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BOOK: MISCELLANEOUS MUSE By Dr. H. Tulsi – REVIEW by Leonard Dabydeen

May 16, 2019

Dr Tulsi BC

Book: MISCELLANEOUS MUSE, A Collection of Poems by Dr. H. Tulsi

  • Self-Published
  • First Edition: October 2018
  • E-mail: Metverse_Muse@yahoo.com
  • ISBN 81 – 901364-06
  • 126 pages

 

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Sir Francis Bacon

Book Review: Leonard Dabydeen

In The Society of Classical Poets Journal (2017), James Sale quotes in his Essay: “Poetry and the Muse Part 4” that “Art and Poetry have always been altering our ways of sensing and feeling – that is to say, altering the human body and the human mind…”

From earliest antiquity in literati, and by its own bed-rock in poetic sycophancy, poetry has embraced a structured versification or fixed formation analogous to human heart-beat. In this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE, Dr. H. Tulsi of the internationally acclaimed MetVerse Muse Journal, makes a finely knitted embroidery bouquet of 158 fixed form poems, set in the first 94 pages, to excite and delight the readers’ hearts. In the remainder 32 pages, Dr. Tulsi refreshes readers with responses, reviews and reviewletts of her 10th poetry collection, A Poesy of Posie on Three Themes. The back cover reveals a short profile to underscore her unequivocally distinguished literary career.

This book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr. Tulsi, like all her previous books and treasured volumes of MetVerse Muse, is self-published with careful systematic and astoundingly excellent word-press distinction. That her literary career began at an early age to rich maturity of being an octogenarian, with rich prolific literary gem in classical versification, is amazingly mind-blowing. In almost all forms of structured verse and fleeting fecundity, to wit tanka verse, villanelle, pantoum, triolet, a Davidian, Burns’ Stanza sequence, Kyrielle, terza rima, an Ottava Rima sequence, a Rhyme Royal sequence, Spenserian stanza, a Rondel, a Rondeau Remembrancer, Quintet Stanza sequence, a Ballade, Envoi, Shakespearian sonnet and Petrarchan Sonnet, Dr. Tulsi is glowingly enthused in marinating the classical web with panache of lofty rhymes, rhythms, and intonation rapture.

This book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr. Tulsi is chunked in four sections, as in Part 1, POEMS IN PRAISE OF PROSODIC POETRY with 25 poems; Part 2, NEW YEAR POEMS with 25 poems; and Part Three, OTHER GENERAL POEMS with 58 poems; Part 4 captures a REVIEW AND REVIEWLETTS of Dr. Tulsi’s TENTH POETRY COLLECTION: “A POESY OF POSIE ON THREE THEMES”. Each section (1-3) interlocks with the other in terms of style, form and nascent assonance and rhetoric. One significant feature theme in the construct of the fixed form poems is Dr. Tulsi’s vehement uprooting of free verse or nuanced modernism style. In the beginning of Part 1, POEMS IN PRAISE OF PROSODIC POETRY, the poem, GOLDEN GATE (p 6):

                      Metverse use

                     Will be of use,

   Poesy’s poetic tone and form to recreate,

And ope once more, for classical verse, the golden gate.

 

is a quatrain that emphatically brings praise and affirmation of the classical verse. Almost in tone with Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It is what Mr. P.K. Majumder, Editor, Bridge-in-Making, India, considers a salvage of metric poetry in a spirit of sacrifice. (https://www.poemhunter.com/dr-tulsi-hanumanthu/biography/).

And in this poem, RIGHTFUL RULER (p 6) Dr. Tulsi echoes that,

 

Metverse Muse has traced the outlawed King –

     Back to power whom it seeks to bring.

   He flying returns, bearing upon his back

     The rightful ruler. Let us clear his track.

         The royal carpet waits to be unrolled,

Leading to his erstwhile throne of gold.

 

As if Dr. Tulsi is in a halo of gallantry and distinct prosodic articulation, saying, “In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness…” (Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1602: Malvalio).

Then Dr. Tulsi espouses in this A Villanelle in Pentameter (p 8): LET ‘STRUCTURED VERSE’ HAVE HIS SHARE (end stanza – quatrain):

             Of your inert, innate skill he’s aware:

               Your latent talent he will activate.

   While giving gifts to those for whom you care,

Give also ‘Structured Verse the Great’ his share.

 

an expression with sweet refrain, reminding the writer of Dylan Thomas, ‘Do not go gentle into that goodnight.’ The villanelle as a fixed structured versification employs line repetition, sautéed with an ABA rhyme scheme.

But any raison d’ê·tre for fixed verse or classic verse poetry over free verse or what is shinnied as modernism in poetry, is pale for consideration until you take a read of this A Pantoum, titled CREAM VERSUS SCUM (p 9, stanzas 1, 6 and 7):

Stanza 1

When milk is boiled well, there floats on top

   The Cream’s layer, like a floating foil.

Although removed, it recurs without a stop

   Every time the milk is made to boil.

 

Stanza 6

Structured Poetry’s most delicious cream

Is born from the womb of its own rich milk.

   Whose hope of survival is merely a dream

   Is the mod Free Verse in borrowed silk!

 

Stanza 7

Born from the womb of its own rich milk

   Is Formal Verse, and so lives for ever.

Is the mod Free Verse in borrowed silk

Destined to live long? The answer is ‘Never!’

 

Here we make a studied observation of A Pantoum, being a Malay type poem with three or more stanzas in series of quatrains; the rhyme scheme is linked with repeated lines in a certain pattern (the last line in Stanza 6 is repeated in the third line in Stanza 7. What is more significant here to note is the evocative boldness of words in the poem to assert Dr. Tulsi’s sober and conservative condescension of Classic verse. Free verse: NEVER!!

One other structured poem in Section 1 of this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE by Dr.Tulsi, which I would like to share with readers, is the last poem (p 18): LET’S NOT REST UPON OUR OARS (Petrarchan Sonnet),

LET’S NOT REST UPON OUR OARS

(Petrarchan Sonnet)

At last, with steady steps, Metverse Muse

Has safely reached its Golden Jubilee’s peak!

Although this target often seemed too bleak,

Together, to this milestone, we could cruise.

For this achievement, MM owe its dues

To Poet-Members all who did seek

Unitedly, to overthrow the sneak

‘Free Verse’, which pranced in Poesy’s stolen shoes.

 

With all its wheels now lubricated well,

Its leading role, ‘Classical Verse’ should play

And, in time, Vers libre’s doom should spell.

So, let’s not rest upon our oars, or lay

Aside our arms, until we toll its knell.

With this objective, let us wend our way.

This poem underscores the unequivocal trumpet call for Classic Verse to lead the march for poetry in this new millennium. And Dr. Tulsi’s glowing approbation is beyond any aggrandizement that ‘With this objective, let us wend our way.’ In an octave and sestet stanza, this popular Petrarchan Sonnet takes a prosodic lead in rhyme and rhythm for a delightful poetry gourmet. It is the featured poem in METVERSE MUSE, Nos. 51st to 53rd Triple Issue (August 2018) FRONT COVER. No small wonder to appreciate Dr. Tulsi for being the Founder-Leader of the World Renaissance for Classical Poetry.

A visit to Section 2: NEW YEAR POEMS

There are twenty-five poems in this section burrowed in the coming and celebration of NEW YEAR. The central themes in fixed structured verse range from peace, love, harmony for mankind, respect for Mother Earth and the environment, celebrations of joy and comfort and happiness for the Old Year and New Year. Dr. Tulsi has engaged delightfully in enriching readers to appreciate the essence of rhymes and rhythms in quatrains, sextains, couplet stanzas, quintet stanzas, hexameter stanzas, even an Englyn and a Spenserian stanza. This is absolutely an arm-chair recline to enjoy what the NEW YEAR heralds for mankind.

Take a read (p 24): NEW YEAR GREETINGS (Quintet Stanzas):

Stanza 1

               Since New Year’s drawing near,

               Something we should do,

               Not only for near and dear

               But world’s cit’zens too.

Resolves we should pursue, until Results accrue.

 

Stanza 4

               LOVE alone can unlock

               from souls, Selflessness;

             LOVE alone can ably block

               ‘Hatred’s hellishness,

And beg PEACE to bless us with Health and Happiness.

 

Dr. Tulsi sees our world a better place as NEW YEAR heralds, sharing LOVE, Selfishness, PEACE, Health and Happiness. Great profundity !!!

Albert Einstein once said, Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”

Here is what Dr.Tulsi says of SUCCESS in this quatrain (p 27):

Towards Success, in all the New Years,

     We can perhaps pave our way

If we, unfounded doubts and fears,

         Upon our attics stack away.

 

Absolutely, if we can overcome our doubts and fears, we certainly can gain success and become someone of value.

 

Section 3: OTHER POEMS ON GENERAL TOPICS

This section of over 100 poems covers a broad kaleidoscope of topics to include variations in people’s lifestyles, TITBITS, the way they live and their usual day-to-day habits and behaviours, of environmental circumstances, of birds and bees and thoughts and ideas on relevant idiomatic phrases and anything in between. Dr. Tulsi has indeed knitted a complex miscellaneous variation of poems to include forms such as Ballad stanzas, Pentameter Quatrains, Trimeter Triplets, Pentameter Quintet, Hexameter Sextain, Spenserian stanza Sequence, Rondelet, Hexameter couplets, Ottava Rima, Terza Rima, Villanelle in Hexameter, Shakespearian sonnet, Ballade, Envoi, Petrarchan sonnet, Burns stanzas, Roundelay and Rhymed Quatrain. Inclusive in all these forms of poems are prevailing rhythms and rhymes that would defy the reader to grasp in any defining moment. Line repetitions are intricately balanced in the appropriate poetry forms to inform readers of the ebullience in the works of Dr. Tulsi.

