VisIting South African social worker Ela Gandhi yesterday described the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram as a “deviation”.
She also said the renaissance of the non-violent philosophy of her grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, could benefit society immensely.
The senior Gandhi was renowned for leading India to Independence from Britain in August 1947. He was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The junior Gandhi made these comments during a press conference at Raja Yoga Centre, Sackville Street, Port of Spain, yesterday. See Page 19
Among those present were Harrypersad Maharaj, president of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO), Didi Sudesh, director of the European Brahma Kumaris Centres, and Maureen Director Programme Director of the Brahma Kumaris. Gandhi was in town for the International Conference themed Is Ancient Wisdom and Spirituality the Answer to Resolving The Issues of Modern Times at the Hyatt Regency, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain. It starts today and ends tomorrow.
Recently Boko Haram, an extremist militant group in Nigeria, faced international condemnation after some 200 schoolgirls were abducted. Boko Haram (meaning Western Education is a sin) is also known for attacking churches, schools and police stations. The group also kidnaps western tourists and an estimated 10,000 deaths have been linked to it between 2002 and 2013.
Sharing her sentiments on Boko Haram, Gandhi, who is also founder of the Gandhi Development Fund, said: “Boko Haram is a deviation. Boko tells you it is okay to kidnap young chldren and girls. It is not even religious. No religion teaches you that. It is going against society. Boko Haram chief is saying he did it in the name of religion.”
Still on theme of non violence against children, Gandhi added: “It is important to treat them as valuable and inculcate that sense of compassion. It is important to get it into their system (respect for other children with disabilities). What happens from a baby to age five is important. The Gandhi Fund is looking at young children and their value.”
Gandhi said she will be sharing some of Gandhi’s wisdom at the conference.
Commenting on Gandhi’s contribution, she said: “In recent years, a lot has been said about Gandhi. People have criticised him. He was an idealist. He was a madman. He wasn’t really successful. Others (writers) have misrepresented his ideas. They feel his policies are not worth following. They are not going to help the present generation.”
Gandhi added: “ He was a spiritual leader. A person who was born unique. He was able to follow. What did he tell us. They don’t know his contribution. But he was different.”
But she felt his views could be beneficial at the conference.
She said: “It is about getting together and looking at what he has to say. Apply it to the present development problems. Some of the wisdom is for you and your grandchildren. If you are going to leave a legacy for children, you must ensure they have food to eat and water to drink. Therefore there is the need to do something now. It is a real problem.”