Ironically Indians manifest their patriotism on 26th January, 15th August and during the cricket match between India and Pakistan. Our patriotism is proved by shouting slogan of ‘Bharat Matha Ki Jai’ and singing ‘Vande Matram’. Similarly we remember and recognize Mahatma Gandhi on October 2nd and 30th January.
I wish to start with a categorical statement: The cause of all the problems of our country and of the whole world is due to our drifting away from the ideology of Gandhiji. Solution to all our problems lies in returning to the way Gandhi has shown.
Unfortunately many who have neither read Gandhi nor learned from the experienced persons are spreading negative propaganda against Gandhi. Only those who study seriously about the life and works of Gandhi would understand his vision for India and for the whole world; his philosophy of life, his scientific temper, his depth of spirituality.
Unique Gandhian principle is “You Be the Change”:
The changes which one desires to have in the world shall be first practiced and experimented in one’s own life. He had the moral authority to say, “my life is my message’. There was no distance between his words and actions.
This is the first challenge before us. Can we prove the philosophy which we teach, the truth we preach and the scientific principles we promote in and through our lives?
Gandhi is a nuisance for all who preach without practicing. All who indulge in the seven crimes he has named such as business without ethics, education without character, politics without principles and religion of rituals without spirituality of values and science without humanity are killing Gandhi and burying him repeatedly every day, nay, every hour.
This principle of ‘Be the Change’ is successfully experimented in the lives of hundreds of youth who are part of Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education for Peace. ‘Transform the world by transforming self’ is the spirituality and motto of the practical value education programme which USM is promoting all over India since last 28 years .
The practical module of personal transformation is based on Gandhian principles such as:
1. Pray daily for peace and work for peace and reconciliation.
2. Do a good deed a day without selfish motive.
3. Skip a meal a week to express solidarity with the hungry and the poor and contribute the savings to those in need.
4. Honour parents, teachers and all human beings irrespective of caste, creed, colour, sex and status.
5. Respect the earth and save its resources
Practice of these five paths is mandatory to be part of Universal Solidarity Movement. It is more practical and experiential than academics. This programme is based on the belief that ‘values are caught, not taught’. This module of personal transformation is based on the universal values enshrined in the preamble of our Constitution which are taken from the spirituality of all religions.
People who lived with Gandhi, caught his values from his life. Today’s parents, teachers, leaders and god-men fail to practice what they preach and set example by their lives.
For the last 28 years this spirituality of Gandhi is lived in USM community at Indore and the students and all who come there even for a week of exposure catch the vision and spirituality of the Movement. The way of life and the systems followed there are effective examples of Gandhian ways of total transparency, participation, pluralism , inclusiveness and simplicity.
Today’s educational institutions fail to impart values to students because those who teach don’t practice the values which they teach and preach.
The Talisman of ‘the Last and the Least’:
The second fundamental principle of Gandhi which would ensure peace, human solidarity with justice and dignity of all individuals can be found in his talisman given as guideline / criterion to all who make decisions: “ I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test: Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man whom you may have seen , and ask yourself if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him. Will he gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to Swaraj for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away”.
Those who swear by the name of Mahatma Gandhi and erect his statues are those who betray his principles. We have become a nation of hypocrites. Will the government review if the laws enacted and projects implemented ever benefited ‘the last and the least’ of the country? Aren’t the laws made today keeping in mind the profit for the big companies and their political partners ? How many of the big institutions such as IITs, IIMs, Medical colleges and the big English medium schools are built taking into consideration of the benefit of the last and the last of this country?
Our leaders who run the country and policy makers have failed to look at the face of the last and the least of the country during the last 73 years of independence. Because of their failure to pay attention to Gandhi’s talisman 7000 Indians die of hunger every day which makes the yearly tally to 25 lakh. Ignoring Gandhi’s talisman causes death of 2,20,000 people due to Tuberculosis every year. The consequences of religion without spirituality and education without character cause oppression.
Communal violences, malnutrition, poor quality education in the villages, unemployment of millions are due to drifting away from Gandhi’s talisman. We are a nation with priorities on reverse. Failure to follow the way of Gandhi has created hostility with our neighbouring countries. We forget the reality of millions of the least in this country while amassing weapons by depriving food to the hungry, shelter to the homeless, snatching medicine and health care for the poor causing millions to die.
Those who are ignorant of Gandhi’s philosophy of life and don’t value his spiritual legacy may succeed temporarily and gain cheap popularity. However the lasting peace, fellowship and human solidarity to preserve humanity come from Gandhi. Hence Mahatma Gandhi is not only relevant today but indispensable.