Bapuji’s ideals more relevant today


(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura)

Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi (Herein after referred to as Nidhi), Delhi intends celebrating Gandhiji’s 150th Birth Anniversary all over the Country from 2 Oct, 2018 to Oct2, 2019. Carrying the Gandhian message among the youth is one of the important objectives. Certain suggestions in this regard:  Nidhi is treasure. Treasure is not treasure trove alone. Gandhian principles, Bapuji’s life and mission, preachings and teachings, his struggle to achieve social and economic justice and equality to the depressed and the downtrodden, ‘means’ he adopted to achieve his goals and his innumerable activities are the National, nay the Global NIDHI, treasure. Several Noble Laureates vouched, Gandhi as their ‘source of inspiration and role model.’  Four great most remembered presidents of the U.S.A are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy, respectively the first, the third, the sixteenth and the thirty fifth incumbents to the most powerful democratic power position in the world. On par with them are remembered are Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi @ Mahatma Gandhi. A side-line: Martin Luther King acknowledged his debt of gratitude to the Mahatma.

Winston Churchill, who never lost an opportunity to pass sarcastic comments on India and Gandhi, called him:  “A seditious Middle Temple, Briefness Barrister, now posing as a Fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace”.   Prepared by the British Sculptor, Philip Jackson, financed by the public donations and sponsorship, a statue of the Mahatma was unveiled on 14, March, 2015 by Arun Jaitley, the Indian Finance Minister, at the parliament Square, Westminster, London. Commentators noted: “The irony of the statue’s placement near the statue of Sir Winston Churchill, which also stands in Parliament Square.”  The Chancellor of Exchequer, (Finance Minister) of the United Kingdom George Osborne, during his visit to India in 2014 said: “I hope this new memorial Statue in London will be a lasting and fitting tribute to his memory in Britain, and a permanent monument to our friendship with India.”   Many countries have perpetuated the memory of the Mahatma in their own way. It is estimated that, all in all, about 40,000 books are written in origin, either by Gandhiji or on him all over world. It is also said that at least one more per day is being added in the racks. Translations are different. This is the highest regarding any individual in the world.  So the Gandhian Legacy is global NIDHI.

Since the primary target group to disseminate the message of the Mahatma, is the youth, particularly the students, the Govt of India and the State Governments may issue instructions to the State Councils for Higher Education (S.C.H.E), Exams and Resources, Vice Chancellors of all the Universities and Directors/Commissioners of School, Intermediate and Collegiate Education and the District Administrations may be asked to cooperate with the Nidhi at the grass root level also. Academic institutions may be asked to conduct competitions and award prizes:  Elocution, Essay Writing, Painting, Music, Quiz, etc., on Gandhiji’s life and mission. If necessary an additional budget may have to be sanctioned by the Governments.

Most of the Suicides and heinous attacks on the fellow students are reported at the Intermediate/PUC/Plus Two classes and professional colleges.  There are Junior, Engineering and Medical Colleges in the nook and corner of the country. e.g. During the academic year 2017-’18, there were about 2,500 Junior, nearly 500 Engineering and 27 Medical Colleges in A.P alone.  Students in Junior Colleges number about 2,00,000, inmates in Engineering Colleges must be around 4,50,000, and Medicos may be in the neighborhood of 20,000 in A.P.alone. The Govt of A.P. has constituted an ETHICS COMMITTEE in each District with the Collector and the District Magistrate as the Chairman and the Regional Inspecting Officer (RIO) of the Board of Intermediate Education as the Convener. Members of the Committee are expected to counsel the students, teachers and the managements of the Junior Colleges to instill moral courage and tolerance in them to ward off depression and avoid the consequent suicide bids and other mean activities; specifically in the private sector.  Directorates of Medical and Technical Education may be required to form similar Committees and their agenda may be tagged on to 150 birth-anniversary of the Father of the Nation. There cannot be a greater force than Gandhism to promote the spirit of compromise and adjustment.