In the sense that the scope and variety of miscellaneous muse are so indefatigable, it is prudent to look at random picks from this section. Take a read, TITBITS – (BALLAD STANZAS), (p 30):

Stanza 1

The meals I eat all alone,

Tasteless seem to me:

The meals I eat in company,

Seem to me so tasty!

Being in company or alone has complex meaning, even for a meal. Insightful observation by Dr. Tulsi.

 

Stanza 4

‘Slow and steady wins the race’:

No goals are scored by speed.

‘Good’ and ‘Quick’ seldom meet:

Rhythm is what we need.

Thoughts expressed here exemplify human nature. Caution even to advise someone to take time and hurry up.

Read: TO A NAGGING FLY – BURNS STANZA SEQUEL (p 52):

 

Stanza 1

Begone you nasty, nagging Fly!

By worrying like a wooing guy,

To try my patience, do not try!

       Though diabetic,

   No candied lollipop am I,

         For you to lick!

Interesting stanza form named after Scotland’s National Poet Robert Burns. Sensuous imagery of the fly nagging a diabetic person. Sweet temptation.

And so often, Dr. Tulsi would burst into emotional flow of thoughts for members of MM who passed away – expressing eulogy-like veil:

Read: TO ‘LATE’ BARON VELLA HABER OF MALTA (A KYRIELLE); (p 55):

Stanzas 1, 2, 3.

We salute you, O Baron Haber,

Whose term on earth was full of labour!

You earned the break, we all agree:

May now your slumber blissful be.

 

Numerous were your avocations,

And onerous, like your occupations!

For rest, His having heard your plea,

May now your slumber blissful be.

 

You lost your life as Labour’s ‘levy’!

At long last, of all your heavy

Burdens, being fully free,

May now your slumber blissful be.

 

The KYRIELLE is a French form poetry in quatrain, with repeating lines as refrain and an emotional rhyme scheme effect.

Other eulogy-like fixed form poems have crested these pages to demonstrate homage by Dr. Tulsi for MM members – TO ‘KANNAN’, LET ME HOMAGE PAY– A KYRIELLE; TO LATE DR. I.H. RIZVI (Burns’ Stanza Sequence) …

Balladry or Ballad Poems lend a musical au revoir note of joy and symbolism in any collection of poems , naming stalwarts such as John Keats, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Ezra Pound, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Federico Garcia Lorca or Majeed Amjad in a bundle. Certainly in metric verse, the name of Dr. Tulsi should not go unnoticed. Find her in this book, MISCELLANEOUS MUSE with her enjoyable ballads (pp 78-94). A must for reading and your library.

Dr. H. Tulsi is an astounding, enigmatic, and amazingly ebullient octogenarian of highest literary caliber from Visakhapatnam, India. She is the author of eleven self-published books of poetry, written in English, in structured versification or fixed form muse: Old Wine in New Bottles (1993), Resurrection (1993), Sonnet Century (1996), Ballads and Ballades (1996), A Nosegay of New Year Poems (1998), Lyrical Lays (2000), Symphony Weds Symmetry (2007), A Chest of Chuckles (2011), Tears and Smiles (2012), A Posy of Poesy on Three Themes (2015) and Miscellaneous Muse (2018).

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THE GANDHI WAY # 140

May 9, 2019

THE GANDHI WAY

THE GANDHI WAY FOUNDATION 140

Newsletter

GANDHI 101

Gandhi 150th Anniversary Conference
Global Co-operation House (Brahma Kumari’s HQ)
65-69 Pounds Lane, Willesden, London NW10 2HH
Provisionally 27th or 28th September 2019
The Conference will include the postponed 2018 GF Peace Award
to Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, and a representative of Mines & Communities as well as other topics Further details in next issue.

GANDHI 102

Human Rights and Interfaith Harmony
Gandhi Foundation Multifaith Celebration 2019
Jane Sill

The annual commemoration of Gandhi Ji’s assassination took place this year on 9th February as part of Interfaith Harmony Week and also to mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the 150th anniversary of Gandhi Ji’s birth year. The evening was organised by Saara Majid on behalf of the Gandhi Foundation who also performed with Sacred Sounds. The setting was the beautiful Unitarian Church in Golders Green. The church has been lovingly maintained with many original features, such as a beautiful painted pastoral scene depicting a deer park which had been created especially for the space, as had the organ, nestled neatly in an alcove beside. This formed the backdrop to a rich offering of prayers, thoughts and music from many traditions which was enjoyed by a large audience of all ages and backgrounds.

GANDHI 103

The evening began with the familiar chanting of Na Mu Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo, by Reverend Nagase from the London Peace Pagoda who was accompanied by Sister Marutasan, the nun in charge of Milton Keynes’ Peace Pagoda.
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There followed an address by Rev Feargus O’Connor, Minister in charge of Golders Green Unitarian Church, who spoke on ‘The Golden Rule, Compassion and World Religions’.  Drawing on The Charter for Compassion Rev O’Connor described how the principle of compassion is the Golden Rule that lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, ‘calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves’. As the Charter states, “Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect”. This ethic inspired spiritual teachers from all faiths, such as Confucius, Buddha, Rabbi Hillel, St Francis of Assisi, the Sikh gurus and many others. Rev O’Connor then went on to quote from a selection, including Gandhi Ji: “Our innermost prayer should be that a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian. I broaden my Hinduism by loving other religions than my own … All religions are true”. This sentiment is echoed by HH Dalai Lama: “My fundamental belief is that all religious traditions have the same potential to make better human beings, good human beings, sensible human beings, compassionate human beings”. Rev O’Connor concluded by hoping that each of us “pledge ourselves to … build that ideal human commonwealth which alone can bring about the happiness and wellbeing of all”.

gANDHI 104

2nd
Left – Rev Feargus O’Connor (Golders Green Unitarians), 3rd L – Mark Hoda (Chair, Gandhi Foundation), Far
Right – Saara Majid with members of Sacred Sounds

 

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There followed a series of beautiful musical and poetical offerings, including a
Hebrew  Prayer,  ‘Ma  Na’vu,  al  heharim’;  a  Medieval  Christian  Hymn,
‘Balulalow’; a Bosnian Sufi Blessing, ‘Salla Aleijke’, and a selection of poems by Dennis Evans, a member of the Church and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. They offered deceptively light hearted, closely observed vignettes of everyday life:

Bubbles for Peace

There were Reverends and Rockers

Housewives and children.

There were old friends and new friends, Politicians, policemen.
There were Christians and Muslims, Communists and Buddhists.
And banners, such banners, Banners for peace.
There were dancers and drummers,

And children in pushchairs.

There were priests and our poets, And grannies in wheelchairs.
There were students and stilt walkers, And a brave paraplegic.
And a many with his toy gun, Lit by his laughter,
Blowing bubbles, such bubbles. Bubbles for Peace .
London Peace March, 15 February 2003.
After a short tea break which gave time for people to mix and chat, there was an address on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which celebrated its 70th  anniversary in 2018.  This was concluded by an appeal on behalf of Medical Aid for Palestinians towards which all proceeds from the evening were donated. There followed a beautiful 13th  century Iranian song,
‘Bani Adam or Sons of Adam’ by Saadi which described all our lives as limbs of the same body. Mark Hoda, Chair of the Gandhi Foundation, spoke on Gandhi Ji’s emphasis on duty rather than ‘rights’.  This was echoed by Saara Majid  who  reflected  on  how  each  of  us  can  help  make  the  standard  of universal  human  rights  a  reality  in  society,  by  quoting  from  Eleanor Roosevelt:  “Where,  after  all,  do  universal  human  rights  begin?  In  small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world.    Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighbourhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works.  Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination.    Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.  Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”

Beautiful renditions of Bikhodee, ‘Without Self’ by Rumi, Gandhi Ji’s Salt March song, ‘Ragupati raghava …’ and ‘Bread & Roses’, a protest song from the American Women’s Movement (1912), brought to an end an evening celebrating the richness and diversity of our common humanity.

Jane Sill is a member of the Gandhi Foundation’s executive committee.

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Other Events_
Wed 15 May         International Conscientious Objector’s Day at Tavistock Square, London at 12 noon.
Sat 8 June            Annual  Multifaith  Pilgrimage  for  Peace,  London  organised  by
Westminster Interfaith. Tel: 020 7931 6028.
Sat 22 June          34th Annual Celebration of the London Peace Pagoda, Battersea
Park 2pm. Tel: 020 7228 9620
Tues 6 Aug           Hiroshima Day – Tavistock Square 12 noon.
Thurs 9 Aug          Nagasaki Day – Peace Walk from Westminster Cathedral to the London Peace Pagoda followed by Lantern Lighting Ceremony at sunset.
Wed 2 Oct            Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary at Tavistock Square at 11am organised by the Indian High Commission and the India League.
Sun 20 Oct           Inspiring Indian Women – Dance for a Cause
A not for profit organisation based in London is putting on a d a n c e  p e r f o r m a n c e  i n  a s s o c i a t i o n  w i t h  t h e  n o t a b l e choreographer  Sandeep  Saporrkar  at  Mahatma  Gandhi  Hall, YMCA, Warren Street, London, 6-10pm, £15. http://www.inspiringwomen.org

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News ———————————————————————————————————————     

It   is   four   years   since   the   Saudi-led   coalition   launched   its   first airstrikes in Yemen. During these four years 60,000 have been people killed  by  the  conflict,  and  many  more  have  died  as  a  result  of  the humanitarian catastrophe that has ensued.     Attacks have hit schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, food supplies and a bus full of school children. The coalition is deploying UK made aircraft in combat missions, dropping UK-made bombs and firing UK-made missiles. The UK government has enabled the war with more than £5 billion of arms sales, military support and training.
Yet the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on 26 March 2019 that ending the UK’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE would be “morally bankrupt”.        (Campaign Against the Arms Trade)
On 30 January 2019 members of the Hindu Mahasabha recreated the murder of Mohandas Gandhi in Aligarh during which they shouted ‘Long Live  Nathuram  Godse’  (Gandhi’s  assassin)  and  declared  that  they  would repeat this enactment every year.
A few years ago the President of Congress Rahul Gandhi, son of Sonia and the late Rajiv Gandhi, stated that supporters of RSS (ideologically linked to the Mahasabha) had killed Gandhi which led to a case filed against Rahul with the demand that he apologise.
The leading force of Hindu nationalism today is the BJP, the party of Government led by Narendra Modi who praises Gandhi from time to time but is a strong promoter of Hindu nationalism (Hindutva) which often leads to discrimination against Muslims.
(Why Recreating Gandhi Murder ? by Ram Puniyani on http://www.academia.edu)

