I will fast in your place.’ Gandhiji thus took the fast upon himself, and after that the temple was thrown open to Harijans.

When I reached Guruvayur I had with me some Christian fellow-workers. I asked the temple authorities if they would allow us all to enter together. No, they said, they could not allow that, but they would be very pleased for me to enter and would feel sorry if I did not do so. ‘I am sorry,’ I replied, ‘I do not understand how I could have any experience of God if I were to leave these Christian friends of mine outside. I cannot worship in that way.’ So I did not go in.

A great debate ensued in the Malayalam newspapers about my not being allowed in Guruvayur. Public opinion on the whole was against my exclusion. Only one or two papers criticised me for insisting that people of another religion should be allowed inside the temple. The rest, a score or more newspapers, said that I was right, and that it was a big mistake, which would do much damage to Hinduism, not to allow us to enter.



ஆன்மீக அரசியல்/Spiritual Politics 1: Vinoba

March 13, 2018

[Again on Guha’s title of his essay on Vinoba: ‘What Gandhi was not’. Maybe, it should be ‘What Gandhi Was Not But Wanted to Be’. Gandhi said he wanted to be reborn as a bhangi. Vinoba became that in his lifetime. For Vinoba, Gandhi was where he found ‘both the peace of the Himalayas and the revolutionary spirit of Bengal’ ]

Then in 1946 I made a solemn resolve to take up scavengers’ work myself. By that time I was living at Paunar, and I began my scavenging in Surgaon, a village three miles away, setting off every morning with a spade on my shoulder. It took an hour and a half or two hours to come and go, and I spent an hour or an hour and a half on the actual work. I worked as regularly as the sun himself, except that I had to miss three days because of illness. I kept it up without a break throughout the year, through cold season, hot season and rains.

One day it rained so heavily that the whole road was waistdeep in water. There was also a deep gully which had to be crossed to reach Surgaon. Floodwater was rushing through it and it was impossible to cross. I stood on the bank and shouted across to a villager on the other side: ‘Please go to the temple and tell the Lord that the village scavenger came, but could not reach the village because of water in the gully.’ ‘All right,’ he said, ‘I’ll go.’ ‘And what will you say?’ I asked. ‘I’ll tell the priest,’ he replied, ‘that Babaji had come.’ ‘No, no, you have misunderstood,’ I said. ‘You must tell the Lord and tell Him that the village scavenger came, but could not reach the village because of the water.’

So I went back again to Paunar—but why did I set out at all that day? When the water on the road was waist-deep it was obvious that I could not reach the village, and yet I decided to go as far as I could before turning back, because for me the work was a form of worship. ‘How long will you go on with this work?’ people used to ask, and I would reply, ‘For twenty years, until the present generation makes way for the next. It is a question of changing the people’s mental attitude.’ In fact I could carry it on only for a year and three quarters; then, after Gandhiji passed away, I had to give it up. So long as it continued it took up five or six hours every morning. Sometimes people wanted to consult me, but I always told them that I would not be free before eleven, because up to then was my time for scavenging. For me this despised kind of work was a form of prayer, so I did not take a single day’s leave. Along with the scavenging I was able to teach a number of things especially to the children. ‘Baba,’ they would say as they greeted me, ‘today we have covered our excrement with earth’—and I would go with them to inspect. When the time of the Ganapati festival came round, I found the whole village spotlessly clean and there was no work left for me to do. The villagers had decided the day before that as the next day was a holy day they would do all the scavenging themselves—so they had cleaned the whole village. ‘Here is a revolution indeed !’ I thought. If Gandhiji were still alive, I would even today be doing scavenger’s work in Surgaon.

The Brahmin who fought to be a scavenger

March 12, 2018

A little after Gandhi’s much-maligned ‘epic fast’ in 1932, he had gone on another little fast in the same year. The story behind that fast is interesting. It was in solidarity with the semi-fast by one of his colleagues, Appasaheb Patwardhan, who was insisting on his right to do scavenging work at the prison (semi-fast, since, he didn’t want to weaken his body, and therefore, dodge other work). He was barred from taking up scavenging work, because he was a Brahmin and scavenging was alloted only to Dalits, even those who were not scavengers outside.

Suresh Venkatadri has written in detail about how much he was moved by the story of Appasaheb Patwardhan’s fast, which I narrated during my speech at an event organized by Aruvi yesterday.

I first heard about Appasaheb, in one of the speeches of Narayan Desai. But there is little about him on the internet. The whole sequence of events had been compiled earlier by Raattai Ragunathan R. I think Appa’s letter to Gandhi is a masterpiece, and brilliantly anticipates every objection to his claim, and interestingly, is in line with Gandhi’s own arguments with the Jail authorities (though Gandhi and Appasaheb had not corresponded on this before).

Appa Patwardhan

Gandhi’s approach to sanitation is criticized by some as glorifying a menial task, thereby becoming a tool to keep them under the yoke.

Bringing pride and dignity to a work despised by the general public is extremely critical till other work is found for those workers, working conditions are improved for them, and alternatives are found for that work. Gandhi attempted to do all of these. It is not easy to dismiss his approach as merely condescending.

By taking up to scavenging himself, and inspiring other upper caste colleagues like Vinoba and Appa Patwardan to take up scavenging, he brought dignity to the work. (That is my reading – I can’t say that was his stated intention.) He said the job of a scavenger and a lawyer are equal. He said he wanted to be reborn as a Bhangi.

Going further, he and his associates, continuously, explored and experimented with alternatives. He offered spinning as a revenue stream for people of all creed.

Wardha toilets are an important innovation.
Appasaheb is said to have later installed the first biogas plant based latrine in India. Inspired by him, a Doctor in Dehu village near Pune, Dr.S.V.Mapuskar “built several toilets in Dehu and eventually spread the idea to other states, too. These were no ordinary toilets, but came with a biogas tank. The gases generated from this plant were used to cook and provide gardening water. Even today, several houses in Dehu village are verdant with the plants that grew from this amenity.

