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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Gandhi continues to inspire struggles across the world: Nirupama Rao

PTI  Washington, October 16, 2013
First Published: 09:18 IST(16/10/2013) | Last Updated: 09:19 IST(16/10/2013)

Believing that the Gandhian philosophy has not yet lost its relevance, Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao said the Mahatma's message of non-violence 'continue to inspire struggles across the world'.

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Rao was delivering the 'Mahatma Gandhi-Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Lecture' on Tuesday at the Howard University in Washington.

"The influence of Gandhi has by no means ceased. His political action strategy, the well planned and executed application of non-violence continue to inspire struggles across the world. The management of diversity with courage and foresight is also an important lesson from Gandhi that we must learn " Rao said.

The Indian diplomat asserted that the best way to ensure the message of Gandhi lasted longer was to apply his thoughts and principles in daily lives, because the shelf life of these fundamentals is by no means limited. "The fact that Gandhi still lives through his message is also borne out by the work of the American Gene Sharp whose study of Gandhi has been exhaustive and detailed as his manual 'From Dictatorship to Democracy' translated into 30 languages would suggest.

"Sharp lists '198 Methods of non-violent Action' for practitioners to follow.These include prayers and worship, singing, assembling to protest," she said.

Noting that the concept and philosophy of non-violence espoused by Gandhi was a living construct and not a theoretical abstraction, she said the Mahatma applied it to the arena of India's freedom struggle.

"The words of the Sermon on the Mount and of the Bhagavad Gita inspired him together with those of the Russian writer Tolstoy to develop 'Satyagraha' or Truth Force ? the introduction of truth and gentleness in the political, that is the national life. This was not a passive force. For him truth and non-violence are perhaps the activist weapons you have in the world," she said.

While supporting Arab Spring, Rao said the uprising was influenced by Gandhian principles.

"The young bloggers who launched the Arab Spring two years ago were inspired by Gandhi. It is unfortunate that their struggle has not yet consolidated its strength as it seeks more democracy, fundamental freedoms, and economic opportunities," she said.


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