IAN- Home Page
TRF Home Page

Mahatma Gandhi’s Sesquicentennial Celebrations Begin with Event at Asia Society

GANDHI EVENT_IN01By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: Mahatma Gandhi is the apostle of satyagraha, the struggle against injustice through nonviolence. Gandhi’s Satyagraha helped achieve human rights for Indian migrant laborers in South Africa in the early 1900s and India’s independence from British rule in 1947. Others have adapted satyagraha for their own struggles for freedom such as the Black civil rights movement during the 1960s.   

Celebrations of Gandhi’s sesquecentenial (150th birth anniversary) are taking place throughout the world from October 2018 to October 2019. In Houston,  the sesquecentenial celebrations actually began last Sunday, September 30 afternoon with a special event at Asia Society Texas Center. The event included the screening of two documentaries related to  Gandhi’s legacy of nonviolence, followed by an insighful panel discussion.

Mahatma Gandhi Library (MGL) is at the forefront of a year-long sesquicentennial celebration of Gandhi’s birth on October 2, 1869. A series of celebratory events includes a speech contest, book reading, photo exhibit, and a 5K walk and 1000 Lights for Peace candle-lighting ceremony on October 14, 2018 and concluding with another 5K walk and 1000 Lights for Peace ceremony in October 2019. The activities are outlined in a new website: www.gandhi150.us.

The Asia Society event, “Celebrating Gandhi’s Legacy of Nonviolence”, featured two documentaries produced by Steve York, which focused on two of the greatest victories of nonviolent protests: Mahatma Gandhi’s Dandi salt march and the lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville.

Asia Society’s Saleena Jafry, Director of Business & Policy, who helped in creating the event, welcomed the audience, which had completely filled the Brown auditorium.

In his introductory remarks, India’s Counsel General in Houston, Dr. Anupam Ray, thanked MGL Trustees, Atul Kothari and Dev Mahajan and others, for their tireless efforts in propagating Gandhi’s message in Houston and recalled Albert Einstein’s quote about Gandhi: “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a man as this one, ever in flesh and blood, walked upon this Earth.”

MGL Trustee Ajit Paralkar then outlined the series of events that will take place during the sesquecentenial celebrations.

Steve York’s documentaries, “A Force More Powerful”, focused on Gandhi’s legacy by showing archival footage of Gandhi’s 250-mile walk to make salt at the coastal town of Dandi in protest against British tax on the local production of salt. The physical injuries suffered by Gandhi’s followers, as a result of police lathi charges, gained global attention to the injustices of Britishcolonial rule.

The second documentary showed footage of the lunch counter sit-ins in Nashville during 1959 of Black students, organized by Rev. Ralph Lawson. He was influenced by Gandhi during his three-year stay in India.

A panel discussion following the documentary screenings featured Houston civic leader Anthony W. Hall, Jr. (left), award-winnings filmmaker Steve York,  MGL Trustee Atul Kothari with TSU Professor Dr. Carla Brailey serving as the moderator.

A panel discussion following the documentary screenings featured Houston civic leader Anthony W. Hall, Jr. (left), award-winnings filmmaker Steve York,  MGL Trustee Atul Kothari with TSU Professor Dr. Carla Brailey serving as the moderator.

The panel discussion, which followed the documentary screenings, was moderated by TSU Sociology Professor Dr. Carla Brailey, a subject matter expert on social justice.

“Gandhi remains, in my mind, an eternal influence on Indians anywhere in the world,” Mr. Kothari said. “He showed the way to settle conflicts like no one has done in human history.”

“I took to heart Gandhi’s message to pursue the search for truth nonvilently,” Kothari explained further.

Prior to focusing on nonviolence, Steve York had produced films on military strategies such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Allied invasion of Europe on D-Day.

“It stuck me that nonviolence strategy is very similar to military strategies. Subsequently, I undertook to document six struggles where nonviolence prevailed, two of which you saw today.”

Mahatma Gandhi Library (MGL) has acquired an three-acre property in southwest Houston to construct an Eternal Gandhi Museum.

Mahatma Gandhi Library (MGL) has acquired an three-acre property in southwest Houston to construct an Eternal Gandhi Museum.

Civic leader Anthony Hall recalled his days of nonviolent protests during the civil rights movement and and drew a parallel to football player Colin Kaepernick’s taking a knee during the national anthem to protest against police violence against Black citizens.

In conclusion, MGL Trustee Manish Wani provided the audience with background information on the Eternal Gandhi multimedia museum to be be built in southwest Houston (near the intersection of Riceville School Road & Sam Houston Tollway).

The reception following the panel discussion featured hot tea, coffee and Indian snacks organized by Mahesh Shah of Dawat Catering

For additional information, visit Mahatma Gandhi Library’s sites: gandhilibrary.org and www.gandhi150.us. Information on the Eternal Gandhi Museum is located at http://eternalgandhi.us/

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *