Gandhi’s role in India’s Partition

There are about 400 and odd books on Mahatma Gandhi alone. This vast output is besides Gandhi’s own writings and letters that are collected into some one hundred volumes by the Indian government. Every country that had leaders of great national importance, from dictators to democrats, from Lenin, Stalin to Mao and the American and the British leaders has such authorised multi-volume publications.

These authorised, official versions and publications after sometime go out of use and completely junk!

Even Pandit Nehru’s “works” now already in multi-volumes, are falling behind times and it is said by the time the full volumes come out, most  of the contemporaries might have all been dead and forgotten! Along with them the Nehru era romance might also fade.
What would be the fate of the Mahatma?

Why so many books, continue to be written about him? Is he a man or a god, a mahatma or a soul force and what else we can make of this complex personality?

Gandhi stirs our emotions, mostly beneficial, for the obvious reason he is seen as a moral person and he talked often as a spiritual person. One more attraction for Gandhi is his long association with so many Christians and Jews and his claims in his autobiography how he was influenced by his coming into contact with these religious teachings.

But then he always claimed himself to be a religious person and that too as a Hindu. And to complicate matters, he had to work for Indian freedom and that brought him into direct conflict with the Indian Muslims and ultimately India was partitioned and also he died at the hands of a Hindu fanatic.

So, the story makes for an unending charm and complexity and throws in Gandhi’s other many idiosyncracies, eccentricities and a resort to fasting and direct action! All this he did in the name of freedom and also as a disciple of Gokhale, a great believer in constitutional means of agitation and persuasion! So, a series of contradictory acts and beliefs make for Gandhi, the man and his complex character. There are other ingredients as well like sex and sex experiments and the last but not the least the long-suppressed relationship with a high born Bengali lady of the Tagore aristocracy and the long-suppressed letter of Rajaji to Gandhi dissuading him to cut of his further relationship. So, you can have your own take, you are a secularist or a religious person or whatever you are and your inclination. The fascination for Gandhi never seems to die!

There have been several new books on Mahatama Gandhi. Two by his own grandsons, Rajmohan Gandhi (Mohandas: The True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire, pages738) and Gopalkrishna Gandhi (Gandhi in his own words, OUP), who is now West Bengal Governor. I had had a glimpse into these two new books. Both are written with much affection and also much detachment. That is an admirable quality one can surely expect from these two highly gifted grandsons of such a great man. There is also one by his great grand son, Tushar Gandhi whose book is sensationally titled as “Let’s kill Gandhi”!
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Date: December 1, 2007
Place: Trichy, Tamil Nadu
Life and literature of Tamils
As seen from the perspectives of  Tamils living abroad and outside Tamil Nadu in India

1. Introduction:
I am highly grateful for all those who have thought of inviting me to give the keynote address to this assembly of Tamil scholars and all lovers of Tamil language and literature.
This is an exciting theme, happening at an exciting time. The historic  situation of the world today, at the beginning of a new millennium, with globalisation and the rising terrorist violence and the rapid pace of life, a growing migration of people outside of their traditional homes and the consequent identity crisis have all created and given us, in particular, educators, creative writers, thinkers, poets and novelists  a new challenge. The time is certainly here for us to think hard and come up with new ideas and new perspectives.
As I am new to  this assembly of scholars and all those  present here,  I think it is only proper I give a very brief indication of what I think may be my credentials for the role assigned to me  today.
Yes, I have some qualifications and credentials as I see it.
Apart from the fact that I  went to  some of the most universities, India’s most famous university, namely of Visva Bharati at Santiniketan founded by Rabindranath Tagore, I also had the  privilege of  going up to Oxford University  in UK.I was lucky to study at these universities when there were giants of men who led these portals of learning. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru himself was the Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University when I was there for four years and I had the great good fortune to have come closer to him in my formative years. Of course, this impacted my personality and outlook.
At Oxford in the later Fifties and early Sixties there was an unprecedented intellectual ferment, in fact, a revolution in philosophy that almost changed the course of the modern twentieth century philosophy. Oxford was the hub of this philosophy. Bertrand Russell and his colleagues were very much alive then. At Oxford were all his successors, Prof.A.J.Ayer, Isaiah Berlin, John Plamenetz in philosophy and politics and Sir John Hicks and Sir Roy Harrod in philosophy, A.J.P.Taylor in history, Sir Maurice Bowra in classical and modern literature were all very much there and some of these great minds taught me. I am glad to say and it is worth mentioning, I think, that I was taught by those who won the Nobel Prizes (Sir Hicks for economics) and some of my friends also won the Nobel Prizes (Amartya Sen for economics), when I was there the youngest Indian to won a prestigious literature prize (the Hawthordon prize for poetry) was Dom Moraes, my close friend who won it at age 19! So, you can imagine the ferment in which my intellect was nurtured.
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Isaiah Berlin

Sir Berlin was professor of political philosophy at Oxford during the late 50s. I used to attend his lectures as an undergraduate student. In his time Sir Berlin was considered the greatest living thinker of political and social issues. Being born in Russia and a Jew at that he was closely associated with events during the Russian Revolution and later when the state of Israel was formed. This book is the first biography oh him and gives a complete account of he evolved in a formidable authority on his times.

Image Source : plato.stanford.edu

This is a journal with a long history. It was launched long ago in 1965 as an ordinary school newsletter when I was running a rural school. Through the years it had evolved into several phases to its present format. Today this monthly magazine is read by schools, college and public libraries all over India through subscriptions. In a way this journal my own intellectual evolution and covers a wide range of subjects from education to politics, culture, society, reminiscences.


This is the latest biography of the eminent jurist. He played a leading role in interpreting the constitution of India. This is a beautifully written book by the veteran journalist M.V Kamath and gives a full account of the jurists many faceted skills and achievements. I have written of this elsewhere on this blog.