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article imageOp-Ed: Gandhi was imperfect, Martin Luther wasn’t perfect

By Robin Okuthe     Nov 27, 2014 in Politics
It is healthy to refuse to believe everything you read. Lies and half-truths have a way of toying with the mind into easy manipulation. Is there an excuse in showing Mahatma Gandhi was a perfect human? In a perfect world, to err wouldn’t be human.
While Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) may have derived his great inspiration from Gandhi in pushing for his Civil Rights Movement, the former may emerge as more superior in conduct an ideology. In view of this, it wouldn't be dishonorable to put MLK and Gandhi side by side.
While MLK represented the aspirations of the black nation, Mahatma Gandhi has been imaged as being emblematic of the interests of high caste Hindus -- who made up between 10 and 12 percent of the Indian population. Again, while MLK appealed to all Americans to overcome racial prejudices, religion and gender in order to establish a just society, Mahatma Gandhi has been cited severally as relating with the architects behind the separation of India into two nations: Hindu and Muslim. From the killer's testimony, the caste complexities had a link to his assassination in 1948 -- when Gandhi supported the idea of a separate state for Muslims, leading to the creation of Pakistan.
A little exploration of Gandhi’s history also points us to this direction. Gandhi was born in the state of Gujrat in Baniya caste, a business community. He later studied in England to obtain law degree before returning to India. He then moved to South Africa, as the situations in the country offered better income at the time. While there, he was instrumental in bringing Indians from Gujrat State to South Africa as indentured servants.
Being a caste-conscious Hindu, Gatma was numerously criticised for looking down upon the African natives. In fact, he has been documented as saying, “I can understand why the white man discriminates against a black man, but why against us the Hindus. We share the same values with the white man.” Aside from his law practice, Gandhi worked for the British army to recruit Indians to rally behind the whites during the Zulu rebellion and the Boer War.
On the other hand, Martin Luther King, Jr., when championing the rights of people of color in the United States in the 1960s, stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
MLK’s motivation was essentially social reform and his Christian religion. On the other hand, Ghandhi was motivated by strategic, social and political reasons, hence his Sanskrit (non-violence) doctrine.
In the end, it is easy to argue that selective acquisition and dissemination of information by historians and mythologists contributes to idolising of past leaders. In fact, Ghandhist historians knew that promoting Gandhi's ‘Non Violence principles’ required making sure that not everything Ghandi did was open to scrutiny. I believe that’s why Ghandhi has been overrated by some Asian and European literature. Still, the world made significant social and politician gains from the two leader’s contribution to social movement. The modern world democracires give much credit is their personal sacrifices and ideology. It is very healthy to think of Gandhi and Martin Luther in positive light. Critical lesson is: While most charismatic leaders have a darker side, they provide better social options and are rarely judged harshly.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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