October 2 is the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a time to recall him. Gandhi happened to be an Indian but that is immaterial. He could have been of any nationality.
People like him belong to the world and their work and ideology becomes inspiration for millions across the globe.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in a high status rich family in west India. He went to England to study law.
India and many countries of the world including South Africa were colonized at that time.
One time while travelling in a train in South Africa, Gandhi was thrown out of the first class compartment because he was coloured.
He protested peacefully but firmly against the system of keeping discriminatory passes imposed by the then colonial government in South Africa. Ultimately the government had to remove the system.
That was a victory for truth.
Considering the plight of his mother land, he gave up a lucrative practice in South Africa and returned to India.
He gave up riches to lead a very simple and austere life to empathize with the poor masses of India.
He mobilized the masses and boosted their moral courage. Thousands stood behind him to protest peacefully by non cooperation and non violence against British rule.
Tyranny and oppression did not break the guts of the people. One has to see the movie, “ Gandhi”, by Richard Attenborough to see how the people fought bravely without arms against a mighty strong empire and won ultimately.
Gandhi also put great stress on physical work. He promoted the ideology that no work was menial and every person should do some physical work.
According to him, each person should assess how much they have contributed in terms of physical labour to the food they eat, in terms of growing, cutting, cleaning or cooking.
This makes the rich appreciate the labour done by the poor and encourages the labour class to have self dignity for their work, an element which is healthy for any society.
Ideology of Gandhi becomes more relevant in today’s scenario of recession in the world. He said that small industries should be promoted so that every person is employed and can earn enough to live with dignity. With rich and poor divide increasing in developing countries, people need to consider this strategy.
He not only talked in theory but took up spinning cloth by hand himself in his leisure time. This gained such a momentum that millions were spinning thread and cloth in that era.
It is said that the bridal dress for Mrs. Indira Gandhi was hand woven by her father Mr. Nehru, the first prime minister of free India.
It is a pleasant surprise to see that here in Rwanda also small industries are being promoted by the government.
Whatever literature one reads about Gandhi, it becomes clear that he led a very disciplined life regarding his sleep, food prayers and physical exercise and was therefore physically and mentally healthy till the end.
His life was cut short by the bullet of an assassin not by sickness.
He tried his best to bring about harmony and coordination among rich and poor and the different communities, something which is seen being put into practice in Rwanda.
Gandhi gained fame not because of his very good theories but because he put these theories into practice.
Today there is a need to revive these theories for removing the economic chaos and trend of violence prevailing globally.