Salt and the Empire
By. Miguel Ángel Sánchez de Armas
On the morning of April 6, 1930, 93 years ago, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi He arrived at Dandi beach, in the Guajarat state, in India, at the head of a motley crowd.
The frail, diminutive 61-year-old man whom devotees called “Bapu”, "father"stopped on the sand and gazed at the restless waters of the Gulf of Khambhat galloping rapidly toward the Arabian Sea.
He sank his right hand into one of the dunes that undulated on the beach and raised a little of the brine that the heat wave had melted on the very white sand.
And with his prodigiously gentle voice, he exclaimed: “Thus the foundations of the British Empire are shaken!”
They were just a few grams of salt that were not worth a country in the market of the neighboring fishing village. But this gesture set in motion a current of unsuspected depth that, with other torrents, would lead to the independence of India 17 years later.
He Mahatma –“Great Soul”, in Sanskrit-, one of the most extraordinary social fighters in modern history, thus began the great march that would snatch the jewel in the crown of the Empire where the sun did not set.
Last October 2 was the 154th anniversary of the birth of Gandhi -whose intense closeness to his people Waldo Frank attributed as a similar trait in Lazaro Cardenas– and none of the large “national” newspapers, of course not the minor ones, nor the large “state” newspapers, nor the radio and television information systems, including the so-called “public and cultural” ones, dedicated spaces to the memory of his work. .
Gandhi taught us that changes start with yourself. “Revolutions”, the great Mexican analyst used to quote Oscar León Camelo of happy memory, “they are only interiors!” No one can change the world around them if they do not first transform themselves.
In the testosterone dictatorship that was society at the beginning of the 20th century – today sadly reissued throughout the planet – the example of Gandhi was not understood.
On the contrary, it baffled many, starting with the arrogant eldest sons of the perfidious Albion.
Even someone as clever and talented as Winston Churchill He referred to the father of Indian independence in the language of a West End ruffian: “That half-naked fakir!” there: a countryman of the “half-naked fakir” today occupies the chair that was his in extraordinary historical circumstances.
did not repair Churchill in what Mohandas he was a product of the English university system, which received the patent to practice law from Her Majesty's High Court, which saw itself as a “son of the Empire” and which valued law and justice above all.
When Gandhi challenged the English government and manufactured some salt in violation of an express prohibition, it violated one of the pillars of the apparatus of domination: in the climate of India, life is not possible without that mineral and breaking its monopoly meant the first fissure in the great colonial apparatus.
A confirmation that individual actions, no matter how small they may seem, can be the germ of change. They saw this clearly Thoreau, King, Díaz Covarrubias, Amos Oz and a plethora of dissatisfied people who refused to look at the world with their arms crossed.
The life of Mahatma It is a rosary of examples that could be applied today to achieve a better world. But with our indolence, our conformity, our lack of participation, our indifference or our fear, we have fostered a political caste of machines that govern with bravado, not with respect for others; with force, not with kindness; with gossip, not with intelligence.
In 1942, Louis Fischer, the tireless journalist who became involved in the historical currents that were changing the world, visited India and met Gandhi.
Of his meetings with the father of the country he would have to write A week with Gandhi and The life of Mahatma Gandhithe amazing volume that I personally consider the best that has been written about that great figure, without ignoring the work of the contemporary historian Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi.
Richard Attenborough brought to the screen that book with the sober title of Gandhi, which by itself evokes a universe. By ironies of life or art?, he was an Englishman, Ben Kingsleywho gave life to Bapu in one of the greatest contemporary interpretations of the seventh art.
In his book, fischer It displays, from the opening paragraph and throughout 50 chapters and more than 500 pages, the sober and direct style that very few of those who dedicate themselves to this profession achieve:
“At four-thirty in the afternoon, Abha showed up with the last meal she would have: goat's milk, raw and cooked vegetables, oranges, and an infusion of ginger, sour lemon, butter, and aloe juice. Sitting on the floor of his room at the back of Birla House in New Delhi, Gandhi ate while chatting with Sardar Vallabhbhai, deputy prime minister of the new government of independent India.
It was January 30, 1948. A few minutes later, on the way to evening prayer, the Bapu would be murdered in the gardens of the residence by a Hindu fundamentalist called Nathuram Godse. Her last words were, “Hey, Rama!”… “Oh, God!”
If we look around us, we will see how alive fanaticism remains in our world without remedy.
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