Mahatma’s life and work recalled at Gujarat Vidyapith convocation
GN Bureau | October 18, 2016
Is Gandhi still relevant today? Or, is it still a relevant question today? Ramachandra Guha, renowned public intellectual with a biography of Gandhi to his credit, says his political experiments are still relevant for those who want to change the world.
Delivering the convocation address at the Gujarat Vidyapith – the alternative university Gandhi established in Ahmedabad in 1920 – Guha spoke of three areas where Gandhi’s life and work are of particular significance: nonviolent society, environment and religion/spirituality.
Further on the question of relevance, he also highlighted the use of the Gandhian instrument of Satyagraha in post-independent India – with the Chipko movement of the 1970s, the Narmada movement in the 1980s and the anti-corruption agitation in Delhi and elsewhere in 2011.
Vidyapith kulpati (chancellor) Ilaben Bhatt gave the fresh graduates a new mantra, with a twist on the university’s motto, ‘That which liberates is knowledge’. She said, “That which liberates from poverty is knowledge.” Bhatt, the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), said, “Despite many efforts, the society is not free from poverty. Poverty and violence is a state that has arisen due to the society’s silence or sometimes active consent. ‘Produce more, consume more, spend more.’ But the resulting competition for resources is becoming more and more aggressive. That is the path to a violent society. We should direct our efforts towards the making of a nonviolent society.”
Kulnayak (vice-chancellor) Dr Anamik Shah underlined the difference between this university and other places of learning. The exposure to living together and spending time in villages orient students towards social concerns. He also referred to Gandhi’s concept of Gram Swaraj in the context of overflowing cities and emptying villages and the resulting crisis.
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