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It was, particularly as while he was in South Africa as a lawyer, he was the picture of the Anglo-Indian class that persists to this day [suit and frock and slicked hair](http://joecrubaugh.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/04/LawyerGandhi.jpg)
You can see it in Jinna and Nehru as well; their speeches on Independence for their nations are in that same Received Pronunciation a high class Englishman would’ve spoken in, in the early 1940s as well.
Jinna literally wore Savile Row suits and a *monocle*.
So, when Gandhi started living as the common Indian man, dressing as he did, eating as he did, it was a deliberate political act, a fusion of lifestyle and nationalist belief.
You’ll see the same thing with Indian politicians today, depending on the audience.
Rahul Gandhi (half Italian) definitely rocks suits from time to time.
But when speaking at rallies?
He and his (full Italian) mother are speaking in well clipped Hindi, wearing a totally Indian getup, often a prominent display of tilakam on their foreheads.
When Modi came to speak at the UN, he was reserved, conservative in his speech.
When he spoke later at Madison Sq. it was much more typical of how he speaks to an Indian audience, because that’s essentially who was there – – so he was freewheeling, off the cuff, populist as ever.
And it’s *still* weird for us Americans to see a guy in a kurta (or even with a Turban as per their last Prime Minister).
So imagine British sensibilities in the 1940s when the Indians were still a colonized people in a far off land when some fellow in a loincloth and sandals is a guest at 10 Downing!