Gandhi 1.0 versus Gandhi 2.0

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Sunil Sharan


There was a man, Gandhi, who in my opinion is the greatest man who ever lived. Why I call him the greatest is because of his singular efforts, over 3 billion people are free today, having thrown off the yoke of colonialism. Has anyone else done that? The appeal of such a man should then be enduring, should last till the end of humanity.

In a recent meeting with the Prime Minister, actor Shah Rukh Khan claimed that there was a need for Gandhi to be reloaded and that there is a need for a Gandhi 2.0 for our era. Let’s examine if there is indeed such a case.

India, when it acquired freedom from the British, was mired in all-round and all-abrasive poverty. Gandhi wanted to wipe the tear off the eye of every Indian. In 1991, there were zero dollar billionaires in India. Since then there, are 131, just behind the US and China. Khan’s own wealth is estimated to be around half a billion dollars.

In the 2019 Global Hunger Index, which is a peer-reviewed and very credible publication, India was placed 102 out of 117 countries. Sri Lanka was 66, Nepal 73, Bangladesh 88, and heavens, even Pakistan was placed above us at 94.

Is this what the India of Gandhi 2.0 should look like? What would Gandhi 1.0 have thought of India’s billionaires and India’s famished many?

Gandhi was personally against cow slaughter but he was a firm advocate of letting those wanting to eat beef to eat beef. One of the metrics used in the GHI is malnourishment, specifically lack of protein in one’s diet. Indian diet is loaded toward carbohydrates and fat. The staple diet of many minorities and even many Hindus is beef, a rich and ready source of protein.

By denying beef to a large segment of our population (who, in fact, are a segment of our population no matter what some people think), we are only starving our people.

One organization that has done a stellar job of providing nourishment to its recruits is the Indian military. Many people join the military as vegetarians but happily start eating, and even relishing, meat. There is no place for famishment in the military. The military is made on muscle and brawn and has to feed itself accordingly. Gandhi 1.0 would have applauded the Indian military. What would Gandhi 1.0 have thought of the beef bans and the lynchings that we witness today?

So why reload Gandhi 1.0 into Gandhi 2.0? Do we want Gandhi 2.0 to approve of what’s happening around us today? Do we want Gandhi 2.0 to hail a military of effete vegetarians?

I was raised in the Indian Army. My father commanded a regiment. On its raising day, goats and pigs were freely slaughtered. I was probably three-years-old when I saw a goat being slaughtered. Wham, the axe came down, and the body found itself headless. I remember roaming around the raising day grounds and finding a jawan roasting a pig on a fire. He cut a piece and gave it to me. It tasted delicious.

I suspect the purpose of my father was to remove the fear of slaughtering from me. Were I to join the military, and even if I was not going to, he didn’t want me to be a scary-poop at the sight of blood or meat.

Gandhi 1.0 was strictly vegetarian but he would have been embarrassed at India’s ranking in the GHI. Note that all the South Asian nations above us in the ranking, and all South Asian nations are above us in the ranking, are nations with a strong meat-eating tradition, even Hindu Nepal and Buddhist Sri Lanka.

There are so many other differences between Gandhi 1.0 (the enduring Gandhi) and Gandhi 2.0 (who I suspect we want to see approve of things today). But let’s start with hunger. A segment of prosperous Indians who are vegetarians want to impose their diet on those who eat meat. I say that is utter tosh. This segment of people should live and let live. India will cease to be such a hungry nation if it freely starts to eat meat.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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