This year is the 150th birth anniversary of Kasturba and Mahatma Gandhi. Many Gandhian organizations and Government of India is planning to organize various events to mark the year. The best tribute to both of them would be to learn more about their way of life and apply them into our personal and professional life. Both Kasturba and Gandhi are not only relevant but indispensable today. Much of the problems we face today could be solved if we return to the spirit of Kasturba and Mahatma Gandhi.
Mahatma Gandhi did not receive Nobel Peace Prize. Yet people all over the world recognize him as the apostle of peace and non-violence. There is no international conference where speaker after speaker does not quote his words and example. Every family I visited in Europe and America has at least a book in their study room on the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Even school students in European countries have watched the famous film on the life of Gandhi. The United Nations have accepted him as its ambassador of peace and non-violence. He has influenced many world leaders and peace movements across the world over the years.
It is a pity that a large number of people in India know very little about this great Indian, his ideals and his experiments with truth. We are satisfied by erecting his statues, naming streets in his name and shouting slogans on Independence Day and Republic Day. Present Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reduced him to a sweeper by his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan scheme. To make things worse, Hindu fundamentalist groups have started insulting Mahatma Gandhi by glorifying his assassin, Naturam Godse and demanding Government to install his statues in Delhi and other cities. A group has already started made a temple in his name. Many Members of Parliament and ministers who belong to BJP have no hesitation to proclaim Godse as a patriot. Young people are made to believe that Gandhi was killed because of he divided India and supported Pakistan and Muslims.
As a proactive response to this negative and false propaganda we included the film on Gandhi in our leadership training program for student leaders. The film was screened for every group after a detailed orientation. During the screening also commentaries were given to make it easy for the students to understand the historical aspects. With the help of the film the young students learned about the leadership qualities of Gandhi, deep experiences which enabled him to formulate his vision and spirituality, the importance of pluralism, power of non-violence and nobility of loving one’s adversary , determination , spirit of service and self-sacrifice. At the end of the film a group discussion was held in which all students share their insights, application and resolutions. Several children frankly expressed, “we were told that Gandhi is responsible for the partition of India. Now we understood the truth”; “I am proud of having Gandhi as our Father of the nation”, etc. The most striking remark came from Deepali, a 9th std student who said, “Mahatma Gandhi is needed for the survival of humanity”.
The seven day enlightened leadership training organized in USM community at Indore for the young students from high schools had been a highly inspiring and educative experience. The young students are not only inspired by the training sessions but resolve individually and collectively to make changes in their lives and work for changing their surroundings. The feedback gathered from their parents, teachers and principals affirm our belief that the young people can bring changes in the society. What they need is authentic mentors whom they see practicing what they preach.
While interacting with a senior retired government official about the deteriorating law and order in the country he made a very significant observation, “we have drifted away from the principles of Mahatma Gandhi”. The young student Deepali is only affirming the opinion of an experienced retired officer.
Today it has become a fashion for the politicians to make irresponsible and provocative statements to catch the media attention. Insulting Mahatma Gandhi has become their fashion. None of these irresponsible leaders have taken the trouble to learn about the sacrifices he made to liberate our country. They have neither read about him nor seen the film on him which was made by a foreigner after many years of study and research. Ignoring and insulting Mahatma Gandhi is a grave sin. Let us learn from the sentiments of the young people, “Gandhi is needed for the survival of humanity”. Gandhi is not only relevant but indispensable for the peace and progress of nations.
A few suggested action plans:
- Participate in the National Peace Convention which will be held in Gurgaon, Delhi. Delegates from all parts of India and renowned speakers will participate. For registration and details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Organize maximum number of seminars on Ba-Bapu during this one year in school and colleges.
- Screening of film ‘Gandhi’ to students in groups followed by discussion and action plans.
- Dioceses and religious congregations shall name the schools and institutions which they would start in this year ‘Mahatma Gandhi School’/’Kasturba School’ to mark Ba-Bapu 150
- Publish and distribute posters and stickers with inspiring quotes of Ba-Bapu during this year.
- Gift the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi, “My Experiments with Truth” in large numbers during this year.
- An essay competition for school/ college students on Kasturba and Gandhi shall be conducted.
- Conduct poster competition on Ba-Bapu 150 with a suitable caption.(Published on 10th December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 50)