Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gandhi

Gandhi (1982) – Movie Review
The Movie “Gandhi” - Directed by Richard Attenborough – portrays the biographical sketch and captures the essence of the message of our Father of Nation in excellent form and impressive dramatic effect. It is the fact story of one man who became the unchallenged leader of the Indian people's struggle to free themselves from British rule. The movie compresses half-century real life incidences of Gandhi and portrays effectively his contribution of non-violent solution to the world against a great empire. The movie reconfirms in Gandhi the greatest political leadership and thinker of the 20th Century. The three hours movie meticulously appeals the audience with various techniques of film making in great precision. Gandhi's great achievement of non-violence theory is best realized from this movie and it’s indeed a tribute to his cause.
Ben Kingsley – in the role of Gandhi – brings out his fabulous acting and overall excellence. A TV artist as he was prior to this movie entered the Hollywood big screen with a band that no artist could have achieved such feet and won an Oscar at his debut. Other characters who draw compulsive attention in the movie are Rohini Hattangadi (Kasturi Bai Gandhi), Alyque Padamsee (Mohammed Ali Jinnah), Edward Fox (Gen. Dyer), Roshan Seth (Nehru), Geraldine James (Mirabehn), John Gielgud (Lord Irwin), Trevor Howard (Judge Broomfield), John Mills (Lord Chelmsford), Athol Fugard (Smuts), Martin Sheen (Walker), Ian Charleson (Charlie Andrews). The winning of below mentioned 8 Oscar awards announce the overall quality of this movie:
Sl. No
Category (Best)
Name of Artist
(1)
Actor in Role of Gandhi
Ben Kingsley
(2)
Art Direction - Set Decoration
Stuart Craig, Robert W. Laing & Michael Seirton
(3)
Cinematography
Billy Williams & Ronnie Taylor
(4)
Costume Design
John Mollo & Bhanu Athaiya
(5)
Director
Richard Attenborough
(6)
Film Editing
John Bloom
(7)
Picture
Richard Attenborough
(8)
Screenplay
John Briley
The movie commences with assassination seen of Gandhiji at Birla House, Delhi. Nathuram Godse with tension on his face moves boldly towards Gandhi who is coming for prayer with his two grand nieces Manu and Abha. Ignoring Manu’s request, Godse folds his hands together and bows in greeting Mahatma and immediately we see Gandhi in full three shots. Gandhi falls uttering Oh, God . . . Oh, God (Hey Ram .. Hey Ram). The funeral scene followed by this murder with huge crowd and commentators speaking in soaked tone portrays a very gloomy situation.
We saw the movie with a prejudiced mind that a foreigner could never portray Mahatma Gandhi with his real contribution. Our intuition gets defeated as the screen rolls on and on with the masterpiece direction of Richard Attenborough.
The seen at South African Railway sets out a new trend in Gandhi's thinking. Gandhi’s travel in the first class coach with a book in his hand – we see the book “The Kingdom of God is Within You of Leo Tolstoy – comes to an abrupt end on the intervention of a European. As a result, Gandhi is thrown out from the Railway Coach and this humiliation transforms Gandhi from a private person to a public personality. The class acting of Ben Kingsley in expressing the great agony and frustration of the scene stuffs with emotions on every Indian.
Rohini Hattangady at the age of 27 years took the role of Kasturba Gandhi in this movie. Her role reminds us the perfection of Indian housewife following the cause of her husband. Kasturba rebelling against the lowly task of dealing with the issue of sanitation during their stay at South Africa and Gandhi being fierce with her, threatening to expel her from the household, and his subsequent apology shows the intimacy of his private life linked with public life. Kasturba realizing his nature promises to do that part of her duty to support his efforts to live a humble life. Rohini Hattangady could not get an Oscar notwithstanding her excellent acting and the movie winning eight Oscars. The film portrays the relationship between Mahatma and Kasturba in an extremely beautiful and sensitive manner. Gandhi’s repeat demonstration of his marriage with Kasturba at his later age before a journalist giving new meaning for the Saptapadi (Seven phera - circumambulation) is worth adulation. This scene confirms the sensitiveness maintained in the film making.
