Thoughtful discussion on Gandhian philosophy and its application in present day context ignited the minds of a host of thinkers, academicians and students coming from across the country and abroad at the University of Science & Technology Meghalaya (USTM) as the two-day International conference on ‘Mahatma Gandhi’s Vision and Contemporary Political Leadership in North East India’ concluded at USTM in Ri-Bhoi on Saturday.
Organised by the International Centre for Gandhian Studies (ICGS), a research centre of USTM, the two-day conference was addressed by TusharArun Gandhi, the great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and Chairman of Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, Prof SudarshanIyengar, renowned Gandhian and former Vice Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, Dr. Liaquat Ali, Vice Chancellor, Bangladesh University of Health Sciences, Dhaka, Prof RM Pant, Director, NIRD&PR and Prof. B. Khadria, Chairman, ZakirHussain Centre, JNU, apart from others.
Addressing the valedictory session of the conference today, TusharArun Gandhi said, “If we understand Bapu and believe in him, we have to make his cause our cause. The North East of India is a melting pot of diverse ethnic communities and cultures and the region has been experiencing militancy problem since decades. Gandhian philosophy and ideals are most relevant in the context of the North East and the mainland India must be sensitive towards the people and problem in the region.”
“Since many years, political leadership in India has been party based, instead of broad nationalistic view. Bapu’s ideals must be adopted in our nature and not simply in references. If we cannot do this, it is disrespect to him,” he added.
Dr Liaquqt Ali from Bangladesh said that Gandhiji’s ideals and teachings are very much applicable in today’s world and it is time to inculcate and spread this thought among people across borders.
“The task of any university is not simply to disseminate knowledge but to generate knowledge. This is a rare step that a private university like USTM has come forward to sponsor a Centre on Gandhian studies, without any Government support,” he added.
Noted Gandhian Prof SudarshanIyengar emphasized on the concept of “servant leadership” of Mahatma Gandhi and said that when the problem is related to racial discrimination, it transcends individual level. He also said that reconciliation of unlimited wants with peace is not possible.
Dr Alaka Sarma, who is also the Director of ICGS and Pro VC, USTM, stated, “This conference will help us to explore the shortcoming of our strategies to reach out to the poorest of the poor of the north-eastern region and way forward to achieve the development based on the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. We feel that Mahatma Gandhi is most relevant today than ever before and more so in the north-eastern region than anywhere else in India.”
In his address, M Hoque, Chancellor, USTM said that there is an urgent need to rekindle Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, peace, brotherhood and unity among the diverse people with varied culture, community and areas of this country.
Papers were presented by participants on themes like Peace and Conflict, Rural Economy, Cooperative Federalism, Social Cohesion, Cattle Protection, Industrialization, Infrastructure Development, Political Ideology, Religion and Society, Gender Issues in Society, Law and Justice, Cultural Nationalism, Media and Social Change, Ethics and Morality, Decolonization, Hind Swaraj, from Swaraj to Suraj. Dr SanjibGoswami, Adjunct Prof. USTM and co-convenor of the conference delivered the vote of thanks at the end of the inaugural session.
The conference was inaugurated by the Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy on Friday. In his inaugural speech the Governor said that Gandhiji not only gave India its freedom but also gave the world and us a new thought on nonviolence and sustainable living. His teachings and experiments are more valid today than ever before, especially when we are trying to find solutions to worldwide greed, corruption, and violence. The Governor appreciated USTM’s effort towards research on Gandhiji, stated a USTM press communique.