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Mahatma Gandhi News Digest, Germany : Issue for September 18 - 24, 2006

South Africa: The Legacy of the Mahatma - Peace Can Tame Aggression
allAfrica.com - South Africa - by Yunus Momoniat - September 23, 2006


SOMETHING startling happens when a violent force is confronted with an opposition that refuses to resort to violence. It throws the aggressor into a quandary, and immediately introduces questions of ethics in a manner that is visceral, impossible to ignore.


This ethical shock, it seems, is what Mohandas K Gandhi contributed to the history of SA, India and the world. When the troops are sent out to quell an "uprising", one which, paradoxically, is passive yet not pliable, the soldiers are forced to violate not only their victims but also their very own consciences.
Whether the aggressors are motivated to behave more ethically in the future will depend on many factors. But their resort to violence becomes shameful in the eyes not only of history but of their own times.


This decision to confront the aggressor with peace and forgiveness is the central element in the philosophy of Gandhi. It was in SA that the philosophy of Satyagraha first made its appearance against the British Empire, a mighty force whose avowed civilising mission was given pause when it was confronted by the barbarity of its true mission.
A 100 years after the unleashing of this tempering historical force, a conference in Johannesburg mulls over the legacy of Gandhi, and reflects on the myth and its many realities. Jointly convened by Wits University's Institute of Social and Economic Research (Wiser) and the City of Johannesburg, speakers will this weekend deliberate on Gandhi's formation and his contributions to history.
History has a way of disarticulating the unity of an event, breaking it into its elements, emphasising some, burying others. The historian tries to recreate the entire series in all its complexity, and reverence is often a hindrance in this project. Gandhi was certainly a great soul, a Mahatma, but like any soul, he had to wrestle with his times, with the conflicting forces not only in his society but in himself, and he was often forced to placate opposing tendencies.


Critical studies of Gandhi's activities in SA revolve around his role as founder and secretary of the Natal Indian Congress (NIC), which he inaugurated in 1894 with businessmen intent on achieving equality with their white counterparts. While admirers of Gandhi tend to portray the organisation as representing the interests of all Indians, and even of a universalist opposition to colonial inequities, critics note that the NIC was very much a self-serving lobby group.
Defenders of Gandhi, on the other hand, point out that he melded the interests of businessmen with those of poorer Indians, especially indentured labourers, creating alliances that acted to serve the interests of all the oppressed at a time when inter-ethnic alliances were not historically conceivable.


But to understand Gandhi is not to see him as a betrayer of principles that became common sense in the later 20th century. Rather, Gandhi's greatness becomes evident in his overcoming of the limits of his initially parochial socialisation, in his formulation of a philosophy and world view that geared itself for historic feats of resistance. His greatness is also evident in his capacity to articulate a mode of action that not only demands sacrifice towards specific goals but makes of selflessness a veritable mode of being in the world, an existential posture reinforced by a set of rituals to overcome self-centredness and individualism.


This concept of the self and its relation to others is at the heart of Satyagraha, and it is its counterthrust to western notions of individualism that make the confrontation with the west so counterintuitively effective.
In September 1906, 3000 Indians in SA took an oath to resist the designs of the British rulers. The Satyagraha (soul force) campaign began as a resistance to what French philosopher Michel Foucault was to refer to in the late 1970s and 1980s as biopolitics, a form of control that takes as its object entire populations, and for which SA was a testing ground.
The British approved the Transvaal Asiatic Registration Act of 1907, which required that Indians reregister their identities and have all their fingerprints lodged with the authorities. In a response that brings home the extent to which we have become accustomed to this form of control, they refused to "degrade" themselves by yielding to this requirement for population control.


Another act demanded that Indians be tested for literacy. Indians refused to register and invited arrest, the dawn of what became known as passive resistance. Between 1907 and 1909, 3000 people, mostly Indian middle-class businessmen, invited arrest, confounding the authorities and stretching their capacity to incarcerate them all.
The movement waned in 1910, with the business classes tiring of a form of resistance that demanded much from its practitioners, but resumed in 1913, after Gen Jan Smuts reneged on promises made to Gandhi, but this time indentured labourers joined in. More than 2000 joined the Great March from Natal to Transvaal on November 6 1913.
The Joburg conference, says joint convener Dr Jonathan Hyslop of Wiser, focuses on the making of the Mahatma. Gandhi's historical significance for India's post-independence has overshadowed his role in the South African resistance to apartheid, many seeing his struggle against the British in India as defining his role in history.
But Hyslop argues that it was the South African experience, the crucible of Johannesburg, specifically, that inspired and socialised Gandhi, giving him the form with which we are today familiar. Hyslop draws an analogy between Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, both "practitioners of forms of modernist politics which their specific experience of Johannesburg made possible".


He "takes issue with the anti-urban and anti-modernist sentiment" that characterises accounts of the two men's lives, frequently stressing their ties to rural life and their critiques of urban life. But both are celebrated because of their cosmopolitan stances, their inclusive nationalist projects that appeal to universal humanist values. It is these projects, with their populist appeal, that have been the source of their celebrations of rural authenticity.


