For young Indians, Bill Gates is bigger than Gandhi
RAVEENDRAN/AFP Today, India marked the 59th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paraphrased one of Gandhi’s teachings by saying, “We need a new development paradigm that caters to everyone’s need and can keep in check human greed.” But just how appropriate is Gandhi’s philosophy for the new India of the 21st century? ...
Today, India marked the 59th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh paraphrased one of Gandhi’s teachings by saying, “We need a new development paradigm that caters to everyone’s need and can keep in check human greed.”
But just how appropriate is Gandhi’s philosophy for the new India of the 21st century?
- Gandhi believed that India should be economically self-sufficient, a strategy called swadeshi. Today, though, India’s economic prosperity is the result of open markets and trade with other countries.
- Gandhi believed in thrift and living in simplicity, and he preached against greed and focusing on material possessions. Today, though, India is creating more and more millionaires, and millions of Indians have unprecedented amounts of disposable income. Companies the world over are marketing their products in India in hopes of tapping into what will one day be one of the world’s largest consumer bases.
- Gandhi believed in helping the poor. Today, though, the Indian government is spending money on space capsules and nuclear weapons, while hundreds of millions of people are illiterate and many children remain undernourished.
- Gandhi believed in the equality of all people, regardless of sex, caste, or religion. Today, though, female infanticide still occurs, and people of lower castes are still the victims of discrimination.
- Gandhi believed in non-violence. Today, though, India has developed nuclear weapons, its symbolic way of flexing its muscles to the world.
It’s telling that in a survey published last year by the Economic Times newspaper, 37 percent of Indian students and young business leaders said today’s biggest icon was Bill Gates. Only 30 percent chose Gandhi.
So, maybe this dance performance in front of the Taj Mahal celebrating Microsoft’s Vista roll-out campaign isn’t as absurd as it looks at first:
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