Gandhi's attempt of mass awakening against injustice in South Africa is captivating depiction. Gandhi’s oratory skill in a jam packed Imperial theatre of South Africa in denouncing the Black Act (Passed in March 1907) is quite appealing. His effective communication stating that all Indians must now be fingerprinted – like criminals and no marriage other than a Christian marriage is valid – drives home the point Gandhi intends to inject in the mass. The signal of anger and protest is silently captured through camera rolling around the entire hall. Kingsley’s intelligent aura, utterly rational and calm reaction to inflamed emotion brings us Gandhi alive. The qualities which Richard Attenborough gives Gandhi is of course remarkable and the question arises in our mind did such a man ever exist in our land. Gandhi is arrested for the first time in South Africa for the protest he leads against the Black Act. It took seven years of protest and in June 1914 the Black Act was repealed. Gandhi demonstrates that nonviolent protest could be immensely successful. The determination of Gandhi in ensuring logical conclusion of any issue taken up by him is convincingly imprinted in the viewers mind with his activities at South Africa. Gandhi's successful attempt in effectively thwarting the British in their discriminatory policies of governance at South Africa brings to the world the seedling of new leadership in Gandhi. The role the Judge Broomfield (Trevor Howard – has a very small role as an English magistrate) in South Africa brings out the importance of law and justice under the English regime. At this moment even Gandhi has great respect to the law of English as he keeps praising it to his wife Kasturba. The whole scene is skillfully picturised and the movie indeed begins with a bang.
Gandhi’s returning to India in 1915 (Bombay Port) is also shown as great event. Indians and Congress Party receive Gandhi with great curiosity, expectations and belief that his man is going to deliver something to all of them. By this time his non-violent mantra (adopted in South Africa) has become topical in the minds of Indian. Nehru (Roshan Seth) and Patel (Saeed Jaffrey) receive Gandhi at Bombay port. Although Nehru is said to have met Gandhi for the first time in 1916 at Lucknow Congress Session, we ignore such error from Attenborough’s creation.
Gandhi’s trip to see real India along with Kasturba taken up on the advice of Gokhale (Shriram Lagoo) is extensively shown. Gandhi has now become man of masses. The locations, thousands of extras, old trains, innocent and na├»ve surroundings of our good old days, the hues of rural India talks about the superb photography of Ronnie Taylor and Billy Williams. The movie in total is powerful, dramatic and authentic when we see through the photographic techniques.
The missing of conventional Indian movie style, dancing or flashbacks is unique but welcome and befitting the great leader. While the average age of Indian movie viewers are considered to fall between 12 and 15 years of age, this movie expects a greater average of age from the viewers.
Edward Fox plays the military commander - General Dyer, who cold-bloodedly shoots down unarmed freedom fighters attending a peaceful rally in Jallianwalla Bagh, Amritsar on 13th April 1919. His action in doing this even without giving any warning shows the level of British brutality. The massacre seen is indeed horrifying. This incident further fueled impetus to the demand of Poorna Swaraj. The movie should have taken the sentiments of Indians and included the scene of triggering by Udham Singh on General Dyer on 13 March 1940. Gandhi, as expected had released a statement (in Journal Harijan) stating that he had been outraged by the assassination and the differences with General Dyer should not prevent Indians from being grieved over his assassination. The consistent line of thinking by Gandhi never got deviated even by revenges.
Incidentally, to maintain undiminished stature for Gandhi, Attenborough has avoided projecting any other personalities in the Independence struggle who achieved heroic proportions in their own. Hence the fact of Gandhi visiting Bhagat Singh in prison and his pleading to draft a compromise letter that would stay his execution is not shown. Bhagat Singh refused and was hanged.
Attenborough has also ignored the most fascinating ideological debates of the times - the dialogue between Gandhi and Ambedkar. While Gandhi desired to change the nomenclature of the oppressed sections and call them as Harijans to overcome the stigma they bore, Ambedkar advocated class struggle to change their social condition. Gandhi’s advocacy against untouchability in this movie does not form full circle without the mention of Ambedkar’s view.
The role of Mohammed Ali Jinnah portrayed by Alyque Padamsee is in the line of expectations of every Indian. Jinnah is presented in the film in a radically different way from Gandhi's and the fact known to Indians get reinforced on seeing this role. However, the fact is Jinnah achieved his goal with the means he adopted.
Roshan Seth plays the role of Nehru with great compassion. But the role of Nehru in this move is secondary and poorly explored. His admiration towards Gandhi is impressed upon the viewers in the few scenes he interacts with his mentor. Saeed Jaffrey cannot be serious and Vallabhbhai Patel was never jovial. Still the role of Patel is adorned by Saeed Jaffrey in a polished way with Western costumes which is slightly unacceptable to Indian viewers.
