Mohandas K. Gandhi was one of the most important figures of the 20th century. His achievements were not only important for gaining independence of India but he demonstrated the effectiveness of the use of non-violence; his methods were later adopted successfully by Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu and many others throughout the world.
Gandhi once said, “an eye for an eye only makes the world blind”. It is a shame that the many peoples of the world today choose to use increasingly dangerous weapons and aggressive tactics to no real outcome other than blindness, rather than follow the successful principles of Gandhi. Non-violent struggle is the core of Gandhi’s philosophy. The genius of Gandhi was melding together his understanding of British legal system, strategic thinking and bringing the common man and woman in to the process to overcome the deprivation they felt to create a people centric movement. It is this process that energized the people of India to fight for justice and freedom from colonial rule.
“While many of us might wish to emulate the words and deeds that Gandhi espoused, most of us will carry on a more conventional role in society. Few of us are able, or perhaps willing, to make the supreme sacrifices that Gandhi met. Yet, I would implore you to find your own ways of giving back to society,” he said. Brody introduced Sonali Ojha who attended the John Hopkins University School of International Studies when he was the President of John Hopkins. Instead of following the path she studied for, she decided to help relieve pain and suffering that 60,000 or so homeless children in Mumbai endure. In 1993 Sonali helped to establish the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights in Mumbai. Recently, she established the Dream Catcher’s Foundation to empower street children to develop the skills that will not only help them survive, but to leave the street behind and build successful lives. Here is an Indian woman, who could have amassed wealth and joined the ‘high society’, but he found a way to lose herself in the service of others and felt rewarded many times over and found fulfillment in life.
A distinguishing feature of Brody’s lecture was his ability to relate to young achievers and inspire them drawing from his own experience. San Diego Indian American Society honoring Dr. Amar Bose with Chakra Award brought back his debt to Dr. Bose who was his professor in his introductory electrical engineering course. Brody said that he knew very well how to learn but Dr. Bose taught him how to think. “Dr. Bose imbued in me an approach to reasoning and problem solving that I have used over and over in my 40 year career”. Dr. Inder Verma, Distinguished Professor at Salk Institute and president of San Diego Indian American Society welcomed and introduced the chief guest. Dr. Ramesh Rao, Chair, Gandhi scholarship committee and Director, Calit2, UCSD presented the Gandhi scholars and Hema Lall and Sabodh Garg, Co-chair of AVID committee presented AVID scholars. Two of these scholars had perfect SAT scores of 2,400 and GPA as high as 4.94. They will be attending Harvard, UC Berkley, UCLA, UCSD, Princeton, Michigan, USC, Purdue and Calpoly San Luis Obispo.
Two of the essays on non-violence were read by Kalee DeHamer of Patrick Henry High School and Danielle Castillo of Mission Hills High School. Dr. M.C. Madhavan, founder and executive director, thanked Dr. Brody for his memorable speech and all those who have supported him over the years in pursuit of this long running living memorial to Gandhiji. A reception and dinner in honor of the scholars and Dr. Brody followed.