Saturday, February 17, 2001
M A I L  B O X

Gandhi’s unparalleled humility

APROPOS of R.N. Sharma’s article "Gandhi’s unparalleled humility" (February 3), humility is strength too, which is achieved when we realise the true meaning of humility.

Humility is not boasting of one’s birth, position, qualifications and spiritual attainments, but lies in praising others, seeking good in all and treating even the lowest creatures as one’s equal. Humility doesn’t ask what is the decent thing to be done, it does the decent thing by instinct and without fuss.

Mahatma Gandhi wielded more power than any other person despite the fact that he had no money or weapons. However, his faith in the power of non-violence and his unparalleled humility gave us independence from the British. What other force on earth, except faith and humility, could achieve so much ?

If our present-day leaders also imbibed some part of Gandhi’s unparalleled humility, most of the problems facing and afflicting India are likely to be solved.




In 1945, I was a Junior Commissioned Officer posted in Central Ordnance Depot at Pulgaon, near Wardha, and Gandhiji was residing at Sewagram, a small village some 6 km from Wardha. So I along with another JCO decided to visit him on a Sunday. We cycled from Wardha down a neat and clean tarred road leading to the village. We reached about noon and waited at the small wooden gate outside Gandhiji’s modest earthen-walled hut, through the open door of which we watched him seated on the floor, working his portable charkha. Two ladies sat beside him in the small, sparse room.

Presently he came out, escorted by the ladies, and passed us. We were both looking at him so intently that we just stood there, speechless. But on his part, as he passed us he paused, folded his hands and said "Namasteji" and then walked on, leaving both of us mortified with shame! More than half a century has since passed, and much has happened but I shall never forgive myself for not having wished that great man who had the courtesy and humility to wish me nonetheless.


Filthy lucre

In his write-up "Filthy lucre" (January 13), Khushwant Singh has made an apparently hypocritical mention of the embarrassment caused to him by the prize money that he recently received in the form of a wad of Rs 500 notes at the first Punjabi Conference in Chandigarh.

According to him he expected it to be crossed cheque. Had the money been given to him in that way, perhaps he might not have used the derogatory phrase of ‘filthy lucre’ for it. The conveners of the conference honoured him with a prize of Rs 1 lakh. Can this be branded as filthy lucre, which means money obtained by base means?

If he really considered it filthy lucre, either he should not have accepted it or given it to some relief fund or donated it to the Pingalwara at Amritsar. Charity is a great virtue. But instead he took good care of it. He kept the velvet pouch containing the money under the pillow in his hotel room and hugged the same against his chest while in the train on his way back to Delhi. Reaching home, he gave the money to his grand-daughter as a New Year gift.


Time-wasting rituals

This refers to Khushwant Singh’s article "Of time-wasting rituals" (January 20). Whenever any dignitary allots a small rationed quota of the time from his busy schedule, everything turns topsy-turvey in the institution which he so magnanimously chooses to visit. Various committees are formed for the smooth running of the show and a number of meetings are convened to chalk out the programme. In spite of a financial crunch, liberal funds materialise out of nowhere for the smooth conduct of the visit.

The institution and the road leading to it get a face-lift, giving it a new, fresh look. It is really ironical that for half an hour’s visit of a dignitary so much time, energy and money is wasted which could have been judiciously used in some other activity.

The situation becomes more pathetic when young school children are made to wait patiently for the chief guest who, in keeping with the great Indian tradition, never arrives on time.

The only cure to rid society of these ills lies in our dignitaries themselves taking the first step in criticising these activities a la Ujjal Dosanjh, Prime Minister of British Columbia.


The emergence of Haryana

Apropos of Raman Mohan’s article "Emergence of Haryana," (January 20) Haryana has developed in several areas, but degradation in some others stares one in the eye. One of the three Lals of Haryana sowed the seeds of ‘jatism’ in total breach of the Preamble to the Constitution which talks of India as a sovereign socialist, secular, democratic republic. The Constitution provides for a state free from any considerations of religion, race caste etc. Another Lal said not long ago that he would disenfranchise banias and brahmins.

One can safely say that crime has outpaced development in Haryana. As observed by the writer "murders have gone up from 192 in 1970 to 677 as on March 31, 2000." During the same period various other crimes have gone up from 4,800 to 33,000.

Another worrisome area is the fall in woman-man ratio. The number of women per 1000 men was 972 in 1901. This figure came down to 946 in 1951 and it further receded to 920 in 1991. The writer points out that there are likely to be 756 women per 1000 men in a few years. This is because of sex determination tests followed by abortion of female foetuses. It would mean no brides for some 24 per cent men. It is high time the government looked into this matter seriously.