12/06/2013, 00.00
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India salutes Nelson Mandela , "an apostle of non-violence like Mahatma Gandhi "

by Nirmala Carvalho
Catholic priests and human rights activists pay tribute to the South African leader as "an ideal and an icon to follow." Mandela wanted not only to "end the segregation of blacks ," but also that " all his people lived , walked and worked together." And this is what India should do to try to "fight the caste system, violence of a religious nature and social exclusion ."

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The people of India mourn the death of Nelson Mandela, the man who more than anyone else, "followed Mahatma Gandhi's example of non-violence." The South African leader was "an ideal to follow" for everyone, especially the most marginalized : Dalits , sick , destitute, persecuted minorities . But the greatest teaching which he left to the world was his ability to "forgive unconditionally".

According to Fr. Cedric Prakash - Director of the Jesuit Centre Prashant for human rights , justice and peace in Ahmedabad - " If the spirit is strong it will ultimately triumph, despite the powers and vested interests doing everything to subjugate one; the belief that a non-violent struggle is the only and sure way to achieve results - something he learnt from Mahatma Gandhi;divisiveness of any kind and particularly racism definitely has no place in a world which is becoming more and more a globalised village. Mandela believed that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and as children of this planet though we are different in many ways, we are all equal".

However, the Jesuit notes to AsiaNews, "although he is considered an icon for millions of people around the world , many areas continue to be devastated by violence , hatred and division ." The priest points to Gujarat, the land that gave birth to Gandhi and which is experiencing a time of great economic wealth. Today, he says, " being a Muslim in Gujarat it means to living in ghettos or special areas . This is evident in Ahmedabad , the financial capital of the state, where it is impossible for a Muslim to buy or rent a house in the business area ." The problem is "the institutionalization of this practice now accepted by the majority [ Hindu , ed] ."

On the contrary, " Mandela fought against the segregation of blacks in South Africa, but his biggest goal was that all men and women - white or blacks , rich or poor - can live together , walking hand in hand and work side by side, accepting the dignity of the other. He never held a grudge or sought revenge from his white oppressors. He forgave unconditionally , and that is why it has been able to give South Africa hope of a better future."

For Lenin Raghuvanshi , a prominent activist for human rights and director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights ( Pvchr ) , Mandela is " a sign of hope, honour and human dignity for most marginalized people facing discrimination based on race, caste, religion and gender. Nelson Mandela legacy is path for PVCHRs' Neo dalit movement to bring unity of different communities against Caste system, feudalism, Communal-fascism and Neo- Liberalism in India through reconciliation for justice."

Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC ), tells AsiaNews that " Mandela shaped not just South African history,  but changed the face of global history, from the Indian point of view at what Mandela has stood for and achieved, India can rightly be thankful to him. His incarceration for almost three decades while also being quite ill, and patiently holding on to his goal with a single-minded attention, is an inspiration and image of fortitude for  all the exploited people of India".


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