The Daily Illini

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson speaks of his continued legacy and impact

By Ashni Gandhi

On Thursday, retired University professor Rajmohan Gandhi spoke to a crowd about a birthday observed around the world: his grandfather’s birthday. Why was it so special? His grandfather was Mahatma Gandhi.

“Why don’t we celebrate the birthday of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill? These are two great contemporaries of Gandhi,” Rajmohan Gandhi said. “We know that in some ways, Gandhi was seen as a miracle worker because he mobilized millions in India from a very large and diverse population.”

Rajmohan Gandhi’s speech was the keynote of the Indian Student Association’s Gandhi week, commemorating Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on Oct. 2. Mahatma Gandhi was the leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India.

The fundraiser spanned the whole week and included handing out flowers with Gandhi quotes, selling samosas, collecting change from passers-by and holding a Fast-a-thon. All of the money raised was donated to the Wesley Food Pantry and Heifer International.

Rajmohan Gandhi spoke about his grandfather and the change he spurred, as well as that ideology applies to students. Discussing prejudice, he encouraged finding mutual understanding to resolve conflict.

“There has to be a desire to tackle and confront prejudice,”Rajmohan Gandhi said. “In other situations, you have to befriend and win their confidence.”

Priya Vaikuntapathi, a freshman in LAS, appreciated Rajmohan Gandhi’s responses to audiences looking for guidance on one’s life path.

“It makes me think about what I do, and I have to do it for a certain motive,” Vaikuntapathi said. “It is important to know how other religions and cultures relate to each other.”

Rajmohan Gandhi spoke directly to the Indian community from Mahatma Gandhi’s point of view about intercultural connection between Chinese and Indian communities. Yet, the speech drew a diverse crowd.

As an African-American student, Damerrick Perry, sophomore in DGS, attended the event to learn more about hinduism and the University’s indian culture. For him, Gandhi’s messages are especially important on campus in light of the recent fatal shooting in campustown.

“With the University’s current events, a lot of people have been affected by the shooting and this is a place where people can come together and support each other,” Perry said.

ISA’s External Vice President, Namrata Mandhan, junior in LAS, introduced Rajmohan Gandhi. She is in charge of connecting ISA to other campus organizations.

Mandhan noted the week of events was created to bring awareness to Mahatma Gandhi’s impact on society.

“His nonviolence and promotion of peace in living a happy and simple lifestyle,” Mandhan said. “This week is dedicated to making sure people remember his legacy.”

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