Although Gandhi had developed aspects of his philosophy in Natal, it was Joburg that was conducive to his explorations of freedom: it was a place of ideas that produced "notions of reality, beauty, freedom and justice". It was the "hyper-stimulation" that prompted "self-definition, both from the desire to escape from anonymity and from the need to cope with the demands of city life".


Hyslop's paper is a celebration of Joburg, its myriad influxes of every nationality, its connections with the world, its use of the telegraph, its booms and busts -- and Gandhi and Mandela are products of this milieu.
Gandhi, says Hyslop, generated "a notion of Indian identity that cut through the barriers of religion, class, caste and language". He appealed to rich Muslims, low-caste Hindus, Parsis and Chinese. His openness to other creeds was a result of his reading of John Ruskin, and his exposure to theosophy.


According to Dr Parvathi Raman, Gandhi was introduced to theosophy while in London, an experience that made him appreciative of all religions as well as giving him a new regard for Hinduism, the faith of his parents. His interest in the works of Madam Blavatsky and Annie Besant, a radical theosophist who was influential in the Indian independence struggle, played some part in his formation before he arrived in SA.
Theosophists tended to view the east as more highly developed than the west when it comes to spirituality, which they canonised above materialist civilisation.
In her paper to be delivered at the conference, Leela Gandhi, the mahatma's great-granddaughter who teaches English and Cultural Theory at La Trobe University in Melbourne, refers to European explorations of the crisis of their continent's spirituality between the world wars of the last century.


Between 1908 and 1909, she says, another set of deliberations regarding the poverty of the west was under way, and Gandhi, dissatisfied with the phrase passive resistance, settled upon the word Satyagraha to name his "uniquely inwardly directed political style".
He described it as a "sort of politics of self-fashioning, concerned with a revolutionary sensibility or character premised upon the cultivation of self-restraint, unselfishness, patience, gentleness".


This, says Leela Gandhi, is a new philosophy, not based on nostalgia or recidivism, but a remedy for social injustices long tolerated by traditionalists.
Gandhi, she says, expounded the notion that the slave is only a slave as long as he accepts his slavery, thus the force of the soul is much more effective in dissolving oppression than the force of arms.


Gandhi, the anti-industrial ascetic, called for an extreme from of sacrifice, one that demands a humility without limit, a virtual wiping out of the self and a compassion that gives the oppressor the chance to acknowledge and correct his dehumanisation. This purism put Gandhi at odds with industrial workers and with protests where masses of demonstrators failed to adhere to the strict tenets of passive resistance.
Ideas in history are often emulated, but are reconfigured according to the conditions of the new setting. Gandhi leaves behind a divided legacy, shared by those who want to withdraw from the technological age as well as those who use it for political ends Gandhi may not have approved of.
"In the early 20th century, Gandhi had formulated a moral weapon of truth and conscience against a corrupting modernity. In the 1940s, it was appropriated by Indian communist members as a tool in the struggle for democratic rights and citizenship. In the 1950s, it was transformed once more, now by Africans, to represent Christian values of justice and truth, and a means of mobilising extra-parliamentary opposition to the apartheid state," writes Dr Raman, illustrating the vagaries of Gandhi's legacy.

 


Campaign to strenghten Gandhian values
Yuvsatta - India - by Pramod Sharma - September 24, 2006


As part of its ongoing ‘Campaign for Peace-city Chandigarh’, YUVSATTA, Dev Samaj College of Education, Chandigarh and Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi will be organizing number of events and activities to promote Gandhian values amongst the youngsters from October 1, 2006 (October 2 is birth anniversary of Gandhiji) to January 30, 2007 (Martyrdom Day of Mahatma Gandhi).


These activities will include Celebrations of birth of all girl children born this year in Chandigarh on the eve of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi to promote Girl Child & curb female foeticide, observance of birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as Indo-Pak Peace Day, thus saluting the Gandhian spirit of tolerance, forgiveness and brotherhood. An Indo-Pak Students Peace Camp will also be organized in the first week of October to promote peace, non-violence and people to people dialogue.
Plans are underway to invite leading Gandhian and Peace activists to address gathering of youth and others in various Colleges and Panjab University, thus strengthening the PEACE CLUBS in these institutions.


A special mobile book stall carrying Gandhian literature is also prepared which will make round of different educational institutions of the city, in which special emphasis will be laid on promotion of Gandhiji’s autobiography ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ amongst the students. An Inter-School Gandhi Quiz based this book will also be organized on October 5th at Dev Samaj College of Education.