Spain’s Supreme Court has upheld a ban on the torture of bulls during  the  Toro  de  la  Vega  festival.     In  2016  the  regional  government outlawed the stabbing to death of bulls with darts and spears at the festival but the local council then appealed to the Supreme Court which has however rejected the appeal.  (PETA UK)
!         The  Royal  College  of  Physicians  decided  in  March  after  a  poll  of members  that they  would take a neutral  stance  on  the  issue  of  assisted dying, changing from opposition to it.   The voting was 31.6% supportive of assisted dying (an increase since 2014), 43.4% against. The Royal College of Nursing already held a neutral position.
A majority of the British public support a change in the law to allow assistance to die.   Every 8 days someone travels from Britain to Switzerland for an assisted death but this is not an option for most people as it costs around £10,000.  Legalisation of assisted dying, an expression of compassion
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and  freedom  of  choice,  is  gradually  spreading  in  parts  of  Europe,  USA, Canada and Australia.       (Dignity in Dying)
In Scotland in the 18 months to September 2018 almost 500,00 emergency food parcels were given out by food banks.   In areas where Universal Credit had been introduced food bank use increased by 52%. Scottish ministers have promised to bring in a new income supplement for those on the lowest incomes but not till 2022.           (Sabine Goodwin, Independent Food Aid Network)
According to scientists a single piece of food waste, like a banana skin, can be made to produce sufficient energy to charge a mobile phone twice over. Waste food put in an Anaerobic Digestion facility can be converted by micro- organisms to give off methane gas which can be used to generate electricity. (The Herald 25/4/19)
A recent UK parliamentary report on the clothing industry reveals that the manufacture of clothing produces more pollution than international aviation and shipping combined.    Yet fashion clothes sold cheaply are often hardly worn before being discarded.    In the UK 11 million items of clothing are thrown away weekly.
It takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make just one single pair of jeans ! This is equivalent to the amount of water the average person drinks over a period of seven years. World clothing production doubled between 2000 and
2014.
Delhi is notorious for its air pollution but there is hope for the future. Under the Paris Agreement India committed to 40% renewable energy on their grid by 2030.    But four years later they look as if they can reach 60% renewable by 2027 due to the rapid expansion of solar energy production.
(The Herald 7/4/19)
With climate change emerging as the greatest challenge of this era, energy transition becomes the core area of concern for all developed and developing nations.  ‘India has set a target of 100 gigawatts (GW) of installed solar energy capacity by 2022. India has also announced plans to cancel 14GW coal plants. India is now committed to sell only electric cars by 2030. India is heading towards a leadership role in global climate change governance at G20 and COP23 Forums.‘          (Gandhi Marg Vol 40 No 1 & 2, 2018)
China is changing – in unexpected ways.  Five years ago, on March 4, 2014, China made a serious national decision. The 3,000 delegates to the National People’s Congress voted to reassert greater national control over development through conscious plans to reduce poverty, increase social programs and benefits,  combat  extreme  pollution  and  build  a  sustainable  environment.

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This was a break from China’s 35-year policy of stressing economic growth ahead of the environment and of health and social benefits for the working class.  An article titled “Four years after declaring war on pollution, China is winning” ran in the March 12, 2018, New York Times: “To reach these targets, China prohibited new coal-fired power plants in the country’s most polluted regions, including the Beijing area. Existing plants were told to reduce their emissions. If they didn’t, coal was replaced with natural gas. Large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, restricted the number of cars on the road. The country also reduced its iron- and steel-making capacity and shut down coal mines.”    ……….. Other decisions in the war on pollution included the dramatic decision to stop or delay work on over 150 planned or under-construction coal plants.     (Extracted from article by Sara Flounders ‘Planning Can Save the Planet: China Chooses Renewables’ in Workers World and republished in Transcend Media Service 29/419.)
In spite of its many imperfections the UK has been placed 15th (out of 156 countries) by the United Nations in its World Happiness Report.  The top countries are all small north European – Finland (first), Denmark, Norway, Iceland,  The  Netherlands,  Switzerland,  Sweden,  with  New  Zealand  and Canada coming 8th and 9th.  The lowest ranking were South Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan. High taxation to provide good social services seems to be a factor in high satisfaction.
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The Life Style Movement
Founded in 1972, the Life Style Movement exists to encourage and enable people to live in a way that is less damaging to the planet on which we all depend. The founder, Horace Dammers, emphasised the connection between the affluence of some and the poverty of others and coined the slogan, “Live simply so all may simply live”. The Movement publishes a newsletter, Living Green, three times a year containing articles and information about simple living, household tips, recipes etc and activities for children.
All supporters of the Gandhi Foundation are invited to the LSM annual conference which takes place from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th August at Minster Abbey, Church Street, Minster, Nr Ramsgate, Kent CT12 4HF. There is easy travel by train from London. The theme this year is ‘Co-operatives – working together for change’. Full board is provided for the weekend and the cost is £120 for a single room or
£110 per person sharing a twin room.
For further information or to book a place, please contact Graham Davey, tel 0117
909 3491 or graham.davey29@yahoo.co.uk

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9
Our Future World

by Leonard Dabydeen

“In the end all men have to die. He who is born cannot escape death.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi – Speech at Prayer Meeting, New Delhi, January 15, 1948.

They who live by their own chagrin, acquire

moth that spiral in their mind without  peace;

fetch hate, animosity as desire

never to see our world a happy place.

 

Often times by foolish wit denigrate

our hopes and dreams  far beyond squint of eye,

they criticize and also peculate

day by day they usher grandiose lie.

 

Step by step we massage Gandhian thoughts

and follow in faith a path righteous

ahimsa our kindled lamp against krauts

satyagraha our stand prestigious.
Walking in Mahatma’s footpath joyous

we build our future world so enormous.
Leonard Dabydeen is a Guyanese-Canadian Licensed Paralegal by the Law Society of Ontario (Retired) and a Commissioner of Oaths and Affidavits for Ontario. He is also a published author, freelance writer, poet and book reviewer in English literature.  His books include Watching You, A Collection of Tetractys Poems, xlibris Publishers (2012) and Searching For You, A Collection of Tetractys and Fibonacci Poems, xlibris Publishers (2015).

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Can We Imagine Peace for Palestine ?
Richard Falk

While  waiting  without  positive  expectations  for  the  Trump  ‘deal  of  the century’ the Palestinian ordeal unfolds day by day. Many Israelis would like us to believe that the Palestinian struggle to achieve self-determination has been  defeated,  and  that  it  is  time  to  admit  that  Israel  is  the  victor  and Palestine the loser. Recent events paint a different picture. Every Friday since the end of March 2018 the Great March of Return has confronted Israel at the Gaza  fence.  Israel  has  responded  with  lethal  force  killing  more  than  250
Palestinians and injuring over 18,000, using grossly excessive force to deal with almost completely nonviolent demonstrations. The world allows these weekly atrocities to go without any concerted adverse reaction and the UN is awkwardly silent.
It would seem that there is a feeling in international circles that nothing much can be done to bring about a peaceful and just solution at this stage. Such a conclusion partially explains the various recent moves in the Arab world toward an acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state, which has included diplomatic normalization. Beyond these developments, Israel has joined with Saudi Arabia and the United States in a war mongering escalation of an unwarranted confrontation with Iran. In addition, Israel and Egypt are collaborating on security issues at the border and in the Sinai, as well as in developing off shore oil and gas projects.
All and all, this is a moment for stocktaking with respect to this conflict that has gone on for more than a century, and assessing what would be the best way forward.
A fundamental point is how peace might be made in a manner that realizes the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to achieve self-determination in  a  territorial  space  that  was  for  centuries  their  own  homeland.  The prevailing assumption had been that a solution would be achieved by geopolitically framed negotiations between Israel and governmental representatives of the Palestinian people. The framing was entrusted to the United States, which itself insinuated a fatal flaw into the diplomatic process if the goal was to achieve a peaceful compromise that was fair to both sides. How could this happen if the stronger party had the unconditional backing of the geopolitical intermediary and the weaker party was not even clearly the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people ?
Additionally, this already flawed framework was further abused by subordinating the so-called peace process to Zionist expansionist goals, expressed  by  annexing  Jerusalem,  denying  refugee  rights  of  return,  and

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expanding unlawful settlements in occupied Palestine. Such a geopolitical framework, associated with the Oslo Framework of Principles, as adopted in
1993, has by now been widely discredited but not before Israel had used the past 25 years to achieve their expansionist goals, making the establishment of an independent Palestinian state a political  impossibility,  and  putting  the Palestinians in a far weaker position than when the Oslo approach was adopted.
Against this background, the perverse failure of the top down approach to a sustainable outcome has led to a public attitude of defeatism when it comes to achieving  a  peaceful  compromise.  The  residual  top  down  option  is  the coercive imposition of ‘peace’ by declaring an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat. In other words, if diplomacy fails, the winner/loser calculus of war is all that is left over.
Such thinking, although prevalent in elite circles, overlooks the historical agency of people, both those resisting injustice and those mobilized throughout the world in solidarity. These are the bottom-up kinds of political dynamics that changed the history of the last century. It was national mass movements that challenged successfully, although at heavy human costs, the unjust structures of colonialism and South African apartheid, and eventually prevailed despite military inferiority and geopolitical resistance. In other words, people had the superior historical agency despite their inferior capabilities on the battlefield and diplomatically. This populist potency is a reality with a potential to subvert the established order and for this reason is treated as irrelevant by mainstream thinking and policy planners.
It is precisely on the basis of this deconstruction of power and change that hope for a brighter Palestinian future lies. The strength of the Palestinian national  movement  is  on  the  level  of  people  as  fortified  by  the  moral consensus that Israeli apartheid colonialism is wrong, indeed a crime against humanity according to international criminal law [see Article 7 of the Rome Statute governing the International Criminal Court and the International Apartheid Convention of 1973 on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid] It is this bottom up process of struggle, spearheaded by Palestinian resistance and given leverage by global solidarity initiatives such as the BDS [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] Campaign as it gains momentum and heightens pressure. Historical outcomes are never certain, but the flow of history has been against this Israeli/Zionist combination of colonial appropriation of Palestine and the apartheid structures relied upon to maintain the subjugation of the Palestinian people.
Against this background, some general propositions can be put forward.

