Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Civil Disobedience in Pakistan

Really... who would have thunk it? But the remarkable turn of events in Lahore, now falling under the umbrella of the "Long March", breathe hope into an increasingly desperate situation. Mahatma Gandhi would indeed be proud to see his methodology bearing such wonderful fruits as the restoration of an independent judiciary. What is truly heartening is that the rule of law embodied by the Judiciary took center stage in this spontaneous, nonviolent (more or less) movement. It gives us all great hope that an institution other than the Army has a great role to play in Pakistan's future. And, finally there is an institution that the people of Pakistan can wholeheartedly support without inflicting damage on their own democratic evolution. Praise is truly due to the people of Pakistan.


Thursday, March 12, 2009


Every year on this day, the 12th of March, I imagine the scene in the early hours at Mahatma Gandhi's Sabarmati Ashram in 1930. He and a band of followers were getting ready to undertake a journey to the sea to make Salt. The long, arduous 206 mile stretch that lay ahead would become an eternal symbol of the path one must tread to the Truth. The Truth for the Mahatma was India's independence and the rights of its people to live with dignity. So, he chose to dramatize this struggle by opposing an unjust Salt Tax levied by the British. He could have protested in numerous ways but he chose to go back to Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience to wage this battle for India's soul.

I had the privilege to walk the last leg of this historic march to the sea on its 75th anniversary. And as the sea was visible in the distance to us marchers we could feel the weight of history once again. It reminded me not only the original march but numerous marches that punctuated the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King. The sheer act of fearlessly walking into the den of those who intimidate you, subjugate you and despise you with a moral strength that overpowers any army they could assemble is by far the most powerful force known.

Mahatma Gandhi was a blessing for India and also one of its greatest gifts. Today, we remember him and millions more, like my own grandfather, who marched along. Even now, in moments of solitude when we seek guidance to serve others we can hear those footsteps in the distance urging us to continue marching.