As a part of the celebrations of the grand finale of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Embassy in Antananarivo organised a Gandhi Katha on the theme ‘The Oceanic Gandhi’ by renowned Gandhian Scholar Professor Makarand Paranjape, Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
The event was attended by participants from Madagascar and Comoros and was telecasted live on the Facebook page of the Embassy.
Professor Paranjape explained about the influences of oceans on the life of Mahatma Gandhi both metaphorically and literally. Mahatma Gandhi travelled as a young student across the Indian Ocean and through Atlantic Ocean to England for studying law. Thereafter he came back to India, only to travel to South Africa in 1893. He came back to India in 1915.
Prof Paranjape further talked about how oceans made Gandhi the person he was.
Gandhi saw the Atlantic Ocean that was a symbol of the imperialist and colonialist mindset during that time and the Indian Ocean as an area where values of friendship, truth, reciprocity thrived.
Metamorphically, Gandhi was a personality who was open to new ideas; he was a cultural cosmopolitan but a staunch nationalist, thus reflecting that different currents merged in him.
The Professor laid emphasis on how Gandhi believed that society should be like an ocean where each individual was a centre, capable of expressing himself/herself fully and thus expanding emotionally in concentric circles with acceptance to animate/inanimate objects.
Gandhi believed that the greatest force that can bring change is the human spirit and not arms or human mind. He harnessed this force and gave birth to the practice of Satyagraha.Paranjape shared interesting anecdotes from Mahatma Gandhi’s life. The Katha was followed by a question-answer session where the Professor explained other aspects of Gandhian values.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Abhay Kumar informed that Madagascar has over 18,000 people of Indian origin, mostly from Gujarat. Comoros has a small community of about 250 persons of Indian origin.
He added that Mahatma Gandhi’s words and teachings are even more relevant today in the 21st century when the planet is facing the unprecedented triple crisis of climate change, environmental pollution and biodiversity loss.