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The Two-State Solution Is Dead
For several years, at least since the de facto abandonment of the Oslo diplomacy in 2014, the two-state solution has not been seen as a viable political option. Yet it continues to be affirmed by many governments and at the UN. This is not because there is any belief that it might finally happen, but because  every other outcome seemed either  impossible  or  too  horrible  to contemplate. In other words, many leading political figures and opinion leaders  held  onto  the  two-state  approach  as  an  alternative  to  zero.  This reflects an impoverishment of the political and moral imagination, only capable of conceiving a solution to conflict as deriving from top down approaches; bottom up approaches are not even considered.
It seems better to admit the defeat of two-state diplomacy and take account of the existing situation confronting Palestinians and Israelis so as to consider alternatives. To come to this point, it might be helpful to explain why the two- state solution has become so irrelevant. Above all, it seems evident that the Likud leadership of Israel never wanted an independent Palestinian state established. Netanyahu pledged during  the  2014  presidential  campaign  in Israel that a Palestinian state would never come into existence as long as he was Israel’s leader.
Perhaps, more fundamental, the settler movement has passed a point of no return. There are more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 130 settlements spread all over the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Settler leaders believe that the settlements have so changed the map of Israel to exclude any possibility of an independent Palestine, and their leaders now envisage the settler population growing to 2,000,000 to drive this point home.
True, the Palestinian Authority has long seemed ready to accept even a territorially abridged state, ceding sovereignty over the settlement blocs near the border, but insisting on its capital being in Jerusalem. A broad spectrum of Israeli political leaders agrees that the future of Jerusalem is non- negotiable, and that the city will remain forever unified under sole Israeli sovereignty and administration. Under these conditions it can be safely concluded that it is no longer plausible to consider seriously the two-state path to peace between the two peoples.
The Arab Accommodation Is Tenuous
Israel feels little pressure to seek a political compromise given present conditions. With Trump in the White House and Arab governments scrambling toward normalization and accommodation, Israeli leaders and public opinion seem ill-disposed to make concessions for the sake of peace. As such keeping the two-state non-solution alive as a Zombie solution is a way

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to proceed with Israel’s continuing efforts to expand the settlements while implementing its coercive version of a one-state solution.
There  are  strong  reasons  to  feel  that  this  Israeli  confidence  that  the Palestinian demand for rights can be indefinitely ignored is premature and is likely to be undermined by events in the near future. For one thing, the Arab moves toward normalization are unstable as is the entire region. If there is a renewal  of  Arab  uprisings,  in  the  spirit  of  2011,  it  is  quite  possible  that support for Palestinian self-determination would surge to the top of the regional political agenda, stronger form than ever before. The Arab people, as distinct from the governments, continue to feel deep bonds of solidarity with their Palestinian brothers and sisters.
Beyond this, should Trump presidency be defeated in 2020, there is likely to be an Israeli reevaluation of their interests. Such a prospect is heightened by signs that Jewish unconditional support for Israel is dramatically weakening, including in the United States. Furthermore, the global solidarity movement supportive of the Palestinian national movement is spreading and growing. It is becoming more militant, engaging moderate global public opinion, and has the symbolic benefit of strong backing in South Africa, which sees the fight for Palestinian rights as analogous to their own anti-apartheid campaign.
What Next ?

Two conclusions emerge from this analysis: first, a continued reliance on the two-state diplomacy within a framework that relies on the United States as an intermediary or peace broker is now irrelevant and discredited. It is at this point only a distraction. Secondly, despite Israel’s recent gains in acceptance within the Middle East and its one-sided support in Washington, the Palestinian national movement persists, and under certain conditions, will mount a threat to Israel’s future.
In light of these conclusions, what is best to be done ?   It would seem that only a democratic and secular single state could uphold self-determination for both peoples, holding out a promise of sustainable peace. It would need to be carefully envisioned and promoted with international safeguards along the path toward realization. It does not seem a practical possibility at present, but putting it forward as the only outcome that can be regarded as just avoids despair and holds out hopes for a humane peace when the time is right. Such an outcome would require a major modification of Israeli goals.
In such a binational situation, the newly created single state could offer homelands to Jews and Palestinians, while finding a name for the new state that is congenial to both peoples. Maybe this will never happen, but it the most  sustainable  vision  of  a  peaceful  future  that  responds  to  decades  of

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diplomatic failure, massive Palestinian suffering and abuse, and recognizes the moral authority and political potency of national resistance and global solidarity, a legislative victory by that unacknowledged Parliament of Humanity.
Richard Falk is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, an international relations scholar, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, author, co-author or editor of 40 books, and a speaker and activist on world affairs. In 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)  appointed  Falk  to  a  six-year  term  as  a   United  Nations  Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the  Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”   Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies, and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. His most recent book is Achieving Human Rights (2009).
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Feb 2019.
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Reviews__________________________________________________________________________               

Faiths  Together  for  the  Future:  The  Story  of  the  World  Congress  of Faiths  and  the  growing  global  Interfaith  Movement  to  heal  the  World, Marcus Braybrooke, Braybrooke Press 2019

Faiths uniting in public solidarity after a terrorist attack; engagement in dialogue and study for mutual understanding; holding a joint Holocaust Memorial event; proclaiming ‘faiths united for world peace’; faiths cooperating to tackle community issues especially racial and religious discrimination, and hate incidents; taking part in Commonwealth Day events and other civic functions – such are among the many features of the Inter- Faith Movement in Britain today. Especially but not exclusively in major big multi-ethnic urban areas, inter-faith councils, faith centres and concerned individuals pursue cooperation between different faiths for the common good. Mid-20th century saw the Ecumenical Movement of Christian Churches deemed “the great new fact of our time”; the same could certainly be said now of the Inter-Faith Movement.

Initiator, exemplar and inspiration over many decades, the World Congress of Faiths (WCF) has played a very significant role, one today often unrecognised. Rev  Marcus  Braybrooke’s  latest  book  is  essential  reading  both  for  those

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already active in inter-faith, and for anyone wanting to understand its motivations and achievements to date. A retired Anglican priest with some fifty years devoted to inter-faith work, current WCF Joint-President and prolific author on religions and inter-faith, Braybrooke gives a comprehensive fact-packed survey, illumined by many uplifting quotes from faith leaders, of the British and wider global experience. (Despite its name, WCF is a British body with global contacts, not a world federation.) Yet he frankly records the suspicion and misunderstanding of Christian leaders in early decades.

Colonial officials’ interest in non-Christian faiths they encountered (especially in India), Queen Victoria’s 1858 declaration of ‘respect for all religions’, and
1924 London Religions of Empire Conference, confirm imperial roots of inter- faith and latter event as impulse for foundation of WCF in 1936, notably through the zeal of Sir Francis Younghusband (1873-1942). A parallel major inspiration were the 1893 and 1933 Chicago World Parliaments of Religions. Braybrooke rightly stresses Younghusband’s key role in WCF and his lasting vision of cooperation of major faiths to build global fellowship and peace. Establishment figure – British Resident in Kashmir in 1906 and Knight Commander of the Star of India in 1917 – and mystic deeply affected by faith encounters  in  India  and  Tibet,  his  personal  Anglicanism  stressed  Jesus’
‘intense  humanity’.  Supremely,  he  urged  religion  as  sure  foundation  for human unity and concord.

The 1936 World Congress in London, notable for lofty statements by Russian Christian philosopher Nicholas Berdyaev and eminent Hindu Sir Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, launched WCF work to this day. Braybrooke fully chronicles its   achievements   and   problems,   noting   slow   advance   in   Churches   as pre-1960s Christian thinking on other religions was dominated by Karl Barth and Hendrik Kraemer theology of ‘discontinuity’ between the Gospel and world religions. In 1960s Britain began becoming the multi-ethnic, multi- cultural society it is now, and attitudes changed. (I recall holding Christian- Muslim dialogues in an academic context, and study of world faiths being a university discipline.) Dean Edward Carpenter of Westminster and George Appleton, Archbishop of Jerusalem, became high-profile WCF activists for inter-faith understanding, with wide and lasting influence.

9/11 and terrorist attacks in UK gave fresh urgency to inter-faith endeavour with new emphasis on promoting toleration, Christian-Muslim cooperation and opposing Islamophobia. In recent decades WCF conferences have explored religion and peace, faith and morals, science and spirituality, and much  more;  WCF’s  multi-dimensional  approach  –  lectures,  study  events, visits to worship venues, sharing faith understandings, inter-faith worship, pilgrimages – has inspired many local bodies to follow. Inter-Faith Network now undertakes much of this; eight Parliaments of World Religions from Chicago 1993 to Toronto 2018 are another fount of inspiration. A mine of event ideas, this book details significant new bodies promoting inter-faith.

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My only caveat is that I wish it included new ideas for the future of inter-faith work in a globalised yet fractured world – but perhaps that will be Braybrooke’s next book !