Such was Mapuskar’s stature among villagers, that when he was once – and only once – transferred out from the Dehu PHC, the locals actually took out a morcha to the district collector’s office and forced a stay on the shift of their beloved doctor.” (https://punemirror.indiatimes.com/…/articleshow/56785976.cms)

Dr. Mapuskar was awarded the Padmashri award last year. His organization is named after Appasaheb.


Excerpts from the letter of Appasaheb Patwardhan to Gandhi:

Outside I am free to do without the services of  a professional scavenger, or even if I employ one, I need not look down upon his work. But here conservancy work is regarded as degrading, it is forced upon the unwilling Harijan and I am forced to take his services.
I contend therefore that the usage inside jails is not simply a copy of the outside usage but a distorted copy. Or what is usage outside becomes hardened law inside.
I am aware that the responsibility for this injustice belongs primarily to the outside (mainly Hindu)  society and only secondarily to the jail administration, who consulted expediency rather than justice in copying, with adaptations, outside usage. The jail rules owe their origin to the attitude of outside highcaste public, highcaste jail authorities and also of high caste prisoners. It is upto all these to undo the injustice of their own doing.
But jail administration ought not to stand in the way of reformers.
So long at least as volunteers are available to do conservancy work and it can be assigned to them without detriment to normal or efficient working, the work should not be forced upon unwilling prisoners, especially of ‘low castes’.
If this were granted I felt I could wait for the final solution of the problem. I explained in the application that almost all the congress prisoners in this jail (nearly a hundred) and even some non-congress prisoners were eager to do the work as a matter of duty, leaving the authorities a wide field to choose from.
The application was rejected, that was all I was given to understand.
Another application to the I.G.: 10-11-32
Thereupon I addressed another application to the I.G. Therein I requested to be allowed to do at least my share of conservancy work; “the work could be assigned to me as a whole day task or I may be allowed to do it over and above my daily task, e.g. on Sundays when I have no other task to do. “
I made the request in an individual capacity without raising questions of general policy. I was content, and wd be grateful, to be allowed to do the work as a matter of sufferance or even indulgence. “It ought to be easy for you to grant my present request, whatever the general rules in that behalf, might be. Because I know from personal experience, that the rigour of jail discipline is in particular case tempered to make allowance for individual or communal prejudices.”
“Outside jail, I have tried as far as possible to do without the services of a professional scavenger. I have been doing scavenger work for my home or for the colony to which I happened to belong for the time being. And after the expiry of my present term of imprisonment I intend to to do scavenger work as a profession for at least one year, and, if circumstances permit, even longer.
“If if I am given the work I shall feel grateful and shall not expect any more facilities for myself than are ordinarily enjoyed by conservancy workers.
Notice of direct action:  “I hope to get a favourable reply from you within a fortnight at the latest, failing which it will be most unwilling duty to have resort to a mild sort of direct action. I shall eat no more than half the prescribed jail ration and I shall reduce it even further provided that I do not make myself physically helpless and unable to take care of myself.”
Though I present  my request in an individual form I also made mention, “in order to simplify matters for you of a fellow-prisoner of mine, who shares my views and feelings in this matter and is  resolved to go to the same lengths as myself, if he too is not given the work like myself.
(I shall strongly discourage sympathetic action on the part of other prisoners.) If however more prisoners come forward with similar requests and it becomes difficult for you to satisfy a larger number, both of us are ready to withdraw our demands in favour of them.”
P.S. I wrote this in English instead of Gujarati in order to render it easier for censoring if necessary.

Vinoba Bhave: through the eyes of critics and admirers

March 11, 2018

Even though it is now seen as a ‘failure, albeit a spectacular one’ (in the words of Ramachandra Guha), I consider Bhoodan Movement to be one of the strongest demonstrations of the potential of non-violence. I cannot imagine myself persuading someone to part with a square foot of land. Bhoodan movement succeeded in getting people to donate 44 lakh acres (‘the size of Scotland’ says Hallom Tennyson). The movement’s failure lay in not being able to convert the donations to title deed transfers, and the blame for that cannot be placed on the initiator and force behind the movement, Vinoba Bhave, alone. Even if only 13 lakh acres was actually distributed, it was still quite a remarkable feat.

I hope an unbiased and dispassionate study of the overall achievements and impact of the movement is made. (If anything already exists, I would love to go through it.)

Though the ideals of Gramdan were loftier than Bhoodan, and it is incredible that Gramdan also happened at many places, I feel Bhoodan had the right mixture of idealism and pragmatism. The shifting of focus away from Bhoodan to Gramdan could have negatively affected the overall success and focus of the movement.


In ‘India After Gandhi’, Ramachandra Guha rushes past Bhoodan Movement in a single paragraph.

Guha titled his essay on Vinoba Bhave in his ‘ An Anthropologist among the Marxists and other essays’ as “What Gandhi Was Not: Vinoba Bhave”. And, he had not a singe word of praise for him.

“To mark this event (Vinoba’s centenary, which he observes also coincided with the 20th anniversary of emergency), Bhave’s memoirs, Moved by Love, were published in English translation. They show him to be a pious, puritan, and self-righteous man, devoid of humour and the capacity for self-criticism. The book could more appropriately have been called Moved by Myself. It is littered with anecdotes showing Bhave as more virtuous than the people around him – as a glutton for hard work (at the spinning wheel or with the broom), as a master of self-denial (of food and sex), and as exceptionally adept at picking up new tricks. Here is a typical example of the way in which the author gives himself not merely pats but thumps on his own back. ‘Someone asked me why I was studying four languages,’ he writes, ‘and I replied – because I couldn’t find a fifth.’ “

Guha may be justified in being bitter about Vinoba for his passive, alleged ‘Sarkari Sant’ role during emergency. But as a historian and an anthropologist, he must have noticed that the ‘author’ of this particular book was not Vinoba himself (though the words may have been Vinoba’s, said/written at various points in time). It was compiled and edited by Kalindi, and translated by Marjorie Sykes. It is unfair to contrast this work by Vinoba’s devout disciples with the brutal honesty of the autobiography of Gandhi.

