Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Re:Vishal's post here about Ramachandra Guha's reasoning.

Why do we hate Gandhi and Nehru so much? Guha says they are the essential "fall guys" facing the music. I have a different opinion. I believe the answer lies in psychology and not sociology. Our textbooks heap praises on Gandhi and Nehru almost to the point of sycophancy. We grow up almost believing that they were the gods with no reproach.
However, we start seeing their shortcomings once we leave school.

There was an experiment in which the control group was given only positive information about a particular behaviour. The other group was given both positive and negative information. It was found that the group given both sides of the information tends to retain the learning / behaviour better.( This was described in Chapter Memory/Learning of "Introduction to psychology" by Morgan and King, but I can't get my hand on that book right now)

All the policies that were touted as brilliant strategies in our text books seem shallow at their very best. We become more prone to hate them, than we would have been if only their shortcomings were also described in our text books.

It is no coincidence that most voices against Nehru-Gandhi have been raised of late when (a) Information to their shortcomings became more accessible because of the internet and (b) The harm done by those early measures became evident with the surge in economy after LPG. ( Even trying to imagine an average guy in My father's generation criticizing Nehru-Gandhi is impossible)

PS: If anyone has an ebook, I would be grateful.

PPS: I own the hardcopy, so I dont think I'm infringing any copyright :D


Vishal said...

That does make sense. It can very well be one of the reasons for why we tend to denounce Gandhi/Nehru.

But I don't think we should entirely blame incomplete/biased portrayals of our textbooks for the the general negative attitude towards these great men. To me, this sounds like another psychological syndrome - how we don't want to take responsibility for our thoughts/actions. Our thoughts are defective - Why? Because of the flawed textbooks. (Similar to: Our society is too corrupt - Why? Because of the corrupt and disloyal politicians. But we forget that we are part of the system. We create the system.)

But yes, coming back to your point, we (Indians) do grow up thinking that our national leaders (who fought for our freedom) were flawless. And when we learn that they were not, we get hurt, feel cheated, and instead of adjusting our beliefs & looking at the holistic view, we focus on the negative and revolt.

shrek said...

No, I didn't mean to say that we don't own the responsibility. I'm offering an alternative explanation for our behaviour.

When we say "Gandhi-Nehru" being the non-sectarian leaders is the reason for our hate, I don't think we are owning the responbility there either.

Suppose you were expecting some work done by your friend, and he forgets it. You take out your anger by shouting/screaming at your friend/ by kicking at some chair etc.

You own the responsibility for the action, the reason however is frustration.

As for your observation - that is also recorded in psychology. We want all our actions to be judged by(or believe are caused by) environmental factors, but we judge all other's actions as result of their personalities.

I reiterate, I think Guha's explanation doesn't explain the generational gap i,e Why were our parents/their parents never as critical of Gandhi and Nehru as we are.