AHMEDABAD: In the 150th birth anniversary year of Mahatma Gandhi, the Sabarmati Ashram here is teaching precepts of non-violence to nearly 30,000 students in Gujarat, with interesting concepts like asking them to write a 'letter to Bapu' and learning about life of the Father of the Nation.
The initiative was launched by the trust of Sabarmati Ashram, set up by the Mahatma in 1917 on his return from South Africa, in coordination with the Gujarat government three months ago.
The students, all from government-run primary schools, were recently asked to write a letter to Bapu.
The concept has given a food for thought to the young minds who have been penning down their feelings on postcards, Sabarmati Ashram's director Atul Pandya told PTI.
"They were given postcards, and asked to write whatever they would like to tell the Mahatma, and dispatch the missives to Sabarmati Ashram," he said.
"We have so far received around 15,000 postcards, and hope to receive as many more in coming days. Hundreds of postcards are coming in every day," Pandya said.
In the letters, most of the students have written about how they perceive Gandhi and relevance of non-violence in today's world, he said.
The ashram trust has put together an activity manual, which tells how non-violence can be practised in daily life.
"'Gandhi Jivan Parichay' (an introduction to the life of Mahatma Gandhi) is the first lesson for students under the project. There is no set pedagogy in teaching non- violence," he said.
Non-violence is an idea that needs to be inculcated among students at a young age, he opined.
"We tied up with the Gujarat government to teach students the virtues of non-violence, which is also a way of understanding Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophy," he said.
"What I observed during my interaction with students is that even the concept of violence and non-violence differ from region to region," he said.
'Learning non-violence', as the module is called, is meant for around 30,000 students of Classes 6, 7 and 8 across 300 government primary schools, Pandya said.
Majority of the 300 schools covered under the project are located in rural areas, while around 60 are situated in urban belts - 20 each in Ahmedabad, Rajkot and Bhavnagar.
'Facilitators', who are teaching the students, were themselves trained for two months, Pandya said.
On Wednesday, the ashram has organised prayer session of around 900 students, asking them to speak on what they feel about non-violence.
These children are among the 30,000 students who are being taught Gandhi's concept of non-violence, Pandya added.