The four month long programme will culminate with organization of a Peace film-festival in January, 2007 and a pledge to uphold virtues of non-violence by around 1 lakh students on January 30, 2007, martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi. On this day Teachers of different Schools who’ll actively associate themselves in these endeavours will also be honoured with Dr. KBS Dhillon Memorial Shantidoot Puruskar.
According to Dr. Satinder Dhillon, Convener of the programme, “When fashion shows, gala parties and even night-outs for students are becoming a fashion of the day, to develop children and youth as ‘socially responsible citizens’ there is an ever increasing need of exposing them to Gandhian ideals of Truth, Nonviolence, Service & Sacrifice...and it is the duty of each one is us to strengthen & spread these initiatives.
For more information contact Pramod Sharma, yuvsatta@yahoo.com

 


A temple of peace in a time of war: Pacifists commemorate Ghandi's 100th anniversary, call for end in Iraq
Milford Daily News - USA - by Carolyn Kessel Stewart - September 24, 2006
NATICK -- Crooning Joan Baez tunes and reciting prayers of peace, local pacifists converted the gazebo at the Natick Common into a makeshift peace temple yesterday.
Sheltered from the drizzle, the group commemorated the International Day of Peace and the 100th anniversary of Mahatma Ghandi's nonviolent resistance movement that transformed society in South Africa and India. Focusing on peace is nothing new for the common, where residents gather for a weekly peace vigil every Saturday.
"It's time to stop preventable war and take care of victims of war," said organizer Carol Coakley of Millis, whose eyes grew teary as she spoke of soldiers serving in and returning from Iraq. "They are as innocent and guilty as we are at home."
"I can't think about the soldiers without choking up," Coakley said later. After watching the Iraq documentary, "The War Tapes," she said she fears for the nation's fighters. "What they've seen, what they've endured...for what?"
In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly designated Sept. 21 as the permanent International Day of Peace and all U.N. member countries agreed to a global ceasefire and celebration of peace and non-violence on that day.
Coakley and Laurel Tanenholtz of Wayland urged further commitment -- a pledge to the the Declaration of Peace.


The document asks pledgers to call on the Bush administration and Congress to immediately and permanently withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq, to urge Congress to put in place a plan to end the war by Sept. 21, to participate in marches and rallies, and if no plan to end the war is in place by Sept. 21 -- to follow Ghandi's footsteps and engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. A troop withdrawal is not cutting and running, Coakley said. It's "a call to end this war."
"The only thing to stop evil from occurring is for good people to stand by and do nothing," Coakley said.


Ghandi's tactics might even work here, she said.
"We pride ourselves on our humanity, our dignity and our respect for human rights. If ever there was a place for (nonviolent resistance) to succeed again, it's America."
Rebecca Butler, a 33-year-old yoga instructor from Boston, was cycling by the common when she spotted the crowd of 25, their signs and their music.
"It was refreshing. It's rare, even in Boston, to be around people who have a spirit of peace," she Butler, who became a serious cyclist during the first Iraq War, "to be independent of foreign oil."
"It's obvious everyone here is authentic, sincere." Instead of directing hatred toward their ideological opponents, they treat them with respect, she said. "And that's powerful."

 


Gokhale: Messiah of moderates
Organizer - India - October 1, 2006
Gopal Krishna Gokhale: His life and speeches: John S. Hayland; Rupa & Co. Delhi; pp 235, Rs 195.00
Short this biography may be, but all-encompassing it certainly is. It may not be doing full justice to the man but it tells us enough of the man and his times to make it not only readable but most informative.


When GenNext appears to be almost ignorant of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his contribution to India’s freedom movement enough to be remembered as the Father of the Nation, it is unlikely that it would have heard of Gopal Krishna Gokhale whom the Mahatma himself regarded as his guru. And yet it was Gokhale among the very few of his countrymen who set the independence struggle ball rolling. What is remarkable is that he was born in 1866 when India had come under total British subjugation for hardly nine years. But so strong and vivid must have been the memory of the Gokhale household of decades of Maratha glory that inevitably young Gopal Krishna was quite early drawn to the need for social reform and liberation from British yoke.
Quite early in his life he came under the spell of another great Indian, Mahadev Govind Ranade, the man, says the author of this brief biography “who more than any other, not even excepting G.G. Agarkar, was responsible for his development into a great servant of India”.


Gokhale was born in a little village in Ratnagiri district and though he passed away at a comparatively young age of 49, by the time of his death he had earned the reputation as a dedicated patriot and a man of ‘balanced loyalty’ who even in those days went beyond the restricted view of his opponents, which was “Maharashtra first, India, if possible next, but the Mussalmans nowhere”.
Gokhale saw the fatal dangers of such a position and as Hayland puts it “stood like a rock for his principle of friendly cooperation with Mussalmans in the interests of India as a whole”. That, by itself, must be considered one of its greatest contribution to the essential unity of India.


This is not a biography in the accepted sense of the term. It is the firm conviction of its author that “the only adequate fashion of dealing with Gokhale is to permit him, as far as possible, to speak for himself”.


Consequently, this book is largely filled with quotations from Gokhale’s speeches, which is just as well. The speeches incidentally show a mind capable of undertaking laborious study of the minutiae of finance and statistics which come as no surprise considering that he took Mathematics as his optional subject for his B.A. during his studies at Elphinstone College, Bombay. That he was equally well up in other subjects like History, English and Political Economy and was even known as ‘Professor-to-order’ only showed his catholicity of tastes.


Though this biography is painfully brief, it deals adequately enough with Gokhale’s political activities especially between the years 1902 to 1910. Constructive in his approach the author states that “his (Gokhale’s) moral stature was so commanding, his personal ascendancy became so marked that men of enlightenment and goodwill themselves responsible for directing the destinies of the Indian people were glad to accept his guidance wherever they could. For years he stood forth in the eyes surprisingly of both the India Government and of the British democracy as the representative Indian.”
Short this biography may be, but all-encompassing it certainly is. It may not be doing full justice to the man but it tells us enough of the man and his times to make it not only readable but most informative. We don’t know more about the other two, Ranade and Tilak and even less of Gandhi, but it is a good introduction to the politics of the times.

