A series of activities and events have been planned by Ministry of External Affairs as part of the action plan for the celebrations of ‘Gandhi at 150,’ along with the missions abroad, and with cooperation with other ministries and departments and other institutions in India.
'Vaishnava Jan To' bhajan is at the top of the list. Informing about the conception and details about the bhajan MEA Spokesperson Ravish Kumar said that the idea came from Prime Minister. He wanted to create a bhajan which has global resonance where one could actually get singers from all across the world to come and participate. 'It was executed by the External Affairs Ministry under the guidance of External Affairs Minister and the process was once we got the go ahead to do this, we wrote to all the missions. We asked them to identify local singers, native singer. We also told them to use local instruments to be accompanied with the singing. We also asked them to use local backdrop so that you get the flavor of that place when the video is being shot and out of 130 odd missions we have where we have an ambassador or high commissioner, we got response from 124 missions. So we actually have 124 songs with us. The challenge was to put all these songs into a bhajan. So because it was not possible so we thought to compress it and take selected songs. So what we did was that we divided all these songs into different regions. North America, South America, Gulf, ASEAN, SAARC, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and then we selected the best bhajans from all these regions. We also wanted to give it a regional representation and then we selected these videos and we asked a company to put them together in a sequence but we didn’t realize that they were all shot in different conditions, different musical instruments, different backdrop. The challenge was to synchronize all these songs and have a common thread running through this. There were some very respectable names as part of the video. We asked the missions that while they should also share this medley version of 41 countries but each mission, all our 130 missions, we told them that you also share the video which you have made in your country. Then all shared their own videos on twitter and Facebook.The next step was that we had to reach the figure of 150. So now we will take the next step to ensure that we get videos from at least 26 more countries to have a collection of 150 bhajans from across the world. And then over the next one year we are working out a time table so that every alternate day or every three days or every week, we will have to see, at least one video of one country is released. So depending on the number of videos and the time frame which we are looking at, we are going to release at least two or three videos every day. You must have noted that President of Nauru is an accomplished singer and when he heard about the idea he said I would like to contribute myself and if you noticed that it is one of the highlights of the video that we have managed to put together.
The other significant aspect was also the support that received not only from the local community but the government itself although there is not direct government involvement but in terms of putting things together it was good. At many places the presence of top dignitaries was noticable. For example when this video was released the acting Prime Minister of Nepal was himself present at the Sabhagraha and it shows that the relevance and the message of Baapu still resonates across the world and that was the idea, to take the message across the world in different countries.
For the LED Projection in order for the event to create a buzz across the world MEA managed to get 120 countries who did the LED projection depending on the time zone. The content was created by the ministry and identified through the help of the missions some iconic buildings and those iconic buildings and the presentation was there at least at 15 locations. The LED projection was customized based on the structure of the iconic location. There were around 40-50 iconic locations where LED projection was done. Other missions had put this projection on billboards etc.
So out of the 50 iconic locations some visuals were about Piccadily Circus of London, Burz Khalifa, the Wien Museum in Vienna, Buda Castle in Budapest, Palazzo Senatorio in Rome, Prambanan Temple in Indonesia, Museo de Arte in Peru among several others. It was in keeping with Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy, to bring relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching in contemporary world.
The third one was a quiz on Mahatma Gandhi started before 2nd October. All missions were sent a question bank of 100 questions on Mahatma Gandhi and they were supposed to run it locally in local language to again generate interest among the local people.
The fourth is Satya Vaarta. This idea came out from the HoM’s Conference which took place in June 2018. Something on the lines of Ted-Talks was created. It was to create a platform where people could share their experience about how Mahatma Gandhi’s message changed their lives. Videos from Serbia, Mexico and many other places have been recieved.
Gandhi Anthology, a collection of write-ups from 150 prominent personalities from across the world will be compiled with the title, ‘What Gandhi Means to Me’ which will be released sometime next year before October 2019.
Gandhi stamps will be issued in all countries. Prime Minister released stamps and these stamps, which have been taken out with the Department of Posts and most of our missions worked to also release them or present them in their locations. Other countries also may issue their own stamps to mark this very special occasion.
Then a commemorative Gandhi medallion or Tamrapatra. This is, a marker but there could be some kind of acknowledgement of contribution of outstanding international personalities influenced by Gandhian ideals working with other government departments and agencies.
Then there is digital translation of collected works of Gandhi. Within government of India, there has been an effort to digitize the Gandhian writings.
There is a Vegetarian Food Festival. Individual missions may well appropriately present it at the right time and right setting. An online quiz is already available being implemented by our embassies and missions.
A global cycling event has been planned in Gandhi’s memory and on the next World Cycling Day on 3rd June, 2019. Missions have been tasked with organizing their own plans. Cycle is a common man’s vehicle so that symbolism is quite clear there.
Charkha Start-up competition is aimed to generate innovative ideas, business proposition from young people under 35 years. The idea is to address issues relating to waste management, sanitation or environment.
Satya-Vaarta to identify people influenced by Gandhi and they would speak something and in their words it would be captured and put on the internet i.e. YouTube. Planting of trees is planned on World Environment Day which will be on 5 June, 2019 and missions and posts are encouraged to plant trees on that particular day.
Khadi is an integral part of the Gandhian way of life. We are working with the other ministries. Khadi and Village Industries Commission MSME which deals with these subjects are working together to package and exhibit Khadi items and to point out the relevance of Khadi to an international audience.
Digital projection of Gandhi’s photos and moving pictures on iconic buildings has been implemented. An item on outreach to schools where books will be presented and officials will go and talk to the schools about Gandhi and his message, his life. This will be done taking into account local conditions, local school patterns.
An international conference on Gandhi is also planned.
India is also for humanity and that one of India’s biggest contribution has been the ‘Jaipur Foot’ which has brought relief to many people who have lost limbs. Organizing of camps over a period of one year, where 'Jaipur Foots' would be fitted on patients who require them. It is likely to be implemented in about 12 countries.
The countries for Jaipur Foot are being worked out and certain NGOs which are working with several countries. South Africa will be one of the countries benefitting from Jaipur Foot. .