Guha says Vinoba is devoid of humour, and in the last line of the same paragraph, he seems to deride him for his humour. [In this case, Vinoba was talking about learning the four major South Indian languages together during his prison term. In fact, after this light-hearted but inaccurate quip, he goes on to explain the benefit of learning them together.]

Guha also says, “Bhave seems never to have broken out of his roots. As a Maharashtrian Brahmin, he acknowledges only Hindu influences on this thought: the Vedas, the Gita, the Vishnusahasranama.” By using the term ‘Maharashtrian Brahmin’, he not so subtly brackets him with those who were behind his master’s assassination, and their philosophy. This is about the man who coined the slogan ‘Jai Jagat’, walked through East Pakistan, and wrote the iconic inter-religious hymn ‘Om dat sat’. Vinoba has written books on ‘The essence of Christian teachings’ and Koran (after learning Arabic to study it in original).

Guha terms Vinoba as a ‘Sanskrit scholar and dialectician but an utterly shallow thinker’. He makes no mention of the fact that Vinoba had learnt over 20 languages, and had enough command in many of them to be able to read and remember the best spiritual literature in those languages. I have heard personal accounts from different people of how he cited (in Tamil) selections from Kural and other Tamil literary texts. Our daughter sang 3 Thevaaram songs this year at Jagannathan’s anniversary, and Krishnammal Jaganathan observed that all 3 happened to be personal favourites of Vinoba (அம்மையே அப்பா, முக்திநெறி அறியாத, மாதர்பிறை கண்ணியானை).

Guha quotes this line from Hallam Tennyson’s foreword, “many villages developed factions and disagreements leading to disillusion and the rapid flickering out of the Bhoodan spirit which Vinoba had inspired.” But he conveniently ignores the next passage:
“When I walked with Vinoba I found this aspect distressing, even heart-breaking. But today, reading the extracts translated by Marjorie Sykes, I see the situation in a different light. Vinoba was a true embodiment of the spirit of the Gita: ‘In every age I come back, to deliver the holy, to destroy the sin of the sinner, to establish righteousness,’ Krishna said. He did not promise permanent solutions; he redirected our gaze to the universal good and rekindled faith in human capacities.”

Guha also cites a scathing passage of Naipaul in his essay, ‘that measured the distance between Vinoba and the Mahatma’. No doubt, Gandhi was a peerless giant, but Vinoba was no midget.


Elsewhere, Naipaul calls Vinoba Bhave ‘a foolish parody of Gandhi’, and worse:
“He had lived for so long as a parasite, and away from the world, that he had become a kind of half-man, and he thought that Gandhi had been like that too…

There was, happily, a later career for Vinoba, not as a reformer, not as a wise man, but as a kind of holy fool, someone politicians at the very top wished to be photographed with and whose bless­ing they wished to have….”

[As an aside, Guha on Naipaul’s ‘A Writer’s People’:
There is far too much in this little book of what Walcott once called “the peevish sixth-grader still contained in an almost great writer”.]


He has come not like others to be blessed but to bless, not to receive but to give.
– Gandhi on Vinoba.


The two other tallest Gandhian contemporaries of Vinoba – Nehru and Jayaprakash Narayan, both with modern mindsets, treated him with respect and affection. Though JP fell out with Vinoba later on, he sacrificed his leadership position in politics, and potential Prime Ministership after Nehru, to be a follower of Vinoba for nearly two decades in the prime of his life.

Vinoba and Nehru

Despite the bitter days of emergency, a few associates of JP (and naturally Vinoba’s as well) whom I’ve personally met, held nothing but nostalgic warmth towards Vinoba.

Narayan Desai had this to say about the man ‘devoid of humour’.

Desai : I was in Paunar, talking to some of the inmates of the Vinoba ashram. And I made a statement that gave them a jolt. I said, our movement, the Sarvodaya movement, has two leaders – one of them is the saint and the other, the politician. And Jayaprakash is the saint.
Kannan : Haha
Desai : So Deshpande, who was listening, got so excited, immediately ran to the room where Vinoba was staying and said, ‘Bhaba you know what Narayan is saying’. And Vinoba had this habit : whenever he likes something, he would stand up from his seat and start clapping. He stood up and (claps)…”It is true what he said…our movement has two leaders, one a saint and the other the politician. Jayaprakash is the saint. And I am the politician!”. After this, in public meetings he started saying this. That is because of this man’s absolutely crystal-clear honesty. Absolutely. After working with him for 20 years, it was a great experience of life.

Desai also said this about his meeting with Vinoba before he parted ways:
I am afraid, this is the parting of ways. And I am going to be on the other side.’ I was weeping all the time…putting my head on his lap. He never encourages any kind of touching of the body…he is like namashkar….he put his hand on my head for half an hour..and everytime…the only sentence is that, ‘You are doing the right thing for you. It is absolutely right for you.’ That is the kind of freedom he gave.
I said, ‘Well, I am doing it because of what I learnt from you: that one has to work as per one’s conscience. Not from Gandhi, but from you. My conscience tells me to go to Jayaprakash.’ There was not, for one minute, any kind of bad blood between us. Nothing like that.

Perhaps, while we have come to terms with the spirituality of Gandhi, Vinoba’s even more overtly saintly inclinations and looks doesn’t allow the modern historians to evaluate him unbiasedly and give him his due. I sense that unease in what Guha says here:

“Even in their appearance, master and disciple made a study in contrast. Gandhi, clean-shaven with spectacles planted on his nose, looked like Everyman (only uglier), whereas Vinoba sported a long white beard and an absurd black head scarf – he wanted to be a baba, and look like one.”

Well, this baba refused to enter temples that didn’t allow entry to Dalits or people of other religions; this baba did scavenging in a village every day for over an year from 1946. This is the baba of whom Gandhi said, “Every hour of his is scheduled for his work and he would regard it as sacrilege to take a single moment therefrom for writing a shastra (on ahimsa).” This is the baba who chose to walk down to Delhi from Wardha, when the Prime Minister, Nehru, invited him to a discussion with members of the Planning Commission.

