Ciaran from Ireland is readying a thesis on Mahatma Gandhi at the University College Dublin. It was by chance that he heard about 'Janadesh 2007' through a network of friends and decided to come to India and be a part of it.
He is not regretting the decision a bit. "I have read a lot about Gandhi, his life and works. The rally seems to be replicating his philosophy. I have been with the procession for about five days now and it has been a learning experience," Ciaran said.
Not only Ciaran, the rally has attracted several foreigners from across the world. From countries as diverse as Brazil, Kyrghystan, Japan, Kenya, China, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, Canada and Nepal, among others.
Anna and Vanderlu from Brazil did a bit of traveling on their own to join the rally near Mathura. They interacted with the activists of Ekta Parishad at a social forum and were invited to be a part of it. The couple is also closely involved in a land reform movement back home, and their experience in India has bolstered their belief that the poor face the same set of problems everywhere. "Even in Brazil, 2 per cent of the people own about 50 per cent of the land. We did a similar movement in Brazil recently where about 12,000 people marched to Brasilia demanding land reforms," said Sao Paolo-based Anna.
Jonathan Weedon, a Scot, has been coordinating the visit and participation of foreigners in the rally. "I am a psychology graduate and work in the outsourcing industry. But when my sister told me about this movement, I decided to come to India and participate in it. I wanted to see the real India," Weedon said.
For the last several weeks, that real India has fascinated the lanky Scot. "It is difficult to put in words how I feel. On the day the rally began (October 2 in Gwalior), and in fact, the days leading to it, I could not believe the number of people who turned up to take part in the rally," Weedon said.
Another attraction has been the monks from Japan and China who are leading the procession from the front, singing and dancing to Tibetan chants.
A delegation from Kenya, part of the Kenyan Land Alliance (KLA), has also been an integral part of the movement.
KLA has been leading a similar movement to initiate a comprehensive land reform policy.