An account in the name of Gandhi
December 22, 2009 3 Comments
This one is for a dear friend, T V Gopalan ‘aaka’ (*) Gops.
Gops has been one of my prime sources of encouragement and has often patronized my writings in the way that only he can. So when he came up with a subject, I felt it was my solemn duty to respond to the ‘challenge’ in the best way that I can.
What did Gops ask me to write about ?
Despite the fact that the visitors to this site are part of a ‘captive group’ (pun intended) of Tamilians I do think that an explanation would be in order.
Gops wanted me to write about ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ which can be loosely translated in English as ‘Gandhi’s Account’.
It certainly looks innocuous but it has a serious repercussion so far as the usage goes. I am not sure whether this is used across India ; I think this is something unique to Tamil nadu.
For the benefit those who may not be familiar with the ‘context’ of ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ it is used to refer to sums of money that cannot be traced or whose utilization one is not certain.
It is obviously a huge disservice to the memory of a great man, someone whose ideals continue to be relevant even today ; whose ideas reverberate in the power corridors ; and who continues to inspire some.
I am sure all tamilians at some point in their lives made a reference to ‘Gandhi kanakku’ of course without having even an iota of intention to besmirch the memory of the Father of the Nation.
Their usage is strictly due to ‘forced legacy’ of using ‘Gandhi kanakku’ to infer improper application of money.
Etymology of words is indeed an interesting topic, but unfortunately, I am far too incapable to venture into it. I can however share an interesting aside on the ‘story’ of how “OC” became to be associated with anything obtained free of cost.
In the days of British rule, official communication between England and India were done through post. To avoid affixing any stamps on the envelopes containing official communication, the officials sending the post were required to mark ‘On Company Service’ which exempted them from affixing stamps. ‘On Company Service’ soon made way for ‘OCS’ which over years became further improvised to it’s present form ‘OC’
An etymological study of ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ is certainly warranted, but in the absence of the same, these are my thoughts about ‘Gandhi Kanakku’.
a) Gandhi was a firm believer in choosing the ‘means’ over the ‘end’. If it were not to be, India would have been independent atleast couple of decades earlier than 1947 given the overwhelming support for his ‘Non-cooperation movement’. One instance of violence being unleashed was good enough for Gandhi to withdraw his movement. Drawing reference to this, ‘Gandhi Kanakku’ was probably coined to represent the spending for all those ‘means’ whose ‘end’ were not quantifiable in terms of their impact.
b) Gandhi had no desire for power. He only wanted to ensure that the path to freedom was not littered with blood, instead he wanted a peaceful transition to freedom. The mantra was his ; the method was his ; but he did not take responsibility of ‘overall leadership’. This probably resulted in his name being prefixed to those spends for which no one assumed responsibility.
c) Gandhi was a strong proponent of local leadership. He believed that villages were the soul of India and it is obvious that the villages were administered through the ‘Panchayat Raj System’ (PRS), a form of local leadership. If Gandhi had his way, which unfortunately he didn’t live to have, the entire governance would have been managed by the PRS with the result that the powers that be in Delhi will almost be oblivious of how the various allocations were spent at the ground level. ‘Gandhi kanakku’ is thus a perfect metaphor of a spend not traceable to the power corridors. Gandhi’s favouring PRS didn’t of course mean that he adopted a condescending view about corruption, let me clarify.
d) One of the biggest successes of Gandhi was the universal appeal of his message. Gandhi was a mass mover. He appealed to the rich and the poor ; the educated and the not-so-educated ; to the farmer and the trader ; to men and women. Given the scale of the movement, it is almost impossible to verify the credentials of anyone who claims to be a ‘Gandhian’. Sadly but truly, the account of those professing to be his followers is unaccountable and hence a ‘Gandhi Kanakku’.
e) Last but not the least, a more ‘realistic’ reasoning of the term, though no one can claim to have been clairvoyant, is the dominance of the ‘Gandhi’ family in managing the country. India is safely ensconced in the pocket of the Nehru family which to considerable amusement is the most famous ‘Gandhi’ family of India surpassing even the lineage of the Mahatma. Given the fact that his own lineage does not even get the pride of place in ‘mention’, such ‘unaccountability’ has to be naturally called ‘Gandhi Kanakku’.
Gops, I am not sure how far off the mark I am but this is the best, I guess, I could come up with. I am extremely sorry if you are sorely disappointed with my effort.
(*) affectionately also known as