Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Remembering Gandhi

Cycling past Tavistock Square in Bloomsbury, I took a break from my journey to visit the statue of Mahatma Gandhi that sits in the square. A timely visit, as it turned out, because the anniversary of his birth was on 02 October 1869, just a week ago, and the statue sported a garland of orange flowers, cellophane-wrapped bouquets on his lap and more flowers piled on the stone steps. At other times, there are always a few flowers - his fame in the history of non-violent resistance is not forgotten. Gandhi sits cross-legged on a bell-shaped stone pedestal, in the centre of the square, surrounded by sedate English gardening and benches occupied by office workers and academics from London University eating their lunches. The roughly sculpted bronze figure was made by Fredda Brilliant, a colourful globetrotting character, and installed in Tavistock Square in 1968.

Although the principles of  non-violent resistance originate from Buddhist and Hindu philosophy, Gandhi was the first to use those principles in an organised way and on a large scale. He pioneered his ideas under apartheid in South Africa, fighting for the rights of the Indian population there. He went on to become a figurehead of India's long struggle to free itself of British rule, although failing to stop the slide into sectarian violence that followed.

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