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Gandhi’s vs Netaji’s Ideologies- The more relevant in these times

By Muskan Garg

First Runner Up - Article submitted for the Essay Writing competition on the occasion of "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav"

The role that Gandhi and Netaji played in India’s independence struggle has been discussed widely, and what has been talked about even more is the relevance of their ideologies in the 21st century. Keeping aside the debate, the fact that their ideologies are relevant, although in parts, even after 7+ decades of independence, shows the extent of peripheral vision these legends had.

Mahatma Gandhi is known as a great political leader of all times, but he was also a renowned philosopher and theorist. Apart from giving us the principles of non- violence and truth which have laid some mechanisms for conflict resolutions at international platforms, he had strong views about decentralization of political power which is evident in the political structure of India: we are a quasi- federal nation. He propagated “Servadharma Sambhav” i.e. secularism and respect for all religions. He had also talked about “Universalization of education” and comprehensively supported primary, vocational and functional education which is extensively worked upon in the prevailing Education policy.

At the Haripura Congress Session, Netaji talked about the fundamental rights of people of India: these included right of free expression of opinion, free association, assemble peacefully and the right to practise one’s religion peacefully. Netaji even emphasized the equality of all citizens before the law. Even before India became independent, he had talked about the importance of international relations. Today, we witness that these sets of his ideologies reflect in our political and judicial systems. His idea of secularism becomes very relevant today when India is grappling with communal tensions and social disharmony. Another aspect of his ideology was women empowerment and one can never forget his role as a champion of women. It is amusing to see how relevant this is, amidst daily cases of harassments and rapes.

There has always been a conflict between supporters of both the leaders over their respective ideologies. Although both the leaders had a stark difference in opinions on various issues, they had a profound respect for each other. History holds that it was Netaji who titled Gandhi as ‘Father of the Nation’ and Gandhi called Bose the ‘Prince among the Patriots’. That being said, some of their ideologies, like those about industrialization and globalization can’t be taken as it is. It would not be wrong to say that none of the leaders had ideologies which can be adopted wholly per se. Hence, the debate should not be about choosing which set of ideology is more relevant today: rather it should revolve around adopting the relevant set of ideologies of both the visionaries and implementing it, after all, some of the greatest leaders of 21st century: Dalai Lama and Barack Obama see our political leaders as their inspiration for ideals.

As India celebrates “Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”, it is imperative to remind ourselves of the heart- wrenching struggle that the nation had gone through to give us a chance to celebrate 75 years of Independence. As the country struggles its way through a multitude of concerns and issues, we need to go back to the ideologies of Gandhi and Bose who had deliberated on these issues of poverty, social inequality, caste systems, unemployment, illiteracy and women empowerment decades ago and strive to eradicate these, after all:

“It does not matter who among us will live to see India free. It is enough that India shall be free and that we shall give our all to make her free”- SC Bose

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