'She May be Prejudiced'

According to Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Dr Anand Gokani, who was in the city recently, what Arundhati Roy said about Gandhi’s views on Dalits is definitely contrary to history

Published: 14th August 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th August 2014 08:55 AM   |  A+A-

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Dr Anand Gokani is Gandhi’s great grandchild. He is also the only diabetologist who wrote to Amitabh Bachchan a decade ago asking him to stop endorsing Pepsi. Big B brought it to the notice of the Pepsi team, who forwarded it to the company’s nutritionist.

“She had the audacity to write back to me saying that human beings require 3-5 mg Phosphorous a day and Pepsi contains 8 mg. In what form, they don’t write. Pepsi gives it to you as Phosphoric acid. Not as Phosphate, which is what is ok for the body,” says Gokani.

(Big B continued endorsing the brand, until recently. In a press conference in February he said that he didn’t renew his contract because a school girl asked him why he endorses a brand which her teacher calls poison.)

Dr-Anand-Gokani.jpgA doctor at Bombay Hospital, Dr Gokani has been delivering lectures about lifestyle diseases. He advocates nature cure and would say milk is a poison, expecting mothers to be vexed at the statement. He explains that medicines should assist nature’s healing process, not meddle with it. The views seem interesting as it comes from someone who graduated in allopathic medicine.

The doctor visited Thiruvananthapuram in the aftermath of an Arundhati Roy speech in which she said that Gandhi had a condescending view of Dalits and the Indian labour class in South Africa. The grandson says, “What she said is definitely contrary to history. Gandhi did not create the Bhangi. Moreover, he has said that if a man from the lower class is given an opportunity he may even become a scientist. See what context that essay was written and what was the larger picture at that time. Prejudice can kill truth. She may be prejudiced.”

The conversation moves on to ‘God of Small Things’. He says, “There is a beautiful line in it which says, ‘Christianity arrived in a boat and seeped into Kerala like tea from a teabag.’ You know how the water would be clear at first and the colour would change only slowly. The book is filled with such minute observations, some of which is beautiful and some are just crass.”

Honesty, simple living, nature cure. We would think that is expected from a Gandhi kin. But he says, “Gandhi’s four sons settled in four different places. Their children were allowed to grow up the way they wanted. Our individual environments were very democratic. There was a time when we all had experimented with all our normal things of growing up. I have eaten meat in my college days. Then one evolves and develops compassion.” He adds, “But of course, the heritage carries on and it brings to you a responsibility.”


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