“Mahatma Gandhi conversed with the harshest of his critics. Gandhi allowed people around him to ridicule him. Once Sarojini Naidu even called him a Mickey Mouse for which he replied that his ears were bigger. In Harijan and Young India, he had spoken about sexual problems and he would have a conversation with common people through letters. To me, he is always contemporary,” said cartoonist Madan.
He was speaking at the event titled ‘Pop Goes Gandhi’ about whether Mahatma Gandhi was still relevant in today’s world and his impact on popular culture on Tuesday.
Organised by ‘Kaani Nilam’, founded by social activist Radhika Ganesh, the event featured rare political cartoons of Mahatma Gandhi, which were published in a number of magazines and newspapers between the 1890s and the 1940s. They were curated by Sanjeev Kumar, a history student studying in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
Stand-up comedian and theatre actor Karthik Kumar said Gandhi was relevant because he was aware of his faults and he constantly acknowledged them.
“Disagreements on social media often lead to people getting angry and it doesn’t allow for people to change their opinion. There is no accountability and everybody feels the need to be right. What I learnt about Gandhi was that he was a man riddled with failures.”
Raj Mohan, whose online video content is extremely popular on social media, said Gandhi had always been a figure who was either glorified or stomped on.
“But, we can never ignore him. And whenever there is intolerance, there is a compulsion to understand Gandhi,” he said.
The younger generation on social media could learn a thing or two about making mistakes and changing for the better from Gandhi, Mr. Mohan said.
“Once an overzealous young member of our team put out a satirical meme on our page about caste, but it was misconstrued,” he said.
Radhika Ganesh, who moderated the discussion, said Mahatma Gandhi may have made a number of mistakes in addressing issues of caste, gender and so on, but he always accepted that he was at fault.