Friday, July 30, 2010

“Gandhigiri vs. Dadagiri”

saw "Lage Raho Munna Bhai" once again 2 days back. and remembered my reaction of the day i'd first seen it. here's what i wrote more than 2 years ago but it didn't see the light of day (didn't get published). so "Gandhigiri" never worked for me. anyway. happy reading!

“Lage Raho Munna Bhai……” bagging national awards had brought back memories of the film and how it seemed to affect people when they saw it. Our “Father of the Nation” had suddenly become the most talked about phenomenon, leaving “Globalization”, “Knowledge-Economies” and “Terrorism” in the background. For those unaware of who we’re talking about, it’s the Mahatma- Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

Gandhi had assumed proportions larger than ever before and popularity out-shining most famous film-stars. One never heard so much about him all these years and such attention paid to his teachings or ‘non-violent-truths’. In fact he never made so much news, hogging headlines in newspapers and TV-channels. This was more than evident on 2nd October of the year of release of the film. We’ve probably never had so… much respect being paid to him, by so… many people. And credit for all this ‘Gandhi fervour & fever’ goes to “Lage Raho …………. ”.

Well, please…. ‘Carry on Munnabhai’, because you’ve created more awareness on the Mahatma than any book, film or material on him ever. You’ve made him ‘common man’s ideal’ . “Gandhigiri”- Gandhian way of life - has really caught on. People from all walks of life, all strata of society and all age-groups are emulating this. “Gandhigiri” seemed to have become the latest fashion in India today. Whether it works or not, atleast people are ready to try it out. one example being the Delhi cops giving gifts to traffic rule defaulters.

Well, that’s a welcome change in mindset trend. But the big question is – does “Gandhigiri” really work? If it does, whom does it work with? Would somebody actually stop spitting “paan” on his neighbour’s wall if he was made to “feel”? This depends on two things- first, the wrongdoer has a heart and will eventually “feel” and he also has a conscience to make him “guilty”. Subject to these, there’s a chance of his behaviour changing.

My experiences portray it just never worked. It didn’t work with the lady in our building in Jaipur, who kept snatching my “bai”. Neither does it work with servants whom I am good to, help in their need and pay well. It never worked with the society-maintenance body in the pink city, whom we paid a hefty monthly charge. We kept telling them to get our corridors cleaned properly everyday and get our flat’s inherent faulty switchover repaired. They came, they saw and did nothing except religiously sending maintenance bills, which went on increasing further. It doesn’t even work with siblings who you let take your small possessions, thinking these are stupid things, because their “Dadagiri” graduates to taking bigger things, firmly believing that you “won’t really mind”. “Gandhigiri” or politeness doesn’t work with birds or animals either. My experience with pigeons, who continue using my nice balcony as ‘their maternity ward’ just because unlike others who had no qualms about having their eggs thrown into the garbage, I’d patiently wait till their little ones flew off before I’d get the mess cleared up, shows. My repeated shooing away has little impact and they continue to litter my balconies.

Neither does it work with numerous people who cheat, misbehave, pose threats to our security and peace, malign our culture, demean our values, who destroy our heritage having no passion for our traditions. “Gandhigiri” doesn’t and will not work with them. You must have a heart and a conscience to respond to simple principles of great men. If you do, you’ll “feel” others’ pain and “feel guilty” on doing wrong. In that case, you don’t need to be taught this message. And please don’t expect people to be sending roses to everybody because these days, nothing comes cheap. If rose demand goes up with more & more people taking to this fad, rose prices will rise further and we’ll need roses to be sent to the “Rosewallahs” too. The director could afford it, everybody can’t. So let’s find a practical solution.

Why is there so much death, destruction & violence in the land of the Mahatma?
With all those with no spare time to look for their hearts and listen to their conscience, only “Dadagiri” works. In a city like “Dilli”, logon mein “dil” hi nahin bacha! The very fact that Gandhian principles to be relevant today needed the suffix “giri” to make them contemporary, we need to come out with a formula which works with people without a heart and a conscience. They’ll go on cheating, looting, killing, destroying peace and threatening security if you keep tolerating.

Time has been witness to this fact even in Gandhi’s era, for what else was evident in the gruesome ‘violent-end of the non-violent Mahatma’!


  1. This article is really very relevant. Everyday the newspapers report instances of unpunished corruption. Surprisingly, in the land of Gandhi, the truthful and honest people have become rare. Ironically, these people are the ones who find it difficult to live a peaceful life whereas the dishonest get away with anything and everything.

    So the honest people are questioning their morals and doubt if the right and truthful are always victorious over the wrong and dishonest (like in stories and films where the honest hero always wins).

    Hope the answer soon comes out to be positive before the rare species of honest people become extinct.

  2. Understanding the true meaning of Gandhi giri.
    Gandhigiri is as much a a individual phenomenon as it is a national phenomenon. It deals at different levels. Gandhigiri in a national context has ensured that it created the world’s largest democracy and with each bout of rebellion and violence the roots of democracy are becoming more and more entrenched. There were various pressures and pulls in the society and intense amount of repression of certain castes and class of society and this had festered for years. The uprising and violence one is observing today is a manifest of those people evening out their repression and brutality over the years. Some innocent are caught in the cross fire and that is a bye product of the social equilibrium which is coming about.
    The explosion of news and awareness generation due to the reach of mass media and education levels going up, has created its own dynamics and there is social tension and confusion which would take time to settle down. But with every passing day, each new conflict is bringing to the fore a repressed social phenomenon and bringing it to the fore to address that problem and over a period of time solutions are found, repressed violence is given an outlet and people are then brought to the mainstream of the nation’s channel and over a period of time the conflicts are resolved.

  3. contd..........
    This democratization of the problem solving process has ensured that India has been facing challenges of poverty and social conflict and they are being resolved progressively. People’s expectations have been rising and even these rising expectations are being met. As a result India is an open society and even though NRI earn huge amounts of money and live lifestyles which are fit for the rich and famous, they still want to come back to this melting pot which is India. We have to get used to this India with its weaknesses and deficiencies and not look for perfection. This ensures that repression and violence of the Islamic societies or communist regimes never touches a democratic India and even though it has a poor and less developed polity but freedom of expression,happiness and sense of humour does not go out of our lives. And that is the real test of the success of Gandhi giri.
    Long live the Mahatama.

  4. Your article was fabulous .in today’s world “gandhigiri” does not work only “dadagiri” works.if you talk politely to someone using gandhigiri he’ll not listen to you but if you use dadagiri he’ll definitely listen to you.