January 30 - observed as Gandhi Nirvan Divas - saw a set of programmes organised at Lamakaan comprising a panel discussion and a short film.
Organised by the Andhra Pradesh Chapter of Sarvodaya International Trust, Hyderabad, the discussion revolved around the Gandhi versus growth conundrum with speakers like Prof Raghu Ram Raju, Chandana Chakravarti, Ashhar Farhan, Prof Vijay Kumar of Osmania University while noted legal luminary L Ravichander moderated the session.
The free-wheeling conversation came up with both interesting and oft-known observations about the Father of the Nation. The panel which included a social activist, academics, civil society representatives, writers and speakers, young students and Gandhians felt that his philosophy is so dynamic that one can apply it in every field -- environment, ecology, academics, economy etc.
Numerous queries were tossed around about his failures in seeing the big picture and the inconsistency in his approach while emphasising on the Swades and Swaraj concepts. The Sarvodaya activists were quick to admit that in some areas, even Gandhiji could not do what he wished to.
The example of handing over the planning of the Chandigarh city was raised by a member of the audience who wondered why it was handed over to a foreign city planner Le Corbusier while urban experts in India were ignored. To this, the panel discussions veered around the view that after all Gandhi too was human and prone to failures.
Ashhar Farhan raised a set of pertinent questions when he wanted to know what the indices of development were -- the GDP or the living standards of our people. In pointed out that we have to identify who the beneficiary is when we talk about Gandhian model of growth, especially between the deprived and weaker sections.
It was finally concluded that for better or worse, Mahatma Gandhi is still relevant in today’s India as he was all through the earlier century and that it was necessary to view Gandhiji has as a visionary of his time and a human being and not as a Mahatma. The evening was also accompanied by a 10-minute short film, Vaishnav Jan Toh, directed by Kaushal Oza who was awarded the Best Debut non-feature film of a director and the Best Student Film of the year at the National Film awards in 2010.