Mod­ern lead­ers need to adopt be­liefs of Gandhi

Sunday Tribune - - HERALD - KARINDA JAG­MO­HAN

WILL there ever be an­other leader like Ma­hatma Gandhi? That was the ques­tion this week.

Gandhi cham­pi­oned pas­sive re­sis­tance as the weapon in the fight for the eman­ci­pa­tion of the op­pressed. Can mod­ern lead­ers es­pouse that virtue?

In re­sponse, Swami­nathan Gounden, who was hon­oured with the Or­der of Luthuli in sil­ver last month, said pas­sive re­sis­tance was not be­ing prac­tised of­ten enough in the mod­ern era.

Thurs­day marked ex­actly

125 years since Mo­han­das Karam­c­hand Gandhi, a 23-yearold lawyer, was kicked out of a first-class whites-only train cabin on to the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg Rail­way Sta­tion plat­form.

This was in spite of Gandhi hav­ing a ticket to be in the car­riage.

The in­ci­dent in 1893 was among those which sparked the Satya­graha move­ment, a non­vi­o­lent re­sis­tance move­ment led by Gandhi.

A two-day event in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, hosted jointly by the South African and In­dian gov­ern­ments, saw a cel­e­bra­tion and com­mem­o­ra­tion of the icon’s teach­ings.

On Thurs­day, a re-en­act­ment of the train in­ci­dent re­flected the rife dis­crim­i­na­tion dur­ing apartheid and colo­nial­ism.

Ela Gandhi said her grand­fa­ther had had two choices to make on the day he was thrown off a train and forced to spend a chilly night in the small wait­ing room on the sta­tion’s plat­form.

“Imag­ine if Gand­hiji on that day had har­boured ha­tred and anger, would he have been the Ma­hatma that we ven­er­ate to­day?” asked Ela.

She said peo­ple need to re­alise that the way in which they re­sponded to cir­cum­stances and the de­ci­sions they made would im­pact on their char­ac­ter.

“On that plat­form, Gandhi re­ceived en­light­en­ment. It shows us that how we re­act is what makes us into hu­man be­ings who can change for the bet­ter or the worst from ex­pe­ri­ences that we have en­dured dur­ing our life­time,” she said.

Gounden said many lead­ers in the present gen­er­a­tion had not been re­act­ing to is­sues in ac­cor­dance with Gandhi’s teach­ing.

“Our older com­rades, for ex­am­ple Monty Naicker, prac­tised pas­sive re­sis­tance.

“We did not be­lieve in vi­o­lence, so per­haps they could have been likened to Gandhi. But the times and sit­u­a­tions were dif­fer­ent,” he said.

Pi­eter­mar­itzburg Gandhi Me­mo­rial Com­mit­tee chair­per­son David Gen­gan be­lieved there could be an­other Gandhi in fu­ture.

“Who would have thought a 23-year-old lawyer would be­come a ma­hatma? Maybe along those lines we could say there could be an­other Gandhi, but not among our cur­rent lead­ers,” he said.

Gen­gan added that lead­ers who as­pired to be Gandhi-like should not be self-cen­tred.

Ela said that what made her grand­fa­ther a ma­hatma was his knowl­edge of lit­er­a­ture and how he used this to em­bark on a non­vi­o­lence cam­paign as a free­dom­fight­ing weapon.

PIC­TURE: BON­GANI MBATHA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY(ANA)

Nirvikar Bhun­doo plays the part of a young Ma­hatma Gandhi dur­ing a the­atri­cal re-en­act­ment of the in­ci­dent in which Gandhi was forced off a train 125 years ago.

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