Answer by Balaji Viswanathan:
In one of my classes in 11th standard, my English teacher was quoting a passage written by Louis Fischer that went to say how Indians would find very hard to understand what the Mahatma did for them and what the whole independence movement meant. We grow oblivious of the various wonders around us.
We now have the benefit of hindsight in looking at dozens of terrorist movements – from LTTE to Khalistan, Naxalites and Somali pirates. Each of these movements started due to a genuine grievance. Tamils were illtreated, Sikhs were insecure, rural development was terrible and world ignored east Africa. But, all of these would be crushed sooner or later.
- Sympathies would dry up: India was very sympathetic to the grievance of the Tamils, until the LTTE blew up Rajiv Gandhi. Since then we had no trouble in using our army to help crush them. That would have been the world's attitude had India gone on the path of violence. Sooner or later America's guns would have joined British in crushing India's freedom movement.
- Every violent movement degrades: Bhagat Singh and Netaji are honorable men. However, as a violent movement picks steam it starts attracting the bad elements. They find the arson and looting beneficial to them personally. Eventually the bad elements kill off the good leaders. Prabhakaran of LTTE violently eliminated all the good Tamil leaders within. Same happened for all terrorist movements.
- Violence leads a chain: When two groups are busy blowing up each other, people in the middle get tossed up. Look at the poor tribals caught in the midst of Naxals and Salwa Judum. Or look at what is happening in the Middle East, although the initial movement was focused on just pushing the outsiders out. Even after the outsider is gone, the region continue to stay violent (Afghanistan)
World has little patience for violent movements. Ends don't justify the means. As soon as you start blowing up, the other side will bring the best of its guns & men. We Indians hypocritically oppose Naxalites while at the same time condone the violence done by our revolutionaries. We have to grow up to see that both are bad.
Would India give independence to Chattisgarh just because a bunch of Naxals bomb the trains and kill the policemen? That is preposterous. Of course not. Why would we then assume that the British Empire would have given us the freedom just because our revolutionaries did the same?
Greats from every walk of life – from Albert Einstein to Charlie Chaplin Steve Jobs absolutely admired what Gandhi did to freedom. Stop a while to think of what these great men have to say. Think why they should talk of the Mahatma this way.
"Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” — Albert Einstein
"Impressions of Gandhi? You might well ask for someone's impression of the Himalayas" — George Bernard Shaw.
I and others may be revolutionaries, but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. — Ho Chi Minh (father of Vietnam)
Mahatma Gandhi will go down in history on a par with Buddha and Jesus Christ. — Lord Mountbatten (last Viceroy of India)
"Father of our Nation, in this holy war for India's liberation, we ask for your blessings and good wishes" — Netaji Bose (leader of Indian National Army)
Regarding the popular myth that Mahatma sent Bhagat Singh to the gallows, here is what Mahatma said:
In the event of execution [of Bhagat Singh and others], peace is undoubtedly in danger. It is worth while saving these lives
Coming back to this question. Questions like this pain me in realizing how Indians are continuing to stay ignorant of what Mahatma did and what freedom actually meant.
Freedom was not about the removal of the British. That was the easiest part. Freedom was about fighting our own inner slavery mindset. Freedom was about fighting our inner evils and overcoming the enemies within. That is what Mahatma showed us that no other major Indian leader did. What Mahatma did was to build a universal language of freedom that everyone in the world instantly got. That is what bonded India and created us as a nation. Here is an interesting Italian ad that captures the key more than most books:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sda8xjmFv0khttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9T_5MeFA1MApple ad involving Gandhi.
Bhagat Singh, Netaji, Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar are all great men and we should both respect and learn from them. We can do that without being ignorant of Bapu.
The Mahatma's path was undoubtedly the path that took us to freedom and almost all major freedom fighters respected Mahatma's positions even if they opposed some of his policies.
If you think your 2 minute reading of a random Facebook post or a Whatsapp message makes you somehow knowledgeable about the Mahatma than what Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Netaji Bose and the rest of the world deduced, I can only pity you.