Gandhian Awareness Yatra – A Journey Within

October 13, 2017

[Translation of an essay written originally in Tamil (also by me) for Savodaya Talisman. The first part covers the experience of the journey, while the second part contains a few of my views on the Gandhian approach.]


Dr.Markandan, former Vice Chancellor of Gandhigram University, had organised a Gandhian Awareness Yatra, from 3rd August to 12th August, 2017. I was part of the yatra with my wife and daughter. We drove from Kanyakumari to Chennai, speaking in various colleges, schools, Sarvodaya Sangams and public places. Seven of us completed the yatra. [N.Markandan, Tamizhaka Makkal Sevai Iyakkam], Kannan, Nedya and Mahirl Malar [Servaikaranpalayam, Coimbatore], Subbaiyyan [Annur], Sivakumar [Editor, Vizhipunarvin Kural], Rajamani [Dindukkal]. A few others travelled with us partially. The impact of the external journey will be seen only in future. The seeds sown may grow unseen. But the journey within each of us is important. Those touched by the shadow of Gandhi have no escape from that internal yatra.


First, a few notes about the external journey. The yatra was flagged off at Gandhi Mandapam, Kanyakumari, with inter-religious songs. We passed through Nagerkoil, Tirunelveli, Virudunagar, T.Kallupatti, Tirumangalam, Madurai, Gandhigram University, Dindugal, Trichy, Karur, Kangayam, Padiyur, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Mettupalayam, Ooty, Kothagiri, Sathyamangalam, Gobichettipalayam, Erode, Namakkal, Malloor, Salem, Tirupathur, Pachur, Vellore, Kanchipuram, and concluded our yatra at Thakkar Baba Centre, Chennai.

We spoke at Nagerkoil Hindu College, Palayamkottai St.John’s College, Gandhigram University, Jairams College, Karur, Nanjayya Lingammal Polytechnic, Mettupalayam, Vellalar College of Education, Erode; Gandhi Niketan School, T.Kallupatti, Victoria Armstrong School (NAWA), Kothagiri, and Government High School, Pachur. Meetings had also been organised at most places by the Sarvodaya Sangams, which were attended by the spinners and weavers from the surrounding villages. Food was served for all at most of these meetings. Dr. Markandan spoke on the current political and economic situation and the actions needed to encounter it. He emphasised various aspects like simplicity in public and personal lives, selfless dedication, caste and religious harmony, development for all, decentralisation of power, a skill-based Gandhian education, introduction of sustainable, appropriate technologies in khadi and other handicrafts, and strengthening and widening the scope of the Savodaya Sangams. We also spoke briefly at most places. Our nine-year old daughter sang. In her slender voice, ‘Shanthi Nilava Vendum’ stirred emotions. The Sarvodaya Sangam workers and students asked various questions. In answering those questions, all of us could debate and understand today’s scenario and the Gandhian principles.



Gandhi filled my thoughts throughout the journey. The journey within occurred more deeply than the journey outside. Be it the scorched lands of Kovilpatti, or the chilly green forests of Nilgiris, or the thundering showers near Vellore, or the endless weekend traffic of Chennai – the internal journey was in a single direction. During most nights, despite the fatigue induced by the journey, Gandhi disrupted my sleep. Our everyday compromises seemed magnified when seen through the lens of Gandhi. Various questions arose inside about the Gandhi whom we were taking to the people and the Gandhi we should take to the people. The mind kept deliberating about the many conversations during the journey with fellow travellers and those who we met. In the style of the Editor and Reader debate in the Hind Swaraj, a critic and traveller started debating within my mind. This journey continued even after the yatra was over.

Critic: Who doesn’t know Gandhi? What is the need for this journey, creating awareness et al.

Traveller: The Gandhi that most of us know is the Gandhi who brought us freedom; the Gandhi on the currency notes; the brand ambassador for Swachch Bharat. But there are few who are well versed with the basic principles and the core message of Gandhi. Those who abide by those principles are fewer. Through this yatra, we seek to get people to think about the real Gandhi, for what purpose he dedicated his life and how we can suitably adopt his principles for today’s scenario. We hope that the journey will stimulate people welfare activities.

Critic: What hogwash story is this? Don’t we know Gandhian principles? Gandhi staged a non-violent struggle for independence. He asked us to love everyone. He asked us to be truthful. He said the country has to be clean. Even small children know all these, don’t they?

Traveller: We have all picked up the Gandhi who suits us. Or, it can be said, we have all shrunk Gandhi to suit our needs. Truth, love and non-violence – no doubt, these are core to Gandhian thoughts. But Gandhi, extended these core principles to apply them for all aspects that impact the society; he has continuously discussed them, and conducted experiments, lifelong. We have to pay attention to those too.

On the one hand, we profess our love for Gandhi’s stress on cleanliness, and on the other hand, we conveniently forget what Gandhi did for the poor Bhangis. On the one hand, we extol Gandhi’s love, and on the other, with no compassion and care, we unleash uninhibited violence in the name of development on nature and our future generations. This is against everything that Gandhi stood for.

Critic: Then, do you mean to say that Gandhi was against development?

Traveller: We should look at the kind of development that Gandhi desired. What Gandhi advocated was Sarvodaya – Unto the Last. A growth that is in harmony with nature, and that benefits the last man in the society. A growth that views every task as equal, and brings equal remuneration for every profession.

A growth where only a few prosper, exploiting nature, and the others are dependent on them, would have been anathema to Gandhi. An economy that rolls on the axis of consumerism, which itself, is a manifestation of greed, would never have been acceptable to Gandhi.

Critic: Even your yatra has been made possible by modern development. You’ve travelled to so many places because of our imposing highways.

Traveller: In reality, the other face of modern development became evident during the yatra. We were under the expectation that we would go through many villages, and we would be able to converse with the villagers. But these giant highways have swallowed the villages; or sidestepped them. All along these long highways, there were neither trees nor people. I see these barren, long, wide highways as a symbolic representation of growth that is divorced from this soil and people.

Even when there were no such modern highways, yatras have been going on in India and elsewhere, since eternity. The very weakness of our yatra, it occurs to me, was our speed.

