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100 years of Satyagraha observed

india Updated: Sep 29, 2006 20:44 IST

Mahatma Gandhi's teachings of Satyagraha and Ahimsa are becoming more popular with the youth of today, said veteran Gandhians on Monday as the nation marked the birth of non-violence as a means of resistance advocated by Gandhi in South Africa 100 years ago.

"The day is a sweet reminder of a great movement that is still relevant for any civilisation. I think the 21st century belongs to this ideology, and people especially youngsters must follow the path of the Mahatma to fight corruption and injustice," said veteran Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande.

The concept of Satyagraha or truthful passive resistance, took its birth at the Empire Theatre in Johannesburg on Sep 11, 1906. The meeting was convened to oppose a proposed new legislation on the Indian community in South Africa.

"The ideology that gave us independence is gaining popularity among youngsters and it's certainly a positive indication," Deshpande said, referring to a recent survey that found 76 per cent youngsters in India consider Gandhi as their icon.

Deshpande, also a Rajya Sabha member, said that from cinematic themes to special educational courses, Gandhi's teachings were making a comeback.

"It seems the country is set for a transformation on the lines of Gandhian theories. And the centenary celebration will act as a catalyst to remind us to strengthen our commitment for a better tomorrow," she added.

KK Mukhopadhya, a Gandhian and former director of the Gandhi Bhawan in Delhi University, said: "Gandhi's popularity is on the rise. From cinema to dedicated courses in colleges, Gandhiji is covering new grounds and the response is quite encouraging."

According to Delhi University authorities, a 100-mark examination paper termed "Understanding Gandhi" in the second year of the BA programme had fetched excellent response from students. Plans are afoot to rope in actors who have played Gandhi in films and theatre to make the course more appealing for students.

Several cultural programmes and exhibitions were organised to mark the day in the national capital.

The Gandhi Museum held an exhibition on Satyagraha, including portraits and write-ups on the life of the Mahatma in South Africa, the Dandi March and the Quit India Movement.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni released three books—"Satyagraha", "Friends of Gandhi" and "Satyagraha"—on the occasion.

Anil Dutta Mishra, deputy director of the museum, said: "We have also arranged for special lectures for the public to understand Gandhi better."

The Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti in New Delhi exhibited rare photographs of Mahatma and his struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

Sabita Singh, director of the organisation, said that they have planned the year-long special cultural programmes in different parts of the country to commemorate the historic event.

"The year 1906 may rightly be described as a turning point in the life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It was in this year when he experienced a deep spiritual awakening within and dedicated himself to the service of humanity. We hope the centenary celebration will awaken many such souls," she said.

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