 


Sick Of War, Young Americans Are Drawn To Gandhi
Outlook - India - by Ashish Kumar Sen - October 2, 2006


Democrat Congressman from Georgia, USA, on the Civil Rights Movement and the need to use non-violence as a tool of foreign policy and fighting terror
Congressman John Lewis, Georgia Democrat, is often hailed as "one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced". In 1960, only 20 years old, he was already counted along with Dr Martin Luther King Jr, among the 'Big Six' leaders of the movement. Today, he is described as "the conscience of the US Congress", and leads the fight against the Bush administration's policies that have shifted the tax burden from the rich to the poor while continuing to finance the war in Iraq by cutting expenditure on healthcare, education and services for the poor. Despite more than 40 arrests, physical attacks and serious injuries, the Congressman remains a devoted advocate of the philosophy of non-violence.
Lewis spoke to Ashish Kumar Sen about Mahatma Gandhi's influence on the Civil Rights Movement and the need to use non-violence as a tool of foreign policy and fighting terror.


As an organisation and as individual participants in the CRM (Civil Rights Movement), we were deeply inspired by Gandhi's teachings. Gandhi gave us a way out. He gave not just adults, but also the young people a way to protest, a way to stand up and fight in a peaceful, non-violent way. As a student in Nashville, Tennessee, during the 1960s, we'd sit at the segregated lunch counters in restaurants and discuss what we called the dos and don'ts of the movements. And we'd say, remember the teachings of Jesus, Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr.


Q: Why was the Gandhian form accepted?
A: We were not out to destroy individuals, or a particular city or particular state, or destroy a nation.
We wanted to follow in the tradition of Gandhi, to liberate our country from the evils of segregation and racial discrimination. Gandhi taught us to use our bodies as tools and instruments to bear witness to the truth. So when people saw well-dressed, unarmed students being beaten, hot water being poured on them, people spitting on them, putting lighted cigarettes out on their hair and down their backs, we didn't strike back. Many of us accepted non-violence as a way of life. We didn't hate, didn't have ill-feelings against the people who beat us or the people who jailed us.
Q: Do you think Gandhi's way was the only way CRM could have succeeded?
A: I don't think CRM would have succeeded if it had not been for Gandhi's teachings and the philosophy of non-violence. Dr King and others taught us Gandhi's way. When we heard about what Gandhi had attempted in South Africa, and when we read about what he accomplished in India, Gandhi became a symbol, a human being who inspired us to follow in his footsteps. Almost overnight hundreds of thousands of students started studying Gandhi's life and teachings.
Q: In what ways did Gandhi's experiments with non-violence influence Dr Martin Luther King Jr?
A: The way of non-violence, the way of passive resistance, the way of love, some people had heard about it, some had read about it, but it had never been practised on a large scale in this country until Dr King picked up Gandhi's teaching and message. Dr King emerged as not just a local leader in Montgomery but a national and international leader preaching non-violence in the tradition of Gandhi. And if it hadn't been for this message, America would have probably been more like South Africa, more like Lebanon, Northern Ireland—it would probably have been a much more divided nation. But the way of non-violence, the teachings of Gandhi and the leadership of Dr King probably helped save America from a very difficult and bitter period of violence.
Q: What does the younger generation in the US think of Mahatma Gandhi and his methods?
A: There is a growing interest in the way of non-violence because people in America more and more, and especially the young, are sick of violence, they are sick of war. When they look at the period of the '60s and CRM, they realise that Dr King, following in the footsteps of Gandhi, was able to lay down the burdens of race and colour to create what we call "a Beloved Community", a community at peace with itself.
Q: So you think Gandhi's non-violent technique is relevant in today's world?
Today, more than ever, we can learn something from the teachings of Gandhi—not just as individuals, not just as organisation but as nations. America is one of the most powerful countries in the world. If we follow Gandhi's teachings, we can usher in a period of peace in which we can create a world community at peace with itself.
Q: You noted recently that violence is an obsolete tool of US foreign policy. Given the turmoil in the world today, is non-violence a viable foreign policy option?
A: I think non-violence is a viable foreign policy option. Violence as a tool of foreign policy is obsolete; it's out of date. All humanity, all human beings, the great majority of people on this planet want to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters around the world.
Q: With people like George Bush insisting that all political opposition has to be non-violent, do you think Gandhian techniques have been devalued?
A:I think people in higher places of government have been trying to discredit the way of non-violence, the way of non-cooperation, the way of passive resistance. But the idea of a community at peace with itself, the idea of a "Beloved Community", the idea of not putting someone down because of their nationality, because of their race, because of their class has a tremendous impact on all segments of society.
Q: Isn't it ironic that India, the land of Gandhi, itself does not use non-violence, or Gandhian techniques, in combating terror and in conduct of its foreign policy?
A: I think it is ironic and strange that the land of Gandhi does not use non-violence and non-cooperation as part of its foreign policy. If India and America were to take a stand and make a commitment to the way of peace, to the way of non-violence, it would help usher in a period of great peace.
Q: How do you think the Bush administration should have responded to the 9/11 attacks on America?
A: Things would have been much different if we hadn't been so quick to use violence and go to war. After 9/11, there was a sea of goodwill toward America as a country and toward American people in particular. But we have lost that sense of goodwill toward America. We are the most powerful nation in the world, yet we are also the most isolated nation. We got involved in a war of choice and not a war of necessity. And now people around the world dislike us as a nation and in some places people will continue to dislike us and hate us as a nation because of what we are doing.
Q: How do you rate President George Bush's war on terror?
A: I think his war on terrorism has been sidetracked. After 9/11, he went to Afghanistan and hundreds of people were killed. Then he went into Iraq. I don't believe that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. Bush's policy has created more terrorists, it has created more problems.
Q: Can this war against the so-called "Islamic fascists" that the Bush administration repeatedly refers to be won through non-violent means?
A: The battle against terrorism can be fought through non-violent means. We should be willing to sit down and meet with people. Discuss and debate. We need to meet with people all over this world.We should not reject seeing anyone when they want to talk about peace.

