2nd of October, 2013 have been celebrated as Gandhiji's 144th birth anniversary. This day has been celebrated as Ahimsa Din or day of non-violence in the whole world for the past 7 years.
Gandhiji's birth anniversary and his death anniversary are days when his philosophy and his value system are remembered through various ways by individuals and at the national level.
In Germany, for school going children, an essay competition was held on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary. The essay that was selected as the best was written by a Std. 8 girl. She wrote "if only my friend had read Gandhiji's story of my experiments with truth he would never have killed anyone.” You see they had all been provided with Gandhiji's autobiography for reference for this competition. Even today this book gives us an insight into the situation we are in and the relevance of the book becomes even more meaningful.
Today we find a very different kind of society in metros like Pune and Mumbai where teenagers and youth have an altogether different outlook, a generation who believes more in partying instead of spending time with elders at home. This is indeed a very depressing state of affairs and gives rise to anxiety. My generation of post-independence era was not fortunate to see Gandhiji. We saw his photos and came to know about him The slogan "untouchability is a sin against humanity", was printed on the back of all post cards by the Post and Telegraph Department in 1969, which was the birth centenary year of Gandhiji. We did not understand this message in those days. In the same year biographies written by Mr. P.L.Deshpande and Mr.Ba.Bha.Borkar on Gandhiji were also published. Prof. Vasant Bapat's lines "uchalales tu mith muthbhar, samrajyacha khachala paya." or the famous song in Hindi "Sabarmati ke sant tune kar diya kamal" were popularand heard. But the unfortunatepart was that he did not exist in our syllabus.
Gandhiji writes about how he got into bad company at school and how he cheated his father, but then he gave a written confession of the wrongs he had done. The young Mohan saw tears in his father’s eyes on reading the note and he describes his feelings in his autobiography. This is the only chapter in this great man's life that we read in our syllabus. This and a few other inconsequential references are the only ones found in our school and college syllabus.
Maharashtra boasts of being showered with the benevolence of Gandhiji where he found many followers. Today we have completely forgotten him. Keeping him out of the curriculum, we as teachers or parents have failed to teach values like tolerance, nonviolence or equality of religion to our students and children. The consequences are very obvious in today's' society.
Big parties, rave parties in metros or similar but smaller versions in the backward areas have become the talk of the town. Small children becoming addicted to substances like whitener and so many other chemicals or non-chemicals! Wouldn't it be difficult to understand what their parents and teachers feel while reading about these occurrences? A feeling of helplessness is shown even on various TV channels depicting all the disobedience and inadequacies in our children as a result of urbanization and sudden prosperity.
There is an urgent need to give a thought to our responsibility as parents. Have I failed in my duty in nurturing my child? Have I taught him to become a responsible member of this society? Gandhiji himself had tried to give complete justice to his duty as a father while rearing his four offsprings. Yet his eldest son Harilal drifted away from him forever. He has expressed the pain of this in his letters. He, however, was more careful with his three younger sons Manilal, Ramdas and Devdas who carried the flame forward.
The impoverished Harilal fails to account for some cotton reels he has taken. His father promptly advises the concerned trader to lodge a police complaint. This trader stares at him, nonplussed and Gandhiji then tells him something which we all ought to take into account seriously. These famous words appeared in the film 'Gandhi - My Father', by Anil Kapoor and Firoz Abbas Khan, "Hum apne bachchon ke aparath ka bachao kab tak karenge ?" (How long will we cover up the wrong doings of our children.)
It is imperative to take this opportunity to put forth his teachings today. May be it will help the youth today! For we do not want repetitions of what happened to little Shubham Shirke and Shubh Rawal (in Pune City), who were ruthlessly murdered by their so called friends! And all for the sake of money. They thought they could demand a ransom and earn lakhs in a jiffy! After these incidents we saw more shameful deeds by youngsters in Delhi and Mumbai in gang rape and murders. These are the most shameful illustrations of inhumanity. Juvenile delinquency is on the rise. 15/16 year olds are committing heinous crimes like murder under the influence of someone. There are so many incidences of delinquency which come to light these days. It is important to ponder seriously on why this increase in violence and greed is happening all around us. Media, teachers and parents must give serious thought to this.
Leaders from world over come to pay homage to Gandhiji at the Rajghat. Former US President Mr. Bill Clinton visited this great man's Samadhi 13 years ago. He was accompanied by his daughter Chelsa. The US President Mr. Barack Obama also paid respect to the Father of our nation some 3 years ago. They do understand that his philosophy and his principles are not to be exhibited in books and photographs but need to be practiced in our daily life. Don't we find a similarity in Aung San Suu Kyi's nonviolent revolution against the Myanmar Military Rule for Democracy?
Gandhiji's teachings are a part of our legacy! We must take it upon ourselves to adhere to and teach our children to follow principles like simplicity, honesty, tolerance and equality. To think beyond the barriers of dishonesty, casteism or the boundaries of religion and practice Humanity instead. Believing in goodness and that good things can happen will help this new generation to develop a positive attitude. To deny this rich legacy would be suicidal! Let us pledge that we will not allow this to happen!