Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The last of the Gandhians

The Hindu while reporting the passing away of Mr. Ravindra Varma, former Union Minister, refers to him as ‘one of the last links in the chain of Gandhians’.

Mr. Varmas’ age is mentioned as 81, which means that he would have been exactly 23 years old when Gandhi passed away in 1948. While I could not believe that anybody could become a full-fledged Gandhian in his early twenties, I gave him the benefit of doubt when I read that he had been exposed to Gandhi’s teachings at an early age and as a member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation had practised these ideals, long after Gandhi had exited the scene.

Over the years, I have seen this description of ‘last Gandhian” being conferred on so many different persons, alive and dead. – Jayaprakash Narayan, J.P.Kripalani, Morarji Desai, Nana Sita, Sunderlal Bahuguna, A.K.Anthony, Dr.Sheela Nayar, collectively to the Sangh Parivar (?), H.S. Duraiswamy, I.K.Gujral, that I used to wonder who the ‘last and final” Gandhian would be.

It looks like the supply has finally run out and newspapers are now forced to change the description to “one of the last links in the Gandhian chain”. In a few years, this will change to “last link in the Gandhian chain”, and after some more passage of time, the chain will be forgotten and Gandhi finally laid to rest.

I am not so sure about the ‘freedom fighter”, though. Last year, I came across a couple of khadi clad persons traveling on ‘freedom fighter’s” quota in a train. They must have been around 65-70 years of age. I kept wondering how intense their participation in the freedom struggle must have been at the ripe old age of 5 or 10 . We can expect to meet such freedom fighters for the next 60 years and then the ‘link to the chain of freedom fighters” for another 100 years after that.


Usha said...

I think as of now the last of the Gandhians is Munnabhai - al least he revived some interest in Gandhi and his principles.

Lalita said...

I have read of Gandhians and freedom fighters who would have been toddlers on the Dandi March, too. Why can't media do their homework, good grief!

Raj said...

Usha, well said.

Lalita : Exactly.

Escape.... Great Escape said...

No seriously. Sanjay Dutt will be called the last Ghandian when he passes away. This is because the selection criteria for becoming a 'Ghandian' keeps slippign with each generation. Probably 60 years from now the last ghandian would be the fasion coordinator who revived Khadi caps.