Those who have followed my blogs and writings know that I have tried to balance out the hagiography of Gandhi as a saint. This I have done very consciously because the deification of Gandhi automatically means – to many naive immature minds- that anyone who opposed Gandhi, like Jinnah or Ambedkar, was automatically a villain. The idea has never been to replace Gandhi the saint with Gandhi the monster but to state a few facts that have been deliberately written out of history. Gandhi’s position in history is uncontested. He is a great man warts and all.
All that I have written over the years has been from the horse’s mouth – Gandhi’s own words and actions. For this Indian trolls and some foolish Pakistani ones have attacked me repeatedly, called me a bigot and what not. Well yesterday Patrick French published this article in the Daily Telegraph which re affirms every single claim I have made about Gandhi:
An important origin of the myth was Richard Attenborough’s 1982 film Gandhi. Take the episode when the newly arrived Gandhi is ejected from a first-class railway carriage at Pietermaritzburg after a white passenger objects to sharing space with a “coolie” (an Indian indentured laborer). In fact, Gandhi’s demand to be allowed to travel first-class was accepted by the railway company. Rather than marking the start of a campaign against racial oppression, as legend has it, this episode was the start of a campaign to extend racial segregation in South Africa. Gandhi was adamant that “respectable Indians” should not be obliged to use the same facilities as “raw Kaffirs”. He petitioned the authorities in the port city of Durban, where he practised law, to end the indignity of making Indians use the same entrance to the post office as blacks, and counted it a victory when three doors were introduced: one for Europeans, one for Asiatics and one for Natives.
I wrote my first article on Gandhi’s racism in South Africa in 2005. Here it is. For this I was abused, attacked and denigrated by Indians and our golden hearted let us hold hands sing kumbaye Pakistanis alike. I have written several since. Let me again state if there is any confusion- I do not deny that Gandhi was an extraordinary man, but he was a man regardless, not a saint, not infallible and he certainly made lots of mistakes.
Yasser Latif Hamdani is a lawyer and a blogger. Visit his blog.