New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Mahatma Gandhi’s grand daughter Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, who was recently conferred with a top French honour for her contribution in the field of environment, education and culture, says she feels bad when the Mahatma’s name is used for negative reasons.
“Gandhi is the father of the nation. He will be used by political parties and also citizens, and I don’t know what to say about these kinds of things. He is synonymous with truth, compassion and love, and if you are talking about Gandhi you are also talking about these things. But one feels bad if his name is used for negative reasons,” Bhattacharjee told IANS in an interview.
Bhattacharjee, who has witnessed key events in the Indian political history over the decades, believes that politics has not changed over the years.
“Politics has been the same always. I’m sure that politics has always been like the way it is today. Human beings have always been power hungry — fighting for it, killing for it; but some also had ambition to do good work. For example, when Gandhi and his supporters were fighting, they did not belong to politics but were opposing foreign rule,” said Bhattacharjee, who was conferred the L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the French envoy this week.
Bhattacharjee has been working for the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust for the past 28 years. Founded by Mahatma Gandhi in memory of his wife, the trust serves the needy women and children in rural India.
An environmental activist, Bhattacharjee has been involved in the ‘Save the Ganga Movement’ (Ganga Bachao Andolan) for the past 18 years. She believes that the responsibility of cleaning the river falls on the citizens.
“If we worship the water we must also treat it well. Immersion of idols and other such things into the rivers should stop. If the citizens decide, then India will be clean. In democracy the citizens are also responsible and it is their duty to guard their rivers,” said Bhattacharjee.
She also called for people’s participation in making the ‘Clean India’ campaign successful.
“It cannot be successful unless people participate in it. If I go and dirty my streets, then leaders are not going to come and help,” she added.
Bhattacharjee expressed doubts if the Delhi government’s odd-even scheme can help in reducing pollution. “I hope it is successful. It is a little inconvenient in many ways but occasional attempts at this are good,” she said.
(Ankush Vats can be reached at email@example.com)