TIME 100: Leaders & Revolutionaries - Mohandas Gandhi







Mohandas Gandhi

His philosophy of nonviolence and his passion for independence began a drive for freedom that doomed colonialism


BY SALMAN RUSHDIE

A thin Indian man with not much hair sits alone on a bare floor, wearing nothing but a loincloth and a pair of cheap spectacles, studying the clutch of handwritten notes in his hand. The black-and-white photograph takes up a full page in the newspaper. In the top left-hand corner of the page, in full color, is a small rainbow-striped apple. Below this, there's a slangily American injunction to "Think Different." Such is the present-day power of international Big Business. Even the greatest of the dead may summarily be drafted into its image ad campaigns. Once, a half-century ago, this bony man shaped a nation's struggle for freedom. But that, as they say, is history. Now Gandhi is modeling for Apple. His thoughts don't really count in this new incarnation. What counts is that he is considered to be "on message," in line with the corporate philosophy of Apple.

The advertisement is odd enough to be worth dissecting a little. Obviously it is rich in unintentional comedy. M.K. Gandhi, as the photograph itself demonstrates, was a passionate opponent of modernity and technology, preferring the pencil to the typewriter, the loincloth to the business suit, the plowed field to the belching manufactory. Had the word processor been invented in his lifetime, he would almost certainly have found it abhorrent. The very term word processor, with its overly technological ring, is unlikely to have found favor.

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SIDEBAR: Beyond Patriotism and Into Legend


BORN Oct. 2, 1869, in Porbandar, India

1893 Goes to South Africa and battles for the rights of Indians

1915-20 Begins his struggle for India's independence

1930 Leads hundreds on a long Salt March to Dandi to protest a tax on salt

1947 Negotiates an end to 190 years of British colonial rule in India

1948 Killed by a fanatic opposed to Gandhi's tolerance of other religions


TIMELINE PHOTO BY
ROGER VIOLLET / GAMMA-LIAISON
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