International singers to virtual reality shows, symposia of Nobel peace laureates to talks by spiritual gurus, commemorative stamps and coins to Gandhi black belts — these are just some events in an elaborate government plan for year-long celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of the Mahatma.
Starting this October 2, events and activities will not only be held across the country, but Indian missions abroad too will participate actively in propagating the teachings and life of the Father of the Nation.
A committee, comprising secretaries of several central ministries, and asked to draw up a blueprint for year-long activities, has discussed the ideas with the President, Prime Minister and Governors at separate meetings over the last five months.
One of the recommendations of the committee is that all tableaux at the Republic Day parade in January 2019 will be based on the theme of Mahatma Gandhi. On July 28, this was conveyed to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories. The committee has advised states to prepare tableaux inspired by events like the Champaran Satyagraha and the Dandi March.
Other ministries have been asked to initiate work on similar lines. The Railways, for example, can work around the Pietermaritzburg incident in South Africa while Social Justice can draw inspiration from the Mahatma’s ideas on eradication of manual scavenging. The performance by school children, to be organised by the Ministry of Culture, will also have Gandhi as a theme.
To mark the 75th death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, Kasturba Gandhi, February 22 will be celebrated as Kasturba Day in 2019.
The brainstorming on the best ways to celebrate the life of the Mahatma started in April with the first meeting of the committee of secretaries. On May 2, President Ram Nath Kovind headed the meeting of a national implementation committee. This was followed by a conference of Governors on June 5 where the matter was discussed in detail.
On July 18, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the executive committee which approved creation of six sub-committees involving 15 central ministries. Each sub-committee has been assigned various activities and events to be organised throughout the year. The Ministry of Culture, which is not part of any sub-committee, will be the nodal ministry for all commemorative events and activities.
The committee of secretaries has also come up with monthly themes — each inspired by the ideas of the Mahatma — for the first six months, and the government and institutions in India and abroad can work on these themes to organise activities. So, from October 2018 to March 2019, the topics are sanitation, non-violence, voluntary community service, communal unity, removal of untouchability and women empowerment.
A quarterly review of activities will be conducted by the committee of secretaries which will also issue directions to state governments to commemorate the event in similar manner and upload lists of their activities — as will the sub-committees — on a Gandhi portal hosted by the Ministry of Culture. Each sub-committee will have to draw up a calendar until October 2019.
These are some of the suggested activities:
* Gandhi Katha by spiritual gurus such as Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Morari Bapu, Brahma Kumaris.
* Buddhist institutions to organise community development works and a national/ international seminar on peace and harmony.
* Release of commemorative postage stamp and coin.
* Plays, exhibitions, seminars, programmes by institutions like National School of Drama, Sahitya Akademi, museums, libraries, Kalakshetra Foundation, IGNCA and Sangeet Natak Akademi.
* Nehru planetarium to organise a show ‘Gandhi on astronomy’.
HRD (in coordination with Youth Affairs, Petroleum & Natural Gas, and Health & Family Welfare)
* A compendium of 150 articles from Nobel Prize winners, eminent persons.
* Introduction of Gandhi black belt in schools and colleges to promote Gandhian values.
* Padyatra by 150 youth, walking 10 km a day for 150 days, covering every village.
* Video of bhajan Vaishnava Jana sung by composers and singers to be screened widely, along with animation films.
* ‘Mahatma ki Baat’ by spiritual leaders and eminent persons on DD and AIR, and fixed slots for Gandhi Darshan.
* A competition of short films.
MEA (in coordination with Small and Medium Enterprise and Department of Posts)
* Symposia on Gandhi by Nobel Peace Prize awardees.
* Video of Vaishnava Jana to be created by involving singers from other countries.
* Promote Gandhi’s teachings by linking him to world leaders inspired by his life like Martin Luther King Jr. And asking heads of states to speak on Gandhi on the sidelines of the UN special session.
Drinking Water and Sanitation (in coordination with Water Resources, Health & Family Welfare, and Social Justice and Empowerment)
* Create awareness against atrocities on vulnerable sections of society and summer internship for college students.
* Campaigns for Swachh Bharat, eradication 1of leprosy, TB, manual scavenging and against drug addiction.
Railways (in coordination with Environment & Forest, and Road Transport & Highways)
* Branding and logos on major trains and along national highways.
* Painting all railways stations linked to Mahatma Gandhi’s life thematically.
* Signage and posters with messages of Mahatma Gandhi along national highways.
Science and Technology (in coordination with Electronics & Information Technology, and Non-Conventional Energy Resources)
* Virtual reality projection of Gandhi for children and use of social media platforms.
* Creation of an interactive Gandhi Gram during Gandhi Parv and Kumbh Mela.
* Promoting non-conventional energy resources, design competition on a user-friendly solar cooker.