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Why we need to celebrate a Day of Non-violence

Dr Ela Gandhi speaking at a prayer in North beach. 17.02.19. File photo: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dr Ela Gandhi speaking at a prayer in North beach. 17.02.19. File photo: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Sep 23, 2021


Durban – The Gandhi Development Trust says that the United Nations backed Day of Non-violence on October 1 would be used to highlight how violent acts also contribute to the world's environmental problems.

Dr. Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, said that the Day of Non-violence was celebrated worldwide after it had been accepted by the majority of countries at the UN when first proposed by South Africa and India in 2004.

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The occasion would also be used to celebrate the 152nd birthday of human rights activist Mahatma Gandhi.

She said that non-violence was becoming a more prominent topic of discussion as people were now realising that violence not only affects people who are directly fighting with each other, but it also affects the entire world because it also compromises the environment.

"All the violent acts that people engage in has an effect on the environment. If you just look at KwaZulu-Natal for instance, the burning of tyres and the smoke that goes into the atmosphere, it's a huge pollution problem. The burning of chemical factories has led to negative effects on the ocean, with so many fish dying.

"This is just a small thing in KwaZulu-Natal, imagine what must be going on in places where they are throwing bombs, where they are actually warring with each other. How much more pollution and environmental damage is there?" Dr Gandhi said.

She added that given the loss of life happening in countries where there are wars, people were now beginning to see that there are non-violent ways of dealing with conflicts.

"Conflicts will always be there, conflict is a part of everyone's life. You don't just get on with people every day, but people have to learn to overcome those disagreements in peaceful ways, and this is what non-violence is all about. It is what Gandhi said and that is what we look at," Dr Gandhi said.

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She said that this year's programme would involve a partnership with Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), described on its website as a worldwide, cross-party network of legislators who cooperate to reduce nuclear risks, prevent nuclear proliferation and pave the way to a nuclear weapon-free world.

"Because they have looked at the nuclear non-proliferation treaty again this year, we are participating with them to take this thing further, because it's about non-proliferation and getting the countries to sign the treaty and to do away with nuclear weapons. Because can you imagine what can happen if a nuclear weapon is used today? What happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is just the tip of the iceberg because today's weapons are far more potent than the nuclear one that they used in 1945," Dr Gandhi said.

She said that on October 1 they would be showing a film titled The Third Harmony which looks at non-violent ways of dealing with conflict, environmental issues and how the world needs more than ever before such ideas as non-violence and doing away with harm to the environment.

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Political Bureau