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Gandhigiri in South Africa

mumbai Updated: Oct 17, 2011 01:34 IST
Sucharita Kanjilal
Sucharita Kanjilal
Hindustan Times
Sucharita Kanjilal

While most students enjoy the day off on Gandhi Jayanti, ten management students from the city were in South Africa making Gandhi more relevant to today’s age.

The students, who returned last week, spent six days at the University of South Africa (UNISA), the largest distance education university in the world, in Pretoria.

The team participated in a series of seminars, presentations and interactions, attempting to re-interpret Gandhian philosophy and make it relevant to the current global scenario. “We divided different topics on the principles of Gandhi between ourselves in order to present them to the staff and students of UNISA,” said Tarun Dua, a second year student at Amity Global Business School, Goregaon “The general idea is that these principles are outdated, but we tried to show them how they can be used in today’s world, especially in the corporate scenario or in terms of rural development.”

The students were part of the Mumbai University New Initiative for Joint Action Now (MUNIJAN) that was launched two years ago to encourage B-school students to take up social initiatives based on Gandhian philosophy.

Participants visited various campuses and faculties of UNISA and also travelled to Othandweni Children’s Home, an orphanage in Johannesburg where they met Gandhi’s great granddaughter Kirti Menon, chairperson of the Gandhi Centenary Committee.

Other than spreading Gandhi’s ideals in South Africa, the students were also keen to bring back some ideas from the university. “Their university is doing a lot in terms of social development and structuring programmes that help the youth,” said Michelle Rodrigues, a second-year student at the Sydenham Institute of Management, Churchgate.

“They also lay emphasis on action-based research, which we lack back home, so that was something we will look into.”

For Vivek Jain, a student of Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Churchgate the trip was as much a chance to gauge foreign business opportunities as the chance to spread a great message.

“I am an MBA student, so I was immediately interested in the business opportunities there. I noted the kind of markets that operate in South Africa and was exposed to how people of various cultures and races thought about business,” he said.

Jain, who had never been abroad, also noted the warmth and hospitality extended to him and his fellow students. To make sure the trip was not entirely academic, special dinners were arranged for them with various dignitaries, along with a trip to a tiger reserve.