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October - November 2009
A Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi 2nd October -140th Birth Anniversary
by Rami Ranger
On the auspicious day of 140th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we must reflect and pay tribute to those who earned us the independence. Many of us are fortunate to experience freedom in our lives and live in a free India where we are the masters of our own destiny. Unfortunately, there are many who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives for their dreams, but never actually got to see it come true. Those were the real heroes of India who died so that others could live free. We must always honour such people on the Independence Day as we owe them a great deal.
One of those was the father of our nation Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi. Bapu as he is now remembered out of love and affection. Bapu was well educated and could have easily continued to live a comfortable life like most prefer to do. However, he rose to the occasion and gave up his personal comfort and wealth for the sake of freedom for his countrymen. The benefits of this are now being enjoyed by over one fifth of mankind. His vision still inspires people across the globe. The shape of the world as we see today owes him a great deal. The civil rights movement in America under Dr. Martin Luther King was the direct result of Bapu’s inspiration. It is because of Bapu’s vision that has ultimately brought about the election victory of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States of America. The struggle against apartheid in South Africa by Nelson Mandela is yet another example of Gandhi’s vision.
Bapu made such an impact on the world that the effects are being felt till today and I dare say will be felt forever. That’s why it is of no surprise that he is remembered all over the world. As a mark of respect many countries have issued stamps bearing his image.
Why was Bapu unique? History is littered with leaders who fought their struggle for Independence with arms which resulted in the death and destruction of millions of innocent lives. Bapu, on the other hand, advocated a peaceful and non violent freedom struggle based on true Indian values. Bapu knew very well that it was totally against the Indian psyche to blow up trains, bridges, buses and above all innocent people, in order to achieve one’s goal. If there was merit in one’s argument, then the strength of that was enough to achieve the desired result.
He knew that violence would generate more violence which would result in the loss of hundreds and thousands of innocent Indian and British lives to achieve the ultimate goal of freedom. The loss of even a single life was very precious to him whether Indian or British. Bapu knew that once people become violent, then their character would change for ever and they then would remain violent even after the objectives had been achieved. We can still see such behavior in people in certain countries where leaders have encouraged violence to achieve their objectives.
Many question, why did Bapu not stop the break up of India?
Bapu tried his best and warned against the consequences of using religion to get something for nothing. Instead we should always use merits in our arguments. The breakup of India only became possible because our own leaders wished to go their own way on the basis of religion. It is as a result of Gandhi ji's vision that today, India and Indians are enjoying respect across the world. Where some leaders opted for a religious state, Bapu opted for a democratic and secular country.
He knew that no country could move forward by keeping a section of its own population behind by systematically discriminating against them on the basis of their religion or caste. The result is in front of you. You can see how India is surging ahead whereas religion based countries are in turmoil.
Leaders in religious countries always keep their citizens down in the name of religion just to cover their own failings. This is the reason Indians are shining across the globe because they are the product of a democratic and secular country and as a result can easily integrate in any society quickly.
Bapu taught us to be self sufficient and to live within our means. We can see the global financial meltdown by not following these principles. Bapu was unique in many ways. He had no desire to rule people. Instead, it was to serve them selflessly. We see leaders like Robert Mugabe who put their personal interest above that of their people and bring the people of their countries to their knees for their own selfish gains. Bapu was the epitome of love and Indian values. His philosophy of “live and let live” is the only way forward. His message of love and non violence has become more important than ever before in our fractured world. Peace can only come when world leaders start to follow Gandhi ji’s ideals.