Thursday, January 29, 2009

Remembering a martyr

Statistically it's only been 61 years since Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated but it seems like many already see him as a relic from the ancient past. Not us at Young India. His core message of peace through nonviolence and its strategic execution continue to drive us and our initiatives.

As we look back to pay homage to a great soul we once again realize the transcendental nature of his message and method. We may have quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the past but it may be worth repeating his words:

Jesus gave me the message. Gandhi gave me the method.

The Gandhian method places the process of achieving peace at the same pedestal as its attainment. For him the process and its attainment were inseparable. We do not tire of sharing with you our interpretation of this process at:

What has aroused our great interest more recently has been how, knowingly or unknowingly, President Obama has approached different policy matters using the same Gandhian method for transformation. Overall, we feel that he sees government's role as an agent of nonviolent transformation through active civic participation - an essential element of the Gandhian method.

In our next few posts we will analyze some of President Obama's initiatives and see them in light of the Gandhian method. But today we pause to commit to peace within ourselves and the world we live in. That is what Gandhi ji did all his life and our commitment would be the ultimate and most fitting homage.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

A message we need to hear

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on All India Radio 50 years ago when he visited India to probe deeper into Gandhi's message of nonviolence and India's freedom movement that exemplified its success.

It has been Young India's persistent endeavor to project the Gandhi-King view of nonviolence as much more than the romanticism it invokes as a relic of the past: it is an active, dynamic and essential force for transformation. The moral supremacy inherent in nonviolence is often rejected as naive idealism. Not much different could be expected since the strategic understanding of this most potent transformative tool has barely been passed down from the generations that perfected it. And where it has its relevance debated and then ignored. But today the time to enshrine nonviolence as the guiding light for policy that places empowerment at its epicenter has arrived. And as Dr. King once said, "Peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of justice." To this I dare add forgiveness and reconciliation. I hope Dr. King's words inspire you as they have inspired me.

We will soon start laying out our ideas on how the nonviolent ethic can be weaved into the policymaking fabric of our democracies.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Inauguration of Barack Obama


At times of profound reflection I always go to the most eloquent rendering of one such occasion by one of the world's greatest statesman, Jawahar Lal Nehru, at the dawn of independent India's life:

A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.

On Tuesday the soul of American democracy will indeed find a remarkably greater utterance as a seemingly unbreakable glass ceiling will be shattered forever - an African American will become President. But Barack Obama represents way more than just the hopes and dreams of African Americans. He represents the aspirations and hopes of all Americans and the larger global family. In him America and the world sees someone whose improbable story inspires optimism even in these uncertain economic times. Billions of prayers are being made for him as a person and a leader. He will need them.

It is not that Barack Obama will carry the weight of our collective aspirations but by sharing his faith in our collective destiny he has helped restore ours. Obama's humility and demeanor allow us to place him among the good-hearted, ordinary folk we interact with. While being like one of us he clearly has something special. His ordinariness makes him extraordinary. And my sincere hope is that he stays the way he is.

A friend of mine complained why so much money was being spent on the inauguration in such tough times. It's a legitimate question. But no matter how poor the parents the birth of a child is always celebrated. Similarly, no matter how materially challenged America may be the American spirit, the democratic spirit, the human spirit deserve to celebrate the coming off age of a great nation. After 233 years another chapter of the American revolution is being written. Moments such as these need to be captured in our consciousness so that they continue to remind us how far we have traveled and what all we have overcome. No doubt an even longer journey awaits but as we pause to take stock a cheer is in order for democracy.

Many have said that this inauguration is a culmination of Dr. King's dream. I feel that its fulfillment is still ways to go but we are certainly taking a giant leap in the right direction. But on his 80th birth anniversary it is hard to give him a better gift. America has realized the strength of character over the superficiality of color.

At Young India we are eagerly looking forward to working with the new administration. We will continue our efforts to steer the bilateral relationship in a direction that empowers both peoples.
Our voice is a part of the great chorus that is being sung to welcome a new President and hope for a more perfect union in America and among the larger community of nations.