கடைக்குப் போகும் காந்தி

காந்தியை நான் பார்த்ததில்லை. ஆனால், கோடிக்கணக்கான இந்தியர்கள் போல் நானும் அவரால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டிருக்கிறேன். அவர் வழியின் கடைசி சாட்சியாக சிறுவனாக இருக்கும் போது தக்ளியில் நூல் நூற்று சர்வோதயா கடையில் கொடுத்திருக்கிறேன். எனது சமீபத்திய குறுநாவல் தொகுதியாகிய "விலை போகும் நினைவுகள்" காந்தியத்தை விமர்சனம் செய்யும் நாவல்.

உங்களுக்கு நேரமிருந்தால் கீழுள்ள கட்டுரையை வாசியுங்கள். தலைப்பிலும், கட்டுரை நடுவிலும் கொடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ள விளம்பரத்தைக் காணுங்கள்.

இது உங்களை பாதிக்கிறதா? பின்னூட்டத்தில் உங்கள் எண்ணத்தைப் பதிவு செய்யுங்கள்.


கடைசியில் ஒரு வாக்கெடுப்பு இருக்கிறது.


Telecom Italia's Gandhi Ad
Kanupriya Vashisht

Phoenix, Arizona (US), March 19, 2005|15:34 IST

A small, scrawny man in a dhoti unhurriedly climbs the steps of a hut. He sits down on the hard floor of a severely frugal room, and then smiles - into a web cam.

Suddenly that smile is transported from an austere ashram in Ahmedabad to a giant LCD in Times Square; a cell phone in Rome; a flat screen in
France; a laptop in London. Millions of people all over the world listen, mesmerised, as a trembling voice spreads the message of truth and love, barely audible amid the thunder of applause.

The aura is electrifying. Telecom Italia has found a compelling spokesman - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

'Telecom Italia Gandhi', a 60-second advertisement that recently won the Epica Awards, Europe's premier creative awards, has just started airing in Italy. The spot closes with an interesting inquiry, "Imagine the world today if he could have communicated like this". This simple statement, however, triggers a slew of complex issues.

Click here to See this Ad

If Gandhi were born into this mind-boggling plethora of media choices would he really have communicated any better? Could he have touched the minds of edgy megalomaniacs through cell phones, palm pilots, blogs and podcasters? Would modern means of mass communication amplify his message or dilute it?

It is somehow hard to imagine Gandhism unscathed by the mockery of late night comics. It is impossible to visualize the mahatma pausing for commercial breaks, getting powdered for the camera, or sharing prime time with Brittney Spears' antics and Aishwarya Rai's giggles.

Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi are present day inheritors of the Gandhian tradition. However, in this frenetic age of information explosion their message too is buried under debris of pluralistic ideologies and a million messages clamouring for attention. All three have access to a surfeit of multimedia and yet their sphere of influence is marginalized. Burma still bristles with violence, Tibetans live on in exile, and Africa continues to burn.


Gandhi, undoubtedly, is considered one of the most effective communicators of the 20th century, but his brand of journalism belongs to an era untouched by television or Internet. His lure lies in the mystique of austerity. His weapon is his message not his medium.


Gandhi was journalist when idealists, not advertisers, ran newspapers. In a public career that spanned nearly four decades, he edited six journals. None, including Harijan and Navajivan, made profit or boasted a circulation of more than a few thousand copies. Yet such was the power of his message that people flocked in thousands just to hear him speak. Camera did not make Gandhi look good, his rigorous brand of asceticism did.

Gandhi is up for grabs but nonviolence is not the reason. As Salman Rushdie puts it, "He has become abstract, ahistorical, postmodern, no longer a man in and of his time but a freeloading concept, a part of the available stock of cultural symbols, an image that can be borrowed, used, distorted, reinvented to fit many different purposes..."

In these sloganeering times, few people really pause to ponder the true nature of Gandhi's legacy. It was his bold vision and conviction that accelerated India's struggle for Independence. It was his charisma and leadership that inspired confidence in a country riddled with two centuries of subjugation. Seventy-five years ago this extraordinary man walked 325 kilometers from Sabarmati to Dandi just to defy the might of the British with a handful of salt. Today, he is modeling for brands like Apple Macintosh and Telecom Italia.

Such is the sway of mega bucks. Even the saintliest of the dead can be invoked from history to sell big brands. Gandhi's principles do not count any more, his maverick image does. Ironically his message has been packaged to fall in line with the corporate philosophy of consumerism. His brand image is now protected and marketed by US-based CMG Worldwide Inc, whose roster of deceased celebrities includes matinee idols like James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. Any cause or company seeking to use the image of India's prophet of abstinence now needs permission from the consumer capital of the world.

Half a century ago Gandhi was a brand unto himself, a communicator powerful enough to be his own medium. Today he is a coveted salesman for cash-flush corporations. His homespun dhoti, trademark walking stick, and round spectacles are curios from a bygone age. Satyagraha and ahimsa: These are words high school kids reluctantly mug up for a history exam. We have never needed a Gandhi more, and yet, the only Gandhi we know is a votary for consumerism.

"Out of my ashes, many more Gandhis will rise," said Mahatma Gandhi. Today, his prophetic words have acquired a paradoxical ring – many more Gandhis have risen – variously packaged as "Telecom Italia Gandhi" and "Apple Gandhi." It is time to claim our mahatma from the market and give him back to the masses. That is where he is held sacred, that is where he truly belongs.


உங்கள் தேர்வு?




1 பின்னூட்டங்கள்:

Aruna Srinivasan 3/24/2005 04:57:00 PM

"....Gandhi is up for grabs but nonviolence is not the reason. As Salman Rushdie puts it, "He has become abstract, ahistorical, postmodern, no longer a man in and of his time but a freeloading concept, a part of the available stock of cultural symbols, an image that can be borrowed, used, distorted, reinvented to fit many different purposes..."

I guess, this is what happening now. However, like the author says, inspite of a DalaiLama, a Mandela, or a Aung San Sui Ki, these regions are still in trouble. What made Gandhi successful was perhaps partly due to the fire he managed to ignite in the millions of his countrymen. And the countrymen's selfless attitude to achieve that ONE GOAL called, Freedom. Could he have been successful today ? in this self centric consumer focused world? Would he have been as effective, notwithstanding the multimedia supports? Did he succeed because of the calibre of the generation that lived at that time - both the oppressor and the oppressed?

I have my questions....

Or is it so, that the three examples of Gandhians shown above lack the skills that our own man had??? !! I am tempted to feel so !

Why wasn't a Gandhi born after the real one?

That was an interesting post Kannan :-) and the ad!!