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‘The best teacher who had solutions’: PM Modi on Gandhi

“As a tribute to Gandhi,” Modi wrote in an editorial in the New York Times newspaper, on Wednesday to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, “I propose what I call the Einstein Challenge.”

Updated: Oct 03, 2019 03:01 IST

By Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times Washington

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pays tributes to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary at Gandhi Memorial, Rajghat, in New Delhi on Wednesday. (Ajay Aggarwal/HT PHOTO)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday threw an “Einstein Challenge” to “thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders” to come up with ways to ensure the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi endured for generations calling him the “best teacher” and someone who “offers solutions to every problem”.

“As a tribute to Gandhi,” Modi wrote in an editorial in the New York Times newspaper, on Wednesday to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, “I propose what I call the Einstein Challenge.”

Under the “Einstein Challenge”, Modi wrote, he would like to invite “thinkers, entrepreneurs and tech leaders to be at the forefront of spreading Gandhi’s ideas through innovation”.

Modi quoted Nobel prize winning scientist Albert Einstein, who had once said about Gandhi, “Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth.”



“In Gandhi”, the prime minister wrote, "we have the best teacher to guide us. From uniting those who believe in humanity to furthering sustainable development and ensuring economic self-reliance, Gandhi offers solutions to every problem”.

Gandhi’s doctrine of trusteeship, Modi wrote, “emphasized the socio-economic welfare for the poor.” This should inspire in us a spirit of ownership, he said, adding, “We, as inheritors of the earth, are responsible for its well-being, including that of the flora and fauna with whom we share our planet.”

Modi wrote about Gandhi as a world figure whose life story and message inspired people far beyond the boundaries of India.

Martin Luther King Jr, the iconic leader of the American civil rights movement, was one of them. Modi began his editorial, in an American publication and meant for an American readership, with a quote from the civil rights leader.

During a visit to India in 1959, King had written, “To other countries I may go as a tourist, but to India I come as a pilgrim.”

King had called Gandhi’s teachings the “guiding light” of his own struggles to end racial discrimination.

During his 2013 visit to the US, Prime Minister Modi had visited King’s memorial in Washington DC with then US president Barack Obama, who had personally given the India leader a tour in a rare gesture.

Prime Minister Modi wrote also about another towering world leader, Nelson Mandela, who had been inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.

Turning to Gandhi’s appeal at home, the prime minister wrote admiringly of Gandhi’s ability to create an impact with small gestures, such as elevating the status of workers by naming an organisation that he founded Majoor Mahajan Sangh, that brought the words “majoor” (workers/labourers) and “mahajan” (a word used for the social elites at the time) together.

“Who else could have used a charkha, a spinning wheel, and khadi, Indian homespun cloth, as symbols of economic self-reliance and empowerment for a nation?” Modi wrote.

The prime minister recounted some steps initiated by him in keeping with Gandhi’s ideals, including improving sanitation and harnessing renewable sources of energy. “We want to do even more, with the world and for the world,” he wrote.

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