By Justice Markandey Katju
August 14, 2015
Gandhi admitted that his ideal of a Varna system with everyone enjoying equal economic and social status probably had no historical warrant. But when asked whether in ancient India there was much difference in economic status and social privileges between the four varnas, Gandhi replied: “That may be historically true. But misapplication or an imperfect understanding of the law must not lead to the ignoring of the law itself. By constant striving we have to enrich it.” So, Gandhi is not against the caste system but only its ‘misapplication’ (whatever that may mean).
The contrast between Gandhi’s and Ambedkar’s views was heightened by their respective relations to the Jat-Pat-Todak Mandal, a new organisation dedicated to promoting a casteless Hinduism. Gandhi told its secretary in1932: “If eradication of castes means the abolition of Varna I do not approve of it. But I am with you if your aim is to end the innumerable caste distinctions.”
Dr Ambedkar correctly analysed the cause of Gandhi’s contradictory statements and obfuscation regarding caste as “the double role, which the Mahatma wants to play: of a Mahatma and a politician. As a Mahatma he may be trying to spiritualise politics. Whether he has succeeded in it or not, politics have certainly commercialised him. A politician must know that society cannot bear the whole truth. If he is speaking the whole truth, it is bad for his politics. The reason why the Mahatma is always supporting caste and Varna is because he is afraid that if he opposes them he will lose his place in politics. Whatever may be the source of this confusion, the Mahatma must be told that he is deceiving himself and also deceiving the people by preaching caste under the name of Varna.” This is the man who has been thrust down the throats of Indians as the ‘father of the nation’.
In his book The Partition of India, the eminent jurist Seervai has written that the method of Gandhi to appeal to Hindu ideas may have mobilised the Hindu masses but it inevitably led to the partition of India. Thus, while Gandhi claimed he was secular, that was only hypocrisy. In fact, he was communal as he was throughout his public career propagating Hindu religious ideas. Unfortunately, most people in India have not read the speeches and writings of Gandhi from 1915 to 1948, and so they do not know what he did and how he took them for a ride. It is high time for them to know the truth.
Some people say that the fact that Gandhi went to Noakhali etc. in 1947 to appeal for communal amity shows that he was secular. However, this was the typical hypocrisy of Gandhi. First, you set the house on fire by propagating Hindu religious ideas day in and day out for several decades and then, when the house is burning, you play the part of trying to douse the flames by appealing for communal harmony. Why did you set the house on fire in the first place?
Some people ask what Gandhi got by this. My answer is that different people have different motives. For some, money is the motivation; for others, it is power. In Gandhi’s case it was probably power (he was effectively the leader of the Congress) and the desire to be called a ‘Mahatma’. However, that is irrelevant. Whatever may have been his motivation, the real question to be asked is: did his actions in fact further the British policy of divide and rule? That is why I have called Gandhi objectively a British agent. Subjectively, he may have any motivation. An objective agent may not receive any money and he may not even be conscious of the fact that he is working as an agent. But that does not matter. If by your deeds you are in fact serving the interests of a foreign power, you are an agent of that foreign power.
As regards the claim that Gandhi gave us freedom, this again is a myth. Does any country give up its empire without an armed fight for independence? Did the US get independence from the British through Satyagrah and hunger strikes, or by mobilising the Continental Army under George Washington, which fought the US war of Independence from 1775 to 1781? Did Bolivar liberate several Latin-American countries with guns or presenting flowers and bouquets to Spanish rulers? Did Ho Chi Minh defeat the French by use of arms or by salt marches?
(To be continued)
Justice Markandey Katju is an ex-judge of the Supreme Court of India