 


Young Latinos Receive Gandhi Non-Violent Award
La Prensa San Diego - USA - by Raymond R. Beltran - September 22, 2006


Tragic 1995 Incident Set the Stage for a Peace Movement
“I wanted to do something different ... I wanted people to take me seriously,” says Alejandro Villa, a Gandhi Non-Violence Awardee.
For eighteen year old Alejandro Villa, a Barrio Logan resident in a blue collar family, Point Loma High was already a school in racial animosity before immigration debates sparked student walkouts this year.
“If you want to see culture clash, come to Point Loma,” he says. “Hispanics don’t get along with the whites, and the other way around. We’re the bussed in kids.”
Alejandro Villa was awarded for initiating dialogue between teens during the height of this year’s student walkouts.


When congress introduced HR 4437, an anti immigration proposal that gained national attention in March, Alejandro noticed a split within his own diverse pool of friends at school. During the walkouts, trash talking ensued and instead of becoming a part in the tirade, he began his own student crusade, one that earned him the Tariq Khamisa Foundation’s Gandhi Non-Violence Award this last weekend.
“I wanted to do something different, because the media was showing Latinos as uninformed and rowdy,” Alejandro says. “I wanted people to take me seriously.”
On the Thursday of the week that the student walkouts began, he wrote a letter of intent to the principal, Barbara Samilson. The letter stated he was going to gather as many students as possible into the school auditorium where, in mediated dialogue, Latino students and whites would confront each other face to face. The turnout was “surprising” he says.


“The white students asked, ‘If you live in the U.S., why do you wear the Mexican flag?’ […] There were very few Hispanics, but they were willing to speak out too,” remembers Alejandro. “Some of the Hispanic kids said, ‘Hey, my mom could be cleaning one of your homes’ or ‘They say we don’t pay taxes but we buy things. There’s a tax on that.’”
The forum didn’t land Point Loma in a state of harmony, Alejandro admits, but for a school that was already in unrest, he created what most governments won’t, a peaceful arena to begin breaking racial barriers.
“It’s important for students to have a forum,” he says. “If they mediate, they speak out and it eases tension, and people actually saw everyone else’s point.”
The Ghandi Non-Violence Awards he was nominated for are an annual event created by the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, a non-profit group where founders Azim Khamisa and Plez Felix talk to student youth about gang violence, destructive lifestyles, and becoming peacemakers.


TKF was named after Azim’s slain son, Tariq. The group was founded because of a tragic night eleven years ago when Tariq, a twenty year old SDSU student, was gunned down while delivering pizza for DeMille’s Pizza. Plez Felix’s son was the fourteen year old gunman. He’s twenty-six now and serving a twenty-five to life prison sentence at New Folsom California State Prison in Sacramento.
What could have turned a tragic incident into a lifelong path of resentment for father, Azim, actually turned into a bridge between two men, and ultimately a foundation that attempts to put a to halt future acts of violence.
In Azim’s book, Azim’s Bardo: From Murder to Forgiveness, A Father’s Journey, he tells the tale of how his life transcended from anger to outreaching. Azim, a Muslim in faith, experienced a bardo.


“Bardo [Tibetan belief] describes a transitional state - a gap between the end of one life state and the onset of another,” reads the TKF website. “Buddhists believe bardos represent times of opportunity. If you have prepared yourself with the wisdom of the masters, your soul can make a quantum leap in its quest for enlightenment.”
For Azim, that opportunity meant seeking consolation between his family and the Flez family, both creating a foundation based on preventing violence.
Their website also reads, “Youth homicide and suicide rates are higher in the U.S. than in any of the 26 wealthiest nations. 182 children are arrested for violent crimes EACH DAY in America Every 3 hours a child or teen is killed by a firearm.” The group engages middle schools students in forums like Peace Works and Circle of Peace that educate students about peaceful resolutions to problems. They also hold monthly diversity discussions.


