Bhopal: Gandhian philosophy can help build a sustainable world

BHOPAL: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” This famous quote of Mahatma Gandhi is what guides three Europeans, who were in Bhopal to participate in the Jai Jagat 2020 global march for justice and peace and to make preparations for the conclusion of the Yatra in Geneva in September 2020.

Benjamin Joyeux and Jean Marc Lahaye are French while Daniel Wermus is a Swiss. In a free-wheeling conversation with Free Press at the Gandhi Bhawan on Monday, the trio shared their views on various national and international issues.

They were clear that only the Mahatma’s philosophy of non-violence can help the world survive and overcome the challenges of climate change, poverty, inequality etc.

“The humanity requires a new, different system to ensure that no one is left behind and inequality is effaced from the face of the earth,” Benjamin said, adding that Gandhian philosophy can help build a sustainable world. Quoting the Mahatma, Daniel said “The world has enough for everyone's needs, but not everyone's greed."

The three, who are journalists by profession, were emphatic that problems afflicting the world are affecting not only the Afro-Asian countries of limited means but also the prosperous nations of Europe. “We are also suffering. The glaciers on Swiss Alps are melting and Switzerland has lesser variety of insects and birds today than, say 30 years back,” Daniel said.

They said that they also seek to promote the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, which requires different countries to take steps for achieving 17 goals related with poverty, hunger, education, health etc. “This march will help raise awareness on these issues. Unless pressure is mounted from the grassroots, the governments are not going to implement the agenda,” they said.

They said that the cultural and religious diversity and the co-existence of different cultures make India different from Europe. “There is so much variety in India – in dresses, in traditions, in food, in beliefs – it is really astounding. I always feel that I can be a part of this landscape,” said Jean.

When asked how they follow the Mahatma’s philosophy in their personal lives, all the three had interesting answers. Daniel said that he tries to be forgiving to himself, his neighbours and his acquaintances and not react aggressively to criticism. Benjamin said that he had turned vegetarian five years back. “After all, you have to be non-violent to promote non-violence,” he said. Jean said that he was trying to follow Mahatma Gandhi’s ideal of never giving up. “I am also a vegan but then, the Mahatma was not,” he said, a smile lighting up his face.

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