Gandhi Jayanti: Bapu's Principles in the 21st Century

2nd October is a memorable day to commemorate in India- a day which marks the birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi- an iconic name in the history of India’s freedom struggle. 

Fondly addressed as Bapu, Gandhi Ji acquired the title of “The Father of the Nation” in our country, and this name still reigns in the people’s hearts years after he breathed his last. 

Born into a well-to-do merchant class family in the year 1869, Gandhi Ji had a lucrative childhood and youth, having had the privilege of studying in London and later in South Africa to pursue higher education in law. However, it was his unpleasant encounters in the latter country that led him to tread the path of Satyagraha. The treatment meted out towards Indians by the British crippled him from inside and he decided to adopt the policy of non-violence as the only infallible means of gaining absolute freedom. Gandhi’s principles created mayhem not only in India, but were adopted and appreciated the world over by many colonies across the globe. His calm perseverance, undaunted resilience, innate goodness, magnanimous personality made him popular among the masses. His contribution towards the amelioration of peasants, the empowerment of women, eradication of social evils, the triggering of nationalism to attain Purna Swaraj among the Indians and his final nail on the coffin with the Quit India Movement are things that still create a stir in people’s minds.

 No wonder, his birth anniversary is celebrated not only in his own nation but worldwide as a day of peace. The country’s capital, New Delhi witnesses the statues of Gandhi being offered flowers and garlands at Raj Ghat, while Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad is thronged with ardent followers who pay tribute to the great leader. 

While the whole nation celebrates the birthday of this altruistic soul, looking at the plight of the nation at the present time, we are left to wonder “Are we truly adhering to the ungrudging principles of the Mahatma today?” The world today is fraught with communal disharmony, social evils still engulf our nation, and we are yet not free from the clutches of violence and terrorism. Whereas Gandhi Ji believed that achieving any end through violent means would mean exacerbating the very violent methods and thus advocated the path of peace and non-violence. This was his means and was originally advocated by all religions of the world, however, the world today hardly treads on these principles. On one hand, technological advancements have led to the design and development of nuclear weapons to have a firmer grip over the world, and on the other, people have not yet been able to come out of the shells of discrimination, thus ending up in altercations, communal riots and fights. Gandhi had proudly stated that he may have been a Hindu by birth, but he was also a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim and a Buddhist by spirit. How many of us have the inner strength in us to forego our superstitions and traditional beliefs and adopt a more existential policy in the face of what the world requires today?

Gandhi envisioned an India with its rural base turning out to be the quintessential core so as to lead to an empowerment of its masses. However, with independence, India has progressed in leaps and bounds in its industrial sector, making it carve an enviable niche in the global platform, a country which witnessed a drastic boom in Information Technology and service sector in the past few decades. But where does agriculture, the very backbone of the nation, stand today? While we are hankering after careers in the field of science and technology, making the youth aware of the wide prospects, what are we doing to boost our country’s agricultural economy? Villages are transformed into cities, people are migrating to the urban areas, but what about the forests and natural expanse that form the very basis of the ecology? India’s rich abundance of natural resources should be utilized wisely, her people should not be deprived of the right to be employed. Bapu had envisioned India to be a nation which exists with the fine balance between traditional richness and progressive culture. 

What our nation needs today, are leaders who have in them the quintessential core of Gandhian principles while simultaneously nurturing in them the resolute courage and determination to overcome all obstacles that would hinder them from becoming a global power. And this can only be a reality when we can purge our souls of the superstitions, narrow dogmatism and selfish desires and walk towards a greater, grander goal of obtaining progress through world peace, sans violence, sans self-indulgence.