Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2nd in 1869 and was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic January 30th 1948. To the majority of us he is now more familiarly known by his honorific, Mahatma, meaning Great Soul, rather than the names he was born with, and for his dedication to non-violent resistance as a form of protest. Such is his international reputation that in 2007 the United Nations designated his birthday International Day Of Non Violence.
While political leaders of all stripes have cited him as an influence on their lives, paid lip service to his ideals, or praised his life, not a single political figure since the Mahatma has actually lived up to those ideals. The drive for equality between the races in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s under the guidance of Martin Luther King Jr. was the last major attempt at non-violent civil disobedience to enact social change. Aside from that though, the majority of mankind has not proven mature enough to live up to the ideals espoused by Mahatma Gandhi.
While Gandhi has aroused almost universal admiration among people internationally, the same can't be said about his home country of India. He was opposed to the partitioning of India into separate Muslim, Pakistan, and Hindu countries and advocated equality for all people. In fact his assassination was spurned by the final hunger strike he staged in order to force the new Indian government to hand over money owing to the Pakistani government. The radical Hindu who killed him saw that action as an act of betrayal. He also angered traditionalists with his demands for an end to equality for women and to the caste system. (Initially the caste system was devised as a means of defining a person's responsibilities to society based on their job without there being any distinction in social standing, but it was eventually corrupted to the point where a person's caste no longer defined what they did but their status. So a person could be a Brahmin — without being a priest — and enjoy all the advantages associated with that position without having to fulfill any of the obligations formally associated with the title.)
With the play The Portrait Of Mahatma Gandhi, published by Antarjyoti, Himendra Thakur has written a response to what he sees as a continuation of that opposition in today's India. In his introduction to the play he says that India has moved away from Gandhi's vision for the country and that there is a concerted effort by some political leaders, business people and thinkers to discredit him in the eyes of the people. While they may stand up on national holidays and praise him as the father of the country, or give speeches lauding his achievements in the West, they are actually rejecting everything he stands for.