Grandson of Gandhi discusses political tensions, legacies of activists
Alvin Kraja | Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, gave a lecture called “Is the Dream Alive? Reflections on Race, Nationality and the Legacies of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King” at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies on Tuesday. The lecture was part of a joint event hosted by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies.
Gandhi is a biographer and research professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has written numerous books, including “A Tale of Two Revolts: India 1857 & the American Civil War” and “Mohandas: A True Story of a Man, His People and an Empire.”
Gandhi started his talk about the current situation in India with the recent government and its policies. He said he is “tremendously troubled of what is happening in India.”
According to Gandhi, he has always tried to answer the question “Why the world today is the way it is.”
Gandhi argued that the norms of society have shifted from peace and mutual respect for each other to hierarchy and domination. He said his grandfather saw future India from a different perspective from the current leaders of the governments.
“[Mahatma] Gandhi saw people together. India in his vision belongs to one another,” he said. ”All Indians are human beings that share the same space.”
Gandhi said the discrimination of the Muslim Indians still continues, and the government has not taken the right measures to fix this issue.
“[There is a] polluted landscape in India right now,” he said. ”Free India should not belong to the majority of the religion, but to all.”
Since 79.8% of Indians are Hindu, they have gained more privileges and despise the Indian Muslims, he said.
According to Gandhi, this behavior of Hindus is not right because “Hinduism teaches to return good from evil.”
He also cited a quote from his grandfather regarding the segregation of religion, supporting the idea that everyone is welcomed in India regardless of their religion.
“God is one even if addressed by different names,” he said.
Gandhi further discussed the discrimination of Muslims in India by comparing the United States with India.
“A second-generation Indian American is able to run for president, but in India, Muslims should prove their loyalty to the country in order to vote,” he said.
The lecture also mentioned the current situation in Kashmir. According to Gandhi, Kashmir has only eight million citizens, but it is speculated that the Indian government has sent more than 500,000 soldiers to patrol this area. He said this high concentration of soldiers is a result of the Kashmir population being 95% Muslim.
“History does not provide roadmaps for what happens in the future,” he said. “Gandhi and King provided roadmaps for different situations. So what do we do?”
To Gandhi, the solution to these problems is to express our opinions and actively protest for our rights.
“We must speak out, we must inform, pass the new when we can,” he said. “Each of us should search for the next step.”
To end his lecture, Gandhi mentioned the lack of knowledge of other cultures as very critical today.
“We have neglected to know our fellow human being,” he said.
If people were to learn more about a different culture, they would understand each other more, and this knowledge would solve the problems he mentioned throughout the lecture, Gandhi said.