In my experience only good – from spiritual enrichment to community harmony  –  comes  from  inter-faith  encounter,  sharing  and  cooperation. Inter-faith has attained civic and national recognition – but needs more support from devotees of all faiths to sustain momentum. At a time when dark populist forces incite division and intolerance, its role and its vision of “inter-faith harmony in the service of humanity” (p.250) are more urgent than ever.

It is the duty of the religions to struggle for the brotherhood of man, for the unity of mankind and for the dignity of all human beings as children of God … it will not come about by intellectual or doctrinal agreement, but out of real spiritual experience of brotherhood and charity.     Nicholas Berdyaev WCF 1936

The  author  quotes  (p.249)  Evelyn  Underhill’s  Mysticism:  The  gold  from which this diverse coinage (which mystics use) is made is always the same precious metal: always the same Beatific Vision of Goodness, Truth and Beauty,  which  is  one,  adding:  This  vision  carries  with  it  a  sense  of  the oneness of all beings and a deep love for them.

Rev Brian Cooper, Churches & Inter-Faith Secretary, Uniting for Peace

The Great March of Democracy: Seven Decades of India’s Elections
Ed by S Y Quraishi, Vintage 2019, ISBN 9780670092284, e-book available.
This long awaited book offers a unique insight into India’s electoral system,  through  the  eyes  of  those  involved  in  the  process  as  well  as politicians,  academics,  journalists,  social  activists,  industrialists,  television and film personalities. The diversity of the approach, reflects the diversity of India itself. Edited by S Y Quraishi who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1971 before becoming the 17th chief election commissioner of India, each essay gives a glimpse of the huge challenges involved in organising elections in the largest democracy in the world with more voters than the 54 countries in Europe combined and the entire Commonwealth.   The Election Commission of India was set up on 25th  January 1950, the day before India became a republic but the history of demand for universal franchise in India is rooted in the Constitution of India Bill (1895) in which it was declared that every citizen living within India had the right ‘to take part in the affairs of the country  and  to  be  admitted  to  public  office’.  The  Nehru  Report  of  1928
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reaffirmed this position. The challenges posed post-Partition when it was estimated   84%   of   the   population   was
illiterate with a similar percentage in poverty, were huge.    The essays address many of these, including the question of corruption, non-registration of voters, not to mention the

immense challenges of holding electionsGANDHI 105

in remote areas to enable even minuscule numbers of voters to caste their ballot, as well as the questions surrounding the newly adopted electronic counting system. But the efforts of the Election Commission in aiming to register 100% of the   population   as   well   as   ensuring transparency and accuracy are matched by the importance and value placed upon this universal franchise by ordinary people which lay at the heart of the fight for independence.    Voting numbers far exceed proportionately those in Western countries.
While by no means perfect a system, the introduction recalls how it took until
1928 in the UK before women were granted the vote on the same basis as men, while women in France and Italy had to wait until 1944 and 1945 respectively. India had already held many elections before Switzerland gave women the vote in 1971 and the aboriginal population of Australia in 1967.  In terms of size and magnitude, maybe the rest of the world has a good deal to learn from the Indian example. The authors include Bhikhu Parekh and Mark Tully, well know to GF.
Jane Sill

Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World 1914-1948,  Ramachandra
Guha,  Allen Lane 2018, pp1129

!         This is the second volume of Guha’s impressive biography of Gandhi, the first and shorter volume (only 673 pages ! ) having been published 5 years earlier covered Gandhi’s life up till his return to his home country after about
20 years in South Africa.
!         But why another Gandhi biography when so many exist already ?    A reason given is that Guha (a well known writer on modern India) has used letters and other documents especially from the Nehru Memorial Museum

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and Library in New Delhi and the Sabarmati Ashram  Archives  in  Ahmedabad  which  have not been used by earlier biographers.    While these do not change significantly the story of Gandhi’s life and his times they do add ‘colour’ for the readers who will in all probability have read at least Gandhi 106one previous biography.
With a book of this length the author has plenty of space to deal with the major issues that Gandhi was concerned about – wealth and poverty, caste discrimination especially untouchability, colonialism, violence and nonviole nce ,   the   e ffe cts   of   e conomic development, forms of governance, religion in a multicultural context, the position of women in society; and brahmacharya (celibacy) which was of particular concern to
Gandhi even if not to most of his admirers.
A major theme of the book is of course Gandhi’s role in the Indian independence movement but I shall select some sub-themes for this review.
Struggles with caste

The issue of caste is still a live one in today’s India.  On one aspect, that of untouchability, Gandhi’s position was clear from the beginning – he was totally opposed to it.  Even as a child he did not like the idea that some people were regarded as unclean and not fit to be treated in the same way as those of higher caste.   Throughout the last quarter century of his life he campaigned tirelessly against it, travelling the length and breadth of the country with some success in weakening its hold.  In spite of this he confused the issue by initially accepting caste in principle as a stabilising factor in society and advocated a purified version of it, one in which people of different castes (Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra) were to be regarded as of equal worth. It was this that led to a long dispute with B R Ambedkar who was born an untouchable but who managed to receive higher education in the UK and USA.  Ambedkar believed that caste was inextricably embedded in Hinduism and those treated as untouchable, preferably called Dalits, had to break this connection.  Gandhi however believed that the higher caste Hindus needed to change  their  long-held  beliefs  and  embrace  the  Dalits  (he  called  them Harijans or Children of God) as equals.
Ambedkar  and  Gandhi  clashed  particularly  over  separate  electorates for Dalits in the new constitution for assemblies – Gandhi was opposed as it would perpetuate the division. The matter came to a head in 1932 when Gandhi went on a fast over the issue. The outcome was that separate electorates for Dalits were dropped, however the long-standing separate electorates for Muslims continued.  The constitution of independent India, to

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which Ambedkar as a lawyer contributed substantially, outlawed untouchability but even today persistent prejudice against Dalits continues to perpetuate discrimination.
Gandhi’s position on caste changed over the years – by the early 1930s he considered inter-caste marriage acceptable – until he came to the view that caste had to go completely.
Women and Gandhi

Gandhi had many women friends and colleagues and some of these always feature in biographies such as Sarojini Naidu, the poet and political activist, who became Governor of United Provinces in independent India, and Mirabehn or Madeleine Slade who was drawn to Gandhi by reading Romain Rolland’s early biography of him and became a very close colleague. But there were many others and Guha features quite a few.
Muriel Lester is one. Rather than choosing to go to university she established along with her sister Doris a community centre in the East End of London in 1915.    Guha here is mistaken in two matters – what became Kingsley Hall was not a Quaker establishment and Muriel never became a Quaker.   Her family were Baptists but perhaps it is best to think of her as a non-denominational Christian.  The sisters’ brother Kingsley died in 1914, not in the Great War but of appendicitis.   Kingsley Hall is named in memory of their  brother.  The  present  building  dates  from  1928.  Some  years  earlier Muriel had become aware of Gandhi and finding a great affinity she visited his ashram in 1926 and thereafter kept in close touch. Kingsley Hall was therefore the place that Gandhi chose to stay when he came to London in
1931.    In addition to her work at the Hall Muriel became a travelling ambassador for peace for the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.
One woman who only started to feature in Gandhi biographies relatively recently is unique in her relationship with Gandhi, namely Saraladevi Chaudhurani.     Rajmohan  Gandhi  described  his  grandfather’s  relationship with Saraladevi in his 2007 book Gandhi: The Man, His people and The Empire although, to my knowledge, Martin Green’s 1993 Gandhi: Voice of a New Age Revolution was the first to do so.  Saraladevi was a member of the famous Bengali family of Tagores. Her mother was a sister of Rabindranath Tagore.   She herself inherited some of the talents of the Tagores and sang beautifully and composed, as well as being a writer of talent and a fine public speaker  and  an  active  reformer.     Slightly  younger  than  Gandhi  she  was already married, to a political activist, when Gandhi began to get to know her in 1919.  He was strongly attracted to her and she often travelled with him on his  campaigning.  The  attraction  was  mutual  and  Gandhi  contemplated  a
‘spiritual marriage’ with Sarala, but opposition came from some colleagues and family including his principal secretary Mahadev Desai and Devadas his youngest son.  Gandhi decided also that there were dangers to continuing the special relationship and by the end of 1920 it had come to an end.  Saraladevi

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is not mentioned in Gandhi’s autobiography, nor did she mention their relationship in her autobiography.
Gandhi played a significant role in liberating women in India – he opposed child marriage, advocated equal education, opposed purdah (women not allowed to be seen by non-family men) and recommended that widows should be able to remarry.    His salt satyagraha of 1930 also drew many women into the public sphere.    However he was opposed to birth control other than abstinence, a reflection of his entirely negative view of sexual relationships.
Muslim-Hindu relations
Gandhi   knew   many   Muslims   throughout   his   life   and   his   initial employers in South Africa were Muslim. When he returned to India he considered it essential that good Hindu-Muslim relations be fostered.  He saw an opportunity at the end of the Great War when Muslims were enraged by the  treatment  by  the  Allied  governments  of  the  Turkish  Sultan,  who  was Caliph of Islam.  A campaign in India was established and Gandhi considered this worth actively supporting.   A Khilafat Committee was set up in 1919 led by the brothers Mohammad and Shaukat Ali but the Government clamped down and they were imprisoned in 1921. Three years later the new Turkish Government of Ataturk abolished the Caliphate so the Muslim-Hindu alliance in the Khilafat campaign had little long-term effect.
The Indian National Congress from its foundation was an inclusive organisation but in 1906 a Muslim League was also established.  Mohammed Ali Jinnah was a member of the INC and did not join the Muslim League until
1913. However over the years many in the Muslim community came to believe that they as a minority would always be second to the Hindus in influence in an independent India.   Thus a drifting apart of the two communities grew until by the Second World War the idea of a separate country for Muslims had considerable support. According to Guha, the poet Muhammad Iqbal, whom Jinnah greatly admired, was a significant influence on the politician in persuading him that a separate country should be the aim. The momentum eventually  became  unstoppable  with  the  tragic  outcome  of  communal violence.   Gandhi viewed the partition of India as a personal failure, nor did he attend the independence celebrations.  Nevertheless it was at this terrible time that Gandhi rose to his greatest height.   First in Calcutta and then in Delhi he fasted to risk of his life and this brought the madness to a halt.  His assassination by Hindus was because he was perceived by extremists as favouring the Muslim community.
Gandhi’s influence