Gandhiji had appreciation for the Library Movement in AP. He visited some libraries like the Saraswat Niketan, Vetapalem, Prakasam Dist. There are branch libraries of the Zilla Granthalya Samsthas (ZGS) in every Mandal, totaling 676. A.P. Grandhalaya Parishad (APGP) and the Director of Public Libraries (DPL) may be asked to direct the State Central Library, Regional Libraries, District Central Libraries and the Branch Libraries to conduct competitions; Elocution, Essay Writing, Painting, Music, Quiz, etc., Special emphasis may be made during the National Library Week Celebrations; i.e. Nov. 14th to 20th, 2018. This year marks the completion of the 50th year of Celebrations. There is enough resources (Collections in the form of Cess) in the Z.G.S.s to award prizes/complements and supply snacks and tea to the participants and the Judges. The A.P.Govt and the APGP may permit the Z.G.S.s to incur some extra expenditure on this count. The public libraries all over the country may be directed to follow the same principles.

All prizes, including complements to the Judges of the Competitions and Mementos to the Guests must be in the form of Gandhian Literature or Khaddar/hand-loom cloths. Publishers of this literature, in English as well as in Vernacular may be urged to keep the stocks and be ready to supply with short notice. Addresses of the publishers may be given to the Conveners and vice versa.

Academic institutions may be asked to celebrate/ observe the Jayanthi and Vardanthi of the devoted followers of the Bapu, particularly the local ones. Knowledgeable local persons may be invited by the institutions to enlighten the youth about the achievements of the local heroes.  In this regard the followers need not necessarily be Congressmen and freedom fighters who suffered imprisonment.  Every Swadeshi, in any form Volunteer is a Gandhian.

Wings of Prasar Bharathi, the Door Darsan and the All India Radio, particularly F.M. Stations may be directed to daily allot few minutes programme on Gandhiji’s life and message as well as special messages on the local heroes. Generally a speaker is given opportunity only once in three months for a radio programme. This rule may be relaxed by the Prasar Bharathi for the specific purpose.   Pre Gandhian local heroes, particularly 1857 and the earlier Chieftains, kings, Rajas, Nawabs, those hosted the Freedom Fighters or helped to keep them in underground, etc. who fought against the British may be identified with the help of the local historians and  the knowledgeable.

Many Commercial Banks, like the Punjab National, Canara, Syndicate, Vijaya, Andhra Banks and the former Subsidiaries of the State Bank of India,  were founded with the inspiration from Gandhi’s, SWADESHI slogan. They may be asked to participate in the Celebrations.

Social media has revolutionised the communication system and skill. If Gandhiji were to be alive, he would have been an addict, as he was to the Post cards in his days. But sadly, time and again it has been spreading many malicious and defamatory messages. It is unfair to many National Leaders also. Occasionally the Mahatma is also a victim of the erratic behaviour. However petty it may be, must be brought to the notice of the the Law enforcing authority, who in turn shall deal with them sternly. General public must be made aware of the recent Judgement of the Madras High Court delivered on May, 10, 2018 by Justice S. Ramathilagam, in Criminal O.P. 12229 of 2018: “Forwarding social media posts is equal to endorsing it”. The Government’s interference has been termed by the Supreme Court as the country becoming a “surveillance state” The anguish the Apex Court is shared by every responsible citizen of the Country. It is clearly a case of exercise of the Fundamental Right conferred under Article 19 (1) (a) in The Constitution Of India: Article: 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc. (1) All citizens shall have the right, (a) to freedom of speech and expression. This is provision is subject to the reasonable restrictions enshrined in Clause 2 of the same Article. (2) Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

The Honourable Supreme Court must be convinced of the reasonable restrictions.

Gandhjii’s Swadeshi Movement started with Clothes; spinning wheel. Unfortunately cotton farmers are indulging in suicides; mostly due to fall in prices and loss of crop on account of famines and draught. If all the people in the country wear Khaddar/hand-loom clothes for 65 days in the year, perhaps, we can minimise the farmers’ suicides. As a preliminary measure the Govt may prescribe ceremonial dress, Khadi for the Govt Employees, teachers and students of all academic institutions, especially on the special occasions and once a week, every Monday. Two Districts in the cotton growing area where no suicides by the farmers are recorded are Vizianagaram and Srikakulam in AP. No need to guess the reason; famous Pondur Khadi in Srikakulam Dist. It not only provides direct and indirect employment, but does not allow the cotton grown in the region to go waste. Mahatma Gandhi was so impressed with the finesse of the Khadi produced here that he always preferred it.

I am sure the above suggestions are not impracticable.  Insurmountable hurdles will not be faced to implement them.


(*The writer Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura is an  advocate and social activist from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh)