Academics mark 100 years of Gandhi's return to India in South Africa

Academicians from around the world converged here to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India through a discourse on his association with South Africa, where seeds of his 'Satyagraha' were sown.

AFP| Updated: Feb 27, 2015, 19:34 PM IST

Johannesburg: Academicians from around the world converged here to mark the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India through a discourse on his association with South Africa, where seeds of his 'Satyagraha' were sown.

Various speakers from India, the US and Africa participated at a two-day international conference in commemoration of Gandhi's return to India after initiating his passive resistance plans in South Africa.

They delivered papers under the theme 'Gandhi and his legacy: from lawyer to Mahatma' and how South Africa shaped his thought and action besides his impact on Africa.

During the conference - organised jointly by the Centre for Indian Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), and the Indian missions in Pretoria and Johannesburg - various aspects of Gandhi's personality, including his attitude to racial discrimination came under the spotlight.

"Mahatma Gandhi and his association with South Africa, his adopted country for long years, remains an inspiring narrative of the shared values and struggles of the peoples of South Africa and India," said Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam, who cited Gandhi's writings at the conference.

Ghanashyam said it was appropriate that the conference was taking place in Johannesburg where the foundations of his 'Satyagraha' movement were laid.

Tridip Suhrud, director of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust at the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, highlighted how Gandhi had used his newspaper 'Indian Opinion' in South Africa to create Satyagrahi consciousness in the then colonial South Africa.

Suhrud said the entire collection of the newspaper in which Gandhi wrote in Gujarati and English would soon be available online as a research tool.

Historian Goolam Vahed of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban shared some of the controversial history of Gandhi's views of racial differences between indigenous Africans and Indians.