Every now and them, we have some writer or other imagining what Gandhi would have done had he lived in these times.
Thus, we have B.S.Raghavan, in his column in The BusinessLine, telling us what Gandhi would have done had he been in charge of Reliance now.
The dress code would henceforth be nothing more than white khadi pants and shirts and ordinary chappals, if not wooden sandals. He would immediately effect an across-the-board cut in the emoluments bringing them down to a tiny fraction of the present package.
The very sight of Rs 4,500 crore worth, 28-storied, 400,000 square feet of living quarters of the elder Ambani would transport him to heights of ecstasy.
He would look upon it as a ready-made home to shift the entire slum population of Mumbai, using the huge landing grounds of helicopters and the swimming pools on half-a-dozen floors for hospitals, schools and orphanages.
He would see to it that all the assets of the Reliance Company are converted into a People's Trust, insisting that the rich should live for the poor and not for themselves, and their life's mission should be to wipe every tear from every eye.
The advantage in writing such stuff is that nobody can refute this or challenge your assertions ,even though they sound deceptively similar to the Rajinikanth jokes that are doing the rounds. You are merely transporting the person to a new era and applying his attributes in a new context.
Which is precisely why I liked Naipaul’s observations on Gandhi. He says that Gandhi was a special product that materialized at the appropriate time. Many circumstances- his mother’s austerity, English Law, South Africa – had shaped him before he arrived in India. He was a unique mix of several parts that made a significant whole, but the combination of his traits worked in a certain context. It is impossible to create another Gandhi with the same blend of attributes as it is impossible to create the set of circumstances that had shaped him. Similarly, the context is so different today, that the same Gandhi if he were alive will not be able to have much of an impact.
Let’s leave him alone, shall we?.