In the Epilogue the author considers Gandhi’s longer term influence on
India and the wider world.   India today would not have pleased Gandhi.   A

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trend away from his ideas began early with the new Government headed by Nehru putting economic emphasis on development of the towns rather than the villages where most people lived.   Since then there has been a growing middle class who have benefitted from economic development while huge numbers still live in extreme poverty.  In recent years there has been a growth in religious intolerance accompanying the BJP as the most popular political party while the Congress Party has lost support in part through widespread corruption.   There is still much gender discrimination, Dalit discrimination and Adivasi (rural tribes) exploitation. At the same time India has very advanced science and technology and – not to be welcomed – growing numbers of super-rich individuals.
But Guha also describes the many positive features of Indian life today to which Gandhi made significant contributions. He refers too to his influence on the independence movements of African countries and that of the African- Americans (as they are at present called) which long pre-date Martin Luther King.   The concept of satyagraha has permeated most countries in the West and inspired reform movements in Europe and beyond.  The greatest scientist of the 20th century, Albert Einstein, regarded Gandhi as the person we have most to learn from.   Guha ends by drawing attention to one of the greatest problems facing 21st century humanity – the need for an economic system that is sustainable – Gandhi’s was intuitively so.
One disappointment of this very informative book is the absence of a critique of national defence, of the Indian state and of the great majority of the world’s states.  Gandhi’s belief in the power of nonviolence did not stop at the level of national defence.  Guha does not mention the fact that India is a nuclear armed state and is one of the world’s leading importers of lethal weapons – surely a major failure in Gandhian terms. Of course it is not surprising because most of the leaders of Congress believed in a conventional polity with defence equated with armed forces. Apart from the morality of possessing weapons of mass destruction this is an enormous waste of resources in a country with millions of poor people.
Gandhi’s way was different, even in the face of Nazism or Japanese aggression.   Guha quotes Gandhi: “if ever there could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified”.    He omits the next sentence: “But I do not believe in any war.” (Harijan 26/11/1938)
It  is  perhaps  significant  that  Abdul  Ghaffar  Khan  receives  relatively little space in this large biography compared  with  Gandhi’s  other  leading colleagues as the Pathan was the staunchest believer in nonviolence.  Gandhi knew that he had not won over the politicians who formed the first Indian government to nonviolence and it seems that today’s politicians have moved even further away from what should be his most important legacy.

George Paxton

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Annual Gandhi Foundation Lecture 2019
!GANDHI 107

To mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas K Gandhi, his grandson, Gopal Gandhi, will deliver the Gandhi Foundation’s
2019  Annual  Lecture  entitled  ‘Atonement  in
Politics: Perspectives from Mahatma Gandhi’.
Gopalkrishna Devdas Gandhi is a retired IAS officer and diplomat, who was the 22nd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to
2009. As a former IAS officer he served as Secretary to the President of India and as High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka, among other administrative and diplomatic posts.  He is also an author of books of fiction and nonfiction.
The lecture will be introduced and chaired by the Gandhi Foundation’s President, Lord Bhikhu Parekh.
Gopal Gandhi has supplied the following introduction to his lecture:
The Emperor Ashoka ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c.
268 to 232 BCE.  He would have been forgotten in the realms of history and the scrolls of monarchs but for an act of atonement – public and widely disseminated through ‘edicts’ carved on stone.    This self-chastisement was over a war of conquest he had waged on a kingdom – Kalinga – that neighboured  his  own,  resulting  in  the  death,  by  his  own  estimation,  of
100,000 and the dislocation of 150,000.  Ashoka’s remorse – anusochana as he called it in the language he used – was influenced by the teachings of Gautama,  the  Buddha,  specifically,  that  which  related  to  the  concept  of dukkha (sorrow) and of ahimsa (nonviolence).
War has continued to dominate human affairs, conflict to mark political relations between countries and within societies.  But every now and then, an Ashokan moment arises when leaders, strong enough morally to do so, speak in terms of their error.   Gandhi and the self-owning of guilt are inextricably mixed together, with his term ‘Himalayan blunder’ having acquired the status of an aphorism.
This lecture will deal with the arcs of owning and acknowledging such mistakes, in other words, of atonement through history and with the scope of honest self-appraisal, self-criticism and self-correction in our fraught and fractious times.
Please register for the lecture here if possible: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/atonement-in-politics-perspectives-from- mahatma-gandhi-tickets-57940800494?aff=ebdssbdestsearch

Guests are requested to make a donation at https://gandhifoundation.org to offset expenses.
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The Gandhi Foundation

GANDHI 108The Foundation exists to spread knowledge and understanding of the life and work of Mohandas K Gandhi (1869-1948). Our most important aim is to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his insights and actions for all of us.

Founder President: Richard Attenborough
President: Bhikhu Parekh
Patrons: Godric Bader, Navnit Dholakia, Denis Halliday, Eirwen Harbottle, Martin Polden, Diana Schumacher, Mark Tully

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Members of Executive Committee: Twisha Chandra,  Shaheen
Choudhury-Westcombe, Graham Davey, Omar Hayat, Mark Hoda (Chair), Trevor Lewis, George Paxton, Prem Prakash, William Rhind, John Rowley, Jane Sill
You can become a Friend of the Gandhi Foundation for a minimum subscription of
£20, or a concession rate of £10, or be a Life Friend for a donation of £200. As a
Friend you will receive the quarterly newsletter The Gandhi Way and notices of events organised by the Foundation. Subscriptions to the Editor (address at bottom).
General inquiries to contact@gandhifoundation.org http://www.gandhifoundation.org
Registered office: Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bromley-By-Bow, London E3 3HJ Charity Number 292629

The Gandhi Way
Articles, book reviews and letters of a specifically or broadly Gandhian nature will gladly be received by the Editor. Maximum length 2000 words.

George Paxton, 2/1, 87 Barrington Drive, Glasgow G4 9ES Tel: 0141 339 6917; email: gpaxton@phonecoop.coop The deadline for the next issue is the end of July 2019

Printed on recycled paper using vegetable based inks and 100% renewable energy by http://www.hillingdongreenprint.co.uk
Tel: 020 8868 785

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Poem:TRY NOT TO BE ASLEEP

May 8, 2019

TRY NOT TO BE ASLEEP (A Villanelle pentameter)

by Leonard Dabydeen

Try-to-force-yourself-to-stay-awake

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake

Pretense of the eyes plays tricks with the mind;

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.

 

Sleep you must, always, before next day break;

A night’s rest from a rough day, hard to find:

Never pretend to sleep, yet stay awake.

 

After a hard day’s work, rest you must take,

Sleep your best remedy of any kind;

No matter how causal, know what’s at stake.

 

Sometimes you’ve got to burn mid-night oil late

To meet dead-line: you must stay on the grind!

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake.

 

Don’t make procrastination your play mate,

It will result in havoc – strike you blind!!

Sleep without pretense, knowing what’s at stake.

 

A good night’s sleep is God’s blessings to take,

After a hard day’s work, best to unwind;

Try not to be asleep, yet stay awake:

Without sleep, you may undermine your stake.

 

ARRIVAL OF HINDUS IN SURINAME

April 19, 2019

How the Hindus Came to Suriname

How the Hindus Came to Suriname

Suriname is a small country on the Atlantic side of South America, just above Brazil. One-third of its 386,000 citizens are Hindus, descendants of indentured servants who came in the 19th century. Dr. Bennett, a dermatologist by profession, filed this historical report on Suriname and its little-known Hindu population.

by Ralph Bennett, M.D, California

Of all the outposts of the colonial Dutch empire, few are more obscure in the public’s mind than Suriname. The country, originally called Dutch Guiana, is located on the northeast coast of South America. Although it was first a British colony and then a Dutch colony, and although thousands of Black Africans were imported as slave labor, today a third of the Surinamese population is Hindu. How did it happen that so many people from India came to settle in this exotic and remote land in South America of all places?

Suriname was originally settled by the British. It became a Dutch colony in 1667. The Dutch traded their colony of New Amsterdam to England, which became the more famous British colony of New York. In return, they received Suriname. The Dutch thought they got the better of the deal.

Sure enough, the plantation-based economy of Suriname, with its riches of sugar cane, coffee and chocolate, turned out to be the leading community of the America’s by 1730, far surpassing the wealth of such better known places a Philadelphia, Boston and New York. Prosperity ended when a banking crisis in Holland in 1773 touched off a recession from which Suriname never recovered. By the 1800’s, the Europeans discovered they could grow beet sugar in Europe cheaper than importing cane sugar from the New World, and the economy slid even further downward. After 1850, Suriname remained a quiet colonial backwater. The country achieved independence from Holland in 1975.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, there were never more than 6,000 people of European descent in the country at any one time. The plantations which fueled the economy were worked by 70,000 slaves from Africa. The momentum in favor of the abolition of slavery had been on the rise in European colonies of the West Indies throughout the 19th century. Slaves were finally freed in Suriname in 1863. The Dutch government worried that, as in other places, the slaves would refuse to work once given the choice, which did indeed happen. The government began looking for new sources of labor and ended up importing vast numbers of Hindus from India as contract laborers to provide the working class that the country needed. Today, Suriname has a population of 386,372, 121,606 are Hindustani–descendants of those laborers imported from India after 1863–nearly all are Hindus.

