NEW DELHI: Trains have played a pivotal role in Mahatma Gandhi's political journey, from he being thrown out of it in South Africa in 1893, that sowed the seeds of the movement of non-violence, to him using the medium to traverse the length and breadth of the country during the freedom struggle.
This was precisely depicted at the Rajpath by the Indian Railways tableau which showed the transformation of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a lawyer, to Mahatma, a political seer. The tableau earned much praise from the crowd as even External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj stood up to cheer for it.
This is the 150th year of Mahatma's birth anniversary and this resonated in most of the tableaux. The front portion of the tableau showed a steam engine on whose top was perched a bust of the Mahatma, similar to one installed at Pietermaritzburg Railway station in South Africa.
The first coach showed a young Mohandas being thrown out of a 'European-only' compartment at Pietermaritzburg railway station in 1893.
The second coach depicted Gandhi with Kasturba Gandhi, meeting people at the station, as he travelled in the 3rd Class compartment across the length and breadth of India by train after his return to India from South Africa in 1915.
The rear portion of the tableau showed Gandhi Ji collecting donations for 'Harijan Fund' during his train journey to Bengal, Assam and South India, between November 1945 and January 1946.
The side panel showcased how Indian Railways spearheaded the Mahatma's vision of 'swadeshi', as shown in Indian Railways journey from the era of steam engines to indigenously made state-of-art engineless Train 18, made under the government's flagship programme 'Make in India'.