By Ravi R Ponangi
Atlanta, GA: Addressing the community on 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Consul General of India in Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni listing the activities and programs of Government of India said Gandhi’s teachings and philosophies are put into action by Government of India and the country is shaped by his policies. She also said “you can see whatever policy we have in the Government; Gandhi’s principles are adhered by Government of India.”
The Gandhi Foundation USA (GFUSA) together with the Consulate General of India, Atlanta, celebrated 151st birth anniversary, which is also ‘The United Nations International Day of Nonviolence on Friday, October 2. The day was clear, sunny, beautiful, memorable and historic.
In the morning, Consulate General of India, Atlanta had a celebration on Facebook live. Evening celebration was at the historic Gandhi Statue located on the grounds of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic site. Guests included Dr. Swati Kulkarni, Consul General of India in Atlanta, Georgia state senators Angelika Kausche and Sheikh Rehman and community leaders.
After paying floral tributes at the statue, the program started with an invocation by Venkatachalam Udhaya Kumar, PhD. from CDC. He rendered a poem on the life story of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. King. In conclusion he said Gandhi statue on the hallowed grounds of King center symbolized a shared call to justice and freedom to all. Then esteemed guests addressed the gathering.
Dr. Swati Kulkarni while listing various programs and activities undertaken by Government of India said India is resonating with Gandhi’s views, philosophies and principles. In her message, Dr. Swati Kulkarni said today’s event is a culmination of the yearlong festival of last year’s activities. We celebrated 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, 90th birth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 60th anniversary of King’s visit to India which is well known as King’s pilgrimage to India. Today we are celebrating all those activities. Dr. Kulkarni added that we wanted to have grand activities. But thanks to Covid and to all those challenges, social distancing and everything we are doing a little subdued and restrained activities today. This is the grand finale of the 150th birth anniversary and 151st birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Remembering Congressman John Lewis, she said he was the champion of civil rights, nonviolence and Gandhian values. His legacy as well as Gandhi will continue to endure and inspire all of us. Dr. Kulkarni said Mahatma Gandhi is a multi-faceted personality. He gave two most important watch words, Sarvodaya and Satyagraha. Satyagraha meaning that to remain stead fast to truth and Sarvodaya meaning upliftment for all. She noted that whatever policies that GOI have in the Government these two principles are adhered by the Government.
Listing the activities and programs by GOI, Dr. Kulkarni said Pre Covid, India seen as an emerging fastest economy. Post Covid we expect that India will recover fast. She said India’s developmental policies are peoples centric and humane centric. India is moving briskly towards elimination of poverty. Mahatma Gandhi was the first who talked so much about the importance of sanitation and that’s why Government of India has launched Swatch Bharat, clean India program. It is one of the Government initiated and people funded program. India is using technology for transforming social land scape of the country. GOI is providing much needed electricity, water and housing to the community. India is having ambitious infrastructure development activities like road, high ways, bullet train, launching moon mission etc., Most importantly during Covid era, India is the one which shown to the world that India is the pharma of the world. India has given drugs, the medicines at low cost at affordable cost with quality of international standard to many countries. At the same time in India ‘National health protection mission’ where 500 million Indians have been enrolled and they are getting affordable treatment for the Covid also. GOI also provided cooking gas to 80 million families. All these activities are somehow or other connected to Gandhian thoughts. Dr. Kulkarni said we find resonance as per Gandhian views, philosophies and principles are concerned.
On the international front the substantial goals are also reflective of Gandhi’s philosophies. India’s membership in international solar alliance is again Gandhi’s philosophy. India is in UN. India got a membership for 2-year period. India represents as advocators of dialogue and proponent of international law. All these are Gandhi’s teachings and philosophies what GOI put into active. That’s how we are leading our nation. That is how our nation is shaped by Gandhi’s policies. She exhorted the community to dedicate to his timeless message and make the world a better place to live in.
Angelika Kausche, the Democratic State Representative for Georgia House District 50 said today entire world is celebrating Gandhi Jayanti. We are celebrating the life of a giant who played a prominent role in India’s freedom. We are celebrating Gandhi’s principles of nonviolence and peace. Friends and followers of Gandhi foundation celebrating the legacies of so many heroes around the world what an honor standing here at King center to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi. Two men moved mountains through peaceful disobedience. She stressed the need to follow Gandhian example to overcome the challenges we face today. Rep. Angelika expressed hope leaders across the world come together and eradicate the violence. In conclusion she said that I am honored to stand before a statue such a great Indian and great human for continuing to celebrate the life and legacy in the US and around the world.
Prof. Carolyn Boudreaux, candidate for US house of representatives, Georgia 7th congressional district (D) in a message she said “One of the Gandhi’s biggest lesson is be the change we wish to see in the world., he inspired so many people including Georgia’s very own Dr. king to choose peace, love, non-violence to change the world as we know today.”
Senator Sheikh Rahman, Georgia state Senate district 5 said “One thing to say philosophy of Gandhi is peace. Peace is more important these days not only in this country but all over the world. I live by the same philosophy and we need peace until the end of this world. We continue to follow the Gandhi philosophy to make this world better to live”.
A well-known Gandhian and saint Swami Adhyatmananda from India in a message said “May this festival of birthday of Rev. Bapuji Mahatma Gandhiji bring message of Truth, Nonviolence, purity and character to one and all. Remember that Gandhiji’ s strength was his daily prayer. He prayed unfailingly. He prayed from the core of his heart. He never failed in his prayers. He said, “no prayers are un answered. Sooner or later all prayers are answered.”
Later, at the Gandhi statue, CGI Dr. Swati Kulkarni led the gathering in a Peace March to the King Crypts and laid wreaths at the Crypts of Dr. King and his wife Mrs. Coretta Scott King.
Earlier Antony Thaliath, GFUSA-Executive Director, welcomed the gathering at the statue. Subash Razdan, GFUSA-Chairman then recognized and thanked all dignitaries, community leaders and supporters for gathering in reverence for the Mahatma. He gave a brief background of GFUSA’s service goals and its partnerships with Embassy of India, the Consulate General of India-Atlanta, the King Center, the US National Park Service and numerous communities and their respective organizations. K.V. Thrivikraman, secretary of the foundation proposed vote of thanks.
The statue of Mohandas K. Gandhi, designed by sculptor Ram Sutar, was donated by The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in collaboration with The National Federation of Indian American Associations and The Embassy of India, USA and dedicated at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site on January 24, 1998. The Gandhi statue in Atlanta is proving to be a big magnet as more than a million visitors come to the King Historic site annually to marvel and pay homage to the invaluable bond between MLK Jr. and the Mahatma.
By Ravi R Ponangi