Abhay Shivgounda Patil

About what matters.

Posts Tagged ‘Gandhi

Who Killed Gandhi?

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lkgGodse was not the killer – he was just an instrument of a much bigger conspiracy. There were as many as five unsuccessful attempts on Gandhi’s life, last one barely 10 days before the fateful day. After the last attempt, there was enough information to nab Godse and his accomplices, but it remains a mystery why the police did not act. After the murder, police were lax in acknowledging, leave alone following up on, the tell tale evidence. So much so that the trial Justice Atma Charan closed his judgment stating that the Police should have been named as one of the accused. It is as if everybody, including the ruling Congress Party, was content to avenge one death with two lives – and were not too eager to pursue the case. The Jivanlal Kapur commission proved to be a redeeming development, however the current ruling dispensation is working on removing this report from the official records.

Today (Nov 6, 2016) I heard Tushar Gandhi in Pune. His great grandmother, Kasturba, died in Pune and the murderers of his great grandfather hailed from Pune. It was an emotional speech, with startling facts. What I picked up from his talk is shocking enough that I am eager to read his well researched book, Let’s kill Gandhi. (He was in Pune to release a book, written by a young activist Sanket Munot, countering widespread misconceptions about Gandhi.)

Here are some of the notes I made during the talk.

First attempt on Gandhi’s life happened in 1934 when he was in Pune to accept civic felicitation. A hand bomb was hurled at his car. The case was closed with no arrests. Later, a forensic report confirmed that the hand bomb used in 1934 was from the same batch of hand bombs that were thrown at a Muharram procession in Ahmednagar in 1946. These bombs were recovered from the residence of Vishnu Karkare, the convict in Gandhi’s murder.

Madan Lal Pahwa was arrested after he hurled a hand bomb, on January 20th during Gandhiji’s prayer meeting. This was just 10 days before Gandhi was killed. Pahwa did lead the police to the hotel room where the kingpins of the conspiracy had met with him. There was tell tale evidence, including laundered clothes bearing initials NVG (Nathuram Vinayak Godse) – but Police did not act. Ashutosh Lahiri (?), who was ready to depose was not interrogated. When questioned by the Court, the police chief infamously gave the explanation that they did not expect the conspirators to revert so quickly. (“They were not playing cricket” -was the actual statement!)

Godse and his accomplice Apte were complete novices when it came to firearms. Just two days before Godse killed Gandhi, it is a mystery how he acquired one of the most sophisticated revolvers of that time – a Beretta. It was apparently surrendered by an Italian troupe to a General in King of Gwalior Jiwaji Rao Shinde’s army. The arms dealer Sharma, from whom Godse acquired it, was never interrogated enough on this count.

Godse was not known to be good with words. He did edit a few journals, but his style was aggressive and never persuasive enough.  Godse’s argument in the appeals court, that is available on the net, was so powerful that one of the Justices hearing the case remarked that had the people in the Court turned jury, they would have acquitted Godse. Tushar Gandhi claims that there was no way Godse could have drafted that speech – he believes that it was work of one of the most gifted litterateurs, V D Savarkar.

On the afternoon of January 30, pamphlets – allegedly printed in Amritsar – were distributed in Alwar, Rajsthan, announcing death of Gandhi. Gandhi was killed in the evening.

Digambar Badge, the bodyguard of Veer Savarkar turned approver; and his deposition was considered fit to hang two convicts. Tushar Gandhi claimed that, it is intriguing why the evidence he shared regarding Veer Savarkar was rejected by the Court. However, Justice Jivanlal Kapur came down harshly on Savarkar in his report, terming his acquittal purely technical.

And finally, he talked about the bogey that Gandhi forced Indian Government to give Rupees 55 Crore to Pakistan; and that he was the one responsible for the partition.

When Mountbatten came back with the proposal for partition, it was only Gandhi who opposed it. No organization, RSS and Hindu Mahasabha included, agitated against it. Nehru and Patel did not like the idea – but they accepted it as a “practical” step. Later Nehru confessed that he did not anticipate the terrible human cost that the partition entailed – and that only Gandhi saw it, but to no avail. Gandhi confided to Pyarelal that neither the leader who was like a son to him, nor the one who claimed to be his inheritor, was ready to listen to Gandhi’s counsel. They were in tearing hurry to get the power and overlooked the consequences that proved to be too bloody – only comparable to the holocaust.

Gandhi’s last fast was NOT for pressing Indian Government to give the promised Rs. 55 Crore to Pakistan. It was for peace. It is a fact that the newly born Indian nation was almost bent on renegading on it’s very first commitment as a sovereign nation. The brutal violence that erupted post partition had the whole country boiling with rage against Pakistan and the then Government did not want to be seen as Pakistan’s benefactor. But they also knew that not keeping the promise meant a huge loss of credibility for the new born country. Gandhi’s fast turned out to be a good excuse to do the right thing, but that also meant turning the ire of the nation towards Gandhi. Note that Gandhi DID NOT end his fast on this announcement. His fast was not for the 55 Crore – it was for peace.

