Che Guevara’s take on India: ‘War not in the spirit of people’
New Delhi: Legendary Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967), is one of the very few socialist revolutionaries who were popular all over the world, not just in the country they brought the revolution in. The phenomenon of Che Guevara is still alive with youngsters wearing him on badges, t-shirts and bags. Even in India, he is fairly popular even 45 years after his death.
Che had come to India in 1959, when Cuban dictator Fidel Castro directed him to forge relationship with countries close to Cuban line of socialism. Political scientist Manash Bhattacharjee writes in The Hindu, “Che and his delegation met Nehru in his office in New Delhi. Che later said Nehru met them with the “amiable familiarity of a patriarchal grandfather”. That comment on Nehru’s demeanour perhaps bordered on sarcasm. However, Che is said to have had an admiration for Nehru. Jon Lee Anderson wrote in his book Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life that Che read The Discovery of India with interest, “underlining and scribbling comments about passages he found thought-provoking”. Anderson unfortunately did not furnish us with those passages. But it is possible to imagine Che being impressed by Nehru’s zeal for industrialisation within a socialist mode of state-controlled productivity. In his recorded impressions of India, Che had approvingly observed that India “had to be industrialised as a base for future economic development”.
Che was also very impressed with India’s achievement of freedom without armed revolution. He had said “In India, the word war is so distant from the spirit of the people that they did not use it even in the tensest moments of their struggle for independence. You have Gandhi and an old philosophical heritage; in our Latin America we have neither. That is why our mindset has developed differently.”
There have questions at Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas of non-violence application in modern conditions, where terror may crush the non-violent. One of the biggest armed revolutionaries vision on Gandhi’s ideal definitely provoke though that ultimate peace would only be achieved by non-violence.