Written By Kashvi Parwal (Grade 10)
Let’s draw a comparison between two people. They were both advocates, both were the Fathers of their Nation. However, they had different struggles and thought processes. The two are Mahatma Gandhi, who very famously believed that “In a gentle way, you can shake the world” and Nelson Mandela, who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.
Mahatma Gandhi who first tested the Satyagraha movement in a small country like South Africa found it would be apt to work in a huge country like India. Gandhi was less of a freedom fighter and more of a celebrity. I mean Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in jail, Bhagat Singh was hanged at the mere age of twenty-three years, Chandra Shekhar Azad was shot dead at the age of twenty-four after spending time in the most heinous jail, the Cellular Jail, and many more freedom fighters who were brutally murdered. However, Gandhi Ji from 1908, his first visit to jail, to 1944, his last visit to jail, had just 2338 days which is approximately six years in jail, where we mustn’t forget that he lived-in top-notch conditions and was released anytime he threatened to go on a hartal or hadn’t eaten a morsel in a few days. Gandhi Ji was the only prisoner British officers were terribly concerned for; others didn’t receive the same treatment which led to many slow painful deaths in prison.
However, in South Africa Nelson Mandela wasn’t given the treatment of a celebrity but rather that of a traitor by the British Government. In 1960 when Nelson Mandela helped to organize a paramilitary branch of ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government in retaliation for the massacre of the peaceful black demonstration at Sharpville, he was arrested for treason and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country and sentenced five years in prison. Again, on the charges of sabotage, he was put on trial and was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing, he was forced to do hard labor in a quarry, he could write or receive letters only once in six months, and once a year he was allowed to meet with a visitor for mere thirty minutes.
Learning all about the struggles Nelson Mandela went through he truly deserves to be called the Father of South Africa. Can the same be said for Mahatma Gandhi though?
After the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, he called off the movement against the Rowlatt Act and did the same after the Chauri Chaura incident. Gandhi cared more about his principles rather than the trouble we were facing every day because of the oppression by the British Government. He saw the world in just black and white, he never saw the grey. He was so keen on keeping up his simple life image that he would travel with goats everywhere and didn’t consider the trouble it bought people around him. When they didn’t agree with him, he threatened them with hartals which would immediately make them agree.
Aren’t ‘fathers’ supposed to have holes in their vests so that their families can live happily? So the question arises, is he truly the Father of our Nation? Or did we oversee the feats of others due to the limelight on only one?
Featured Image Courtesy – History and Biography