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Gandhi: The Years That Changed the World Hardcover – 11 Sep 2018
Hardcover, 11 Sep 2018
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About the Author
Ramachandra Guha's many books include a pioneering work of environmental history (The Unquiet Woods, 1989), an award-winning social history of sport (A Corner of a Foreign Field, 2002), and a widely acclaimed and bestselling work of contemporary history (India After Gandhi, 2007). The first volume of his landmark biography of Gandhi, Gandhi Before India, was published in 2013.
Guha's awards include the R.K. Narayan Prize, the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Ramnath Goenka Prize and the Fukuoka Prize. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in the humanities by Yale University.
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In my opinion ( I read 4 chapters ) this would be Guha's Magnum opus..i got super excited by seeing the minute care and immense research
he had done for this work....this is gonna be the best biography on Gandhiji..must read
Probably it was the flicker got lighted up when i was reading his selected works or maybe when i was encountered by his grandson's book "why gandhi still matters",and certainly by coming across a statement made by P.Sainath when he called Gandhi the most prolific journalist,India ever had.
Guha is one of my most favorite writers and despite being an ardent Nehruvian adherent i never knew that he was also a devout Gandhi scholar,except through his speeches some years ago.
This work is unique in the sense that it can be comprehended also by a layman despite being a scholarly work.Inspite of providing a detailed review it would be better to put out a comparative analysis of this book from other biographies of Gandhi.
The discussion over Nehru report and Gandhi's divergences over the issue had potential then and now founding resonance in postmodernist school of thought.
Tharoor while discussing on limitations of Gandhi in last chapters of his famous book on British India,fails to explore the background of the whole case of 2nd world war and relevance of non violence.Guha on the other hand admitting limitations of non violence in that milieu,explores the possiblities that lay within the individuals like Bonhoeffer to ignite the flame if they might have been alive.
Recent happenings in Malawi and sometimes ago in Rhodes university clearly demonstrates the cult of protectionism which is overshadowing us in current zeitgeist and the support it has got from some fringe groups.But the work demolishes the fact that Gandhi was in his whole life averse to the African race.
It indeed shows how much africans were enamoured,enchanted and inspired by his message of satyagraha.
His critique of the brutalities of whites in zulu rebellion,support to the Thurmans,the inspiration he gave to future african nationalists like Kenyans Zomo kenyatta,Zambian Kenneth kaunda clearly demonstrates this fact.
Sceptics have raised questions on the relative success or failure of quit india movement.To get the picture of that deep psychological impact that Gandhism held over Indians then one must study "Kanthapura",which better elucidates this thing in an emotional way.
Gandhi's preference to live in a bhangi colony despite being offered a mansion in Delhi during cabinet mission days and his insistence to maintain permanently these services of electricity and water even after his leaving to G.D.Birla shows his empathy towards his countrymen which modern day politicians lack to a great extent.
Moreover by elucidating the differences,relevance and possibilities of his and ambedkar 's point of views are explicated in a well manner in this work.
The question now arises what set the person different from the rest of the prominent leaders of his time and whats the relevance of his ideas in today's world.
The answer to the former question lies in the fact that the life of this man was like an open book.People anywhere in the world whether it was Agatha harrison,charlie Andrews,or an unknown enquirer from banaras could ask him on questions ranging from socialism,satyagraha,non violence,love marriages,celibacy and on controlling lustful thoughts too.The point is where could you find such a leader who responds you in a way much more closer than your father?
The latter is a case bit prolonged one.
The offshoots of Gandhism are myriad.
Ranging from environmentalism,global peace,religious harmony,interfaith dialogue and so on ad infinitum.
But the most poignant is the fact that todays consumptionist spirituality thats taking its roots in India,specially where celebrity gurus are making profit of it.
The fetish of ‘efficiency’, the reckless speed of contemporary living, the intoxication with conspicuous consumption, the ‘performance anxiety’ in a hyper-competitive ethos of social-Darwinism, the growing denaturalisation of existence with the heavy armours of privilege and status, and a sense of void, despite the euphoria of ‘success’ – the class I am referring to is living this hollow existence with inner emptiness and a sense of ‘guilt’.
They have invested and counted on this class which is focussed solely on self contemplation and of this class only Gandhi was critical about.
And its the same class which was the subject of humour in harishankar parsai s works.
Compare it with the great work done by Natwar Thakkar in Nagaland who was a lifelong Gandhian and whom the people of that insurgency hit state deeply admire.
That,indeed that is the power of Gandhi.