A FEW days ago by chance I happened to watch the epic historical drama Gandhi.

It was not the first time I’d seen the movie, having gone to the cinema when it was first released back in 1982, curious as to its depiction of the famous Indian anti-colonialist nationalist who employed non-violent resistance in the struggle to gain independence from British rule.

Watching the film I was struck by two things. The first was how aged it now seemed by today’s cinematic and production standards.

At times it looked as weary as the great man himself appeared towards the end of his life.

By contrast though the second thing that struck me was how politically resonant the film’s overarching theme remains in terms of what’s happening in the world today. Here on display was the jingoism of those who believed Britain had some God-given right to rule as it pleased and to hell with the consequences and suffering that might cause.

READ MORE: Trump receives warm welcome as he begins two-day trip to India

If such an attitude looked all too familiar then that’s because in today’s Brexit Britain under Boris Johnson that arrogant mindset again prevails, albeit in pipsqueak form by comparison.

But where the film really struck a contemporary cord was in its presentation of the politics of hate. Here writ large was the British contempt for those Indians who dared question Britannia’s rule and its colonial overseers perceived “superiority”.

The film captured, too, that derision and contempt that so often inhabits political struggle when those ostensibly on the same side undermine their own cause through bitter rivalry. In India’s case at that time it pitched the likes of Gandhi, with his use of non-violent resistance, against those who saw the only way to break from British rule was through armed struggle.

Such tensions and rivalries – albeit on a much less polarised scale – continue to undermine the solidarity of so many political causes today.

I’d like to think I could take comfort and encouragement from Scotland’s own independence movement in rejecting such corrosive attitudes. But even within the ranks of the indy movement there are those – a tiny minority – that peddle a politics of hate that only serves to undermine their ultimate independence ambitions.

From outright anti-English sentiments to contempt for rival individuals or perceived groupings within the SNP or the wider independence movement, the net effect remains an undermining of the struggle for Scotland’s independence.

READ MORE: David Pratt: Here's what Narendra Modi’s re-election shows us

In other words we must all beware the politics of hate, which almost everywhere these days threatens to dominate and take over. As Gandhi himself pointed out, the trick is to resist politically that which is unacceptable without succumbing yourself to hate. Hate politics has always allowed politicians to have a get-out clause. Time and again it has enabled them to get away with their failure in the actual job of public welfare and human development.

Instead of shouldering this responsibility, they instead cynically deploy demagoguery and nativism that today in some parts of the world has reached a fever pitch. The casualties along the way of course are political civility, which has reached a new low, while conspiratorial thinking is now so often a substitute for the political mainstream.

Almost everywhere you look right now a certain genre of political leaders deploy hate politics freely. Here in the UK the Tories have used it to associate all the miseries of ordinary folk to EU membership, creating hatred among some towards immigrants and foreigners. Likewise US President Donald Trump on the other side of the Atlantic has used racism, hostility and hatred in order to gain political mileage.

The National:

Elsewhere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was elected for a record fifth term by using anti-Muslim and anti-Palestine rhetoric. In Brazil meanwhile, far-right president Jair Bolsonaro “froths hate” towards indigenous people and the country’s LGBT community.

But it’s in the heart of the country that Gandhi made it his life’s work to achieve independence by peaceful means that right now the politics of hate are perhaps most horrifically manifest.

It was only last month that India paid homage to Gandhi, on the anniversary of his assassination by a young Hindu nationalist who gunned him down in New Delhi in 1948. Back then when the trigger was pulled, the assassin blamed his action on Gandhi’s alleged emasculation of Hindus and generosity toward Muslims.

Today precisely the same rhetoric is in action as Hindu extremists hunt down Muslims in the worst communal violence in years. The flames of this were set alight by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has stoked divisions in the world’s biggest democracy for his own political gain.

How telling it is that at precisely the moment that India paused to mark Gandhi’s martyrdom last month, one junior minister in Modi’s government who is currently out campaigning for the forthcoming Delhi elections was heard to chant: “Shoot all the traitors of the country.”

The National:

One can only wonder what Gandhi, who once went on hunger strike to stop communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, would have made of such behaviour. But then Modi’s India right now is far removed from what Gandhi hoped this giant country would aspire to.

As every day passes, India drifts further away from its founding ideals of pluralism and equality and moves inexorably towards intolerance and hate. Make no mistake about it – Modi’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which critics rightly say is biased against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution, is only the tip of the iceberg. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a politics that rose to power by fomenting violence against vulnerable minorities and right now it shows no signs of thinking or doing otherwise.

How sad it would be if the politics of hatred were to plunge this great country into further turmoil. What is currently unfolding in India is a stark warning to us all of what happens when, as a society, we lose the ability to respect one another.

Watching Gandhi was to be reminded of the man’s efforts and those of others to help lead his country towards independence by peaceful and democratic means. Oh to have more politicians of such wisdom, vision. decency and integrity inhabiting the political landscape today both here at home and overseas.