There were a number of good reasons why laborers were imported from as far away as India. First, Suriname was by no means the first colony to free slaves. Colonies such as Trinidad and Jamaica had already begun replacing black slaves with imported “British Indians,” as they were then called (India was a British colony) to take the place of black slaves. These “British Indians” had a reputation for being good farmers and hard workers. Second, even in those times India was a large, densely populated country, and there was a large labor pool with little available farmland. In addition, India was becoming industrialized, and many traditional jobs were being eliminated. Many Indians were eager to emigrate because the caste system in India put limitations on their activities. Immigrants were mainly from the United Provinces of India (Uttar Pradesh), West Bihar and the Ganges Plains of North India. They embarked primarily from Calcutta, and are still sometimes referred to in Suriname today as “Kalkattias.”

While slavery was officially abolished in 1863, the law called for the slaves to actually remain under supervision until 1873. With this provision, the Dutch government had hoped to give itself time to start the replacement of labor before the slaves were officially free to withhold their labor. They set up stations in India where applicants could be interviewed, have a health screening, sign documentation that they were leaving of their own free will, and then wait to be transported. Due to animosity between the powers of Europe, ships passed around the Cape of Good Hope, rather than using the shorter route through the Suez Canal. All ships had a doctor on board, and to make sure the emigrants looked their best upon arrival, these doctors required that all passengers be massaged and rubbed with mustard oil. The first shipload of new immigrants arrived just weeks before the deadline and were met with much fanfare at the harbor in Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital city.

These immigrants were to serve the plantation owners for five years. Initially, plantation owners were required to pay the passage for any contract laborers they requested, plus pay return fare if the applicant did not work out. Eventually, the government stepped in to regulate the fees and set up guidelines for events such as the death of a worker, the cost of non-productive family members brought with the worker (i.e. young children or elderly parents), and for disputes over work.

In all, about 34,000 Indian contract laborers arrived in Suriname between 1873 and 1916. The majority were Hindu, but there were Muslims as well. About one-third returned to India when their five-year indenture was completed. Those choosing to remain were given land, a bonus from the government, and special loans to help them get started as farmers in their own right. In 1927, they became eligible for Dutch citizenship.

How Scotland Erased Guyana From Its Past – Yvonne Singh | Guardian UK — Guyanese Online

April 18, 2019

How Scotland Erased Guyana From Its Past The portrayal of Scots as abolitionists and liberal champions has hidden a long history of profiting from slavery in the Caribbean. Yvonne Singh | Guardian UK Scotland’s role in empire does not belong in the margins or footnotes: Highland Scots had a huge role to play in the […]

via How Scotland Erased Guyana From Its Past – Yvonne Singh | Guardian UK — Guyanese Online

MAHATMA GANDHI

March 21, 2019

A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF MAHATMA GANDHI ON HIS 150th ANNIVERSARY

(1869-2019)

GW 001

 

FOR A WORLD OF PEACE AND NONVIOLENCE!

Ref: https://www.gandhiserve.net/about-mahatma-gandhi/?fbclid=IwAR1ItRTYExrq3sOjcI6C8eZmEn3Q05cv3ootjKxFzD-gOolWALiD3hecBWc

Mahatma Gandhi 000

Mahatma Gandhi during an evening prayer at “Palm Bun”, Juhu Beach, Bombay, May/June 1944.

About Mahatma Gandhi

 

When Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on January 30, 1948, he was already a legend. He was born as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 1869 in Gujarat/India. He showed the world that social and political changes can be achieved not only through violence and terror, but also through love and compassion.

The tradition of nonviolence (ahimsa) plays an important role in the Indian culture – and its religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Tolerance for other religions, and a vegetarian diet forms an integral part of their lives. Therefore, Gandhi’s love of truth and his commitment to nonviolence are expressions of ancient traditions on the Indian sub-continent. Predominantly, Gandhi tried to realize and eradicate his own shortcomings on his path to self-transformation. He tried to meet all living beings and creations of nature with great respect and humility. He argued and fought for his convictions and aims using nonviolent means, and was always ready to compromise. Gandhi lead India from colonial dependency into political independence. He not only achieved political rights for his countrymen, but fought also for social and economic equality.

GANDHI WAY PNGMohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in the town of Porbandar in the state of what is now Gujarat on 2 October 1869. He had his schooling in nearby Rajkot, where his father served as the adviser or prime minister to the local ruler. Though India was then under British rule, over 500 kingdoms, principalities, and states were allowed autonomy in domestic and internal affairs: these were the so-called ‘native states’. Rajkot was one such state.

Gandhi later recorded the early years of his life in his extraordinary autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth. His father died before Gandhi could finish his schooling, and at thirteen he was married to Kasturba [or Kasturbai], who was a few months older to him. In 1888 Gandhi set sail for England, where he had decided to pursue a degree in law. Though his elders objected, Gandhi could not be prevented from leaving; and it is said that his mother, a devout woman, made him promise that he would keep away from wine, women, and meat during his stay abroad. Gandhi left behind his son Harilal, then a few months old.

In London, Gandhi encountered theosophists, vegetarians, and others who were disenchanted not only with industrialism, but with the legacy of Enlightenment thought. They themselves represented the fringe elements of English society. Gandhi was powerfully attracted to them, as he was to the texts of the major religious traditions; and ironically it is in London that he was introduced to the Bhagavad Gita. Here, too, Gandhi showed determination and single-minded pursuit of his purpose, and accomplished his objective of finishing his degree from the Inner Temple. He was called to the bar in 1891, and even enrolled in the High Court of London; but later that year he left for India.

After one year of a none too successful law practice, Gandhi decided to accept an offer from an Indian businessman in South Africa, Dada Abdulla, to join him as a legal adviser. Unbeknown to him, this was to become an exceedingly lengthy stay, and altogether Gandhi was to stay in South Africa for over twenty years. The Indians who had been living in South Africa were without political rights, and were generally known by the derogatory name of ‘coolies’. Gandhi himself came to an awareness of the frightening force and fury of European racism, and how far Indians were from being considered full human beings, when he when thrown out of a first-class railway compartment car, though he held a first-class ticket, at Pietermaritzburg. From this political awakening Gandhi was to emerge as the leader of the Indian community, and it is in South Africa that he first coined the term satyagraha to signify his theory and practice of active non-violent resistance. Gandhi was to describe himself pre-eminently as a votary or seeker of satya (truth), which could not be attained other than through ahimsa (non-violence, love) and brahmacharya (celibacy, striving towards God). Gandhi conceived of his own life as a series of experiments to forge the use of satyagraha in such a manner as to make the oppressor and the oppressed alike recognize their common bonding and humanity: as he recognized, freedom is only freedom when it is indivisible. In his book Satyagraha in South Africa he was to detail the struggles of the Indians to claim their rights, and their resistance to oppressive legislation and executive measures, such as the imposition of a poll tax on them, or the declaration by the government that all non-Christian marriages were to be construed as invalid. In 1909, on a trip back to India, Gandhi authored a short treatise entitled Hind Swaraj or Indian Home Rule, where he all but initiated the critique, not only of industrial civilization, but of modernity in all its aspects.Gandhi returned to India in early 1915, and was never to leave the country again except for a short trip that took him to Europe in 1931. Though he was not completely unknown in India, Gandhi followed the advice of his political mentor, Gokhale, and took it upon himself to acquire a familiarity with Indian conditions. He travelled widely for one year. Over the next few years, he was to become involved in numerous local struggles, such as at Champaran in Bihar, where workers on indigo plantations complained of oppressive working conditions, and at Ahmedabad, where a dispute had broken out between management and workers at textile mills. His interventions earned Gandhi a considerable reputation, and his rapid ascendancy to the helm of nationalist politics is signified by his leadership of the opposition to repressive legislation (known as the “Rowlatt Acts”) in 1919. His saintliness was not uncommon, except in someone like him who immersed himself in politics, and by this time he had earned from no less a person than Rabindranath Tagore, India’s most well-known writer, the title of Mahatma, or ‘Great Soul’. When ‘disturbances’ broke out in the Punjab, leading to the massacre of a large crowd of unarmed Indians at the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar and other atrocities, Gandhi wrote the report of the Punjab Congress Inquiry Committee. Over the next two years, Gandhi initiated the non-cooperation movement, which called upon Indians to withdraw from British institutions, to return honors conferred by the British, and to learn the art of self-reliance; though the British administration was at places paralyzed, the movement was suspended in February 1922 when a score of Indian policemen were brutally killed by a large crowd at Chauri Chaura, a small market town in the United Provinces. Gandhi himself was arrested shortly thereafter, tried on charges of sedition, and sentenced to imprisonment for six years. At The Great Trial, as it is known to his biographers, Gandhi delivered a masterful indictment of British rule.

Owing to his poor health, Gandhi was released from prison in 1925. Over the following years, he worked hard to preserve Hindu-Muslim relations, and in 1924 he observed, from his prison cell, a 21-day fast when Hindu-Muslim riots broke out at Kohat, a military barracks on the Northwest Frontier. This was to be of his many major public fasts, and in 1932 he was to commence the so-called Epic Fast unto death, since he thought of “separate electorates” for the oppressed class of what were then called untouchables (or harijans in Gandhi’s vocabulary, and dalits in today’s language) as a retrograde measure meant to produce permanent divisions within Hindu society. Gandhi earned the hostility of Ambedkar, the leader of the untouchables, but few doubted that Gandhi was genuinely interested in removing the serious disabilities from which they suffered, just as no one doubt that Gandhi never accepted the argument that Hindus and Muslims constituted two separate elements in Indian society. These were some of the concerns most prominent in Gandhi’s mind, but he was also to initiate a constructive programme for social reform. Gandhi had ideas — mostly sound — on every subject, from hygiene and nutrition to education and labor, and he relentlessly pursued his ideas in one of the many newspapers which he founded. Indeed, were Gandhi known for nothing else in India, he would still be remembered as one of the principal figures in the history of Indian journalism.

