Campaign aims to check India’s growing culture of violence

By Matters India Reporter

Mumbai, Jan. 9, 2019: Various civil society organizations and individuals in India plan to commemorate the 71th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi by appealing the nation to resist and confront the growing culture of violence facing the country.

India observes January 30 as Mahatma Gandhi’s Martyrdom Day. The leader of the Indian freedom movement was shot dead by a Hindu extremist on that day in 1948.

The campaign is led by the India Unites for Non-Violence and Harmony, a non-political, citizen led campaign.

A press release from the NGO says Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by fundamentalist forces opposed to his idea of Swaraj promoting nation-building on the principles of equality of all citizens, Hindu -Muslim unity and communal harmony. Gandhi’s Swaraj focused on the composite nature of Indian nationalism.

Under Gandhi’s leadership, the freedom movement successfully mobilized and drew people into the struggle for independence against colonial rule: men and women, people from all faiths, regions, speaking different languages, having varied castes, traditions, customs, cultures, beliefs and inhabitants of both rural and urban areas.

He dreamt of an India where people lived together and respected each other’s differences; where interactions, protest and negotiations would be shaped by the principle of non-violence, the statement adds..

Today, 70 years after independence, we are witnessing a rise in hatred and prejudices based on religion, caste, gender, sexuality, region and class. Society is becoming increasingly intolerant and violent. Communal violence, caste based violence and hate crimes are on the upsurge. As citizens we can no longer be silent spectators to this growing ill will, hatred and violence. We must come together to protect the secular, pluralistic and democratic fiber of the country.

The campaign appeals to all Indian citizens to observe one-minute silence at either 11 am or 5:17 on January 30 and take a pledge for non-violence and harmony.

It wants groups to prepare for the January 30 program by organizing peace rallies, awareness programs, public meetings, interactions in educational institutions and communities.

The campaign will organize a convention on non-violence and harmony on January 30 at Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Breach Candy, in Mumbai. Eminent citizens, public intellectuals, media personalities, legal luminaries are expected to address the convention.

“We appeal to all citizens to come together through this campaign to build resistance against the forces of intolerance and to take the message of non-violence and harmony to millions of Indians through various networks, organizations, institutions and social media platforms,” the statement says.

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