Millennium Post
Opinion

The father of the nation is a giant

The Central Government’s response to a question under the right to information Act filed by a schoolgirl that Mahatma Gandhi cannot be given the title of ‘father of the nation’ is surprising. It is not that the Mahatma requires certificates from governments, for,  on the contrary, it is for great men like him judge governments. In any case,  Mahatma Gandhi is acknowledged as the ‘father of the nation’ by a majority of Indians and described as such, so the schoolchild’s question is not idle. It was in 1944 that the great freedom fighter Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, in a message to the Mahatma on the Azad Hind radio from Rangoon, described him as the ‘father of the nation’ seeking his blessings and good wishes in the holy war for the liberation of India from foreign rule. The great
netaji,
who had no axe to grind and was a leader of great stature in his own right, had  expressed the spirit of the times in so describing the emotional content of the relationship of the Indians of that generation with the Mahatma. It is not for nothing that he was  called Bapu, which means father, by the people and the appellation of ‘father of the nation’ is a tribute that Indians even today pay to the towering leader for his immense contribution to the freedom struggle.

It is possible that the present central government, led by the Congress, has less awareness of Mahatma Gandhi‘s contribution to the struggle for freedom. This would not be surprising considering that its policies are contrary to what the father of the nation had envisioned. He had waged a struggle against a foreign power. Today, this government is hand-in-glove with foreign investment. It is, however, true that India is an ancient land and has had many great heros in the past. But we must acknowledge that the modern state of India owes its emergence largely to the leadership of the Mahatma around whom the freedom struggle in the 20th century was centred. Mahatma Gandhi does not require validation from governments  or  the constitution or from the current crop of leaders who are pygmies before him and whose contribution to public life is miniscule as compared to him. Towering people like Mahatma Gandhi are above the insults that petty people hurl at them. His contribution is inscribed in stone in the annals of India. Had he been alive, he would not have cared for any honours that contempory governments care to bestow on him.  There is, therefore, no need for this government to insert the name of the Mahatma under the constitution of India as the ‘father of the nation.’ He is loved and respected by the Indian people and that is enough for him.
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