In early 1930, as the nationalist movement was revived, the Indian National Congress, the pre-eminent body of nationalist opinion, declared that it would now be satisfied with nothing short of complete independence (purna swaraj). Once the clarion call had been issued, it was perforce necessary to launch a movement of resistance against British rule. On March 2, Gandhi addressed a letter to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, informing him that unless Indian demands were met, he would be compelled to break the “salt laws”. Predictably, his letter was received with bewildered amusement, and accordingly Gandhi set off, on the early morning of March 12, with a small group of followers towards Dandi on the sea. They arrived there on April 5th: Gandhi picked up a small lump of natural salt, and so gave the signal to hundreds of thousands of people to similarly defy the law, since the British exercised a monopoly on the production and sale of salt. This was the beginning of the civil disobedience movement: Gandhi himself was arrested, and thousands of others were also hauled into jail. It is to break this deadlock that Irwin agreed to hold talks with Gandhi, and subsequently the British agreed to hold another Round Table Conference in London to negotiate the possible terms of Indian independence. Gandhi went to London in 1931 and met some of his admirers in Europe, but the negotiations proved inconclusive. On his return to India, he was once again arrested.

For the next few years, Gandhi would be engaged mainly in the constructive reform of Indian society. He had vowed upon undertaking the salt march that he would not return to Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, where he had made his home, if India did not attain its independence, and in the mid-1930s he established himself near a remote village, in the dead center of India, by the name of Segaon. He named his new home Sevagram – village of service. It is to this obscure village, which was without electricity or running water, that India’s political leaders made their way to engage in discussions with Gandhi about the future of the independence movement, and it is here that he received visitors such as Margaret Sanger, the well-known American proponent of birth-control. Gandhi also continued to travel throughout the country, taking him wherever his services were required.

One such visit was to the Northwest Frontier, where he had in the imposing Pathan, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (known by the endearing term of “Frontier Gandhi”, and at other times as Badshah [King] Khan), a fervent disciple. At the outset of World War II, Gandhi and the Congress leadership assumed a position of neutrality: while clearly critical of fascism, they could not find it in themselves to support British imperialism. Gandhi was opposed by Subhas Chandra Bose, who had served as President of the Congress, and who took to the view that Britain’s moment of weakness was India’s moment of opportunity. When Bose ran for President of the Congress against Gandhi’s wishes and triumphed against Gandhi’s own candidate, he found that Gandhi still exercised influence over the Congress Working Committee, and that it was near impossible to run the Congress if the cooperation of Gandhi and his followers could not be procured. Bose tendered his resignation, and shortly thereafter was to make a dramatic escape from India to find support among the Japanese and the Nazis for his plans to liberate India.

In 1942, Gandhi issued the last call for independence from British rule. On the grounds of what is now known as August Kranti Maidan at Mumbai, he delivered a stirring speech, asking every Indian to lay down their life, if necessary, in the cause of freedom. He gave them this mantra: “Do or Die”; at the same time, he asked the British to ‘Quit India’. The response of the British government was to place Gandhi under arrest, and virtually the entire Congress leadership was to find itself behind bars, not to be released until after the conclusion of the war.

A few months after Gandhi and Kasturba had been placed in confinement in the Aga Khan’s Palace in Pune, Kasturba passed away: this was a terrible blow to Gandhi, following closely on the heels of the death of his private secretary of many years, the gifted Mahadev Desai. In the period from 1942 to 1945, the Muslim League, which represented the interest of certain Muslims and by now advocated the creation of a separate homeland for Muslims, increasingly gained the attention of the British, and supported them in their war effort. The new government that came to power in Britain under Clement Atlee was committed to the independence of India, and negotiations for India’s future began in earnest. Sensing that the political leaders were now craving for power, Gandhi largely distanced himself from the negotiations. He declared his opposition to the vivisection of India. It is generally conceded, even by his detractors, that the last years of his life were in some respects his finest. He walked from village to village in riot-torn Noakhali, where Hindus were being killed in retaliation for the killing of Muslims in Bihar, and nursed the wounded and consoled the widowed; and in Calcutta he came to constitute, in the famous words of the last viceroy, Mountbatten, a “one-man boundary force” between Hindus and Muslims. The ferocious fighting in Calcutta came to a halt, almost entirely on account of Gandhi’s efforts, and even his critics were wont to speak of the Gandhi’s ‘miracle of Calcutta’. When the moment of freedom came, on 15 August 1947, Gandhi was nowhere to be seen in the capital, though Nehru and the entire Constituent Assembly were to salute him as the architect of Indian independence, as the ‘father of the nation’.

Gandhi Speech

The last few months of Gandhi’s life were to be spent mainly in the capital city of Delhi. There he divided his time between the ‘Bhangi colony’, where the sweepers and the lowest of the low stayed, and Birla House, the residence of one of the wealthiest men in India and one of the benefactors of Gandhi’s ashrams. Hindu and Sikh refugees had streamed into the capital from what had become Pakistan, and there was much resentment, which easily translated into violence, against Muslims. It was partly in an attempt to put an end to the killings in Delhi, and more generally to the bloodshed following the partition, which may have taken the lives of as many as 1 million people, besides causing the dislocation of no fewer than 11 million, that Gandhi was to commence the last fast unto death of his life. The fast was terminated when representatives of all the communities signed a statement that they were prepared to live in “perfect amity”, and that the lives, property, and faith of the Muslims would be safeguarded. A few days later, a bomb exploded in Birla House where Gandhi was holding his evening prayers, but it caused no injuries. However, his assassin, a Marathi Chitpavan Brahmin by the name of Nathuram Godse, was not so easily deterred. Gandhi, quite characteristically, refused additional security, and no one could defy his wish to be allowed to move around unhindered. In the early evening hours of 30 January 1948, Gandhi met with India’s Deputy Prime Minister and his close associate in the freedom struggle, Vallabhbhai Patel, and then proceeded to his prayers.

That evening, as Gandhi’s time-piece, which hung from one of the folds of his dhoti [loin-cloth], was to reveal to him, he was uncharacteristically late to his prayers, and he fretted about his inability to be punctual. At 10 minutes past 5 o’clock, with one hand each on the shoulders of Abha and Manu, who were known as his ‘living walking sticks’, Gandhi commenced his walk towards the garden where the prayer meeting was held. As he was about to mount the steps of the podium, Gandhi folded his hands and greeted his audience with a namaskar; at that moment, a young man came up to him and roughly pushed aside Manu. Nathuram Godse bent down in the gesture of an obeisance, took a revolver out of his pocket, and shot Gandhi three times in his chest. Bloodstains appeared over Gandhi’s white woolen shawl; his hands still folded in a greeting, Gandhi blessed his assassin: He Ram! He Ram! [Oh God! Oh God!]

As Gandhi fell, his faithful time-piece struck the ground, and the hands of the watch came to a standstill. They showed, as they had done before, the precise time: 5:12 P.M.

gandhi-jayanti_jpg

Namaste, Gandhiji –

Poem by Leonard Dabydeen

Footprints on the sands of time
glow with birthmark
each glittering step
unshaken and challenging
not by yielding to temptation
but thirst for truth
for the awakening of men
for soul-searching
in glimpses of the Transvaal
for monsoon moments
in vestibules of maharajas
turnstiles in South Africa
under a mango tree in India
ricocheting in global rumbles
for peace and non-violence
and as the wind whispers
in a stormy weather
where wars create bedrocks
for sleepless journeys
I clasp my hands
in solemn gesture
as if it were the beginning
of the end
namaste, Gandhiji.

Gandhiji, Namaste –

Poem by Leonard Dabydeen

 

I

shouted

when I heard

the shot rang out

his frail hands in solemn prayer, hey Ram.

 

Today I mark his final ‘Namaste’

satyagraha

no more fight

ending

war.

 

Fight Your Way

by Leonard Dabydeen

 

Fight

your way

to freedom

like Gandhiji

make no prison walls block your hopes and dreams. 

 

We Are All At Fault –

Poem by Leonard Dabydeen

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

We are all at fault
you and I
and others too
in the canon of our trajectory
catapulting peace over perjury
harmony versus angst
no one cooks rice
without sifting it
always some undesirables
within complex webs
of our minds
where our karma revolts
or echoes involuntarily
in matrix of peace and sanctity
as we grapple with sinews
and seek bhakti
embellishing dharma
being this change we wish
for you and me
immersing melodic stotras
within gems of Bhagavad Gita.

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Ghost of Yesterday’s Past

March 21, 2019

Ghost of Yesterday’s Past

 

When the ghost of yesterday’s past haunts you

and you visualize this image swirls

in many of your slumberless nights through

how do you shuffle your waking hour twirls?

 

Day by day as the ghost tweets in your mind

you speak to your friends in gobbledygook;

behind your toupee blubber head, they find

everything that complements how you look!

 

With every chance you gripe grumpy twitter

nothing more puerile and putrefying

oh, my God what diddlysquat critter

giving cronies much to belch his lying!

 

 

 

Perhaps desire of war is forthcoming

let’s pray end is sooner than beginning.

Flood

March 21, 2019

Flood

 

water o’er flowing

river banks eroding fast

infrastructure weak

River banks

Interstellar Visitor

March 21, 2019

Interstellar Visitor

(Oumuamua)

Wandering around

hurling through the Milky Way;

stranger from afar.

OUMUAMUA

 

 

Coming of Spring

March 19, 2019

Coming of Spring (haiku)

Cackling geese above
heralding coming of spring
streams over flowing.

Geese Flying

 

COMMENTS (From Face Book – March 2019)

Mydavolu Venkatasesha Sathyanarayana Wow, great imagery! A perfect haiku.

Leonard Dabydeen Thank you, bhai.

Indira Babbellapati “Fly away home”

Leonard Dabydeen Thank you, didi. ‘Home’ is a beautiful four-letter word.

Subhash Chandra Leonard Dabydeen, a Zen Master. (Your Haikus kindle epiphany).

Leonard Dabydeen Thank you, Subhash. This accolade from a distinguished master story teller as yourself lifts me to a higher plateau. It’s as if you’re presenting me with the Koh-i-Noor. God Bless!!

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