Critic: People crave for such development schemes. Are you not seeing that everywhere? For instance, during the Sarvodaya Sangam meet at Trichy, did not that eloquent lady underscore the pressing need for interlinking rivers?

Traveller: She is saying that, moved by the suffering of people due to water scarcity. Her yearning is true; we can all understand that. But, taking the Gandhian approach, before the talk of interlinking rivers arises, various other initiatives would have been undertaken locally. First, we have to recover and rejuvenate the water bodies in the villages and cities. We have to recover the canals that feed them from encroachments. We have to create rain-catchment structures. We have to encourage industry that utilises water scarcely and sensibly. We have to avoid water-gulping crops and farming practices. We have to stop exacting excess ground water through deep borewells, which usurps what belongs to the future generations. We have to shrink our needs to suit our available resources. We have to stop destroying our rain forests.

More importantly, water management has to be restored to the control of the villages and local administrations. The centralised approaches of the central and state governments have distanced the water management from the people, and have pushed us towards this era of scarcity.

Without entrusting the locals with so many tasks that they themselves can do, undertaking interlinking of rivers and construction of large dams, which cause massive environmental issues and dislocation of people while strengthening the central powers further, will have to be viewed to be at complete contrast with the Gandhian approach.

One village could be sacrificed for the benefit of the country; one family could be sacrificed for the benefit of a village, and an individual for the family: these words attributed to Gandhi have been misinterpreted by us, in divergence with his overall worldview. Indeed, individuals and villages have to be willing to make sacrifices; but, the governments should never sacrifice its villages and people. Governments have to embrace every individual, every community, and nature, and work towards the upliftment of all. That will be the right Gandhian approach. When such an approach is adopted, the individual will be ever willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the larger community – without coercing or inducement.

When we consider every development activity with these tenements, we will be able to make plans that suit people at all levels, and are aligned to nature.

Critic: You claim that the central power should not be strengthened. However, the people seem to crave for a strong centre. They vote for those leaders whom they consider to be capable of swiftly solving all their problems.

Traveller: We do need a strong leadership. But there is no point in having it only at the state or the centre. We need strong collective leadership at the villages and cities, which is capable of administering them with competence. Centralized power will lead towards dictatorship and intolerance.

Only when decentralisation happens, people will be able to rightly choose their own paths. Only when we realize Gandhi’s village autonomy, will we realize true independence.

Critic: You wax eloquent about tolerance. Are the Gandhians tolerant? In the meeting at Coimbatore, a Gandhian insisted on switching off the AC, and removing bottled water from Coca Cola, and threatened to walkout unless it was done. A speaker pointed out then that Gandhians should develop tolerance.

Traveller: You very well know that the tolerance that I speak about is different.

The sort of tolerance that you expect would never have been endorsed by Gandhi. He was always prepared to point out the failings of participants in any meeting. Even at the British palace, he quipped that the King was wearing enough for both of them. At meetings, he had castigated people for choosing to speak in English or Sanskrit ahead of their mother tongues. He has always remained a rebel against iniquity. He followed non-violence in his methods of protest; in fact, he disliked the phrase passive-resistance.

Critic: Imposing your views on me is also a form of violence.

Traveller: True. But there is nothing violent in pointing out the error in your views. There is nothing violent in threatening to walkout when one’s firmly held beliefs are not accepted. There is no violence in fighting to establish what we believe to be true. The means carry violence and non-violence.

When we work by projecting Gandhi, is there anything wrong in expecting that there should be a minimum level of simplicity and honesty.

When I travel by air-conditioned vehicles, or use private transport ahead of public transport, I get pangs of guilt. We have become habituated to making compromises for the sake of others and for our own comforts. Whenever such compromises happen, Gandhi questions us. Gandhi has also made compromises – but we know of them from his writings. Only when we honestly acknowledge our compromises and work towards getting rid of them, will we get closer to the Gandhian way.

Critic: You keep extolling the virtues of Gandhi. How tolerant are you towards criticism of Gandhi? At a women’s college, when a girl asked a question, there was talk about subjecting women to his experiments.

Traveller: Gandhi too is not beyond criticism. It was Gandhi who flagged off the criticism about himself. Gandhian enthusiasts have been patiently responding to all criticism about Gandhi. It is a harsh reality that in today’s charged atmosphere, it is only against Gandhi that you can lay any charge and get away without facing any violent backlash. That is Gandhi’s victory.

There are numerous charges against him – on his handling of Bhagat Singh or Subhash Chandra Bose, on his approach towards Dalits, about his views on Varnasrama, about his acceptance of aid from large industrialists, his views about women, his early writings on native Africans, etc. There are detailed rebuttals or explanations for each of those charges.

During this yatra, we got to speak about two charges.

Firstly, about Harijan Seva. Though Gandhi used the word Harijan with all the best intentions, today it has become unacceptable to those people themselves; hence, it is only apt that we use the word Dalit. I will readily assert that nobody has contributed as much as Gandhi for the welfare of Dalits. Though it is essential that the voice of protest has to arise from the oppressed people, it is more essential that the minds of the oppressors have to be conquered and changed. Especially, when the oppressor and the oppressed have to live together as a single community at the same place. Gandhi brought about that transformation of minds. Though a large distance is yet to be covered, the distance traversed is also quite long.

Gandhi was of the firm resolve that he or his close associates should not visit temples that barred Dalits from entering them. But when Kasturba Gandhi and Mahadev Desai happened to visit Puri Jagannath Temple, which practised untouchability, Gandhi condemned them openly in newspapers. The same Gandhi who supported Varnashram during his earlier years, later started insisting that he will attend only mixed-caste marriages, and only when one of the couple was a Dalit.

