The Institute of Gandhian Studies (Gandhi Vichar Parishad) is an educational and public charitable institution that has been set-up as one of the commemorative projects of the Jamnalal Bajaj Centenary Year. It was established at Wardha in October 7, 1987. The object of the Institute is to promote, organize, sponsor, undertake the study of the life and thought of Mahatma Gandhi as well as the predecessors of Gandhi and contemporary thinkers and social revolutionaries. It offers courses of study of different durations oriented towards the academic community including the Departments of Gandhian Studies in universities, thinkers, religious groups, activists, trade unionists, panchayat leaders, workers among unorganized labour, workers of voluntary/grass root organisations, women, youth, students and similar other groups. The campus of the Institute is also the venue of district level Renewable Energy Education Park.
More than six decades have passed since Gandhi fell to the bullets of an assassin. But every year in these decades has only heightened the global awareness of the dimensions and the meaning of his message. A very real threat to survival is threatening humanity to look for alternative to the paths that have led it to the brink of extinction. Violence and war seem to have become counter-productive as instruments for settling differences or resolving conflicts. Giant strides in science and technology have no doubt added to the knowledge and power at the disposal of man, but not to peace of mind in the individual or harmony in society, nor to the liquidation of want and poverty, illness and ignorance.
Sophistication in technology has not led to freedom, but have focused attention on the potential for increasing disparities; for centralization and concentration of power, the danger of divorcing the processes of production from the personality and creativity of the individual human being; the profligate and thoughtless depletion of non-replaceable natural resources, causing irreparable damage to and imbalance in the eco-system, in turn posing a threat to the survival of man and the natural and social ethos of the planet. The relentless pursuit of material goals has led to a grave crisis in the psyche of the individual and society.
These threats to its very existence have made humanity commence a search for:
- New means for the resolution of conflicts and differences in opinion and outlook.
- Values that will promote individual liberty and progress while strengthening the forces of cohesion.
- A new blend of the spirit of science and the role that man has inherited consequent on his entry into realms that give him access to the power of the spirit.
- A new technology that will no longer result in alienation, robotization, dehumanization and exploitation, but enable man to exercise his creative talents and achieve liberty and equality.
- A new era in which government will rest on the principles of self-government, and humanity will out-grow narrow loyalties that can place a question mark before the survival of man
Many thinkers and activists, in the world today, have begun to turn to the life, thoughts and methods of Mahatma Gandhi to look for solutions that can take humanity in this direction. Many countries have witnessed popular movements for freedom, equality and peace, which drew inspiration from the life and methods of Gandhi. Activists and thinkers of the younger generation in the world are looking to the alternative path that Gandhi showed, in the belief that his message and testament are of crucial significance to the survival of mankind.
Of all the influences that contributed to the making of the personality of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj none was greater than his close association with Gandhi, and his implicit faith in the epochal significance of Gandhi’s life, message and the concept of Trusteeship. He asked Gandhi to consider him as the Mahatma’s fifth son, thereby accepting a share of the responsibility for preserving and transmitting the heritage of Gandhian thought to succeeding generations. The establishment of the Institute was thus a fitting memorial to the life and work of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj in his Birth Centenary Year.
A Brief History
Gandhi Vichar Parishad has its roots in the early fifties, when some close associates of Gandhi decided, shortly after his death, that there was a need for an Institution which would undertake the scientific study and analysis of Gandhian Thought and methods for the benefit of the younger generation. The founding members included such eminent Gandhian scholars such as Kaka Saheb Kalelkar, Shri J. C. Kumarappa, Shri K.G. Mashruwala, Shri Shankar Rao Deo, Shri G. Ramachandran, Shri S. N. Agarawal and Shri Satish Chandra Dasgupta.
Kaka Saheb Kalelkar was its first Chairman, and Shri Shankar Rao Deo and Shri Ravindra Varma were Secretaries. The Bajaj family was happy to offer one of its buildings in the premises of Bajawadi at Wardha for Gandhi Vichar Parishad in 1951-52. In 1955, the Gandhi Vichar Parishad was shifted to Delhi. The march of history and the demands of organization caused the Parishad to be merged into the Gandhi Smark Nidhi as the Tatva Prachar Vibhag (Ideology Dissemination Department). It was revived and revitalised in the late Eighties by the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. That was the beginning of the new Gandhi Vichar Parishad or Institute of Gandhian Studies at Wardha.
