Indians don't need to change the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971 to put Gandhi on par with the Indian flag and the Constitution.
I think instead of fighting over Gandhi's "Vaseline and cotton wool memories," India should just levy a Gandhi-tax.
The old man is on currency notes. There's a busy major street named after him in every Indian city. He is at the heart of Indian commerce. No matter what his own politics were, the man is the face of Indian capitalism these days.
Why not just cash in? Everyone else is.
Obama talks about "being the change you want to see in the world."
Gandhi even shows up on a blog on B2B Marketing.
Enough. Time to levy the Gandhi tax.
When Mont Blanc wants to put his image on a $25,000 fountain pen, let's demand Gandhi royalties plus luxury tax.
Because in the end that's what the controversy about Great Soul, the new Joseph Lelyveld biography is all about. He might be bisexual, racist and weirdo, but he's our property. We get first dibs.
As Dean Nelson, the South Asia editor for the Telegraph Media Group writes on his blog "I think it has little to do with the questions Lelyveld raises of India's Great Soul and more to do with the fact that the most probing questions have been asked by a foreigner... What right does (William Dalrymple), Lelyveld, Patrick French and others have to trawl over India's past and present and offer their judgments?"
So the question is, if an Indian historian like Ramachandra Guha had written this would the reaction have been different?
Mind you, Lelyveld says he never wrote that Gandhi was bisexual. He told NPR he doesn't know whether the relationship was romantic or sexual. "I don't push it to that conclusion because who knows what happened between two people almost a hundred years ago?"
Now that is just being coy. He laid out the dots, he just didn't join them. He left it to the professional gays like Andrew Sullivan to do that. And Sullivan jumped to the task writing in The Atlantic: "This may conceivably be an intense heterosexual friendship -- but one that speaks of immense love, vaseline, upper and lower houses, and an insistence that the friend never resort to heterosexual sex. If you want to believe that, no one is stopping you," writes Sullivan.
Sullivan says all this hair-splitting between homosexual and homoerotic is just more homophobia -- that if one doesn't have actual sex with another man one is not really gay.
So does it matter? The seditious half-naked fakir crushed the British Empire. But will the Dandi March seem less historic, because he might have had a crush on a German-Jewish body builder?
The Hindustan Times says in an editorial "If it does, isn't that our problem?"
I say let's just forget this Gandhi protection rigmarole. Let's go with the Gandhi tax.
You can talk all you want about the change you want to see in the world, we are talking about real change, baby. Hard currency.
And you know what, every time you call him Ghandi, we are going to levy a fine on top of that tax.