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British government to erect a statue of Mahatma Gandhi near UK Parliament

I am saddened by the reaction of a few misguided fellow indians who are campaigning against the statue of mahatma gandhi which is to be erected near the houses of parliament in Britain in recognition of his immense contribution to the free world. their protest is unwarranted and unnecessary and above all, counterproductive. if britain wishes to acknowledge the contribution of a leader who was also the architect for bringing an end to the british rule in india, then it surely speaks volumes about the great man. in fact, i shudder to think what our future would have been if it wasn’t for mahatma gandhi’s struggle for our independence. this is not the way to show gratitude to someone who put our interests above his own. how many people do we know who can give up everything for a cause that they believe in? gandhi ji was well educated and could have easily continued to live a comfortable life like most prefer to do. however, he instead rose to fulfil the needs of a nation which needed clear leadership and that too in a way which was in keeping with the peaceful psyche of its citizens. he gave up his personal comfort and wealth for the sake of freedom for his countrymen and today there are a few misguided individuals who choose to mock and belittle his great achievements.

history shows us that there are only a handful of such people to have lived and served in this way and mahatma gandhi was one of them. condemning or criticising our own leader, who is revered the world over, by finding faults in him is detrimental to our future as they are trying to tarnish our memory and the teachings of a great soul and we cannot take his wisdom forward to our future generations.

we cannot blame gandhi ji for the breakup of india. had some muslim leaders, unlike the sikhs not opted for a separate homeland for muslims, then partition would not have taken place. the modus operandi of an imperial power was very clear; first to ‘divide & rule’ and then to ‘divide & run’ and leave a sting in the independence and the call for a split to the country to separate some of the communities served this end. today britain is no longer an imperial power and its approach has changed completely hence the acknowledgement of our great leader.

the statue of someone who renounced violence and spoke of civility many decades ago, when violence is still being perpetrated today on minorities by majorities on a daily basis, will act as a great symbol of peace and harmony. his famous saying, “an eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” would serve us well today.

it serves to show us that an ideal can be achieved through peaceful remonstration and on the merits of the cause. in fact, he once said, “strength does not come from physical capacity. it comes from an indomitable will” this was the basis of the peaceful _quit india_ movement which brought india independence. mahatma gandhi’s wisdom and respect for his principles have spread the world over. in britain, apart from the british monarchs, no other person in history has had stamps issued to honour him as many times as this great man and over 50 countries have issued postage stamps to honour our fellow indian. this must be a matter of pride for us and the benefits from his leadership are now being enjoyed by over 1/5th of mankind.

mahatma gandhi was known affectionately as “bapuji” meaning _father_ in hindi). bapuji was not only an indian leader but a universal icon who inspired people across the globe with his ideals. the shape of the world as we see today owes him a great deal. the civil rights movement in america under dr. martin luther king was a direct result of bapuji’s inspiration. the struggle against apartheid in south africa by nelson mandela is yet another example with both bapuji and madiba holding strong beliefs on non-violent approaches to social change. history is littered with leaders who fought for their independence with arms which resulted in the death and destruction of millions of innocent lives but gandhi ji on the other hand advocated a peaceful and nonviolent freedom struggle based on true indian values.

he knew that violence would generate more violence which would result in the loss of hundreds and thousands of innocent indian and british lives to achieve the ultimate goal of freedom. the loss of even a single life was very precious to him whether indian or british. he knew that once people become violent, then their character would change forever and they then would remain violent even after their objectives had been achieved. we can still see such behavior in people in certain countries where leaders have encouraged violence to achieve their objectives; their gains are often temporary as violence becomes ingrained in the culture as a way to achieve your objectives and the spiral of violence continues.

bapuji was a visionary. where some leaders opted for a religious state, bapuji opted for a democratic and secular country. he knew that no country could move forward by keeping a section of its own population behind by systematically discriminating against them on the basis of their religion or caste. the result is in front of you. you can see how india is surging ahead whereas religion based countries are in turmoil. leaders in religious countries always keep their citizens down in the name of religion just to cover their own failings. this is the reason indians are shining across the globe because they are the product of a democratic and secular country and as a result can easily integrate in any society quickly.

bapuji was unique in many ways. he had no desire to rule people. instead, it was to serve them selflessly. we see leaders like robert mugabe who put their personal interests above that of their people and bring the people of their countries to their knees for their own selfish gains.

his message of love and nonviolence has become more important than ever before in our fractured world. peace can only come when world leaders start to follow gandhi ji’s ideals. his statue will reminds us of his contribution to nonviolence and a peaceful coexistence. those who attempt to denigrate the memory of bapuji, in fact do the same for humanity itself and this cannot be allowed to happen.

Dr. Rami Ranger MBE


The British sikh association

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