Mohandas Gandhi? Apocryphal?
Journalist: What do you think of Western civilization?
Gandhi: I think it would be a good idea.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any solid citations for this sharp exchange. The best I have located is second-hand information in the 1970s. Is there any good support for this quote?
Quote Investigator: Mohandas Gandhi died in 1948, and the earliest evidence QI has located appeared many years later in January 1967. The Seattle Times newspaper stated that the exchange was mentioned in a television documentary on a major U.S. network: 1
Quote of the week from the superb C.B.S. documentary, “The Italians”: Mahatma Gandhi, on being asked, “What do you think of Western civilization?,” was reported to have answered, “I think it would be a good idea”.
According to the website of the Paley Center for Media the documentary “The Italians” was broadcast as a CBS News Special on January 17, 1967. The program was adapted from a book, and the author acted as the host: 2
A documentary freely adapted from Luigi Barzini’s book “The Italians.” Barzini presides over a selective tour of Italy, discussing the Italian people, their culture, customs, and history.
In September 1967 the dialog was disseminated in the mass-circulation periodical Reader’s Digest. The words were once again connected to a documentary on CBS: 3
MOHANDAS GANDHI was once asked: “What do you think of Western civilization?” “I think it would be a good idea,” he replied.
— CBS News Special, “The Italians”
Here are additional selected citations and commentary.
- 1967 January 23, Seattle Times, “Ad Paid Off For Swedish Beauty” by C. J. Skreen, Quote Page 6, Column 7, Seattle, Washington. (GenealogyBank) ↩
- The Paley Center for Media website, Webpage on documentary: CBS News Special: The Italians (TV), Broadcast Date: January 17, 1967 Tuesday 10:00 PM, Running Time: 1:00:00, Color/B&W: Color, Executive Producer: Perry Wolff, Producer: Bernard Birnbaum, Adapted by: Luigi Barzini. (Accessed paleycenter.org on April 23, 2013) link ↩
- 1967 September, Reader’s Digest, Answer Men, (Set of five miscellaneous quotations), Page 52, Volume 91, The Reader’s Digest Association. (Verified on microfilm) ↩