Posts Tagged ‘Mahatma Gandhi’

Hey Ram! You have yet not taken the peace tour on the Gandhi Circuit? Pack your bags and pay a tribute, this 142nd Gandhi Jayanti

The greatest tribute to the Father of the Nation can be given by walking on the path that he followed!! Gujarat is the land of Gandhi. He was born and brought up here, that is why it is full of places associated with Gandhiji. There is his birthplace, the places where he pursued his primary education and places related to the massive freedom struggle.


The journey should begin from where Mahatma Gandhi began his own! On a bright day of 2nd October, 1869, Mohandas Gandhi was born in a 3-storey blue haveli, his ancestral home in the city of Porbandar. Karamchand Gandhi: his father, his uncle and grandfather had all been prime ministers to the Jethwa Rajput rulers of this princely state.
The birthplace is now known as Kirti Mandir. Apart from historical importance, the place is an architectural marvel as well. Behind the birthpace, Kasturba Dham is situated. This is a unique place where the monuments of Mahatma Gandhi and his wife Kasturba are adjacent to each other.The height of the temple is of 79 feet which symbolizes the 79 years of lifespan of Gandhiji.

Kirti Mandir houses a small museum about Gandhi, with an exhibit of old photographs, some of his very few possessions and a nice library of books either by him or relating to the Gandhian philosophy and practice.


Mahatma Gandhi pursued his primary education from Alfred High School at Rajkot and Samaldas College at Bhavnagar. After his education too, Gandhiji had returned to Rajkot in 1939 to set up Rashtriyashala, the first of many institutions expressly incubating the values of Swaraj and instigating a sense of pride leading to freedom from the colonial rule. Today, the school imparts training and has initiated projects in weaving khadi, cotton and manual oil pressing. One should also pay a visit to Kaba no Delo in Rajkot, where Gandhi spent the early days of his life. Bhavnagar, on the other hand has the Gandhi Smriti, an institution built in memory of Mahatma Gandhi. It contains a library, a museum and  galleries of photograph depicting Gandhiji’s life.


Once you enter the Sabarmati Ashram at Ahmedabad, you are bound to feel the energy of the non-violent struggle for independence. The Ashram was established by Gandhiji on the banks of river Sabarmati in 1917, after the previous Kochrab Ashram had to be abandoned because of a breakout of plague. On the grounds of the place, there lies the Gandhi Smarak Sangrahalaya, a small museum that includes excellent pictorial and written documentation, a library of Gandhian literature and paintings, and an immense archive of letters written by Gandhiji, every single one on the back of used paper. The place includes the Hridaykunj, Gandhiji’s sparse living quarters, Vinoba-Mira Kutir, where Vinoba and Mira each stayed on separate visits, a prarthana bhumi, a guest house and a building used as a training center for cottage industries, all preserved as part of the museum. The Ashram buzzes with Gandhians who either work in the non-profit organizations on the grounds or volunteer in some or the other way to preserve the memorial.


Dandi is almost a synonym of Gandhi, they rhyme well too! The historic landmark is in Surat, where the Namak Satyagraha, also known as the Dandi March ended and India’s independence began when Mahatma Gandhi picked up a pinch of salt in protest of the British rule. Bardoli is another town in Surat that is associated to Gandhian Heritage. It was a precursor to the Salt March.


Plan a mini break and get back to the history. These places will introduce you to the making of the legend Mahatma and also that of a free India. Let us know our Gandhi better on this Gandhi Jayanti!

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Secularism – Sarva Dharma Sambhav – A beautiful phrase that drags us back to the newsreels with Gandhiji and his strong belief that said “I do not expect India of my dreams to develop one religion, i.e., to be wholly Hindu or wholly Christian or wholly Mussalman, but I want it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another.” During the freedom struggle, secularism was emerging as the most dominant principle. The leaders: Gandhi, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Nehru and others were deeply committed to the ideal of secularism, though each expressed it in very different manners.

Indian Constitution claims India to be a secular state. Secularism is normally defined as something that has nothing to do with religion. Also, Government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs. India is a country where religion is very central to the life of people. India’s age-old philosophy as expounded in Hindu scriptures called Upanishad is Sarva Dharma Sambhav, which means equal respect for all religions. The reason behind this approach is the fact that India has never been a mono-religious country.

The term ‘secularism’ was first used by the British writer George Holyoake in 1851. An agnostic himself, Holyoake argued that “Secularism is not an argument against Christianity; it is one independent of it. It does not question the pretensions of Christianity; it advances others.”

‘A secular country will not make decisions based on a person’s religion and the citizens of such a country will be free to practice any religion of their choice’. This is the actual definition of a secular country. While the second part is more or less true in India, it still has a long way to go as far as the first part goes. In the end, secularism begins in the heart of every individual. There should be no feeling of ‘otherness’ as we all have a shared history. Let us instead concentrate our efforts at making India a powerful and progressive nation!

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Sardar Patel, the ‘Iron man of India’ played a major role in country’s struggle for independence. He followed the Gandhian principles and joined him in the struggle for independence. He is remembered for uniting India post independence, where he successfully convinced 565 princely states to give up their ruler ship and join India. The problem arose when the Nizams of Junagadh, Hyderabad and Jammu and Kashmir wanted to join Pakistan. This was the problem that needed to be solved. The leaders and the British officials could seek no one more appropriate but Sardar to achieve it. It was with his sincere and dedicated efforts and strategy that these states remained the legacy of India. He carried out Bardoli and Kheda Satyagrah and worked on various other issues pertaining to non-violence, peace, abolition of taxation movement, establishing modern-all India services in the state and many more.

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The debate about the meanings of secularism and pseudo secularism are enduring in India. But for a moment, if we pause and have a look, Pseudo Secularism is appeasement of some particular opinion or a group for immediate social and political gains. If we go to a very crude meaning, Pseudo means false. And Secularism means a concept wherein the Government or other entities should exist separately from religion and/or religious beliefs. Every person has a right to preach, practice and propagate any religion of his/her choice.

Pseudo Secularism is said to be a hall mark of the internal politics of India. It is a position of practicing implied non-secular trends in the face of a pledged secularism. The term is used by groups who perceive a double standard revealed within the established secular governing policy towards culturally different groups. Pseudo secularism started from the Khilafat Movement in 1917. It is believed that Mahatma Gandhi first used this concept when Muslims were fighting against the British for their war against Turkey. But during the recent times, the term has gained greater practitioners and admirers.

Today, this term is often used and misused in murky politics to suit the interests of the main players. In India, the Left and the Centrist parties call themselves as ‘Guardians of Secularism’ and hence the Right wing parties are ‘Communal.’ While the Rightists believe their rivals are ‘Pseudo Secular’ and believe in the ‘Anti-Hindu’ ideology.

One common trait of the debate between secularism and pseudo secularism is that they both are for vote-bank politics. In the rush to earn votes and power, the politicians conveniently shift their stands, even if that means hurting the religious sentiments of one religious group or the other. Clarity, both in thought and action is inevitable to save the unity and integrity of our nation.

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