Gandhi desired that a Harijan woman should become the first President of independent India. Though Ambedkar was opposed to him, and the Congress, politically, it was Gandhi who created the conducive environment for Ambedkar to play the leading role in framing the Constitution. In the dispute over separate electorates for Dalits, there were pros and cons in the stances of both Gandhi and Ambedkar. Gandhi’s approach was most suitable for those days, from the perspective of preventing the splintering of the society and in bringing about a transformation in the thinking of the oppressors. Gandhi also ensured that Dalits got more constituencies through his approach than the original formula. That is the reason why Ambedkar, after yielding his position, did not undertake any serious struggle for separate Dalit constituencies later on. However, Ambedkar’s argument that the Dalit representatives will have to pander to the wishes of the upper castes in the reserved constituencies, is still true. It is time that the Gandhian and Dalit organisations stop constructing them as opposite poles, acknowledge the contributions of both, understand both their perspectives, and join hands in working for the betterment of Dalits and the other classes.

Next, the experiments concerning women. Gandhi’s views on Brahmacharya and his experiments to overcome his sexual inclinations may not be compatible with modern thinking. However, never has there been any accusations raised by the women around Gandhi. Whatever we know about his experiments are largely from his own writings. Manu Gandhi, who accompanied him during his most intense experiments at Naokhali, titled her book as ‘Bapu – My Mother’. Not Father, but Mother. Any accusation could be rendered meaningless by this single phrase. (Pushing a discussion that happened during the yatra to the next stage, Dr.Jeevanantham has translated this work into Tamil.)

Critic: Let us leave aside the sexual experiments. Looking at the way he treated his wife, doesn’t he come across as being very conservative with regards to women’s rights?

Traveller: During his younger days, Gandhi has indeed ill-treated Kasturba at times. We know this also from his writings, where he has been most apologetic about his behaviour. Later on, he has entrusted Kasturba with huge responsibilities. He has encouraged her to lead struggles from the front.

Gandhi will find a prominent place in history in bringing women to the forefront of struggles. As long as swords and guns were the weapons, the battlefields have mostly been the preserve of men. But after Gandhi introduced the weapon of Satyagraha, the way was paved for women to throng the battlefields and lead the struggles.

The other weapon that Gandhi introduced to women was the Spinning wheel or the Charka. A weapon that they could wield from home, at their convenience and at their choice of time.

Critic: What? The charka? Another symbol of regression.

Traveller: In reality, Gandhi’s charka was the symbol of anti-imperialism. The weapon that severed the economic dependence on England, and sought to stop the economic exploitation by the British.

I realize that, even today, charka symbolises the gram swaraj. To see the numerous spinners and weavers, especially women, who attended the meetings organised by the Sarvodaya Sangams, was to gain the understanding that the seeds of gram swaraj sown by Gandhi are still full of life. Sarvodaya Sangams are prominent among the few remnants of Gandhian thinking. They do have many flaws accumulated over the years. Yet, the possibilities that they present are phenomenal.

Gandhian organizations like the Sarvodaya Sangam possess the inherent possibility that an economic setup can be run by the people, for the people.

And, now we have levied a tax on khadi and other handicrafts for the first time in independent India. We have to view this as a blow against local autonomy.

Despite these barriers, only if the organisations like the Sarvodaya Sangam manage to create economic independence and autonomy for the people, we will be able to move towards a decentralised political autonomy.

These organisations also have the necessity to reform themselves as per the current ecological needs. A deep introspection and strategising is required about the function, perspectives, vision and objectives of this organisation.

Critic: Such political and economic view is totally against the flow of the modern world. This can never become mainstream. That is probably why people like Nehru and Ambedkar comprehensively rejected these aspects of Gandhi.

Traveller: If this doesn’t come to the mainstream, the ecological deterioration may threaten to wipe out our the mainstream itself. Ambedkars and Nehrus were rooted in the realities of their times. Those realities shaped their perspectives. Though Gandhi had one foot in the stark reality, his other foot was ever extended towards the larger truth.

Critic: It is because of these complexities, that some people hold that Gandhi should be distanced from political space and kept in the personal space.

Traveller: There is no disputing that Gandhi is essential in the personal space. But that will shrink the possibility of Gandhi. It can only be a starting point. Any honest spiritual person would have exhibited the personal discipline, love and truth of Gandhi. But, only when Gandhi is placed in the social, political, and economic spaces, he reaches his gigantic heights. He raises uncomfortable questions. He gives uncomfortable solutions. The uncomfortable socio-political Gandhi is more crucial to us that the spiritually soothing personal Gandhi.

Critic: It seems that Gandhi may soon be appropriated by Hindutva. Aren’t there many commonalities between Gandhi and Hindutva – opposition to killing of cows, vegetarianism, reviving the ancient Indian culture, love of Rama, nationalism, swadeshi, love of Hindi, and so on, we can go.

Traveller: If Gandhi can appropriated, the Hindutvites would have done it by now. Though there seems to be a superficial similarity between Gandhi and Hindutva in some of the aspects that you mentioned, there are very vehement, fundamental differences.

Gandhi’s Ram and Hindutva Ram aren’t the same. Gandhi’s Ram was not the historical or the mythological Ram; His Ram was the name he gave to the God for everyone; His Ram was the name of what he considered to be God – the Truth. Gandhi’s Ram can never be the symbol of violence. He would never become the hero of majoritarian dominance. He would never demolish a religious structure.

Gandhi opposed the killing of the cow because it had religious significance for a vast number of people, and also because it was the fulcrum of the village economy; and he valued all lives. But he never wanted to resort to stopping cow slaughter through legal intervention. He always, and would have always opposed cow vigilantism which unleashes violence on Muslims and Dalits. What he sought was the transformation of minds of the other side; never the imposition of his side. He also considered that cow slaughter was institutionalised and increased manifold during the British period. This goes against the Hindutva narrative which fixes the major blame on the Islamic rulers.

Gandhi would have exposed the hypocrisy behind shedding tears for the cow, while letting the cow economy to go to the dogs.

Similarly, Gandhi viewed vegetarianism as a matter of personal morality and did not place it on the national agenda. When Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan visited Wardha with his sons, he was not averse to arranging meat for his young sons.

