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Mahatma Gandhi – The Inspiration behind the International Day of Non-Violence

The International Day of Non-Violence is marked by the United Nations (UN) as a global observance that endorses non-violence through public awareness and education. It is annually celebrated on October 2, the day the renowned Indian leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) was born. This day (October 2nd) is remembered in India as Gandhi Jayanti.

The Marking of the Day in History

It was in January of the year 2007, that Sonia Gandhi, the present leader of India’s Congress Party, initiated a Satyagraha Conference resolution in New Delhi, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They suggested the adoption of the idea of such a day to the United Nations.

On 15 of June of the year 2007, the UN General Assembly finally established 2nd October as the International Day of Non-Violence. On October 2nd of the same year, this day was first celebrated. It continues to be celebrated till today.

The Importance of the Day

The principle of non-violence – the non-violent resistance, aims to reject the use of physical violence to accomplish political or social change. This day aims to spread this message to the world.

The 3 main categories of non-violence act include the following.

  1. Non-cooperation.
  2. Protest and persuasion, including vigils and marches.
  3. Non-violent interference, including blockades.

As Mahatma Gandhi had made use of the above approaches in order to attain social and political change in the country, the UN recognizes a logical connection between Mahatma Gandhi and the International Day of Non-Violence. As such, the day when Gandhi was born in India – October 2 – is remembered today as the International Day of Non-Violence.

The Remembrance of the Day

To mark this day every year, people around the world take many steps. Groups, governments and non-government organizations around the world organize or take part in many different events, activities and social campaigns such as the ones given below.

  • Multi-faith prayer gatherings.
  • Television programs, broadcast announcements and news articles promoting the day.
  • Public discussions, seminars, lectures, and press conferences to talk about non-violence.
  • Photo exhibitions to highlight issues such as the dangers of the illegal trading of small arms.
  • Street awareness public campaigns.
  • Light ceremonies encouraging peace and non-violence.

The Inspirational Figure – The ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi

This day was possible because of Gandhiji. It was through his beliefs, methods and works of peace that India gained freedom from bondage through the philosophy of ‘Ahimsa’. This act is remembered as ‘Swaraj’ – the independence of India from foreign powers. It was also through him that the world learnt to fight against injustice, disharmony, oppression and exploitation with non-violent ways.

He did not just explain what non-violence fight means, but also took part in many social activities. Some well-known movements and contributions to his credit are the non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa in the struggle for attaining the civil rights of resident Indian community, the mass civil disobedience ‘Satyagraha’ in India, protests against excessive discrimination and land-taxes, campaigns to ease poverty, campaigns for women’s rights, end of ‘untouchability’, protest against the salt tax with a ‘Dandi Salt March’, and last but not the least, the ‘Quit India Movement’.

Due to all his efforts and hard work, he is called ‘Mahatma’ or the great soul. He truly deserves to be titled – the Father of the Nation!

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