I just finished reading Mahatma Gandhi’s book, “My experiments with truth”, on my Kindle. I do find some of his beliefs to be strange and quaint, but I am not here to criticise his beliefs. At least, he had the courage to live by them, even though many people thought of him as a cunning politician (which, I am sure, he was).
He has spoken a lot of his train journeys in the third class compartments of India. I use road trips in India, and write about them, as a metaphor for life. So, let me use M K Gandhi’s experiences in the trains of India.
He speaks about the lousy conditions of the third class compartments. He mentioned that there was a huge difference between the travelling conditions of a first class compartment and a third class one. He also compared it with Europe, where the differences are not so stark.
M K Gandhi also spoke about the indifference of the officials. He also spoke about the attitudes of the passengers, who kept the compartments dirty, spat and shat on them, and swore loudly all the while.
This was written about 100 years ago. When I look at Indian trains ago, while much as changed, nothing has changed in terms of attitudes.
When I was travelling to Benares a few months back, passengers were talking about hygiene, while littering the floor.
A couple of days back, when I was taking the Metro in Delhi, a young chap – 20 years my junior and 6 inches the taller – muscled his way into the line in front of me. He was absolutely unapologetic. I comforted myself with the thought that, if I were 20 years younger, I could have taken him down despite the size difference. However, greying hair preaches caution befor valour.
Anyhow, the point is moot.
Nothing has changed, in that while we like to criticise leaders and leadership styles, we often take comfort in the anonymity that groups provide us, to point fingers at those who dare to stand out.
We litter, and then complain of dirt.
We swear, and rant about our neighbours.
Some of us wish that we were the leaders, basking in the glory of life.
If we were to take some of our attitudes to these positions (and, India is no stranger to the scum that populate our political leadership), what attitudes and beliefs would we bring to the table?
What do we stand for?