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Friday, June 21, 2024

Gandhi's grandson to speak about peaceful reform at UF forum

Wanting to promote nonviolence and peace, Mohandas "Mahatma" Gandhi's grandson travels the world teaching the philosophy of India's legendary leader. Tonight, his journey will bring him to UF.

Arun Gandhi will open UF's Kaleidoscope: Asian and Asian American Awareness Month. The speech, sponsored by Accent, Student Government speaker's bureau, and Kaleidoscope will begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be followed by a question-and-answer session and a reception.

While growing up in South Africa, Gandhi began to reflect on what his grandfather, who protested the British occupation of India through nonviolent means, taught him. He also considered the work his parents were doing for nonviolent social change.

He felt inspired and thought he could do something, too.

In 1957 he met his wife in India. She was also very keen on working with oppressed people, he said. He moved to India because the South African government wouldn't allow her to return to South Africa with him, Gandhi said.

During his time in India, Gandhi co-founded India's Center for Social Unity in 1968. Teaming up with his wife and some friends, they worked for the poor and oppressed people.

Gandhi moved to the United States in 1987 to write a book on prejudice. Once people heard who he was, he began receiving invitations to speak about his grandfather and his philosophy.

In 1991, he founded the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, which was moved from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., to the University of Rochester in New York this year.

He opened the institute to promote and teach people the Gandhi method of nonviolence and peace.

"It's been very successful judging on the number of invitations I get to go out and do these programs all over the country, in fact, all over the world." Gandhi said. "I just kind of go out to plant seeds in the minds of people, and I hope those seeds will eventually germinate."

To mark his grandfather's 50th memorial anniversary and Martin Luther King Jr.'s 30th memorial anniversary, Gandhi helped launch A Season for Non-Violence in 1998.

Since that first event, which was meant to only be a one year-event, it has become an annual feature with more than 300 groups around the United States and internationally doing wonderful things to bring about peace and understanding, Gandhi said.

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"I just inspired people to do whatever they could to bring us closer to the dream that both Dr. King and my grandfather shared," he said.

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