Gandhi’s nationalism was subordinate to his humanitarianism. While Gandhi was stridently opposed to the creation of Pakistan, when he realised that it was the wish of the people, he grudgingly came to terms with it (while nurturing hopes of reunification). Again, his efforts were concentrated on changing of hearts and minds. He went to the extent of proposing Jinnah as the Prime Minister of undivided India in order to avert partition. But when he saw that nobody was prepared to come along with him in his fight against partition, he did not venture to wage a lone battle. He channeled his energies towards diffusing the violence and massacres unleashed by partition. Gandhi would never have agreed to wage a war against the people of any region in the name of nationalism. He fully understood the diversity of India. He would have opposed the imposition of a unitary culture on all the people. He would have been opposed to allocating and spending huge budgets to stay ahead in the military and arms race.

Though Gandhi had immense respect for the Indian culture, he was never averse to critiquing the negative aspects and correcting them. He did not seek false glory by inventing those that never happened. When the scriptures were at loggerheads with the truth, he invariably asked us to choose truth.

Gandhi’s swadeshi came from his heart. It was based on the tenets of decentralisation and gram swaraj. It did not arise from the fountain of hate. It was therefore that when he visited England, the mill workers who lost jobs because of khadi were able to wholeheartedly welcome him and embrace him as their own. Gandhi would never have allowed the word swadeshi to be associated with the process of multinational companies and large Indian industrial houses making in India but increasing the inequalities and depriving the people of their autonomy.

Gandhi saw Hindi as another tool against imperialism and for national integration. Imposing any language against the wishes of a people will not constitute Gandhism; be it Hindi or any other language, the Gandhian way is to create a conducive path whereby the people naturally embrace a connecting language; not impose through constitution and authority. In addition, Gandhi emphasised the importance of having the mother tongue as the medium of instruction, and always gave primacy to the use of mother tongue in all communication. Gandhi would not have sacrificed unity for the sake of uniformity. (Many Gandhians advocate the 3-language formula. During this yatra too, Dr.Markandan strongly put forward the 3-language principle. But I do believe that none of them would support the imposition of Hindi against the wishes of the people.)

Thus the Hindutvites can accept Gandhi only as a spiritual icon, and a brand ambassador for initiatives like Clean India; if they accept him in totality they would have to forego Hindutva and turn Gandhians. As long as they remain within the fold of Hindutva, they can only chop Gandhi and choose a few convenient parts. They are not ignorant of the fact that the broom inserted into his hands could sweep them also away.

Critic: At a time when Hindutva is going strong, what have the Gandhians done to stem the flow? In the protest sites today, we don’t hear the name of Gandhi as much as Ambedkar, Periyar or Marx. Has Gandhi become an icon of conformity?

Traveller: In the Sarvodaya Talisman magazine, senior Gandhians like K.M.Natarajan and Padamuthu have been writing incessantly against Hindutva. During this yatra, Markandan spoke in colleges and schools against the vitiated atmosphere created by Hindutva. All of them are octogenarians. The next generation Gandhian enthusiasts have also been writing in social media and magazines advocating the Gandhian thoughts and countering the Hindutva propaganda.

However, it must be conceded that the Gandhians have not organised any massive movement against Hindutva. Gandi’s name indeed is missing on the protest fields, especially in Tamilnadu. The rebellious Gandhi has not reached today’s youth. Or, the Gandhi who expects dedication and sacrifice, not only during protests, but during everyday life, is not acceptable to us.

But, Gandhi cannot be confined to the can of conformity for too long. He is the fountainhead of non-cooperation and civil disobedience. Overcoming the deficiencies of his followers, by continuing to raise those uncomfortable and disconcerting questions, he continue to push us towards Truth.

Critic: You keep saying that Gandhi would have done this or not done that. What is the point of it? Why should we be prisoners of the past? Isn’t it important to see what is it that we must do now?

Traveller: Gandhi is the pinnacle of human thought and action. To say Gandhi would have been like this, and to do decide what then must we do are no different. I do not view Gandhi as the representative of the past. He belongs to our present; he is the guide to our future.


When we visited the Gandhi Museum at Madurai with our daughter, she pointed towards a picture, and observed that Gandhi was not wearing his chappals. That photo was taken during Naokhali yatra. Having encountered the most difficult problem of his eventful life, and conceding that he was groping in the darkness to find light, Gandhi believed that he needed to embark on the most stringent sacrifices and spiritual experiments. He started simplifying his already simple life. One such act was to walk barefoot on the punishing moist lands of Naokhali, at the age of 77.

This picture created a bigger impression on my daughter than any of the speeches she heard during the yatra. Similarly, a hope emerges that during the yatra, every word, every act, every image would sow some seed somewhere.

Gandhi undertook various yatras – for the sake of immigrant Indians in South Africa, for the sake of independence in Dandi, for the sake of Hindus in Naokhali, for the sake of Muslims in Bihar, and for Dalits allover India. His whole life was a yatra towards truth and Sarvodaya (well-being of all). That yatra continues to this day. And should continue.

Learning – Its purpose and impact: From the Tamil Sangam Age to the Cyber Age

July 10, 2017

[This is the full text that I had prepared for a speech at IIT Chennai. The actual speech delivered there was shortened due to time constraints. I have broken the text into 3 parts: The first part has a bit of my personal experiences; the second part focuses on references to learning in early Tamil literature, and a look at the situation of education in India in the recent past;  the third part deals with contemporary issues. One may choose to read the whole essay or only the parts that are of interest to you – they can be read together or independent of each other.]

Reading at a Table - Picasso

Reading at a Table – Picasso

“For the learned, every nation and every place is theirs;
why then, doesn’t one keep learning till death,”
– Thirukkural by Thiruvalluvar.


Educators have a pet peeve. They say only a lawyer advises on issues of law, a doctor on medicine, an engineer on his field, an artist on art and so on. But everybody has something to say about learning. That is because everybody learns. While educators may have a major role to play in learning, learning is not the preserve of educators or educational institutions. Learning may happen because of them, it may happen despite them, and it may well happen without them.

How we learn, why we learn and what me must learn are questions crucial to the human civilisation today.

