While it is widely acknowledged that Mahatma Gandhi made the Indian freedom struggle a mass movement, how successful he was as a leader of the freedom movement is often hotly debated. He is blamed for having aggravated the communal and caste tensions, for having been stubborn and unrealistic at times, for having applied different yardsticks of morality for the British rulers and the Indian masses, for not having supported other leaders whose ideologies differed from his, for having caused partition etc.. He is also criticized for having promoted outdated and flawed economic ideas (see for example 'India Unbound' by Gurcharan Das). There are also those who just like to tear him apart for all kinds of (mostly unsubstantiated) reasons and ridicule him.
On the other hand, there are those who just like to glorify him, portray him as the one who single-handedly drove the British away, as one who had answers to all the problems and one who was always correct.
Whoever is extremely bent on either side, I think, misses the whole point.
Extreme critics, though often armed with historical data, fail to realize that with the benefit of hindsight, new patterns of thinking emerge and anybody can be criticized. The Indian society is, and has been, an extremely complex one. Had it not been Gandhi, it would have been some other leader with his/her own set of eccentricities and strategic mistakes, or may be a different sequence of events, that could equally be criticized. This is not to look down on the other leaders of the freedom movement, but just the simple fact that nobody is ever free of criticisms.
As far as ridiculing him goes, I think the perpetrators just lack the humility to see that this man was no five-minute shot to fame story; he commanded the love and respect of millions, rich and poor, educated and illiterate, Indians and foreigners, in a time when there was no Internet, no mobile phones, no instant messaging etc..
Those who overly glorify him end up taking the very essense of his being---his intimate connection with the people he led---away. They take him from the realm of human to super-human and make his message look obsolete and irrelevant to the ''real world'' that we live in. They miss the simple point that it was the world that made him Mahatma Gandhi from Mohandas Gandhi; he himself detested the title of Mahatma.
Now that it is already about 60 years since we won independence, I feel it is time we moved on. Let us try to see the essence of his being and see how we can apply his message today. There is a lot that this frail old man said and did which is relevant today and will always stay relevant. Always valuing an individual more than an institution, he said and illustrated so many simple straightforward messages which can help us enhance our personal effectiveness. And when seen in context with the ongoing developments in the world, they can very well form the basis of some social level policies too.
Let us move on by seeing the Mahatma more objectively. And that means, neither outrightly rejecting him, nor blindly following him.