Peace and Disarmament
Peace Bus Retraces Gandhi's Footsteps Across South India
From June 17 to July 2, the "Gandhi, King, Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace" exhibition (GKI) was held at 24 different locations in South India. The exhibition focuses on the lives of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda as examples of individuals who dedicated themselves to fighting injustice through nonviolence.
The exhibition was part of the Inter State Gandhi Peace Bus, an innovative youth leadership program promoting nonviolence. Some 20 Gandhian peace activists and 30 youth from across the nation retraced the routes that Mahatma Gandhi traversed in southern India during the nation's struggle for independence. As a representative of Bharat Soka Gakkai, V. Raju participated in the program, setting up the GKI exhibition at various venues along the route. Despite variable weather conditions and limited display time, the exhibition, originally created as a peace education tool by the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse College, King's alma mater in Atlanta, Georgia, was viewed by over 19,600 visitors over the course of the journey.
In an effort to generate a deeper understanding and passion for Gandhian values among youth leaders and ordinary people, especially students and faculty, the Inter State Gandhi Peace Bus was initiated by Dr. N. Radakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Council for Gandhian Studies, and organized by Kerala Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (the Kerala Gandhi Memorial Fund) in association with the Departments of Youth Welfare and Information and Public Relations of the state government of Kerala.
The Peace Bus caravan consisted of an escort vehicle known as the Gandhi Jyoti, another containing the GKI exhibition and a book exhibition on Gandhian Literature and Youth Development, and a third to demonstrate the use of the charkha spinning wheel that Gandhi utilized in his nonviolent struggle and which came to symbolize India's Independence Movement. There was also a coach carrying the participants.
In addition to exhibition showings, the Peace Bus organized seminars, public meetings, Himsamkut "Violence Free Society" pledges, prayer meetings and film screenings, as well as paying tribute to various institutions, national figures, and places of worship related to Gandhi’s movement and the Indian freedom struggle.
There were some instances where the exhibition could not be shown as planned, and in such instances, often a crowd would gather around the vehicles and a volley of questions would follow, leading to an impromptu dialogue session with children. This would sometimes result in the panels being displayed in whatever appropriate location was available in the vicinity.
The Gandhi Peace Bus departed from Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of India, and travelled over 1,400 kilometers across the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherry and Karnataka, concluding its 22-day journey in Mangalore.
[Adapted from a report by Mr. V. Raju of Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) and an article in the August 1, 2012, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of BSG]