No takers for Mahatma, many for ‘Gandhi’

          LIKE in the past many decades, functions are being held across the nation to remember Mahatma Gandhi, the globally acclaimed icon of peace and religious tolerance, on his death anniversary, even though incidents cropping up every now and then, and issues afflicting the Manipur society at the juncture seem to have betrayed the principles, which the ‘apostle of peace’ and ‘harbinger of equality’ had propagated. From social unrest to mutual distrust amongst the indigenous communities and the sense of wretchedness gripping the educated youth of the state due to economic disparity, Manipur definitely has no commonality, whatsoever, with the preaching of the great visionary. Contrary to Mahatma Gandhi’s ideology and eventual success in unifying people with diverse interests and religious affiliations to intensify the freedom movement and in scripting a new history of a unified India, Manipur at present is intriguingly besieged with different groups plotting to create divisions and rewrite history based on mischievously-ingrained theories, blended with vengeful motive. It seems quotes of the Father of Nation - ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world’; ‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’; ‘Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony’, etc., have not been able to stir any senses to those who are benefitting from sops being doled out by the government but have no emotional attachment in contributing towards the state’s progress.

            In sharp contrast to teachings of the Mahatma not having many takers in Manipur, there certainly would be none who would forego the chance to possess the crisp notes which bear the picture of the bald and bespectacled Gandhi. The designer(s) of Indian currency notes might have realised the need for inserting the watermark of Gandhi as a tribute to someone who is held in the highest esteem for wisdom and saintliness, as well as to remind all citizens on the importance for righteous usage of the bank notes. It is learnt that the picture of Mahatma Gandhi that we see today on currency notes only came into existence since 1996. Before that, currency notes used to have the picture of Ashoka Stambha. In 1987, when Rs 500 note was circulated for the first time, watermark of Gandhi’s picture was adopted. Finally in 1996, Reserve Bank of India decided to make transformation and this trademark picture of Gandhi was used in all the currencies starting from Rs 5 to Rs 1000, before the latter was scrapped. Thanks to institutionalisation of corruption, the objective of having the Gandhi watermark in the bank notes seems to have been dissipating at a rapid pace, for crisp bank notes have been the most effective tool for the politicians and elements inimical to interest of Manipur in furthering their nefarious agenda. It is earnestly hoped that observance of death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi every year will someday result in the citizens, policy makers in particularly, to at-least uphold the ‘Mahatma’ in Gandhi, although it would be unrealistic to even perceive that the scourge of corruption will be out of the system any sooner.

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