Our obsession with Hero Worship is quite amazing. But what we often forget is we are actually disrespecting our ‘heroes’ in the process of doing so.
We all are humans and if we believe that someone is perfect – then this is a problem of our thinking and there is nothing wrong with the person whom we ‘worship’.
Around us we will find millions of people who passionately believe that M K Gandhi / J. L. Nehru / NSC Bose / R N Tagore / Martin Luther King/ Vivekananda (Actually the list is endless)… are superior humans and they can not to anything wrong. But the truth is – is it so?
Every human grows up into a mixture of good and bad. It is our obsession with looking up to a ‘holier than thou’ person which results in flatly refusing faults in such people.
Let us take a few cases just to see how our psyche works:
- M K Gandhi:
- Subhash C Bose
- Jawaharlal Nehru
M K Gandhi:
He is probably the most controversial political figure in India. Some hate him for everything he did, some love him for everything he did.
We all know that he was a great leader who brought the entire ‘India’ under a single umbrella to fight against the oppression of British rule. Which was quite an achievement considering India was made of 550 plus native states with diverse culture, language customs. And yes – he did play a very significant part in Indian independence. A lot of people blame him for partition of India. But we must not forget that there was no ‘India’ per se prior to 1947. We need to simply acknowledge the fact that it was an amalgamation of 550+ Native/ princely states. So, yes you may say he was responsible for combining those 550+ states and then dividing them into two – if it makes you feel any better!
But at the same time – people who worship him seem to forget his unjustified and extreme affection for Jawaharlal Nehru. At his level – when he was aware the kind of respect he got from the people of Indian subcontinent; he should have been a bit more careful with his display of undiluted affection towards Nehru. As it was pretty much certain that his ‘chosen one’ will automatically become the ‘chosen one’ of the nation, once freed. These acts alienated people like Subhash Chandra Bose from the Congress who was an extremely popular leader and also forced other leaders of repute to become second fiddle.
Another lesser known fact about M K Gandhi is the fact that till around 1930s he was a staunch supporter of casteism. You may find some interesting articles below, in case you are interested:
As a matter of fact – this was one of the cause of bitterness between Ambedkar and Gandhi. Gandhi firmly believed that Caste / Varna is an inseparable part of Hinduism / Sanatan Dharma and is a requirement for Swarajya. Though he later fought for up-liftment of the Dalits. This can not take away the fact that at one stage he supported the caste system.
There is a common belief that he fought against racism in South Africa, he did – but that was against the racist laws toward Indians and not all forms of racism (https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhis-first-act-of-civil-disobedience ).
Subhash Chandra Bose:
Subhash Chandra Bose is considered the blue eyed boy of India’s armed struggle against the British. And yes he did gave British a run for their money with an organized military campaign not any small time armed rebellion which has become a norm those days, specially in undivided Bengal Presidency, Bombay (Maharashtra) and Punjab. But a lot of us don’t know the fact that INA was actually established by another Bose – Rashbehari Bose. Rashbehari Bose handed over the command of INA to SC Bose in 1943, who revived it and made it a force to reckon with.
In our urge to worship Bose as the ultimate hero who sacrifice everything for the country there was once a ‘movement’ in India to even debunk his marriage and disown her daughter (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Researchers-protest-Netajis-marriage/articleshow/1093983.cms)! Just because you have committed your life for freedom of your country does not mean that you need to sacrifice your personal happiness. Is it?
At the same time, we cannot simply look the other way when it is a proven fact that Bose aligned with Nazis & Japan. Yes, we know the common phrase that ‘enemy’s enemy is your friend’. But the Nazis were enemy of the entire humanity, not just the British. We do need to recognize that Bose was a human and yes, he made a mistake. This does not demean him in anyway – in my opinion. But if you ignore this fact – you are demeaning entire humanity. There could be absolutely no justification for someone aligning with Nazis. It was a blunder, period.
After INA occupied Andaman & Nicobar Islands – the Japanese forces unleashed a reign of terror on the local population, which sadly was not noticed by Bose. The army was under his command, so I believe he should be held partially responsible. Although these things happen during wars – we can not brush it under the carpet. You may visit Kalapani Museum in Port Blair for details of the atrocities meted out by the Japanese forces. This is a little-known fact in Indian mainland.
Here is one person a lot of people love to hate.
There may be lots of faults in him – but at the same time we need to recognize that his was a baptism by fire. At that time nation was trying to comprehend the brutality & violence unleashed by the partition. Yet instead of following a ‘religious’ path – he decided to move the nation in a secular, socialist path. Trust me, there must have been immense pressure on the leaders of the time to make India a Hindu Rashtra. The difference is for all to see when we compare ourselves with our twin. The respect India commands in the world stage can not even be compared with its twin. While our neighbors have been plagued by military coupe, India has never faced this insult of democracy. Our twin was busy building a religious state – Nehru contributed in building NAM, INCOSPAR (ISRO), DRDO, BRO, IIT, BHEL and other organizations which paved way for indigenous development of technology and infrastructure.
At the same time we can’t ignore that he started the process of stifling opposition within his own party which was greatly and effectively followed up by his successors, we can’t ignore the fact that he planted the seeds of a modern India and not a medieval religious state. Also there are some unsubstantiated report about his ‘character’ – we need to realize – that was his personal life and it did not affect his policy making.
The whole point of this post was to clear one thing to every reader is that you do not need to ‘worship’ anyone. Appreciate the good they did while condemn whatever they did wrong. You as an concerned human being is not obliged to ignore or appreciate any wrong doings of any leader whom you may like or appreciate.
I have mostly pointed out the ‘faults’ of our most common heroes which we did not know about as well as ‘goods’ of the people we hated.