An ide­ol­ogy which changed the world

Post - - OPINION -

THE most lethal weapon Gand­hiji cre­ated was born in the mind.

Satya­graha was an ide­ol­ogy of compassion and for­give­ness, unique to any­thing felt or seen.

One hun­dred-and-twen­ty­five years ago, the no­tion of changing a coun­try and break­ing a crip­pling sys­tem of op­pres­sion was enough to dis­cour­age most. The very idea of re­shap­ing an en­tire coun­try was so im­mensely rev­o­lu­tion­ary that to imag­ine do­ing so with­out fe­roc­ity or blood­shed would be an im­pos­si­bil­ity for most at the time.

How­ever, it was Ma­hatma Gandhi’s con­vic­tion in his en­light­en­ment which al­lowed him to lib­er­ate a coun­try and its peo­ple.

In 1893, when Ma­hatma Gandhi was evicted from his first-class cabin, two choices re­mained to him: to solely crit­i­cise a sys­tem of bru­tal­ity and op­pres­sion, or to rise. To create Satya­graha. And, of course, he chose the lat­ter. It is his com­mit­ment to Satya­graha which brought In­dia its free­dom in 1947.

One hun­dred-and-twen­ty­five years later, we com­mem­o­rate that in­ci­dent in the pres­ence of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj, pay­ing re­spect in the very coun­try which ig­nited a revo­lu­tion which changed his­tory.

Seventy-one years of in­de­pen­dence has ac­cel­er­ated our coun­try with rare am­bi­tion and success. To­day we are not only one of the fastest grow­ing economies in the world. We have erad­i­cated crit­i­cal epi­demics, dra­mat­i­cally in­creased life ex­pectancy, launched some of the most pow­er­ful and dar­ing rock­ets and satel­lites into space, com­pet­ing with lead­ing aero­nau­tics com­pa­nies around the globe, were the first coun­try in the world to give ev­ery adult vot­ing rights since our in­de­pen­dence, have had women be­ing our pres­i­dents and prime min­is­ters, lead­ing our coun­try, and stand as a na­tion of sec­u­lar­ism and diver­sity, with 29 lan­guages spo­ken with 700 di­alects.

This event, un­like any­thing ever un­der­taken, will serve as a unique sym­bol of sol­i­dar­ity and pride for both In­di­ans and South Africans. While Gandhi was born in In­dia, Satya­graha was born in

South Africa.

This func­tion will in­clude a re-en­act­ment of the his­toric train jour­ney un­der­taken by Gand­hiji 125 years ago on the morn­ing of June 7, with the sup­port of a lo­cal cast of ac­tors. That frigid night on a steam train will be recre­ated, as Gand­hiji is thrown off and be­gins his jour­ney towards Satya­graha.

And, of course, what em­bel­lishes the event is that the train will be draped in Khadi, es­pe­cially im­ported from the Khadi and Vil­lage In­dus­tries Com­mis­sion in In­dia. This stands as a mark of re­spect to Ma­hatma Gandhi who started a na­tion­al­ist move­ment for home­spun cot­ton cloth in re­ac­tion to for­eign im­posed fab­ric, sold at ex­or­bi­tant rates.

Fur­ther­more, Min­is­ter Swaraj will be in­au­gu­rat­ing a digital mu­seum on Gandhi. This will pro­vide view­ers with a con­tem­po­rary and ac­ces­si­ble man­ner to learn about the idio­syn­cratic nature of Gand­hiji’s jour­ney and mind. A bust of Gand­hiji will also be un­veiled. The bust is a two-sided piece – one side de­picts a young Gandhi in South Africa, and the other an older Gandhi in In­dia.

But even be­yond In­dia’s own lib­er­a­tion, Gand­hiji stood for more than a sym­bol for his own coun­try. His name trav­els around the world ev­ery day, so much so that the name Gandhi is now a cliché.

How­ever, for Nel­son Man­dela in South Africa, his name in­spired the same compassion and al­lowed Madiba to be­come the father of his na­tion. And even be­yond South Africa, Gandhi has been re­spon­si­ble for in­spir­ing some of the most pow­er­ful lead­ers in the world, in­clud­ing the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, John Len­non, Al­bert Ein­stein, Will Du­rant, Martin Luther King jr and Steve Jobs.

All of the afore­men­tioned events, cou­pled with speeches by min­is­ters and in­flu­en­tial fig­ures, al­low for a func­tion in cel­e­bra­tion of an ide­ol­ogy which changed the world. What Gandhi stood for tran­scends the bar­ri­ers of time or cir­cum­stance. Satya­graha bleeds into our daily lives, and this func­tion serves to hon­our a phi­los­o­phy which changed gen­er­a­tions. It is one so many have put their hearts into, and we look for­ward now to wit­ness­ing a beau­ti­ful


■ Ruchira Kam­boj is the High Com­mis­sioner of In­dia in South Africa.


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