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non-violence, satyagraha, Martyrs’ Day, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Gandhi, Gandhiji, Gandhian principles, peace, collage

Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhiji and Bapu are just a few names by which people today love to remember Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Besides successfully leading India’s freedom struggle against the British, Gandhi is known for presenting to the world a very powerful yet simple tool to fight injustices and conflicts through peace, truth, logic and steadfastness. This, he called, the principle of Satyagraha.

Satyagraha (pronounced, suht-yuh-gruh-huh), loosely translated as ‘insistence on truth’, is a policy of non-violent resistance or civil resistance. It is, however, different from passive resistance, as understood and practised in the West. In Gandhi’s own words, Satyagraha is different from passive resistance “in three essentials: Satyagraha is a weapon of the strong; it admits of no violence under any circumstance whatsoever; and it ever insists upon truth.”*

Satyagraha has proved to be the most potent weapon in the world. Peace attained through the use of this principle has been more lasting than peace attained through any other means. This has been demonstrated by powerful Satyagrahis like Nelson Mandela during his struggle in South Africa under apartheid and by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his campaigns during the civil rights movement in the United States.

The world of today, powered by all our technical accomplishments, is seemingly in no need of the humble Gandhi’s sermons. But that is far from true if we consider the recent occurrence of violence in countries like Iraq, Eqypt, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, etc. The fact that Pakistani teen activist Malala Yousafzai—in her first public speech at the United Nations since being shot in the head by the Taliban—said she is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s path of non-violence, substantiates the acceptance of Gandhi even by the youth of today.

Besides applying Satyagraha to secure peace at state level, it is now high time to put this philosophy into practice at societal and individual levels as well. This can surely create a peaceful, progressive society that respects the sanctity of each other’s life.

Zero Tolerance to Road Rage (ZTTRR) is such an attempt to apply Gandhian principles of non-violence and non-compromise at personal levels to wipe out violence on the roads in the form of road rage.

ZTTRR assumes that in a road rage incident both the aggressor and the provoker are prone to getting harmed. Our fight is against road rage not against the people who engage in road rage. Therefore, the situations of conflict between these two sets of people can best be addressed by getting them to internalize the tenets of Satyagraha.

We aim to do this by providing peaceful interventions like:

  1. attitudinal orientation
    1. awareness about self
      (being conscious about one’s own action on the road)
    2. awareness about others
      (being conscious about the reasons that lead others to act in particular ways)
  2. technical orientation
    awareness about the surrounding
    (being conscious about the roads, the signages and the vehicles)

Ironically, it is violence that took away the life of this promoter of non-violence, much like hatred that killed Jesus, the advocate of love. Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic, Nathuram Godse, at a prayer meeting in Delhi on January 30, 1948. In India, January 30—Gandhi’s death anniversary—is observed as Martyrs’ Day, in the memory of India’s freedom fighters.

Today, on the sixty-sixth death anniversary of Gandhi, we rededicate ourselves to fighting road rage peacefully. Let us join hands together and wipe out this social evil for good.

* Gandhi, M.K. “Letter to Mr __” 25 January 1920 (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi vol. 19, p. 350)