The Institute of Gandhian Studies or Gandhi Vichar Parishad in its present form was established at Wardha on October 7, 1987. Initially the Institute started its activities within the Campus of Mahatma Gandhi,s Ashram at Sevagram. In the course of time, it has been moved to its new campus at Gopuri. Late Shri Ravindra Varma, freedom fighter, Gandhian activist and well known scholar was the founder Chairman of this Institute. The establishment of the Institute was the result of vision and work of Shri Ravindra Varma along with the active interest and full support of Shri Ramkrishna Bajaj, the then Chairman of the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation. Shri Ravindra Varma served as the Chairman of the Institute from its inception till May 2000. From May 2000 onwards Justice Chandrsekhar Dharmadhikari has been guiding the activities of the Institute as the Chairman of the Institute.
Shri Ravindra Varma, founder Chairman of the Institute, was the first director of the Institute. He served as Director of the Institute from its inception to May 1999. Dr. Raman Modi, formerly of Gujarat Vidyapith, followed him as Director of the Institute. He served the Institute from 1999 to 2005.Shri Bharat Mahodaya has been serving as the Director of the Institute from 2005 onwards.
Dr. Benudhar Pradhan, formerly Professor and head of Department of Political Science of Utkal University, was the first Dean of Studies and Research of the Institute. He served as the Dean from August 1991 to July 1998. He was followed by Prof. Ranjit Chaudhari as the Dean of Studies of the Institute. He served as the Dean of the Institute from August 1998 to April 2006. Dr. Siby K. Joseph has been serving as the Dean of Studies and Research of the Institute from August 2006 onwards.
During these years, the Institute has succeeded in establishing a high reputation for the variety of the courses of studies it offers, and for its uniqueness and academic excellence. It is now acclaimed as an outstanding institution by the academic community, thinkers, activists, trade unionists, youth, students, Gandhian workers and traditional organisations engaged in Gandhian work. These years also marked the extension of the activities of the Institute from the regional/national level to the international plane. The international programmes and courses organized by the Institute have opened up new vistas and area of activities. These programmes have created new expectations and wider acceptance of the credibility and competence of the Institute. Many institutions from abroad expect the Institute to run training programmes required for non-violent activists and academics and take up pioneering efforts in the field of peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, development and other similar areas.
The object of the Institute is to promote, organize, sponsor, undertake the study of the life and thought of Mahatma Gandhi as well as the predecessors of Gandhi and contemporary thinkers and social revolutionaries who have drawn inspiration from Gandhi, or arrived at similar views as a result of their own experience and reflections, as also, to undertake comparative studies of the philosophy and methodology of Gandhi and other thinkers and social revolutionaries, and to carry out the above object:
- To undertake and organize the study of, and research on,
- the life, work, philosophy and the methodology of Mahatma Gandhi,
- the content and implications of Gandhian thought in all aspects and fields of social life;
- the nature of social institutions and relationships from the Gandhian point of view;
- concepts of development and social justice at the micro-level, specially in rural/tribal areas, based on Gandhian ideas;
- popular movements or programmes of action that have been/are undertaken in prsuit of the objectives of a Gandhian social order or adopting methods that draw inspiration from the Gandhian approach of non-violence and peaceful social transformation; and,
- current trends and events in the light of the Gandhian philosophy
- To organize and conduct courses of study, training programmes, lectures, and seminars and conferences on matters that are relevant to the above mentioned objectives;
- To Institute fellowships and scholarships at different levels, either for individuals working on their own or as research fellows in the Institute or other educational institutions, to promote study and research on various aspects of Gandhian thought and action;
- To organize and run a documentation-cum-indexing service to collect and disseminate information on the activities of institutions or individuals or movements that draw inspiration from Gandhian ideas;
- To organize extension work for the application and dissemination of Gandhian ideas;
- To organize consultancy and counseling services for the benefit of individuals/institutions engaged in Gandhian studies and the constructive programme;
- To undertake the publication of journals, magazines, tracts, monographs, books, reports of seminars and other study materials relevant to the above mentioned objects;
- To organize and assist in the maintenance of libraries and reading rooms to promote popular study of Gandhian thought;
- To co-operate with other institutions and organizations engaged in similar activities,
- To collect and disseminate information/data on institutions and individuals engaged in constructive work or the study and dissemination of Gandhian thought; and,
- To promote and carry on research in various aspects of Gandhian thought and activities, to carry out such activities and studies on a scientific basis and to work for the application of science and technology for rural development.
The objectives of the Institute are clearly reflected in the courses of study and guidance that it offers, both to the younger generation and to the more mature activists and workers.