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Mahatma Gandhi 10/2

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    Mahatma Gandhi 10/2 Mahatma Gandhi: A Century of Peaceful Protest He s a huge box-office hit. He s at the top of the Indian music charts. He s on the front
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 2 4:31 PM

      Mahatma Gandhi 10/2

      Mahatma Gandhi: A Century of Peaceful Protest
      He's a huge box-office hit. He's at the top of the
      Indian music charts. He's on the front cover of
      magazines. One hundred years after Gandhi first called
      on his compatriots to resist white colonial rule
      without violence, he is back in fashion once more.
      by Justin Huggler

      http://www.commondr eams.org/ headlines06/ 0916-03.htm

      Indians this week have been remembering the day which
      changed the fate of their nation for decades to come.
      A hundred years ago, on 11 September, 1906, a young
      British-trained barrister named Mohandas Karamchand
      Gandhi addressed a meeting of 3,000 Indians in the
      Empire Theatre building in Johannesburg and asked them
      to take an oath to resist white colonial rule without
      violence. It was the birth of the modern non-violent
      resistance movement- and it has not been forgotten.

      Mahatma Gandhi (1931)
      Suddenly the Mahatma is back in fashion in India. Two
      years ago, it was unthinkable that the centenary of a
      speech by Gandhi, seen as a relic of the past by most
      young Indians, would be so much as noticed in a
      country that was obsessed not with figures from its
      past, but with its headlong rush to embrace modernity.

      But today Gandhi has caught the Indian imagination all
      over again. He appears as a character in the biggest
      Bollywood hit of the summer - a comedy, but one that
      even his admirers accept does not degrade his message.
      His writings are bestsellers again. He is at the top
      of India's music charts too, with a tape of his Hindu
      devotional songs, or bhajans. A new Gandhi museum in
      Delhi is opening its doors to 2,000 visitors a day.

      His sayings are visible all over India's cities.
      People are openly displaying them. The sunshades
      across the rear windows of cars proclaim "There is no
      way to peace; peace is the way". Young Indians are
      wandering around in T-shirts that say "Be the change
      you want to see in the world", complete with the image
      of Gandhi's trademark circular-lensed spectacles.

      Outlook magazine, India's answer to Time and Newsweek,
      even featured Gandhi on its front cover this week -
      which is more often adorned with besuited and
      self-satisfied looking businessmen. The previous
      week's cover, by comparison, showed high-flying
      students at India's business schools leaping in the

      Something remarkable is happening in India. Just as
      the world is beginning to see the country as an
      emerging economy obsessed with copying all things
      Western, and ever more hooked on consumerism, India
      has rediscovered another voice from its past, a voice
      that spoke of a different vision for his country.

      When I arrived in India two-and-a-half years ago, it
      was very different. I tried to ask Indians at a dinner
      party about Gandhi. "Oh, we don't think about him," I
      was told. "He's just someone whose statues are around
      the country and whose face is on the money." Not any
      more. It's not just on the cinema screens and in the
      CD shops that Mahatma Gandhi is back. Thousands of
      young Indians are joining Gandhian youth
      organisations, or flocking to summer camps at Gandhian
      ashrams. Teenagers are volunteering to work in slums
      and poor villages. Not just Gandhi's image, but his
      principles and the way of life he taught are catching
      on in India again.

      Some are ascribing the sudden renewal of interest in
      the Mahatma to the movie Lage Raho Munnabhai, or Carry
      On Munnabhai (the British Carry On films are bizarrely
      popular in India). The big Bollywood hit of the year,
      the film depicts Munnabhai, a small-time Bombay
      goonda, or gangster, and his attempts to win the heart
      of a radio announcer. After he crams for a radio quiz
      on Gandhi's life to impress her, the spirit of Gandhi
      appears to Munnabhai and advises him on how to cope
      with the obstacles in his life without violence.

      The film has won universal praise for its success in
      incorporating a completely uncompromised protrayal of
      Gandhi and his teachings into a seriously funny
      comedy. One reviewer described it as "something to
      watch before you die".

      But other observers say Carry On Munnabhai didn't
      start the wave of new interest in Gandhi - it was part
      of it. They say there have been signs of growing
      interest in Gandhi for some years. Publishers have
      been astonished to see translations of his books in
      some of India's regional languages sell hundreds of
      thousands of copies over the past five years. The
      number of applications to Gandhi's estate for the
      rights to publish his works has doubled in the past
      two years.

      The outside world never really lost interest in
      Gandhi. The British may have mocked him in their
      cinema newsreels during the early years of his
      campaign for independence, but they soon learnt to
      take him seriously. Such is the power of Gandhi's
      message that, even from beyond the grave, he was able
      to demand international respect for his country even
      during the long years when it was an economic
      basket-case, mired in hopeless poverty.

      He inspired Martin Luther King in the American civil
      rights movement, and Nelson Mandela in the struggle
      against apartheid in South Africa. But in his own
      country, Gandhi faded into the background. As the
      English-language Mumbai daily DNA put it in a leader
      this week, he became "a largely distant and overawing
      figure" embedded in our collective consciousness but
      in a non-relevant, non-immediate way. "Yes, we know he
      is the father of the nation, we see his photographs on
      rupee notes and we all remember getting a holiday on
      his birthday, but what exactly did he say or do?" An
      "open letter" to Gandhi in the Indian Express put it
      bluntly: "To be honest we got too absorbed in our
      progress and technology to miss you. Our children
      never made any reference to you and we were too caught
      up in ourselves to notice that they were growing up
      without an idol."