As a result of the Salt (Dandi) March, Gandhi is requested to travel to England for discussions about an independent India. The Salt March demonstrated to the world the new instrument of political action and peaceful militancy. It was at this battle, that the British lost the moral high ground. The movie correctly takes care of this entire episode. Subsequent, Gandhi-Irwin pact (March 1931) and the second Round Table Conference (August 1931) is briefly highlighted.
Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army don’t get mentioned. Nor the full impact of Quit India movement gets picturised. The roles of Jaya Prakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia and other leaders of the 1942 movement are conveniently forgotten. The arrest of Gandhi at Bombay in 1942 held for two years in the Aga Khan Palace is portrayed. The death of Kasturba Gandhi in 1944 and the sobbing of Gandhi disturb the Indian viewers. The melancholy mood goes to the extent that we have missed someone in our own family.
The final days of independence and the role of Lord Mountbatten is shown too briefly. It has not left much of a mark on the viewers particularly Indians who understand that Mountbatten as brilliant administrator, with a natural talent for negotiation and decisive action, We don’t get to see the impact of his attempt in hammering out in short order an Independence settlement that Gandhi, the Congress and the Moslem League all agreed to. The violence between Hindus and Muslims during the period of Independence is shown realistically with dramatic effect which takes place subsequent to creation of Pakistan.
The audience may not raise the finger against brutal British regime except to the scene of massacre at Jallianwalla Bagh. Richard Attenborough goes too soft to hide the situation of the desperate alarm with which the British viewed Hindu-Muslim unity. The well-documented incidents of British’s divide-and-rule policy which culminated in creation of Pakistan are safely buried by the master Director and the end result alone is shown.
After the Partition there was blood-cruddling violence. Lakhs of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were massacred and Gandhi goes on a fast unto death against the violance. When Gandhi sinks after nearly three weeks of self-imposed starvation, Nehru’s (Prime Minister by now) anger on the rioting mob in scorching language shows him in poor light.
The historical accuracy is amazing considering this movie was done by a person other than an Indian. It portrays all of the characters very well as they are developed throughout the movie in minute details. Kudos to the director for the wonderful job on such a fabulous movie. The movie reinforces Gandhi’s name forever in human history. Gandhi will be remembered as a political philosopher, for he taught the world how political ends can be achieved through non-violence.
Gandhi provided leadership by example. He exhibited the perfect marriage between personal morality and public action. The best demonstration of Gandhi’s leadership is his worldwide influence. Martin Luther King Jr., Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and countless other leaders have been deeply influenced by Gandhi and his philosophy of non-violence. New leaders influenced by Gandhi continue to emerge and Barack Obama adding to this long list states that "In my life, I have always looked to Mahatma Gandhi as an inspiration, because he embodies the kind of transformational change that can be made when ordinary people come together to do extraordinary things".
In a Gandhian spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, Nelson Mandela reached out to his adversaries – the same ones who had tortured and imprisoned him to bring an end to apartheid rule. Gandhi’s greatest legacy is the notoriety he achieved for advocating non-violence as a means of overcoming oppression. It is this belief that guides the actions of millions of average citizens who participate in civil society movements today across the globe. Even in the case of Gandhi movie, the audience may not raise the finger against brutal British regime except to the scene of massacre at Jallianwalla Bagh. Richard Attenborough goes too soft to hide the situation of the desperate alarm with which the British viewed Hindu-Muslim unity. The well-documented incidents of British’s divide-and-rule policy which culminated in creation of Pakistan are safely buried by the master Director and the end result alone is shown.
Albert Einstein said of Gandhi, "Generations to come, it may be, will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth." Each occasion the movie gives us new meaning and energizes us to stand for a cause.
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Power and Organizational Politics

