‘Nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi until a film on him was made,’ claims PM Narendra Modi

Contrary to PM Narendra Modi’s claims, Mahatma Gandhi has been an inspiration for leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 29, 2024 | 7:30 PMUpdatedMay 29, 2024 | 9:17 PM

PM Modi's visit to Mysuru

In a startling claim, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the world didn’t know Mahatma Gandhi — widely considered the father of the nation — until a movie on him was made in 1982.

The claim prompted nationwide criticism for denying the recognition of India’s foremost freedom fighter and a global icon of non-violence and peace.

“Mahatma Gandhi was a great soul. Wasn’t it our responsibility to get him that level of global recognition during the last 75 years? Nobody knew, please excuse me on this. The first time, when the film Gandhi was made (1982), the world got curious about who he might be,” Modi said in an interview with ABP news on Tuesday, 28 May.

“We didn’t do the needful…If the world knew Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi was no less than them and you have to accept that. I am saying this after travelling the world that Gandhi and through him, India should have been recognised (Gandhi)…,”  Modi said.

Ironically, the leaders that Modi mentioned — Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela — saw Gandhi as a great source of inspiration and drew from his values of non-violence. While Martin Luther King Jr called Gandhi his ‘guiding light’, Mandela deemed the Mahatma a ‘sacred warrior’.

Modi was replying to a question on the Opposition’s understanding of Indian culture.

Also Read: Demography in Bengal’s border areas changing due to infiltration: Modi

Modi’s remarks on Gandhi draw ire

Reacting to the statement Congress spokesperson Lavanya Ballal Jain told South First that Modi was either really stressed or was really uninformed.

“PM is either extremely stressed or really uninformed. It’s India’s tragedy that such a disrespectful and uninformed person occupied the PM’s office twice. We need dignified, educated people to lead the nation,” she said.

Meanwhile, several people questioned the prime minister for not knowing the significance of Gandhi and accused him of being ignorant of India’s history.

An X user came down heavily on Modi urging people to initiate crowdfunding to educate the prime minister.

“I believe Mr. Modi is talking about himself due to his lack of education. If only he had attended school, he wouldn’t make such statements. We can start a GoFundMe to help Mr. Modi get his primary education after this election,” the X user said.

Another user reshared one of their old thread on how the international media reported on Gandhi during India’s struggle for independence.

“‘Nobody knew Mahatma Gandhi before a film was made on him’. Since this ridiculous claim has resurfaced, it’s a good time to pop by and share my old thread on Gandhi,” the user wrote on X and shared the reports of foreign media over the years since 1930s.

Another user criticised Modi and questioned his education.

“From The Burlington Hawk-eye to NY Times, Time Magazine, Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr. to stamps across the world, can’t be understood by a man who prints his own Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees at a local Gujarati press. But has extreme clarity that a movie can do wonders!!” the user wrote.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, widely known as Mahatma Gandhi, was a lawyer who employed a non-violent struggle named “Satyagraha” to fight against the British monarch and gain India its independence.

Significant movements led by him during the struggle for independence include the Dandi Salt March in 1930, Champaran Satyagraha in 1917, the non-cooperation movement in 1919 and the Quit India movement.

(Edited by Muhammed Fazil)