NATIONAL

India celebrates Gandhi’s legacy at 150th birth anniversary

By Joel Lee

President Moon Jae-in said Gandhi had inspired Korean independence fighters against Japanese colonial rule as well as last year’s candlelight demonstrations against impeached President Park Geun-hye.

  • Published : Oct 8, 2018 - 16:34
  • Updated : Oct 8, 2018 - 16:34
The Indian Embassy in Seoul has begun a two-year commemoration of national hero Mohandas K. Gandhi, commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, ahead of the 150th anniversary of his birth next year.

The diplomatic mission is preparing for a series of events to mark the legacy of India’s foremost freedom fighter, who waged a nonviolent struggle against British colonial rule and inspired the world toward peace.

“Mahatma Gandhi, who was born on Oct. 2, 1869, is revered in India as Bapu, the father of the nation and the world over as the ‘Mahatma’ or ‘Great Soul.’ He provided a steadfast, principled and righteous leadership for India’s freedom struggle,” said Indian Ambassador to Korea Sripriya Ranganathan at a commemorative event at the embassy on Oct. 2.

“He did so by tapping into the strength of his morality and character. He succeeded in adapting principles of social integration, mutual respect, righteous behavior and moral high ground to seek political objectives. He tirelessly fought to uplift socially and economically backward sections of the society.”

Gandhi’s leadership formed the basis of the Indian Constitution’s egalitarian provisions, she added. 

Indian Ambassador to Korea Sripriya Ranganathan (second from right), Korean Ambassador for Public Diplomacy Bahk Sahng-hoon (second from left), Nepalese Ambassador Arjun Jung Bahadur Singh (left) and Korean poet Padma Shri Kim Yang-shik light candles at an event marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi at the embassy in Seoul on Oct. 2. (Joel Lee/The Korea Herald)

“The world today faces many challenges to peace, and there is an even greater propensity to resort to violence to resolve conflicts,” she said. “Gandhi’s ideals of truth, nonviolence, peace, amity, brotherhood and cooperation remain as valid today as they were in his days.”

In paying tribute, Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently reminded his compatriots of Gandhi’s life’s work, wherein he exhorted people to sympathize with and help society’s poorest and weakest members.

A key initiative by the Indian government in honor of Gandhi is the Swachh Bharat Mission to clean up India’s infrastructure, she continued, adding that “a clean India is the best tribute we can pay to the Mahatma.”

Modi has called upon all Indians to devote themselves to “Swachchhata,” or the cleanliness of their motherland, according to the envoy. “By picking up a broom and sweeping the street himself, Prime Minister Modi has shown that that there is no loss of dignity for anyone in keeping our workplaces, communal spaces and homes clean.”

Korean Ambassador for Public Diplomacy Bahk Sahng-hoon noted that Gandhi’s pursuit of humanism led the United Nations to designate Oct. 2 as the international day of nonviolence in 2007.

“Our two nations share common experiences of overcoming past colonial rules, developing stable democracies and achieving remarkable economic progress,” he said. “Our two countries established a strategic partnership in 2010 and agreed to upgrade it to a special strategic partnership in 2015 to forge a more dynamic and mutually beneficial relationship.”

During President Moon Jae-in’s official visit to India in July, Bahk mentioned, he and Modi visited the Gandhi Memorial Museum in Delhi together, during which Moon said Gandhi had inspired Korean independence fighters against Japanese colonial rule as well as last year’s candlelight demonstrations against impeached President Park Geun-hye.

By Joel Lee (joel@heraldcorp.com)