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   Today is Gandhi Jayanti. And, what's our score?... (February 10, 1996)

Today is Gandhi Jayanti. And, what's our score? One more Gandhi film.

It is day of reckoning, a day of counting our achievements, registering our accomplishments. What we have done to further promote and establish the heritage that Gandhiji left us.

In a way, today is bigger than Independence or Republic Day, because it goes beyond the mere winning of a war for independence or establishment of a republic. What Gandhiji looked to was always on step beyond self rule. What to do once India is free how to assist the masses, the vast number of people who have lived through the dark ages of colonial rule.

Gandhi Jayanti is like Washington's birthday, or the day the Mangna Carta was signed, the people bringing English monarchy to heels. Or the French Revolution.

We have to have more today than TV Pictures of the president and prime minister going round the samadhi at Raj Ghat, attended by their security staff and a host of officials, including one to carry the flowers and another to sup the chapels back on the prime minister's feet. Or the symbolic spinning on the charkha today serves no purpose and it only belittles the entire freedom struggle, the deaths, imprisonment's and pain of so many people. I do not think Gandhiji ever meant it to be his symbol. But, I suppose, it is easier for our politicians to occasionally spin the charka and be done with it than live the life of honesty, simplicity and performing one's duty that Gandhiji prescribed.

Where did we go wrong, and when? It is difficult to say. When Gandhiji was alive, there was not a single politician who did not look on him with affecting and reverence, and followed him implicitly. And even after he passed away, there were hundreds of politicians who followed his teaching. There was at least a desire to walk in his footsteps, among the politicians, the public in general.

At what stage this desire vanished, greed and avarice took over, I cannot say, but it happened gradually over the years. First one rotten apple, then a few, then a whole careful. No healthy apple can exist when the rest of the apples in the crate are rotten.

And corruption started at the tip, not at the bottom. And it has generally remained at the top. The ordinary man is honest, he still works for a living. It is men at the top, who describe themselves as simple farmers and humble servants of the public, who live like lakhpatis and crorepatis. And then dedicate themselves to Gandhiji's spirit on Gandhi Jayanti Day. It is on a day like today that we become the most hypocritical nation in the world.

No, I am not going to attend any Gandhi Jayanti function today. I am even considering boycotting Shyam Benegal's film. To exempt it from entertainment tax is another act of government hypocrisy.

 
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