POWER AND ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS
Denhardt, R.B, Denhardt, J.V. and Aristigueta M.P. (2001).
Managing Human Behaviour in Public and Nonprofit Organization

G Venkatesan – Roll No.09
Objectives

1. Concepts of power and organizational politics
2. Identify sources of power
3. Recognizing power and organizational politics
4. Balancing Power
5. Power is both positive and destructive force
6. Empowerment: More than delegation
7. Managing Power and Organizational Politics
8. Power and Public Service
9. Conclusion

1. Concepts of power and organizational politics

Power and organizational politics are closely related concepts. Power means “the latent ability to influence other’s actions, thoughts, or emotions”. Politics refers to the use of power and authority to influence organizational outcomes. In simple terms, power is the potential for influence, whereas politics is the exercise or use of the power.

The societal attitude towards power has evolved over a period of time. Idea about who has a right to power and how that power should be used have shifted as we have changed out ideas about organizations, the nature of people and authority. Today power and organizational politics are viewed as more egalitarian and involve the use of shared power.

The early study of power and politics in organizations is linked with the pioneer names of Machiavelli (1469 - 1527), Max Weber (1864 – 1920) and Russell (1872 - 1970). The theories of Machiavelli expressed in his famous book titled “The Prince” (published in 1530) describe methods that an aspiring prince can use to acquire the throne, or an existing prince can use to maintain his reign. According to Machiavelli, the greatest moral good is a virtuous and stable state, and actions to protect the country are therefore justified even if they are cruel. German sociologist, Max Weber who is better known for his contribution towards the concept of bureaucracy, defined power as "the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his own will despite resistance". According to Bertrand Russell (1930) power as a means to an end can be virtuous but that power as an end (as the goal itself) is inherently undesirable. Bierstedt (1950) took a sociological stand point and defined (1) Power as a latent force (2) Force is manifest power and (3) Authority is institutionalized power.

However in the 1960s the nature of power and authority came under question and the superior’s power underwent a marked shift. Traditional concept of power had become outmoded and counterproductive. Haire argued that our conceptions about management and the nature of people must change. Haire was against the classic organizational theory ob people being lazy, shortsighted, selfish and stupid. He opined to develop optimistic view of people, make authority participative with equalized power.

On the other hand, the work of Cyert and March (1963) took a new view of organizations as political entities. The paper defines the term organisational politics as “actions by individuals that are directed toward the goal of furthering their own self-interest without regard for the well-being of others or their organization. In other words, activities in which managers engage to increase their power and to pursue goals that favour their individual and group interests is called organizational politics.

By 1970s, experts held a further egalitarian and optimistic view that power and organizational politics as political entities. Organizations are by their nature, political entities and to be successful in them one should be politically aware. Hence, one should understand the sources of power, when and how power should be exercised and gain an appreciation for the tools and strategies of politics and also understand the positive and negative effects of power and organizational politics.

Power is difficult to measure and even to recognize, yet it plays a major role in explaining authority. In organizations, power is most likely exercised in situations where “the stakes are high, resources are limited, and goals and processes are unclear”. The absence of power in organizations forces us to rely on solely hierarchical authority

2. Sources of power

French and Raven (1959 / 1989) proposed a five category classification of the sources of power: (1) Legitimate power, (2) reward power (3) Coercive power (4) Referent power and (5) Expert power.

Legitimate power arises from peoples values and beliefs that someone has the right to exert influence over them and that they have an obligation to comply. Reward Power arise from one’s ability to reward other people for behaving as expected. Coercive power is the opposite of reward power and is based on one’s ability to apply sanctions or punishments for the failure to behave as expected. Referent power is based on psychological identification between people. The use of reward power could increase referent power as per French and Raven. Expert power is based on one’s knowledge and expertise in the opinion of others.

Kotter (1977) saw formal authority as a tool that managers used to strengthen and develop four different ways to maintain power. They are:

(1) Doing favours and creating obligation,
(2) Building reputations as experts in given area,
(3) Using one’s image and reputation and finally
(4) Creating and reinforcing the perceived dependence of others.

3. Recognizing power and organizational politics

Recognizing the exercise of power and politics in an organization is important to understanding its influence on organizational behaviour and in protecting ourselves from some of its negative consequence. The below diagram gives the present trend of recognizing power:

The exercise of power can take different forms. Both power wielder and observer or “recipient” of power politics should first recognize power. Lukes (1974) brought out three different forms of power to the forefront. He termed “first face” power as direct exchange between actors in which one of the actor exerts more control over the outcome than does the other actor – which is easy to recognize. However exercise of power is complicated and sometimes power wielder struggles and loses. To avoid such scenario established power wielder should work systematically and avoid challenges. Lukes termed these exclusionary actions as “second face”. In the “third face”, the power wielder convinces others that what they want really want is what the power wielder wants. The second and third faces of power help us to accomplish organizational objectives without coercing people to cooperate.

