Experiment: Gandhigiri ’12

I’m halfway through Gandhiji’s My Experiments with Truth. It’s had an impact on me in no small measure. The man who always felt so big and chaste was an experimenter. Very, very human. Before reached this pedestal of truth, his journey was littered with cigarettes, meat, Westernism, dancing (!) and a lot of court cases. He made mistakes, turned them into stepping stones and became a source of light for so many people. Not surprisingly, his quotes are used, overused and abused. Most noteworthy in this category being “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

But there’s a reason for its overwhelming relevance. In very simple terms this one sentence solves the complex relationship between problems, responsibility and solutions. And so the last few weeks I’ve been dreaming, thinking and acting.. and with Ashutosh, I came up with the plan for what might turn out to be the largest youth movement in Coimbatore.

                                        Experiment: Gandhigiri ’12

Hello all,

Here’s how we’re going to drive change in Coimbatore, on one day. There are activities under five broad causes and we’re going to execute them in different places in the city. Read on, speak up, do your bit.

For the environment: In association with an NGO, planting trees and cleaning the tanks in the city.

Hope for our public spaces: “Saying that Indian are dirty and we are like that only is cute, but doesn’t do anything to solve the problem. Meet The Ugly Indians!  become one, and change Coimbatore’s public spaces (almost) overnight. Open dumps, cigarette littering, paan stains, public urination… it’s absolutely cleanable.

Vegetarianism drive: Apart from abstaining from meat ourselves, lets make an effort to request hotels, homes, broilers and butchers to help reduce meat consumption on this day. Not impossible. And if you’re wondering why non-vegetarianism is such bad deal, read this: Top 10 reasons not to eat meat.

Celebrating India: A few years down the line Indians are going to be indistinguishable from the Westerners – progress isn’t a bad thing but the word is a bit misused in this context. It isn’t about aping the West but about how we can bring riches form our past in a present-day context.  It’s about Kalamkari, Kalari and Kozhukottai, and you’d better be ashamed if you don’t know what these are. Bring on the Art and Culture – in dress, speech, thought, expression…

Serving the lesser privileged: Collecting blankets for night shelters, cleaning up the places where they stay, getting food and medicines, crowd-sourcing funds etc. In a country like India, there’s no dearth of opportunities to serve people who were born less fortunate than us (sunny side of widespread poverty 🙂 )

ANYBODY in Coimbatore can join this. While there are no restrictions on age, this one’s aimed at youth (and, like the oldies like to say, for “the young at heart”!)  School goers, unschoolers , colleges or working people… if you are ready to give in selfless service for just one day (it happens to be a holiday too, YAY! 😀 ) then it matters not. This movement is starting with one person, and can accomodate hundreds – no amount of service is too small or, too big.

Pick your area of interest and message me/write on my wall, and soon we will create an open group to keep you posted on all the details such as location, time, course of action etc!

On Gandhiji:

He was more than a freedom fighter and is a lot more than the face on our currency. Truth and God went deep with this man, and applied to almost every area of thought. This year we celebrate some things that he believed in, which are more relevant today than ever: vegetarianism, environmentalism, service, simplicity, and his beloved motherland – Bharat.

Bapu said, Be the change you want to see in the world. Abused as this quote is, it hasn’t lost the relevance with the relationship of problems > solutions > changing.

We take responsibility for our Coimbatore on his birthday this year, and he’s going to smile a lovely smile when he sees! 🙂

* * * * * *

I posted this as a note on Facebook a few hours ago and the response has been fantastic. Which goes on to say, to all the stinking pessimists, that there are good people who want to serve and make a difference. I’ve spoken to some NGO’s and big social workers, including Siruthuli and Shanti Ashram, and the next two weeks seem to be promising. I only hope Bapu is watching. 🙂


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