"Each represented very separate interest groups, and their battle unfolded in the heart of India’s national movement. What they said and did continues to have an immense bearing on contemporary politics. Their differences were (and remain) irreconcilable. Both are deeply loved and often deified by their followers. It pleases neither constituency to have the other’s story told, though the two are inextricably linked. Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally. To have excised Ambedkar from Gandhi’s story, which is the story we all grew up on, is a travesty. Equally, to ignore Gandhi while writing about Ambedkar is to do Ambedkar a disservice, because Gandhi loomed over Ambedkar’s world in myriad and un-wonderful ways." [more inside]
The IOWEYOU project. You can't go to a shop and buy these clothes. Because each textile is unique they have an app that allows you to trace your garment right back through the production process to the actual weaver that hand-wove the fabric. You can see some of the delightful people involved in the project at their YouTube channel.
"Among the Hagiographers": The Wall Street Journal's review of a new biography questions our supposed deification of Mohandas Gandhi.
Today would have been Indira Gandhi's 92nd birthday, had she not been assassinated by members of her own guard in her own backyard on October 31st, 1984 (I was there in New Delhi in a cab when the driver suggested it might be safer if he turned around and took me straight home). Often confused as a relative of the more famous Gandhi, fashionable, stylish and well groomed Indira was actually the daughter of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru and used her married name, although divorced from her Parsi exhusband. Daughter and mother of Prime Ministers of India, she herself held office with an iron fist, remembered for the "Emergency", a brief period of martial law often overlooked in the democratic vibrancy of Indian politics. Will Mrs Gandhi's legacy of dynasty be continued by her half Italian grandson?
India’s New Face. "Meet Narendra Modi, chief minister of Gujarat and the brightest star in the Hindu-chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party. Under Modi, Gujarat has become an economic dynamo. But he also presided over India’s worst communal riots in decades, a 2002 slaughter that left almost 2,000 Muslims dead. Exploiting the insecurities and tensions stoked by India’s opening to the world, Modi has turned his state into a stronghold of Hindu extremism, shredding Gandhi’s vision of secular coexistence in the process. One day, he could be governing the world’s largest democracy." [Via]
Saying His Peace: Rare Recording of Speech by Gandhi Landed in Safe, if Unknowing, Hands. [Via Linkfilter]
Dear Leo, Dear Mohandas "The longer I live -- especially now when I clearly feel the approach of death -- the more I feel moved to express what I feel more strongly than anything else... the doctrine of the law of love unperverted by sophistries. Love... the highest and indeed the only law of life". The Kingdom of God Is Within You (full text available) is Leo Tolstoy's tractatus of "Christianity Not as a Mystic Religion but as a New Theory of Life", a primer of (among other things) the doctrine of non-violence. Among the many fans of the 1894 book was an imprisoned Hindu barrister, a "half-naked fakir" if you want, a certain Mohandas K. Gandhi who was fascinated by "the independent thinking, profound morality, and the truthfulness" of the book. So he ended up writing fan letters to the great Russian man: who warmly wrote back to his young Indian "friend and brother". The old wise Christian anarchist literary giant and the shy, insecure young man who sparked a revolution: to paraphrase another wise, badly-dressed , pacifist old man, "Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such men ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."
The recent violence in India and in various parts of the rest of the world made me ponder the contemporary relevance of MK Gandhi and his writings, specifically on violence.