10/02/2010, 00.00
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International Day of Non-Violence in memory of Gandhi

by Nirmala Carvalho
Father Nithiya believes the whole world should embrace the message of peace promoted by Mahatma Gandhi. The need to look to the poor and needy, because only with the development of the least can a just and tolerant society be achieved.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Today is the International Day of Non-Violence, which coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi. According to the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 15 June 2007, the anniversary is an occasion to "disseminate the message of nonviolence, including through education and public awareness". Governments and NGOs mark the day by promoting these principles through meetings, seminars, exhibitions and public lectures.

Fr. Nithiya OFM (Cap), executive secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC) Office of Human Development, spoke to AsiaNews about the relevance of the Gandhi’s message for India today:

"Unfortunately, most of the rich live of violence and weapons. India is the second largest importer of weapons in the world, and does not invest in dialogue and peace initiatives.

Every day the news and media are full of talk of violence. Schools and universities do not have peace, and India as a whole is becoming a violent country, particularly against the poor, the marginalized, indigenous peoples who are denied their right to food, water and land. Women are still not free, either at home or in public. There is a long way to go to learn tolerance and nonviolence. This year the Day for Nonviolence focuses on the rural peoples and villages, but right now more attention is paid to the cities and industries. Thousands of villages are without electricity, without water supply, roads and health centres.

Gandhi spoke of Sarvodaya, a society that is able to guarantee the well-being of all citizens, with equal economic, political, civil and socio-cultural rights. Rights that are  violated today when it comes to poor and marginalized. The India of today is not the one Gandhi dreamed of, but his message is still true today, and every decision we make must include and involve the most needy.

Here I am not only speaking of India,  but Asia as a whole, the meeting point of different cultures, traditions and religions. Today more than ever we need to accept and spread the message of the Mahatma: to India, Asia, and throughout the world. "

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