From what I saw earlier this week with reference to the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian media and in public forums around the country, it was apparent that India was no longer focused on aggressively pursuing Gandhian philosophy.
There could be many reasons for this apparent nonchalance towards the founding father of India – people are weary of inflation, constant political bickering, huge corruption scandals, infrastructure problems, and what not. The common man has been affected very badly over the past couple of years, and his pains have increased substantially over the past few months.
Apart from one TV channel playing the “Gandhi” movie, I did not see a big focus on Gandhiji and his lessons for a modern India. Of course things have changed over the past several decades, especially over the past couple of decades, and Gandhiji would barely recognize the India of today. However, I thought it was surprising to note that even the Congress Party was not pushing Gandhian ideals on the occasion of his birth anniversary.
There was hardly the push that we used to get from our primary and secondary schools for recognizing Gandhiji’s contributions every 2nd of October (his birth anniversary). There was hardly any pointed celebrations highlighting his contributions to Indian independence movement and his eventual success in obtaining it.
It was funny that more than 90% of the students of Gandhian Philosophy in a Gujarat Institute come from abroad – few Indians are trying to learn that philosophy in today’s context. Not surprising, right?
The argument that all Indian students know about Gandhiji’s contributions and his philosophy is just hogwash – yes everybody reads his life history, but no school or curriculum highlights the importance and relevance of his philosophy of non-violence – which is a much needed education today for all the school children.
So, I am concerned that we are sowing the seeds for a strengthening of a materialistic Indian generation, which would simply not recognize the contributions of the founding father of this country. The older generation is not doing anything about this either – they seem to be having a rather short memory. Just wearing a Gandhi cap and a white dress does not imply that someone follows a Gandhian tradition and philosophy. It needs to be internalized.
Going forward, the Ministry of Education should insist that all curricula of all different systems of primary and secondary education should cover the Gandhian Philosophy in depth and also offer it as an elective subject in the secondary school. In a violent world which is characterized by unrelenting animosity, we have to take steps to ensure that the next generation develops a balanced sense of the world and India’s seminal role in ensuring world peace.
6th October 2012