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Ms. Ela Gandhi Delivers Lectures at Universities in Nur-Sultan

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Ms. Ela Gandhi, Granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, visited Nur-Sultan from August 28 to September 3, 2016. She attended international conference on “Building a Nuclear Weapon Free World” on August 29-31 and delivered lectures on “Promoting the use of nonviolent methods of conflict resolution and its importance today” at Kazakhstan Law and Humanities University on Sep 1, 2016 and at Eurasian National University and Nazarbayev University on September 2, 2016. The lectures were jointly organised by the Embassies of South Africa and India in Nur-Sultan.

In her lectures, Ms. Ela Gandhi said that the present generation believes that violence is so much exposed to violence that they believe that violence is the only way to resolve conflicts and if the perpetrator of the evil is eliminated, the evil would go away; but, research reveals that the evil would remain and sometimes would even fester and become bigger when the perpetrator is eliminated.

She stated that her organisation follows another way of resolving conflict i.e. Mahatma Gandhi’s most powerful legacies, Satyagraha and Sarvodaya. She noted that some people refer to Satyagraha as passive resistance campaigns or Gandhians as pacifists. But, she highlighted that Mahatma Gandhi’s demonstrations were assertive, active and forceful, yet not aggressive and violent. She explained that Sarvodaya means the good of all and to achieve the good of all means to work towards an egalitarian society where people will be able to eliminate the root of tensions. 

She narrated a story to highlight that there are three very important fundamental principles of Satyagraha: (i) Satyagraha is based in a belief and faith in oneself; (ii) Good will always triumph in the end; and (iii) It is important to listen to the argument presented by the other carefully. She emphasized that satyagraha or nonviolent methods do not seek to defeat or humiliate or eliminate the other person, but it is about transformation and recognizing that each person has value.

She quoted Martin Luther King as having summarized nonviolence in the following five basic points: (i) We do not injure the opponent but take the injury on ourselves; (ii) It requires more courage than violent action does; (iii) It is based on love and acceptance of the other; (iv) Empathy with the other and ability to see and feel what the other sees and feels; (v) Oppose as strongly as possible the deed but not the doer. She quoted Albert Einstein as saying, “Brutal force cannot be met successfully for any length of time with similar brutal force,…. Let us do whatever is within our power so that all people of the world may accept Gandhi’s gospel as their basic policy before it is too late.”

She informed that recognising the need to curb violence and find nonviolent solutions, UN General Assembly adopted a resolution moved by India and seconded by South Africa to declare 2nd October, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as international day of nonviolence on 27th June, 2007. She concluded her speech by quoting Albert Einstein as saying, “there is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is LOVE”.