KUWAIT CITY,Oct 1: India celebrates the birth anniversary of a great soul, the Father of The Nation on Oct 2, popularly known as ‘Bapu’. On this great occasion we see Bapu back in all the Indian schools in India and abroad.
As many children attire to imitate Bapu it is time for introspection, ‘Are we doing enough?’ Are schools even trying to teach some of his principles and thoughts on peace, love, harmony, truth, honesty, integrity, self belief, respect for all and of course non-violence.
I think his principles and philosophy of life these days are slowly vanishing as we can see the disintegration of society and our children are the most affected. The solution for this lies in the lessons taught by him through his ‘Simple Living and High Thinking’.
His life story itself is a wonderful lesson for all of us, as it has been time and again, that it is possible to remain gentle in spirit, yet simultaneously command a huge amount of strength and respect.
He said, “in a gentle way, you can shake the world” – in a world in which authority is valued over authentic leadership. I believe we have a lot to learn from the man who fought for our nation with his mind alone.
His philosophy was not purely based on theory; instead he lived by rules of pragmatism. He practiced what he preached every day of his life. What an inspiring, authentic way to live! If we really want to pay real tribute to the “Mahatma” we should bring him back to the school every day instead of once a year.
His principles and his values should be part and parcel of our school’s day to day activities, curricular or co-curricular. I do remember watching a play written by Urdu writer Khwaja Ahmed Abbas under the title ‘Letters from Children to Mahatma Gandhi’ based on the life of five children who decide to write a letter to Mahatma Gandhi in heaven requesting him to return back to this world.
Bapu, as he was lovingly known, had a great influence on everyone. Here, I would not talk about his birth and his works as there is not a single soul in India who does not know that. However, we all know a lot will be written today only to forgotten tomorrow.
Let us all (at least those who are in education, who are involved in molding young minds) try to keep his memories alive in our schools. It should be visible through our daily routines and the values and principles that we try to inculcate in our children. So let us teach our children selfbelief which is a determining factor in your success. Believe in what you do and never change your mind even if no one stands by you.
Never let that faith in yourself die because that’s the only thing you need to realize your dreams and pull you together during rough times. Integrity, the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles are strong qualities, however, attractive options may lure you away from the truth and do something which you may regret later.
Integrity comes from a congruence between thoughts, feelings, words, and actions when all that you are and do spring from your core values.
Gandhiji was one of the greatest examples of integrity we have seen in modern times, and the many moving stories about his life demonstrate the power of teaching this character trait by example.
I think the children of today need to understand the value of respecting all without discrimination. In a country like Kuwait where people from so many countries live together in the midst of diverse culture, we definitely need our children to understand that everyone is equal and deserve to be respected.
When it came to leadership, Gandhi was by far one of the strongest and most powerful leaders the country has ever produced. What we need today in corporate, social and political environment is a leader with a single vision. Gandhi once famously said, ‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’. This is the sign of a great leader.
Simplicity and humility won him the hearts of his followers because he was modest, reverential and politely submissive. In schools we can observe honesty day, truth day, peace day, help day, respect day etc and not only make October 2 as a cause for celebration.
Gandhi firmly believed in the religion of humanity. He said the essence of all religions is one, the approaches are different. We have to groom our children to be responsible citizens of the world and understand the meaning of co-existence the schools can certainly have a role to play.
Let us adhere to what Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Let us be that change.
By Dr Anis Ahmad Director, SIMS, Kuwait