Churchill and Gandhi

Simplicity personified : Gandhi from Corbis Archives
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."

- Winston Churchill, 1930

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 comments.

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.
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