4. Balancing Power

In the 1960s people started questioning power. Most people in the contemporary settings do not hesitate to question their superiors. The balancing of power is more analyzed from the recipient side and attempts to control power wielder. Wrong (1968) suggested that integral or “one way” power often causes people to attempt to limit or resist. Following four methods can be used to balance the power:

(1) Self assessment of one own performance without relying on professional image dependent on feedback of boss;
(2) Look of other positive feedback to multiply alternatives and decrease dependency
(3) Perform work more associated to the unit’s success and increase dependence of boss
(4) Gain domain expertise.

5. Is Power a positive force or a destructive force?

Power Corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton - 1887). Power and politics often have negative connotations because people associate them with attempts to use organizational resources for personal advantage and to achieve personal goals at the expense of other goals. On the positive sided, managers can use power (1) to control people and other resources so that they cooperate and help to achieve an organization’s goal and (2) to engage in politics and influence the decision-making process to help promote new, more appropriate organizational goals.

According to Salancik and Pfeffer (1977 / 1989) power is not only necessary for positive organizational functioning but also a vital and critical force in ensuring organisational survival. Power helps in selection of right executives and protects the interest of critical components. Wilson (1995) observes that in public sector, power is essential to successfully implement public policy.

At the same time, Vrenderburgh and Brender (1998) cautioned that hierarchical, interpersonal abuse of power is a danger in organization. Power can be used in a manner that negatively affects others sense of dignity and self-respect in both style and substance.

Politics and power are an organizational fact of life and they can have both positive and negative consequences

6. Managing Power and Organizational Politics

Power is scarce resource. The use of power involves time, energy and the depletion of the amount of power available over time. Hence, both power and organizational politics should be managed in the interest of organizational goal. Kotter (1977) therefore argues that managers should use power to influence the behaviour of others in a manner that will allow managers to get things done. Kotter further stated that effective managers recognize the role of power in the managerial process and exercise it responsibly.

Yates (1985) took a contingency approach in power politics and pointed out that managers possess a range of resources including “authority, force, persuasion, symbolic rewards, personal style, bargaining techniques, negotiating and mediating skills, coalition-building approaches and allocations of benefits. He suggested that in choosing the appropriate approach, managers consider the nature of the problem and the organization environment.

7. Empowerment: more than delegation

The process in which employees are given increasing amounts of autonomy and discretion in connection with their work is called as empowerment. Maximum focus days are given towards empowerment in organization. Conger and Kanungo (1988) suggested the process of moving from powerlessness to empowerment in five stages:

(1) Conditions leading to feelings of powerlessness
(2) Use of managerial strategies to increase personal efficacy and motivation
(3) Feedback and removal of conditions found in stage (1)
(4) Reinforcement of the empowerment experience
(5) Persistence of new behaviour

According to Block (1987 – in his book: The Empowered Manager) writes that although empowerment can be fostered by organisational conditions, it is primarily achieved through the decisions of individual to change their self images and belief systems. Empowerment is not something granted from outside but provided by the organization within themselves. Proper environment has to be created for empowerment. The diagram depicted below compares powerlessness and empowerment:



8. Power and Public Service

Exercise of power in public service involves larger set of value and purposes. We should always remember that in public service the ends are not only important but also the means to achieve those ends are equally important. Public power involves larger set of values and the authorities are accountable to a broad array of organizational rules, laws and norms. Public service demands that at each stage of functioning, the power wielder should themselves ask what they are trying to accomplish and for whose benefit. In other words, power must be legitimated through reference to external standards before its use is considered.

9. Conclusion

The author of the article lays down eight effective ways of acting while exercising power in any organisation. They are:

1. Enhance your personal power by considering all of its possible sources
2. Make yourself visible and indispensable
3. Take charge of your own empowerment
4. Use power constructively and effectively
5. Devote time and energy to clarifying goals
6. Support and foster the empowerment of others
7. Think about, plan for and maintain your awareness of political issues in management and in the implementation process
8. Whenever possible, be nice

Reference:

1. Denhardt, R.B, Denhardt, J.V. & Aristigueta M.P. (2001). Managing Human Behaviour in Public and Nonprofit Organization. Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks, CA.