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Every Indian a part of the family



Rajmohan Gandhi in New Delhi.

EVEN AS we remember Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary, there is a gnawing need for somebody, somewhere to stand up and be counted. "I am a poor representative of Mahatma Gandhi. I wish I had the gifts and daring of my grandfather but I have the same commitment. I am pledged to this unceasing fight for justice and equality. For Hindu-Muslim amity I am prepared to pay any price." That is Rajmohan Gandhi, Mahatma's grandson reaffirming his vow to the Father of the Nation's principles. Yet he laments, "Nothing could have more grievously wounded Gandhiji's spirit than Gujarat 2002, Ayodhya 1992 or Delhi 1984. Gandhiji's picture is there on the currency notes but nobody studies his life. I cannot blame school textbooks alone because there are some admirers of killers of this great soul in our society. Some sections of Indians seem to show great enthusiasm for killers of Gandhiji. The Mahatma is reduced to a figurehead. But he is more relevant now than any other time. Many have rejected him, not just forgotten him. But it is not easy to banish or dismiss him. His life will continue to inspire the Indian spirit and needle the self-righteous, proud, intolerant souls."

Yet Rajmohan Gandhi feels it is the responsibility of every Indian to live up to the Mahatma's ideals. "In addition to Mahatma Gandhi's descendants like me there are more valiant fighters. Flesh of flesh is not the only one. Every Indian is part of his family."

On a wistful note he adds, "To follow Mahatma Gandhi is my goal, to follow my conscience that what I am doing today he would have appreciated it. I have disappointed him in many ways but I have made a reasonable attempt to be true to my conscience. Gandhiji never sat me down to explain something but he did that through gestures and made it plain that my life would demand certain sacrifice for it to be something special."

ZIYA US SALAM

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