The group’s Gandhi Non-Violence Awards were created in November 1995, and this year, eight people were rewarded, Pacific Bakery owner Chuck Lowery for donating to peace organizations, Pathways to College President Charlaine Carter, Nazareth “Naz” Simmons of the poetry collective Able Minded Poets, Children’s Mental Health Services Psychiatrist Jeffrey Rowe, the entire Community Resource Center of Encinitas, pastor and counselor of New Life Presbyterian Church Melvin Takahara, Alejandro Villa, and sixteen year old Carolina Bracamonte of Hoover High School.
“Both Carolina and Alex impressed me with their poise and eloquence on stage,” says Dianne McKay, board member at TKF. “I am amazed at the remarkable service they have given to others at such a young age. They will go far.”
Carolina Bracamonte, a sophomore, helped a fifteen person committee organize The Teen Relationship Violence Conference earlier this year that educated youth about boyfriend and girlfriend abuse.


“At first, I didn’t know what it was,” she says. “But then we heard stories about boyfriends becoming possessive and how a girl was killed after a break up.”
Bracamonte was recruited as chairperson by Megan Burke of KPBS’s National Center for Outreach for her participation in the high school program Cardinal’s Interact, a program that helps students improve social skills and offers college opportunities.
For students, the conference shed light on warning signs of violence, how play fighting can escalate between a dating couple or how companions can cause their boyfriend or girlfriend to alienate friends and family. They also learned that one in five youngsters is a victim of relationship abuse and its three ‘ties’, sexual, physical, and psychological or emotional.


“For me, it has helped me become more aware, and if I don’t like something I know I can speak up and let [someone] know my limits,” says Bracamonte, who says she has even seen warning signs in her friends who’ve become distant since engaging in dating relationships.


In the beginning of the conference, some students, boys and girls, agreed that it was okay for boys to hit girls if a girl engaged in hitting or pushing. Some girls said they flirt with the opposite sex to make their boyfriends jealous.
“At the end of the conference, we took a second questionnaire and some of their opinions changed,” remembers Bracamonte. “All of the things that were taught, they [students] didn’t know. It felt good just knowing that I could help others out, to help educate them.”
Students were given hotlines to call (1-800-DVLINKS) if they ever become victims.
Bracamonte plans to transfer to a four year college, either UCLA or Riverside, and is thinking about psychology.


“Writing is my passion, but I also like working with teenagers,” she says. “I’m good at listening to my friends, and they ask me how I feel about their problems. Maybe I could do that.”
Information about the Tariq Khamisa Foundation is available on the internet at www.tkf.org.

 


76 yrs after March, Dandi to find place on tourism map
Indian Express - India - by Maitreyee Handique - September 21, 2006
NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 20: Seventy six years ago, Mahatma Gandhi and his followers took 24 days to walk cross five districts to break the salt law on the Arabian sea, near Dandi in Gujarat, by making it themselves after boiling sea water.
Now this rough 241 miles journey, punctuated by bridges and open fields, that began from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, will not just be smoother. Dandi may soon become part of the larger value tourism map.


While the historic Dandi-Ahmedabad route has been given national highway status this year, the Culture Ministry is planning to develop the entire route by constructing memorials, libraries, prayer halls and rest houses at places of historical importance.
And last month, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad embraced the Dandi March as part of their grassroots innovation course. A business plan was prepared for developing a cottage industry of salt farming to honour the memory of the marchers. Anil Gupta, who occupies the Lalbhai Kasturbhai Chair at IIM, said that the focus of the study was to see whether Brand Dandi can actually become a selling proposition.
“The idea is to create a living memorial to the Gandhi yatris and create a viable economic activity. We are also looking into the issue of branding Dandi salt and giving it a Geographical Indication status,” he said.


The study prepared by IIM student Manoj Nair proposes involving the local panchayat in salt manufacturing, which in turn, could be sold to visitors at cheaper-than-market rate. Besides, the report also proposed creating 78 salt pans to honour the 78 people who participated in the march.


The IIM undertook the study after Rajiv Sethi, founder of Asian Heritage Foundation, approached them to look at innovative ways to remember Gandhi. Sethi is a member of the committee headed by Culture Minister Ambika Soni, to develop the Dandi Master Plan. The other members are Tushar Gandhi and Rajeev Lochan.
According to Ambika Soni, the whole route of Dandi march has already been identified and advertisement for designing the concept will be made on October 1. “The effort will be to involve the local agencies to bring cohesion into the programme. Stress will be laid to create uniform signages and milestones on the way,” she said.
Last year, the Prime Minister has announced to give the Dandi route a heritage status and Rs 10 crore has been allocated for the project.


But the Ministry was surprised when the announcement of the Dandi-Ahmedabad National Highway was announced in June this year. Soni said she has written to T R Baalu, Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, for details of the highway project. Currently, the Dandi March route is a cobble of 222 km of state roads, 90 km of panchayat roads and 42 km of open fields.


The highway project is estimate to cost Rs 1,000-crore. About Rs 131 crore will be spent on improvement of riding surface and another Rs 787 crore for carriage widening. The detailed project report is being prepared.