What I intend to speak about learning has a lot to do with how I myself have learnt, and still learn. I have been to premier educational institutions, and have worked in large corporates. But I was continually plagued by the questions, what was I learning, and how was my learning relevant to the society that I lived in. I incidentally started translating Thirukkural, the ancient Tamil text by Thiruvalluvar. I also started to read deeply about Gandhi, and works by Gandhi. My questions didn’t go away – they got deepened. I saw a big mismatch between what we were learning and doing, and the impact of all that on my own inner self, and the society around me. I decided to quit my job, and corporate career. I started training students on leadership – righteous and compassionate leadership – using the tenets of Thirukkural and Gandhi. While my efforts may have helped inspire some students, I still felt a void. I began feeling that sitting inside a classroom, listening to a lecture, watching fancy multimedia slides, and doing pre-designed activities, however absorbing they may be, is not how children, or adults, learn. Learning, I began realising, emerges from and has to be rooted to the society, to its culture and Nature.

Despite rampant urbanisation, a large part of India still resides in its villages, and I too, decided to shift to a village. Along with my wife and daughter, we are now learning farming and various other aspects of life from the village. Yet to forego our vanities, we run a learning centre at our home, which we call ‘Payilagam’. It is a free, open space for the village children to come, read books from our library or play games or do homework or clear doubts, be themselves and do what they want to. It has been an excellent opportunity for me to learn about learning. Our nine year old daughter doesn’t attend formal school, and has been learning naturally from the rich experience she is gaining from her environment, and the people and books around her.

With this little personal background, let me proceed deeper into the subject of interest for us today: learning. Learning, I would like to emphasise again, has to be rooted to the culture, society and nature. The impact of learning is today measured by the exam scores, the entrances that one clears, employability, earning potential and depth of knowledge. But we have reached a point where not many of us really care about the impact of our learning on the society. Cultural continuity has been lost in our learning, which in turn, negatively impacts the societal relevance. ‘Let Nature be your Teacher,’ said William Wordsworth. But much of our modern learning has taken us too far away from nature. In the course of this speech, I shall devote some time to each of these aspects.

Firstly, culture. An understanding of one’s culture, and aligning our learning to our culture, will, one can understand intuitively, enhance learning. However, our education systems, on the one hand, think learning is universal and local culture has nothing to do with it. There has been a disdain towards our learning heritage, and many of us seem to think that our education started with Macaulay. There is no need for us to seek a false sense of superiority, but to have an understanding and rootedness is essential. Being rooted to one’s culture, will give the thrust to embrace all other cultures. Of course, there will be, and has to be points of departure from certain aspects of the cultural past. But an understanding is a must for making those departures too. As a first step, I first seek to understand our culture of learning.

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Dharampal: Unravelling the Unknown India

June 2, 2017

(To be published in the Sarvodaya Talisman magazine.)


There are very few books that can completely challenge our beliefs, instilled by decades of modern education and colonial conditioning. The first encounter with the writings of Dharampal could do this to anyone. I definitely went through that transformative experience, when I first read The Beautiful Tree, a few years ago. It helped me understand the historical background to the disillusionment of Gandhi with the modern education system, which I share with him, and his subsequent conception of the Nai Talim system. Later, during my interactions with Ramasubramaniam of Samanvaya, who has worked closely with Dharampal during his last years, I heard a good deal about his work and his personality. Ever since, I’d been thirsting to read more of Dharampal, and was collecting and going through his books available online (primarily from the wonderful website of Arvind Gupta). That thirst has now been quenched to a fuller extent by the ‘Essential Writings of Dharampal’, compiled by his daughter, Gita Dharampal, and published by Publications Division of India (and at Rs.135, quite an appealing price).

The book covers many of the major works of Dharampal: The Beautiful Tree: Indigenous Indian Education in the Eighteen Century (1983), Indian Science and Technology in the Eighteenth Century (1971), Civil Disobedience and Indian Tradition (1971), India’s Polity, its Characteristics and Current Problems (1992), Some Aspects of Earlier Indian Society and Polity and their Relevance to the Present (1986), The Madras Panchayat (1972), Bharatiya Chitta, Manas and Kala (1991), and Reconsidering Gandhiji (1984).

[Though I set out to write a review for this book, the essay has grown to be an overall introduction to Dharampal, covering texts outside this book too.]


Poring through the archives, in India and Britain, of the various written accounts of the early British administrators of India, Dharampal vividly brings to life, the eighteen century India. This pre-colonial India of Dharampal is in complete contrast with the pre-colonial India of the history books, which is entrenched in popular imagination. Not many Indians doubt the glory of ancient India, its achievements in philosophy, literature and science. But most Indians also believe that the glory belonged to a distant past, and that when the British came, they met a civilisation in shambles, waiting to be pulled out of dark ages into the modern era: a region of famines, poverty, illiteracy, infighting, sati and untouchability. The eighteenth century India was, of course, a region deeply wounded by many centuries of foreign invasions; but despite those repeated invasions, Dharampal establishes that India was a ‘functioning and relatively prosperous society’ in the eighteenth century. It was not the British who pulled India out of destitution, but it was their colonial rule that pushed India deeper into destitution and decay.


A distant history is not difficult to come to terms with: it can be glorified or dismissed with ease. What we did or didn’t do during the Indus Valley period, or the Vedic ages or the Sangam age, may have no immediate implications on policy making. The distance of time allows us to view those with pragmatic detachment, though strongly tinged with nostalgic euphoria. But the history of our recent past is much more crucial, and ineluctable. The awareness about the efficacy of the social and political structures that existed just before the advent of the British could have huge ramifications on our present and future policies. It is this efficacy of the Indian system that the educated Indians question. Our colonised and corporatised minds are unable to comprehend the viability of any system that has not been tried and tested in the West. As Jayaprakash Narayan, wrote in his foreword (not part of this book) to Civil Disobedience and Indian Tradition,

“After the first few years of euphoria since Independence, a period of self-denigration set in during which educated Indians, particularly those educated in the West, took the lead. Whether in the name of modernisation, science or ideology, they ran down most, if not all, things Indian. We are not yet out of this period. I am not suggesting that what is wrong and evil in Indian society or history should be glossed over. But breast-beating and self- flagellation are not conducive to the development of those psychological drives that are so essential for nation-building, nor so is slavish imitation of others.”

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