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Intense Discussion on Life of Kasturba Gandhi and her relationship with husband, Mahatma Gandhi at Book Launch in Delhi sparks Controversy

The Secret Diary of Kasturba” is a narrative, blow-by-blow fictional account of Kasturba Gandhi’s life

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Mahatma Gandhi Wikimedia

New Delhi, Nov 26, 2016: In an intense discussion on the life of Kasturba Gandhi and her relationship with husband, Mahatma Gandhi, author Neelima Dalmia Adhar sparked a controversy saying “some people may even call him a paedophile”, only to retract later.

These remarks, among other re-examinations of various aspects of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, unfolded at the launch of “The Secret Diary of Kasturba”, (Westland/pp 395/Rs 699) a historical fiction penned by Adhar, where Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and journalist Barkha Dutt participated in a discussion with the author Friday evening.

“Everything aside he put his wife through a lot of injustices. In terms of sexuality, Gandhi took it to a maniac level,” said Adhar, adding “some people may even call him a paedophile.”

Tharoor, almost cutting her half way through the controversial remark, quipped: “The one thing that we cannot doubt about Gandhiji is his commitment to truth.”

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He further said that there was no evidence to suggest that Mahatma Gandhi indulged in “sexual activities” with his devotees, during what Gandhi described as “My Experiments with Truth.”

“If there was any instance, one would surely find mention of it in his works. Gandhi ji’s commitment to truth is one thing we cannot doubt,” said Tharoor.

In response, Adhar noted that “Gandhiji had occupied a cult status in the society” and that he was not “preaching by his example” before quoting a few instances when there was disapproval of his behaviour from within his own ashram.

Trying to end the heated discussion, Tharoor said: “I do not think you would judge a person as a whole for this. But as a human being, I am sure one’s perception about Gandhiji will be hardened after knowing this.”

But Adhar persisted.

“My endeavour was never to demonise Gandhi. I hugely revere Gandhi that we all know. But he would owe his sainthood largely to Kasturba. You will find a little bit of bias because a lot of me has come into the character. It is my voice primarily juxtaposed with Kasturba’s,” said the author.

Tharoor congratulated Adhar, saying that she had “actually given life” to a character that “had long lived in the shadows of history.”

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Speaking to IANS after the launch, Adhar, however, retracted from her earlier “paedophile” remark and said: “I didn’t mean that, that was a mistake. What I meant was that the experiments he carried out will be very offending and appalling to the sensibilities of today’s world.”

“In today’s times, with the liberalized society that we live in, this behaviour would have been highly offensive to anybody. Even then it was offensive. I believe that there are certain aspects of Gandhi’s character and on his path to becoming the param-yogi that we do not understand. There are many aspects of sexuality of Lord Krishna that find resonance in Gandhi’s practices.”

Delhi University’s former Vice Chancellor, Dinesh Singh, who was also in attendance at the launch told IANS that even the most iconic figures need to be examined.

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“Even the most iconic figures from the history are actually unknown to us. We need to constantly examine them and improve our understanding about them. Kasturba Gandhi was largely an ignored figure in our history and therefore I feel the author has done a good job,” he said.

On the controversial “paedophile” remark, the former DU VC said: “She didn’t call him paedophile, she said people may call him paedophile but that is not so. Some people have even suggested that Gandhiji was homosexual and although it is not wrong to be a homosexual, there is no evidence to suggest so.”

“The Secret Diary of Kasturba” is a narrative, blow-by-blow fictional account of Kasturba Gandhi’s life. (IANS)

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Astronaut Floats in Space on Mural Sporting a Gandhi Patch on Shoulder

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions

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Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN. Wikimedia

The high-tech future of green jobs and the Gandhian virtue of the dignity of work meld their messages on a six-storey high mural commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and the centenary of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN that was inaugurated on Tuesday.

The mural that looks up from the vista that opens to the iconic glass-fronted UN building a block away commemorates the occasions.

The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees.

India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin said at the inauguration that the mural addresses global concerns of decent jobs and the environment.

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Sporting a Mahatma Gandhi patch on his shoulder, an astronaut floats in space on the mural painted on the side wall of the Indian Mission to the UN. Pixabay

He said the mural effort goes beyond the diplomatic work at the UN of dealing with resolutions to a new diplomatic area of reaching out to people to create broader awareness of issues.

Victor Ash, the artist who painted it while perched high on a cherry-picker, told IANS: “I mixed different ideas and came up with this ‘green astronaut’ that is also worker – the worker from the future who would be working in space.”

And to commemorate the anniversary of Gandhi’ birth, he said he added Gandhi’s image as a logo on the arm of the astronaut.

Ash said that one of his inspirations was India’s record in 2017 of planting 66 million trees on a single day.

The mission building with a red-stone facade was designed by the internationally acclaimed Indian architect Charles Correa, but one of its sides was bared to the bricks after the neighbouring building was torn down and a hotel was built on the site with a deep setback.

The mural now decorates that side without impinging on the building’s Correa design.

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The other themes on the mural, a joint effort of the ILO and the Indian mission, include the concept of “green”, environmentally sustainable jobs and the greening of the world by planting trees. Wikimedia

The mural was one of several sponsored across the city by ILO to commemorate its centenary with a project called Street Art for Mankind that aims to spread the message of decent work for all with sustainable development and social justice.

Portugal-born Ash said that he had painted a mural at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai during its Summerfest.

He said that he had started as a street-artist in Paris, where he had studied, and later went into doing paintings for galleries.

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“But it was only the studio work and exhibiting in galleries was not reaching such a broad public,” he said.

“So I went back to the street and did murals because it has a much bigger impact and you can actually transmit messages much better than just exhibiting in galleries for a few specific people.” (IANS)