The London School of Economics recently brought together co-authors Appu Suresh, Founder of social media initiative Pixstory, and Priyanka Kotamraju, Gates Scholar at the University of Oxford, for a constructive discussion on their book entitled ‘The Murderer, The Monarch and The Fakir: A New Investigation of Mahatma Gandhi’s Assassination’.
In their analysis, the two former Atlantic Fellows at LSE’s International Inequalities Institute retrace the brutal killing of the Father of the Indian Nation, on 30th January 1948 at Birla House in Delhi – marked as Martyr’s Day annually.
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Opening the floor with the significance of the assassination today, both Suresh and Kotamraju admit that the “pursuit of truth” lied at the core of their research. Much like ’s principles and writings where this pursuit was infinity for him.
“It is important to understand why him being the most non-violent person in the contemporary history of the world was still assassinated,” explains Suresh.
Proportioning the book into three key elements, the writers present the readers with a chronological recollection of events beginning with the conspiracy, following which the circumstances of the murder and its importance for generations to come. The paradox of different majority was playing during then much like it is today.
Surfacing of new evidence was timely with national myths being constructed across the world in 2017. It was only appropriate to scrutinise how the Gandhian character had faded from public memory at this hour of national characterisation. Kotamraju reflects: “We have lost him along the way. That was a motivation for us to put him in context.”
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Towards the later stages of the , Gandhi was believed to be drifting in the direction of economic independence. He began experimenting with sustainable economics by promoting the consumption of and reduction of carbon footprint.
While connecting the murder to economic interest, the authors contend: “Which Gandhi did they assassinate? The Gandhi who was an anti-national or anti-state or the one about to start an economic revolution?”
Reiterating the words of the leader, Suresh notes that “working for economic equality means abolishing the eternal conflict between capital and labour”. He draws parallels between Gandhi’s book named ‘Constructive Programme: Its Meaning and Place’ and the Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen’s theoretical model called the ‘Capability Approach’.
He adds: “Gandhi was a leader who brought the maximum number of first-generation women without any political background, breaking patriarchal hierarchy and the backward community to politics.”
Decentralising the economic concentration of wealth: Gandhi’s doctrine of trusteeship was an ethical and non-violent model in business. “His economic thought was away from the capitalist idea of accumulation of wealth and the communist idea of redistribution of wealth.”
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Heavily relying on historical documents and scholarly papers archived at the National Archives of India and Nehru Memorial Museum & Library, the author duo rummaged through bits and pieces scouring for evidence. Basing themselves on Manohar Malgonkar’s work on the conspirators, thousands of reports by the Intelligence Bureau of India and diaries of the police in charge of the investigation, they introduced the political thoughts to the readers.
Fascinated by thrillers, Suresh reflects that he always “wanted to be the character in the Mighty Heart where you pin all the sequence of events and trying to trace it”.