 


Does urbanized India have room for Gandhi?
International Herald Tribune - India - by Amelia Gentleman - September 20, 2006


NEW DELHI The Gandhi National Museum in Delhi has two memorable exhibits. The first is a glass case containing a couple of Mahatma Gandhi's teeth, an ivory toothpick ('used occasionally by Gandhiji') alongside his dentures - thrilling for those who get a kick out of dental relics; somewhat repellent for everyone else.
The second is a quote from the Mahatma painted on a large signboard by the entrance to the museum, which describes the India of his dreams.
"I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice; an India in which there shall be no high class and no low class of people; an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony," he wrote in September 1931.


There would be no room in such an India for the "curse of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Women will enjoy the same rights as men."
It is an accurate summary of what India today is not.
The stark absence of visitors to this depressing museum, with its buzzing fluorescent lighting, mournful staff and damp- stained walls, adds to the impression that Mohandas Gandhi has become an irrelevance in modern India.


Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates was voted ahead of Gandhi as "the biggest icon of our times" in a recent poll of business students and CEOs conducted by the Economic Times.
But this month, the freedom fighter seems suddenly back in vogue.


Unnoticed, as the rest of the world watched memorial services for those killed in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, India marked the 100th anniversary of Gandhi's starting of his nonviolent resistance movement, satyagraha, to combat racism in South Africa - a campaign that he later adapted to fight British rule in India.


To mark the anniversary, curators of his legacy have been making a concerted effort to reclaim him as a role model for young Indians, yanking him up to date and trying to distill elements from his ideology that don't feel too archaic for modern tastes.
At ceremonies across the country, politicians made predictably pious statements about the importance of adhering to Gandhian values ("The real challenge is to live up to what he taught us, to say what we mean and mean what we say," the president of the governing Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, noted).


This exercise in lip service was forgotten swiftly - the real excitement was a Bollywood film released on the same day, which has rapidly become the unexpected box-office hit of the year.


The film, "Lage Raho Munnabhai" ("Carry on Munnabhai") follows the trials of an engaging Mumbai gangster who tries to pass himself off as a professor of Gandhian studies to win the heart of a radio talk show host. A specter of Gandhi, invisible to everyone but him, starts to haunt him, persuading him to abandon his life of crime and adopt a Gandhian existence. Soon the thug is preaching the message of nonviolence to his bewildered criminal associates.


With its big Bollywood soundtrack and dance routines, the movie brings Gandhi firmly into the mainstream and theaters have been packed for the past three weeks.
The Congress Party recommended that all party members see the film. The Delhi authorities declared that tickets to the film would be sold tax free because of its assiduous promotion of Gandhian values.


The film's practical advice on applying Gandhi's philosophy to modern problems has particularly delighted audiences. The best way to get a corrupt official to pay your pension, without handing over a bribe? Strip off your clothes in the pension office and shame him into submission. Need to stop your neighbor's spitting on your doorstep? Get down on the sidewalk and clean the mess yourself.
Its success surprised even its director, Rajkumar Hirani, who admits he doubted whether in modern India a film about Gandhi could ever be commercially viable. "I was very worried. A younger generation scarcely know who Gandhi is, and those who do know think he is boring historical icon," he said.


Savita Singh, director of Delhi's second major Gandhi museum, Gandhi Smriti, in the house where he was assassinated, admits that often the eyes of schoolchildren turn hostile when she arrives to lecture them on Gandhi. "I can see from the children's faces that they're thinking 'Oh no, you're not going to tell us about Gandhi again,'" she said.
An awareness of this creeping apathy was part of the logic behind a radical and peculiar redesign in progress at the museum, which has introduced a confusing collection of multi- media gadgets in the hope that this will attract new interest.
Bemused visitors make their way through a mess of kaleidoscopes, jumbled video installations and hi-tech spinning wheels, which project snapshots of Gandhi's life onto the ceiling. Everything you touch lights up, emitting a spurt of spiritual music; outsized portraits of Gandhi have been doctored so that video clips of his life are broadcast in his eyeballs; a large urn emits clouds of steam from the bubbling water within, and blue rays of light dance out, spelling the words "Be True."


"Gandhi's message was 'truth is good'," a guide explains to a group of Japanese tourists. The result is a nightmarish chaos of hollow slogans and little substance.
But the experiment, with its crude attempt to appeal to a sophisticated, computer-literate new generation, betrays a deep anxiety on the part of its organizers: How is a man who believed in the supremacy of the village, who berated the advent of the industrial revolution, was suspicious of the automobile and renounced material possessions ever to be made to feel relevant in a modern India, which is the world's fastest growing cellular phone market, in the grips of a manufacturing boom, worships the car and is witnessing a rush from the countryside to the booming cities?


Among Gandhi's heirs there is little confidence that the recent surge of nostalgic affection for Gandhi will endure. "Gandhi has become especially irrelevant to the urban, upwardly mobile young people, enslaved by brands and materialistic fads," said Tushar Gandhi, the Mahatma's great-grandson. "One film will not change this. We need to worker harder to take his message to the masses."

