Gandhi of course was the lodestar that you could neither resist nor ignore. It is often said Gandhi could make heroes out of fistfuls of clay. But it is also true that strong men were putty in his presence. Or else, how do you explain the fine crop of young men of the 1930s who, seduced by the Bolshevik Revolution, sought it as the key to 'liberate' India and yet could not defy Gandhi's patient, seemingly illogical ways?
A different 'young people':
Today most Indians are not aware of the political activism of young people in the first half of twentieth century. [A recent film 'Rang de Basanti' on the period has astonished unaware Indian youth.] Kisan Mehta's recollections of the times gives some of the flavour: "Chetana Restaurant had by then become a haunt for progressive thinkers and writers. It was a place where Jayaprakash Narayan, Achyut Patwardhan and other socialists met whenever they were in Bombay...Kalbadevi-Bhuleshwar-Hanuman Galli were Meherally's arena for fighting social oppression, injustice and inequality as well as for vanquishing the orthodox within the Congress. Meherally had exhorted me "to live dangerously and to keep hopes high and expectations low" while signing my autograph book." [Read a stirring sketch of Meherally's life at this link]
G.G. heard Meherally speak in 1942 at his college and was at once smitten. He became a Cadet Member of the Socialist Cell in the Congress. Within months his opportunity came to 'live dangerously'. Cadet G G Parikh, a student all of 18 years, was at Gowalia Tank, Bombay on August 8, 1942 to back Gandhi's call to the British to Quit India. He was arrested and slapped into Worli Jail for ten months.
Revolution takes time:
Mangla Behn was born in Sholapur, Maharashtra in 1925. Her father was a Gandhian and Theosophist. He was a progressive man who sent his daughter to Shantiniketan to imbibe Tagore's sensibilities. G.G. continued his active role as a socialist even as he pursued his medical studies. He and Mangla met as fellow activists and eventually married.
But that was later. One gun-shot on Jan 30, 1948 was to change many things. As Gandhi lay dead, the force that he wielded over his followers, weakened. Many went into government and more or less succumbed to the ways of the British Raj. Lohia began his rebellion and took on the Congress. Sane Guruji was so disillusioned at the non-arrival of the just India of his dreams, that he killed himself. Yusuf Meherally wasted away to an untimely death in 1950. JP turned to Vinobha Bhave and his Bhoodan movement. "And there are some today who call themselves 'socialists' " with whom G.G. will not care to exchange a greeting. Socialists had scattered or mutated.
Several years later in 1975, JP was to precisely specify how one were to achieve a 'total revolution' that would create a fair India: "This is not something that can be achieved in a day or in a year or two. In order to achieve this we shall have to carry on a struggle for a long time, and at the same time carry on constructive and creative activities. This double process of struggle and construction is a necessity in order to achieve total revolution."