So, is Gandhi great for what ideas he had, or is he great because he can be fetishised and sold?
Clearly the latter, it would seem.
The pen manufacturer, Mont Blanc, now gives us a pen in Gandhi’s name worth some 11 lac rupees.
So, even if you wrote a trashy note with this pen it would go into history; not because what you wrote was worthwhile, but because you wrote it with a Gandhi-Mont Blanc golden nib.
On a celebrity talk show just the other day, a young Indian entrepreneur with a pugilists chin was quite clear (those that make money are always "quite clear" about most things, you must have noticed) that time comes when any icon becomes a "brand," and then profitable while it lasts.
The argument being that in this day and age it must irrelevant to think how Gandhi might have felt about being sold as a pen by a multi-national for a middle-class man’s life-times’ earnings.
The relevant part is that the needs and genius of Capital must always override the content of the icons it presses into service.
Tomorrow if an under- garment multi-national produces a Gandhi logo on its underwear and plasters the same on a Gandhi frame, lovely; it would both contemporanise Gandhi and brings yet more money to the Corporate.
Whether that would, however, persuade people to enter the world of Gandhi’s moral/ethical concerns is beside the point. The moot thing being that both he and the requirements of Capital would have been served, and young people could wear the Gandhi underwear and claim to be doing "Gandhigiri" (propagating the great man).
A disturbing point was, nonetheless, made on this show by the young actor, Rahul Bose.
He argued with a rustic naivete, it must have seemed to many, that if for a moment Gandhi was to be thought of as a "brand" then any product stamped and sold in his name should at least bear some relation to the meaning of the brand.
In short, when we read Gandhi or think of his career, personal and political, four ideas would immediately strike us as having informed and impelled his life and work—non-violence, non-discrimination, simple living, truthfulness.
Question, therefore: how does an 11 lac fountain pen or a Philips under garment represent those values?
The idealist actor, of course, did not stop to think that no advertiser of any product ever considers whether the lies propagated—through digital magic—about the product bears any relation to its reality. Thus, for example, current "brand ambassadors" are shown to be eating or using products that in actual life they neither eat nor use. In canny knowledge that millions of others who see them faking will eat or use the said product Often die in doing so.
Or that billions of rupees and other currency are consumed every day of every year world wide on activity that thinks nothing of projecting violence, untruth, discrimination, and the "good life"—all of which anathema to Gandhian thought and practice.
Now, the "honest" profiteer everyday maligns us by saying that our concerns are hypocritical and that we live double lives.
How nice it would be, therefore, if Mont Blanc would come "upfront" and admit to us that the pen in question was not really honouring Gandhi but indeed looking to my mumber one—ergo, ploughing "brand" Gandhi only to declare the supremacy of the "brand
The larger point should be obvious: if Jesus can be peddled as a superstar, who cares about what he said in the Sermon on the Mount?
Same with Gandhi, who once refused permission to a tycoon to use his facsimile on his roof tiles!
In the end, it is the money, stupid.
What a joke, thus, that celebrities should manufacture fassades of disingenuous chicanery in a babble of silken sophistry to convey to us the impression that there may be more to the matter than this gross truth.
Imagine that non-alcoholism was a tenet of cussed faith with Gandhi; but if recently one of India big liquor barons came to the rescue in retrieving Gandhi’s spectales from off the auctioneer’s table, wasn’t he a great lover of Gandhi too?
You will recall that in
Satan’s argument—and Pandemonium was full of ingenious argument—wins the debate: seduce Man whom God has created after his own image and loves to distraction. That seduction knows no end, having become 24×7 corporate agenda.
And, failing everything, take a cue from that other fallen angel, Mammon: pave hell with gold, and make a heaven of hell. That too is rampantly order of the day.
Which is why all good and caring people ought to find ways to draw the waters of the moon to irrigate this thirsty and drought-ridden earth before the
Gandhi would have said so. No?