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Sunday, January 30, 2005


Remembering a Great One


Rarely does a life so inspires and impacts us as Mahatma Gandhi's did. 57 years ago on this day at 5:15pm IST Mahatma Gandhi was assasinated at Birla Bhavan in New Delhi. India plunged into unprecedented mourning. Jawahar Lal Nehru was beating back tears and emotions of despair has he addressed a grief stricken nation - a nation so deeply indebted to this one soul who not only led them to independence but persevered throughout his life to help lay the foundations of social and economic justice that are the pillars of Indian political and civic life today. The continuing evolution of India's democracy is a testament to the nonviolence that Bapu (as the Mahatma was affectionately called in India) helped permeate into the thinking of the founders as they worked to create a new democracy.

It was just a few weeks ago that I visited Birla Bhavan to meet with the Director of the Gandhi Smriti - the institution created to preserve this historic spot and further Gandhian ideas. Dr.Savita Singh, the Director, has been doing a fantastic job in preserving the legacy of the Mahatma. One cannot escape being thrown back to the evening of January 30th, 1948 while there. I took an auto-rickshaw to get there and my driver had never even heard of Tees Janvari Marg (Road). An entire generation is oblivious to Bapu, his ideas and his work. Not to say there aren't bright spots. The incredible genesis of the NGO movement in India thrives on the inspiration it gets from Bapu - even today! Young India is no different. Our name itself is the name of Bapu's first newsletter after he returned to India from South Africa.

Whenever we put forward an idea, volunteer our time and energy or even make a financial contribution to change something for the better beyond our realm of self-interest we contribute and add to the nonviolent betterment of our society. We become a part of nonviolence. It is not necessary that we protest for our nonviolent credetials to be validated. Bapu spent most of his life on small things like working around the ashram and from that sense of action came to him the biggest ideas that changed the world.

On this day I hope we do something small and meaningful. Our efforts will undeniably add up one day and make the changes that we seek in the world at large.

May Bapu's soul rest in peace.


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