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Would a Gandhian approach help?

Susan Muthalaly

Mahatma and everyday problems



A still from the movie, Munnabhai

CHENNAI : What would Gandhi do?

As Munnabhai continues to be a hit with audiences everywhere, we decided to pick up where `Lage Raho Munnabhai' leaves off and find out if the Gandhian philosophy is still relevant today. Chennaiites were presented with everyday problems and asked how they thought a Gandhian approach would solve the problem.

You are out late at night and it's starting to rain. After a lot of haggling, you agree to take an auto to your destination for way more than the regular fare.

On the way, the auto driver tries to get other customers to share your auto. You get livid because you are already overcharged, anxious to get home, and nervous about being alone.

How would you handle this problem in a Gandhian way?

At the outset, the `Gandhian' way only works when the person it is being applied on feels ashamed of himself. I have never yet succeeded in making an autodriver in Chennai feel ashamed for charging me too much.

The other view is that the auto driver is so much less privileged than you - a rainy, dark night is the only way he can make any money, so just have your wits about you and make sure he doesn't pick up any dodgy people.

— Minakshi Ramji, student

I wouldn't mind if the other passenger is also a woman heading in the same direction as I am... it would make me feel more comfortable. Besides, I'd appreciate it if someone did that for me. But if it was some random guy, I wouldn't stand for it. Sometimes, for young women, on rainy nights, in cities that are getting more and more dangerous, there is no `Gandhian' option.

— Smriti Rana, Client relations manager

What would you do if you are on a crowded one-way road and a car drives up it the wrong way and blocks your path?

The officers function as a law-enforcing agency, so they will have to fine people who go the wrong way up a one-way street. But it is not a big crime unless someone is hurt or killed. One has to advice the offender to show concern for other people's safety - if a commuter is not expecting a vehicle and driving at a fast pace, an accident is likely. You have to patiently deal with the person and make him feel that all the other people on the roads are his brothers and sisters.

— Ramachandran, Retired police inspector, Traffic Investigation

The water tanker driver refuses to deliver water to your street unless you pay him money that he's not really entitled to. What Gandhian strategy would work for this man who loves his bribes?

Gandhiji gave us a very powerful weapon - Satyagraha (passive resistance). The problem is that the people are not united. If all the people of the street decide not to pay the man, what can he do?

— P. Maruti, Gandhian Integrated Forum Trust

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