Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Monalisa Das | The News Minute | January 9, 2015 | 06:02 pm IST  Hundred years ago, on January 9, 1915, Mohandas Karamachand Gandhi returned to India from South Africa after twenty years.  In a tribute to the man, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi or Bapu, All India Radio will put out a 100-episode series on its FM radio network celebrating his 100 years of return to India. The research based series is produced by veteran broadcaster Madhuker Upadhyay and ‘aims at recreating the perspective of Gandhi's return to India from South Africa in 1915’. The News Minute spoke to Mr Upadhyay, an author and journalist, who talked about the next one year in Gandhi’s life since his return- a period when Gandhi was considered by some to be ‘inactive’, which the researcher does not completely agree with. When Gandhi stepped foot in India in 1915, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, whom the former considered a mentor, went to meet him in Bombay from Pune. “Gokhale told Gandhi, “You have lofty ideas. But for now, keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open for one year”', said Mr Upadhyay. Gokhale knew that Gandhi had returned to India after almost two decades and before he became politically active, he needed to take some time and observe the current scenario in India. Gokhale passed away a month later in February 1915. Gandhi stuck to the promise he had made to his mentor. The next one year period in Gandhi’s life however had not been documented clearly, says Mr Upadhyay. It could have been for the following reasons. “Firstly, Gandhi at that point was fairly young. He was 45 years, 3 months and 7 days old on the day he reached Bombay. He was a known face in Africa and to some extent in India too. But the Indian masses were not familiar with him. He was also thought of as a self indulgent person”, asserts Mr Upadhyay. People were not really sure what Gandhi was up to, he added. Besides, his return was reported by only a handful of Indian newspapers as the British edited most papers at that time and Gandhi was not important to them. “The letters that Gandhi wrote during that period are far more important than the limited speeches he made”, said Mr Upadhyay. During the same time, Gandhi was also facing family problems. His son left him. “In a letter to Gandhi, he wrote “you have ridiculous ideas about education, you didn’t send me to London to study and you are subjugating us in a very fine manner”’, Mr Upadhyay explained. Narrating another incident, Mr Upadhyay said, Amritlal Thakkar, a social activist, sent a person to Gandhi’s ashram. The man was considered an ‘untouchable, from the lowest of the lowest caste’. Thakkar asked Gandhi to keep him in his ashram to which Gandhi agreed. The entire Ahmedabad city was against Gandhi’s decision. Kasturba Gandhi, his wife, was also opposed his choice. “Gandhi was furious. He told Kasturba “You can go your own way. We will part as friends”’, said Mr Upadhyay. Once CF Andrews, Gandhi’s friend, accompanied Gandhi to Burdwan from where the latter had a train to Pune. Andrews asked him if they could expect a Satyagraha movement like in South Africa any time soon. To which Gandhi replied, “I don’t see any such thing happening in the next five years.” If Gokhale had not asked Gandhi to stay away from politics for a year, could things have turned out differently? It is highly likely, stated Mr Upadhyay. “Gokhale did a great service to Gandhi by doing what he did and Gandhi too had recognized it. That period helped Gandhi to form long term strategies.” he added. At the time Gandhi returned to India, he was said to be unwell, suffering from lung inflammation. Speaking about Gandhi’s health then, Mr Upadhyay says, “Gandhi was never a well-built man. He was always on the leaner side. But his condition perhaps was deteriorating all the more because he had given up on eating dairy products saying they were not meant for human consumption. He also did not eat pulses and non-vegetarian food. So the source of protein in his diet had drastically gone down”. Mr Upadhyay’s research focuses on the period of 1857 to 1947. The series on AIR will be broadcast at 8.30 a.m. on FM Rainbow Network and 9.15 a.m. on FM Gold Network. Each episode narrated by Mr Upadhyay will highlight several such episodes during the 365 days of quiet and solitude in Gandhi’s life after his return from South Africa in 1915.  Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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