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"Guess What? We are lucky this time. October 2nd falls on a Friday !"
"Arre, We will have an extra holiday na! Ok, Tell me, Who is the father of the nation?"
"Hmm... Mahatma Gandhi?"
"Who was he?"
"A freedom fighter, I guess. The Indian government prints his face on all the currency notes, so that we can respect him properly. We have a holiday for his birthday"And?
The answers that follow are so varied and sometimes so heart breaking, that one does not have the courage to reproduce.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was the preeminent leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Using nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired similar movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. The honorific 'Mahatma' or 'high-souled', 'venerable' was applied to him first in 1914 in South Africa. He is also called Bapu.
Born and raised in a Hindu merchant family in coastal Gujarat, western India, and trained in law at the Inner Temple, London, Gandhi first used nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community's struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest against excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women's rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability and above all for achieving Swaraj or self-rule.
Gandhi led Indians in challenging the British-imposed salt tax with the 400 km Dandi Salt March in 1930, and later on calling for the British to Quit India in 1942. He was imprisoned for many years, upon many times, in both South Africa and in India. Gandhi attempted to practise nonviolence and truth in all situations, and advocated that others do the same. He lived modestly in a self-sufficient residential community and wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl, woven with yarn hand-spun on a charkha. He ate simple vegetarian food, and also undertook long fasts as a means of both self-purification and social protest.
Gandhi's vision of an independent India was based on religious pluralism. In August 1947, Britain granted independence, but the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two dominions, a Hindu-majority India and a Muslim- majority Pakistan. As many displaced Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs made their way to their new lands, religious violence broke out, especially in the Punjab and Bengal. Eschewing the official celebration of independence in Delhi, Gandhi visited the affected areas, attempting to provide solace. In the months following, he undertook several fasts unto death to promote religious harmony. Nathuram Godse, assassinated Gandhi on 30 January 1948 by firing three bullets into his chest at point-blank range.
Indians widely describe Gandhi as the father of the nation. The title "The Father of the Nation" for Gandhi is not an official title and has not been officially accorded by Government of India. Origin of this title is traced back to a radio address (on Singapore radio) on 6 Jul 1944 by Subhash Chandra Bose where Bose addressed Gandhi as "The Father of the Nation". On 28 Apr 1947, Sarojini Naidu during a conference also referred Gandhi as "Father of the Nation".
His birthday, 2 October, is commemorated as Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday, and world-wide as the International Day of Nonviolence..
More than ever, Bapu's ideals need to find resonance in this increasingly hyper sensitive, trigger happy and polarized world. And Mom, it starts with you for you carry the baton of change. Pass it on to your dear child and world will see new winds of change.