BENGALURU: Gandhi Jayanti is upon us, bringing with it all the joy of a National Holiday. Unlike regular holidays, your boss cannot force you to ‘oversee’ a project, or ‘stay back longer if you have to’. You get to spend time with yourself, except for one minor eclipse on the otherwise bright sunny day - it’s a dry day.
I remember reading My Experiments With Truth, in which Gandhiji describes his adventures with smoking and drinking. He had tried wine and booze while working in England, but grew up developing a strong dislike for it in his later years.
But the prospect of banning alcohol as a tribute to the Mahatma seems like mere lip-service to the father of the nation. Moreover, I personally believe Gandhi wouldn’t have approved of a blanket ban. He would have advocated for moderation, while being fully aware of the dangers.
But I’m a mere citizen. The higher powers decided that booze must be banned and that has come to be. But it led me to the thought – What would Gandhiji’s life have been, if he lived in our times – as a millennial?
The concept of ‘followers’ has undergone a sea change in the last few decades. While Bapu had followers who joined him for the Dandi March, he’d have to settle in today’s times with online followers armed with memes and tweets.
Gandhiji was a prolific writer. He wrote books, articles and edited publications through much of his public life. That is the modern equivalent of running three daily blogs, releasing books on Amazon, and being the content manager of a popular site.
Bapu used his speeches and articles to attract and inspire the people of the country. If he belonged to our times, he would have to ensure visibility across all platforms for his voice to be heard. #Satyagraha would have to trend across the world – from Twitter to TikTok.
To extend the thought experiment further, I think Gandhiji would have been completely fine with memes. Bapu was known to possess a sense of humour; he’d have smiled and forwarded a few to Nehru and Patel.
It is only when we come to the subject of trolls that things become a little dicey. Gandhiji was all for raising his voice against injustice. But ahimsa was one of the pillars of his ideology. Unfortunately, trolling is a form of extreme himsa.
It is difficult to become a Mahatma in our times, when everybody has a voice. Such titles must have been easier to come by before Twitter was invented. In today’s times, the Mahatma would probably have had to settle with a Blue Tick instead.
But something tells me Bapu would have figured a way out. Much of his genius lay in reaching out to masses. Buzzfeed would share articles titled Bapu recently spoke about Satyagraha and Desi Twitter can’t stop raving about it. Or We tried out Bapu’s Khadi material and we love it!!!
Bapu would have figured out a multi-platform method to reach out to the youth of today and inspired them with his message. His quotes would read My Live-Stream is my Message. Or If someone unfollows you on one platform, show them your other handle in return.
These are the thoughts that strike me as I sip on some wine on a beautiful rainy afternoon, thinking of the impending dry day tomorrow. If Bapu was among us, he’d have started a Change.org campaign against it.
The author is a writer and comedian.