And Godse claimed that Gandhi’s fast for giving money to Pakistan was the last straw.






Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

November 6, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Posted in History, India, Uncategorized

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Leadership Learning

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leadershipWhen I received an invite from a large software company to speak, I felt nice for two reasons. First, they thought me worthy of a talk on “Leadership Learning” and also because this initiative was started by my colleague when he was with that organization!

My objective? After an hour of talk I wanted everyone to feel that the hour was well spent – and each carried with them some sense of deja vu, a few  AHA moments – and of course curiosity to explore more on their own. So here is a brief account of what I shared with them on August 13, 2015.

Everything we see around us is complex – organization, family, society. Everything we have to tackle is complex – be it performance reviews or raising a child. How do we tackle complexity? Complexity can not be confronted with complexity.

The answer is K.I.S.S. – “Keep It Simple, Stupid”!

The celebrated Gall’s law goes like this: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.

This law is essentially an argument in favor of underspecification: it can be used to explain the success of systems like the World Wide Web which grew from simple to complex system incrementally, and the failure of systems like CORBA, which began with complex specifications. Gall’s Law has strong affinities to the practice of agile software development.

I then talked about inversion – and other counter intuitive techniques to look at the complexity which give us dramatically simple perspective to address complexity.

We were always taught to mug up  answers to get good marks, right? But in the real world we know that it is all important to ask the right questions. (What’s the use finding correct answers to  wrong questions?)  Learning is important – but un-learning is more important! I was told by my teacher to un-learn my procedural language training – “otherwise you will program Fortran in C++” he told me!  Vikas Joshi (Founder, Harbinger Group) once told us how one should deliberately create knowledge gaps by entrusting tasks outside  people’s expertise – so, you avoid creating silos of expertise and induce collaboration.  And as the chief people officer of Google (Laszlo Bock) has famously said,  letting the inmates run the asylum works the best!

What is the simple mantra of Success in the corporate world?  Believe it or or not – it’s “Helping others drives success“! Instead of aiming to succeed first and give back later, giving first is a promising path to succeed later!  (But if you do it only to succeed, it probably won’t work.)  This is not an extract from some sermon, but findings by the most highly rated professor from Wharton, USA – Adam Grant.  You actually don’t need to give back – but better give forward. If someone helped you, help someone else.  He also talks about presentation and negotiation. Conventional wisdom tells us that one needs to dominate the conversation, to be assertive, to win an argument. Wrong. If you want to lead someone to your conclusion – you need to do that on their terms! And, instead of dominance, you need to focus on prestige. The motivation has to come from within.

Intuition – don’t we love it when  we seem to know things – but don’t know how we know them? It’s a startling fact that the intuition, or heuristics, often leads us astray. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” shows us that we are often complete strangers to ourselves – and that’s a frightening thought!

Laszlo Bock cites a study in his book where more than 2000 interviews were recorded. The naïve observers were shown the slices from each interview beginning with the interviewee knocking on the door and ending 10 seconds after the interviewee took the seat. Observers provided ratings of employability, competence, intelligence, ambition, trustworthiness, confidence, nervousness, warmth, politeness, likability and expressiveness! For 9 of the 11 variables thin slice judgment correlated significantly with final evaluation of the actual interviewers. is it not scary?  Point is, as Kahneman explains, we constantly make up stories – and then seek evidence to corroborate those stories.

We advise young people to emulate successful people.  Is that good enough?  Remember, successes can’t tell us what not to do!  When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.  Looking at failures is more important.  Example: Start up companies and venture capitalists.

At the end I shared what Vikas Joshi shared with fellow Harbingers about leadership during our Annual Award event.  Do take this test of leadership.

How do you experience different people around you? Do you pay attention to differences?
Do you know how different people experience you differently? Harder question – as you go higher, mirrors get curved!
How do people experience themselves when they are around you? That’s the hard test of leadership.

Then I invoked Gandhi.

I believe, irrespective of the ideology, Gandhi was the epitome of leadership. Why Gandhi? Imagine – when even a  telephone was a luxury, forget Internet, he had the mass following across the length and breadth of the nation. The way he excelled in the third test was beyond compare. He made every ordinary person feel like a freedom fighter, not just a patriot, through simple acts – be it wearing khadi clothes or walking along the Dandi march.

As someone said – गांधी एक आंधी थी जिससे तिनका भी आकाश चढ गया!

Gandhi was a typhoon, that catapulted even a straw to the sky!

Thank you.

Written by Abhay Shivgounda Patil

October 2, 2015 at 6:13 am