 


Freedom Fighter Ratan Lal Joshi passes away in Mumbai


NewKerala.com - India - September 18, 2006 Mumbai, Sep 18: Well known freedom fighter and journalist Ratan Lal Joshi died due to multiple infections with kidney and liver failure at Bombay Hospital here today, according to family sources. He was 84.
A veteran freedom fighter, Joshi got associated with Mahatma Gandhi in 1940 at the age of 18 and was imprisoned during 1941-42 as a satyagrahi.
As a journalist, Joshi received his first training from Kishorelal Bhai Mashrulawa, the chief editor of "Harijan".
Author of several books on freedom fighters, Joshi was till recently, Secretary, All India Freedom Fighters' Organisation, New Delhi, Presidium member of Rajasthan Freedom Fighters' Organisation, Jaipur, Founder President of Shaheed Smarak Eavam Swadhinata Sangram Shodh Sansthan, Jaipur.
As a journalist, Joshi edited `Bhai-Bahin' (Children's monthly), `Samaj Sewak' (weekly), `Veer Bhoomi' (monthly), `Rajasthan' (fortnightly), `Rajasthan Samaj' (weekly) and `Kul Lakshmi' (monthly). He also compiled, edited and published several books, including `Lal kile main', `Krantikari Prer ne Ke Srot' and `Mrityunjayee'.
He is survived by four sons and two daughters.

 


Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson, and Ardeth Platte Inspire Nonviolent Action in Washi
IndyBay.org - USA - by Don Muller - September 17, 2006


Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson, and Ardeth Platte, Plowshares Nuns, inspire us to take action and participate in nonviolent civil resistance against the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq. Nonviolent actions will take place in Washington, DC, on September 26 and 27, as part of the Declaration of Peace campaign, and planned by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.


Plowshares Nuns, Sister Carol Gilbert, OP, Sister Jackie Hudson, OP, and Sister Ardeth Platte, OP, know what it is like to risk their personal safety in speaking out for peace. On October 6, 2002, they entered a missile site near Greeley, Colorado. They cut through two gates to enter the silo area. They hammered on the tracks used for the silo lids to open the silo itself. They also used their blood to make the sign of the cross on the tracks and on the silo. They concluded their witness with a liturgy. They were arrested and imprisoned. Jackie received 31 months, Carol 33 and Ardeth 41 for their nonviolent act of civil resistance to protest nuclear weapons. Though they are now out of prison, they are still paying the legal consequences of their actions. They are restricted to travel in their respective states, and they will not be able to join in the actions of nonviolent resistance at the Capitol on September 26 and 27. However, they will be there in spirit and they invite others from all around the United States to continue the resistance against the powers that lead to war, and join in the actions being promoted and planned by the Declaration of Peace (http://www.declarationofpeace.org) and the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (http://www.iraqpledge.org).
The Declaration of Peace is a national campaign that thousands of people around the country are joining to pressure Congress to develop a comprehensive and rapid plan for peace by September 21. If there is not a plan in place by September 21, there will be massive nonviolent actions in Washington, DC, and around the country to show our determination for a peaceful world. We follow in the footsteps of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Sister Carol Gilbert, Sister Jackie Hudson, Sister Ardeth Platte, and many others.


Tuesday September 26, 2006
Nonviolent resistance action at the US Senate in Washington, DC. Organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (http://www.iraqpledge.org)
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Upper Senate Park
10:30: Interfaith ceremony and rally
11:30: Interfaith religious procession around the Capitol, followed by peace presence and nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest at the US Senate in Washington DC.
Register at http://declarationofpeace.org/regform-nvcd
For more information, contact Steve Cleghorn at jsc1949 [at] msn.com
Wednesday September 27, 2006
Nonviolent resistance action at the US House of Representatives in Washington DC.
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Meeting place: Upper Senate Park
10:30: Rally
11:30: March/procession
Nonviolent resistance, including risking arrest.
Register at http://declarationofpeace.org/regform-nvcd
For more information, contact Danny Malec at dm [at] globalcalliraq.org
A message from Sisters Carol Gilbert, Jackie Hudson, and Ardeth Platte
Times of great injustice call for acts of conscience and courage. In the loving spirit and discipline of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and others, we call on people to engage in acts and campaigns of noncooperation and active nonviolent resistance to the U.S. government, the military, the corporate merchants of war, and all institutions that feed the continuing conflict in Iraq.


To the millions who have marched, lobbied Congress or otherwise protested the war in Iraq, we call on you to continue your opposition, and to join together with others in nonviolent resistance to this immoral and unjust war. Our democratic voices of dissent joined with an unprecedented anti-war movement around the world. We must now build an equally unprecedented movement to nonviolently resist this war and bring it to an end. As the carnage increases and the military quagmire deepens in Iraq, the prospects for peace may seem dim and the momentum of war strong. But now more than ever is a time for dissent, not despair; for deepened commitment to peace, not complacency with war; for strengthened resistance, not weakened resolve.
To all who are sick of heart and conscience over the death and destruction in Iraq, we call on you to join us in nonviolent resistance to this war. For the sake of our humanity; for the sake of justice; for the sake of peace in Iraq, we must act now. And we cannot rest from our campaign of nonviolent resistance until our demands of peace and justice are met.

 


The articles of the Mahatma Gandhi News Digest originate from external sources.
They do not represent the views of GandhiServe Foundation.

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