Sunday, October 15, 2006

Gandhi-giri in Full Bloom

Remember Lage Raho Munnabhai? This fall, it seems that many civic-minded Indians are taking the Gandhian techniques shown in the film and applying them to real-life problems and protests, with the demand for accountability from government officials being the most common application. Instead of Bandhs and riots, over the past couple of months protesters have been sending flowers and doing Pujas, hoping that people whose work shows signs of negligence and incompetence will "get better soon." Here are some of the examples of "Gandhi-giri" I came across in a quick search:

And those are just a few examples; more are given in this recent Boston Globe article. My cousins in Delhi tell me that elderly people are stripping off clothes (this is directly out of Lage Raho Munnabhai) to shame government officials in charge of pensions to actually disburse their funds. And there are stories about pavement dwellers, in response to trash flagrantly dropped where they live by thoughtless passers-by, cheerfully (but pointedly) cleaning it up -- again right out of the film.

It's not all good, of course. Vidhu Vinod Chopra is reportedly using his own invention to lobby the government of Gujarat to give his film tax-free status, which it already has in many other states. That seems a bit much; "Gandhi-giri" may well just be this year's fashion, which will get old as soon as other super-rich people start using it to demands perks and privileges.

Gandhi-giri: flash in the pan, or a sign of a real revival in non-violent civic engagement amongst Indians of all classes?


uday said...

When I first heard 'What goes around, comes around'...the last thing I thought about was Gandhian ideals...not to ignore the part of 'public stripping' and 'Gandhian love', the sort that would make you cringe and rub salt on wounds without any calls for belligerence.

It probably proves that there is a kid in every one of us, with a tender heart and a quest for 'Good'. In a country, whose people were summed up by Sidney Sheldon as being 'clever and manipulative', this is a welcome change.

1:09 PM  
take2 said...

It’s been some time since we have been subjected to GANGHIGIRI, a newly coined ‘cool’ term in the legacy of populist erosion and mutation of public memory. One wished that it would die out in the regular life-cycle of all the ‘cool’ terminologies, but it just continues to threaten, revisit and laugh at the vast vacuum that we have comfortably embraced and coined-IDEOLOGY.

Not only in India, but all across the world, ‘Gandhigiri’ has been promulgated, proclaimed and accepted as The Great Indian Ideological Resurrection. Articles after articles are pouring with this effulgence of reaffirmation ideology.
While my mother happily watches the latest edition of Munnabhai doing another of his countless brainless acts on the silver screen, in some far corner of the country, I contemplate upon the reasons I should react to the now-legalized absurdity.

Personally, I would not want to react to this brainwashing exercise, but on second thoughts I feel that the issue is deeper than what meets the eye. The point is not whether you prescribe to a viewpoint or not, it is about the perspectives or the lack of them that make us comfortably accept these societal (also suicidal) blunders. I am not criticizing any personal opinion on the issue; I am just bewildered by the unilateral response by all and sundry. It just does not bake my cookies just to think of the way it has been lapped up, it almost appears as if a Prophet or a Savior came and opened up our eyes to an extinct truth. I am not even going at the film, because it no longer belongs there, it has become a national obsession – Gandhigiri! A quick-fix heal for all your problems! I won’t be surprised if I see that as a punch line for the Congress in the upcoming elections, the connections with the party through the Dutt family is way too obvious to be ignored.

1:03 PM  

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