      But now Gandhi is back. As to why he has suddenly
      returned to the popular consciousness, observers have
      many answers. For some, it was about young Indians
      disinterring the human Gandhi behind the image that
      had been preserved in aspic by his followers, more
      monument than man.

      "Gandhi was ill-served by everyone, including the
      Gandhians," Mushirul Hassan, a historian, told Outlook
      magazine. "They deified him and buried him in
      institutions. He was conveniently portrayed as a saint
      so they wouldn't be threatened by his ideology." A
      Annamalai, of the Gandhi Study Circle, one of more
      than 150 Gandhi youth organisations in India, said:
      "Young people may not be able to relate to a
      dhoti-clad Gandhi. But tell them how he was a
      millionaire London-returned barrister who threw away
      everything to fight for justice and equality, and they
      begin at once to appreciate him."

      Suddenly Gandhi is an alternative voice in an India
      that has become obsessed with material wealth and
      advancement. "Corner offices are earned" say the
      deeply dispiriting billboards above Delhi, next to
      endless advertisements for mobile phones and cars that
      95 per cent of Indians could never dream of affording.
      For young people in a country that has become so
      success-driven that sixth-form students who don't get
      the right grades commit suicide, Gandhi's
      anti-materialist message still has resonance.

      The Rashtriya Suva Sanganathan, a national Gandhian
      youth movement, has even gone so far as to get rid of
      the traditional symbols of Gandhianism, the homespun
      dhoti, or loincloth, and the spinning wheel. People
      who see these as irrelevant are calling themselves new
      Gandhians. As one, Leeladhar Manik Gada, puts it:
      "What does it matter if a man wears pants, shirts,
      uses a motorbike rather than walk, so long as he gets
      the job done?" Others credit the new interest in
      Gandhi to the appeal of satyagraha, the philososphy of
      non-violent resistance he preached into a world that
      is racked by violence.

      Under the headline "Gandhi is not history", Vinoy Lal
      wrote in The Hindu: "Many in Gandhi's own lifetime
      doubted its efficacy. Many more have since claimed
      that the unspeakable cruelties of the 20th century
      render non-violent resistance an effete, if noble,
      idea. [But] the advocates of non-violent resistance
      who are dismissed as woolly-headed idealists should,
      on the contrary, ask the proponents of violence to
      demonstrate that violence can produce enduring good."
      In its leader, DNA asked: "Will those non-violent
      tactics work today, say with terrorists? We can't say
      for sure. But knowing Gandhi, he certainly would have
      given it a shot."

      These are not just questions of far away places on
      television screens for Indians. In the past 12 months,
      India has suffered major bombings in Mumbai, Delhi,
      and Hinduism's holiest city, Varanasi, in which scores
      of people have died.

      There is another possible explanation for Gandhi's
      appeal: the rise of Hindu nationalism. In a country
      that has been racked for the past decade and more by
      communal violence between Hindus and Muslims, often
      set off by far-right Hindu groups, Gandhi offers a
      different vision of Hinduism. Only four years ago, in
      Gandhi's home state, Gujarat, more than 2,000 people,
      most of them Muslims, were massacred in Hindu-Muslim
      riots. This week, the Bombay High Court has been
      giving its verdict in the trials over the 1993 Bombay
      bombings, in which more than 250 people died and which
      were widely believed to be Muslim revenge for Hindu
      atrocities in religious riots a year earlier.

      On the back of this religious chauvinism, Hindu
      nationalists are still in power in many states, and
      make up the main opposition nationally.

      In contrast to this stands Gandhi, who amid tensions
      between Hindus and Muslims in his lifetime, told his
      supporters: "I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a
      Christian, I am a Jew - and so are all of you." It is
      hard to imagine Tony Blair having the moral courage to
      stand up and say the same.

      It is too early to say whether the renewal of Indian
      interest in Gandhi will last, or whether it is just
      this summer's fad, fuelled by a hit movie. But,
      judging by the enormous sales of his books across
      India, whatever big city society moves onto next, out
      there in the vast hinterland of India that he loved,
      Gandhi's message is getting out again.

      When Gandhi summoned those 3,000 Indians to the Empire
      Theatre, he started a movement that changed the world
      without a shot being fired. Yet what sparked that
      meeting is often forgotten: it was a move by South
      Africa's colonial rulers to have all the Indians
      fingerprinted, which was seen at the time as
      tantamount to criminalising them. There is an irony
      that, amid today's anti-terror legislation, it would
      barely raise an eyebrow.

      = = = =

      http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/ Mahatma_Gandhi

      Time 100
      http://www.time. com/time/ time100/leaders/ profile/gandhi. html

      http://www.quotatio nspage.com/ quotes/Mahatma_ Gandhi/

      http://www.sscnet. ucla.edu/ southasia/ History/Gandhi/ gandhi.html

      http://www.mahatma. org.in/flash. html

      http://www.lucidcaf e.com/library/ 95oct/mkgandhi. html

      http://www.mkgandhi -sarvodaya. org/

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