29 Tuesday, October 1, 2019 18:59

'Only way we Indians know Gandhi is on currency notes'

Indian PM Modi tries his hands on a spinning wheel during his visit to Gandhi Ashram, a residence of Mahatma Gandhi, in Ahmadabad [File: Ajit Solanki/AP] At New Delhis Gandhi Smriti, a poignant memorial site on the spot where Indias revered freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated in 1948, visitors, noticeably more foreign than Indian, line up sombrely to offer homage.

Gandhi is being forgotten by his own people. I see fewer Indians visit in recent years. People from foreign countries appear to be more interested in his life and ideals, a volunteer guide manning the entrance says.Perhaps we have become a more consumerist and divisive society [so] far removed from Gandhis teachings that such a world icon is neglected in his birthplace, he says, requesting anonymity.

180608124658347Anand Jujaru, an IT professional from Bengaluru who is visiting with his 10-year-old son Chinmaya, agrees.The only way we Indians know Gandhi is on currency notes and [by] the roads named after him. Honestly, I think we have become cynical. No one remembers what he did or the sacrifices he made.

Among children and the youth the disconnect is still more, which is why we made the effort to get him here, he says, pointing to his son.Wednesday marks the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, who Indians often refer to as the father of the nation.Indias independence from British colonialism in 1947 came largely through Gandhis adherence to non-violent satyagraha, meaning the fight for truth.

It was resistance through civil disobedience and ahimsa (non-violence in Hindi).
Statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the premises of Parliament of India [File: Saurabh Das/AP]Gandhis ideology has been questioned in India, with a growing number of politicians repudiating it as lofty or impractical. But, outside of politics, he remains an inspiration.

Social campaigners such as Ela Bhatt and Rani Bang, credited for womens empowerment and revolutionising healthcare, are fairly well-known in India, but hundreds of Gandhi-inspired individuals and groups work quietly, away from public glare.It is Modi versus Gandhi now. One has to take a position, whatever the cost.

Medha Patkar, veteran activistHundreds of kilometres away in central India, Medha Patkar has dedicated her life to protesting the Sardar Sarovar Dam, one of the worlds largest and most controversial hydropower infrastructure projects on the Narmada River.190923120451239Active for nearly 35 years, Patkars Save the Narmada Movement is considered the longest Gandhian movement in contemporary times.

It scored landmark victories, such as securing the compensation and rehabilitation of indigenous people displaced by the project.Besides court action, its campaign involves long, Gandhian-style marches, sit-ins, hunger strikes and the unusual Jal Satyagraha, where protesters stand in waist-deep water, shout slogans, sing songs and listen to speeches.

.One has to resort to satyagraha when the state does not display any sensitivity towards.....

News Code: 371591  |  aljazeera
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