Love at work: Dilip Simeon on Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi in Naokhali, Bengal. Photo: Photo Division, Government of India

There is a story about Mahatma Gandhi from Noakhali, Bengal, which saw severe communal riots in October-November 1946. While he was leading a peace march through villages, Gandhi and his followers came across a dog who was following them and looked worried. As his followers tried to shoo him away, Gandhi stopped them and said that they must follow the dog.

The dog led them to a hut where it started to dig and they found bodies of its masters who were killed in the riots.

In India, for years, Gandhi has been vilified by the far Right.

Now the far Left is at it, too. In an introduction to Babasaheb Ambedkar’s “The Annihilation of Caste” — essentially a speech that Ambedkar was to deliver but was not allowed to — Arundhati Roy called Mahatma Gandhi “the saint of the status quo.”

The historian Dilip Simeon, who works on, among other things, bridging communal fault lines, has taken upon himself to clear what he calls “misunderstanding about Gandhi and the slander he has been subjected to.”

Dilip says that we become aware of such people (like Gandhi) only in times of extreme crisis.

These are times of extreme crisis. Here is Dilip Simeon on Gandhi’s last struggle .