New York: Paying rich tributes to
Mahatma Gandhi, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said the principle of
non-violence preached by him helped topple tyrannical regimes
from Tunisia to Egypt as people in these countries proved that
it is more effective to "fire off a tweet than to fire a gun."
Commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence,
which is celebrated to mark Gandhi`s birth anniversary on
October 2, Ban said "Gandhi ji" lived by the "conviction that
only peaceful tactics could usher in a peaceful future, free
For Gandhi, "means and ends were one," the UN Secretary
He said the dramatic events of the past year in the
Middle East and North African countries showed the immense
power of non-violence.
"People in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond proved that it
is more effective to fire off a tweet than to fire a gun.
They did more than topple long-entrenched governments; they
emboldened other oppressed people to think that the path of
non-violence might work for them. This is not an easy path,"
he said at a special meeting attended by India`s envoy to the
UN Hardeep Singh Puri and leading historian Ramachandra Guha.
Ban said the "courageous" individuals who embrace
non-violence effectively corner their oppressors.
"Non-violence confounds those who face it - and that
is why it works," he said, recalling King Ashoka who
had renounced violence, embraced Buddhism and devoted his life
"Mahatma Gandhi carried on this great Indian practice
when he used the power of non-violence to lead a historic
movement for India`s independence."
Noting that Gandhi`s outlook was shaped by his
experiences in South Africa, Ban said his writings inspired
people worldwide, including Martin Luther King, who studied
the Mahatma`s works intensely.
He said the "timeless and tremendous" power of
non-violence has transformed the world in the past year alone.
The transitions that are under way will certainly be
difficult since countries have for long "invested" in violence
instead of peace.
"But people are choosing non-violence. And if they
continue using peaceful means they can shape a better future
in all countries -- including established democracies."
In his address to the gathering, Guha drew an analogy
between September 11, 2001, when the twin towers were attacked
in the US and the same date in 1906 when Mahatma Gandhi had
led a mass resistance in Johannesburg against a racial law
that denied the right of citizenship to non-whites,
particularly Asian immigrants.
"May the 9/11 that destroyed the World Trade Centre never
be repeated," Guha said. "But may the 9/11 of 95 years ago
whose ripples and echoes helped hasten the end of apartheid,
bestowed freedom on India, enabled African-Americans to claim
equal rights and ended Communist rule in Eastern Europe live
on in public memory."
Guha said over the years Gandhi`s philosophy of
non-violence and `Satyagraha` have been applied in different
ways in India, most recently in the large scale anti-graft
movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare that saw thousands of
Indians holding rallies and fasts to peacefully demonstrate
against corruption in the country.