Blog: Spirit Speaks
by Liora Leah

Gandhi Legacy: Peace

As much of the world marked Sept. 11 by remembering the 2001 attacks on the United States, India celebrated it as a day of peace — the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mohandas K. Gandhi's philosophy of peaceful resistance.

Date:   9/15/2006 12:03:32 AM   ( 15 y ) ... viewed 1547 times

India commemorates Gandhi's legacy
By GAVIN RABINOWITZ, Associated Press Writer

Mon Sep 11, 2006


Art exhibitions, charity events and tributes were staged to mark the 100th anniversary of the day Gandhi, then a lawyer working in South Africa, joined fellow Indians to protest a proposed law that would force Indians to carry identity documents and be fingerprinted.

On Sept. 11, 1906, Gandhi called on his compatriots to use nonviolent means to disobey the law, and thousands of Indians were jailed, including Gandhi, for refusing to cooperate and burning their identity booklets. The government eventually relented and compromised with Gandhi.

Gandhi called his doctrine of preaching the use of nonviolent methods to strive for justice "Satyagraha," and it eventually inspired Indians to throw off British colonial rule in 1947.

Satyagraha, which means "insistence on truth," is cited as an inspiration for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in his use of nonviolence to achieve equality for black Americans and South Africa's peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy.

South Africa's visiting deputy president, Phumzile Mlambo-Nckuka, placed a wreath at Gandhi's main New Delhi memorial Monday.

Gandhi earned him the honorific "Mahatma" or "Great Soul," after returning to India to campaign for home rule and the reconciliation of all classes and religious groups.

His greatest achievement, said Pran Chopra, a New Delhi-based political analyst, was bringing India's masses into the struggle for independence, when previously only isolated intellectuals and small groups that used violence had been involved.

"This platform offered by Gandhi ... gave them an opening so they could participate in boycotts and protests," Chopra said.

Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist in 1948 after campaigning for a reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims.

India has cast aside its socialist-style economy in recent years to firmly embrace capitalism, but leaders say Gandhi's values — which also promoted a frugal lifestyle, wearing homespun clothes and eating sparingly — are relevant.

"By the force of moral example and restraint in the face of vicious provocation, Gandhi and his followers were able to effect a change of heart in their oppressors," said a statement from the ruling Congress party, which called for a year of public events to mark the occasion.

But some used the anniversary to protest, saying the government was failing to live up to Gandhi's ideals. Farmers in the southern city of Mumbai, for instance, carried signs calling for more government aid to debt-burdened farmers.


Thank you to Steve Cole for posting this article on Grapevine San Diego

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