Churchill and Gandhi
The "Half Naked Fakir"
"It is alarming and also nauseating to
see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of
a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the
viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant
campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the
representative of the king-emperor."
For Gandhi, simplicity was the way of life. When the British invited Gandhi for peace
talks, Gandhi saw no particular reason to change his attire, which was same as millions of
his fellow countrymen. Gandhi met with Lord Irvin with the advantage of having won a moral
victory. "I have caused a great deal for trouble for your government. But as men, we
can set aside our differences for welfare of the nation" he said to the immaculately
dressed viceroy, on occasion of which Churchill is said to have made his infamous
Churchill, who considered himself a true democrat constantly opposed granting freedom
to India. In more ways than one, Gandhi was a much greater democrat, especially in
believing in self-determination of people and the universal equality of mankind. Churchill
was to be irritated further. The following year, Gandhi met face to face with Churchill
during the Indian round table conference -- "...I have an alternative that is
unpleasant to you" he told Churchill and his clan of imperialists. " India
demands complete liberty and freedom...the same liberty that Englishmen enjoy...
and I want India to become a partner in the Empire. I want to partner with
the English people ... not merely for mutual benefit, but so that the great weight that is
crushing the world to atoms may be lifted from its shoulders".
Winston Churchill loathed Gandhi. Gandhi loathed none.
Picture Courtesy : Corbis.
Commentary: Vikas Kamat
Reference: Gandhi's speech at the London Round table Conference 1931.