"The Relevance of Ahimsa in This Age" - A Political View
Views of Shri Dilip Gandhi expressed in course of a interview
By Mr. A. K. Jain , President, Ahimsa Foundation.
Mr. Dilip Gandhi, Minister of Shipping, Government of India was interviewed by Shri A. K. Jain, President, Ahimsa Foundation, on 18th February, 2003 at his residence at 120, Southern Avenue, New Delhi. The excerpts of the interview are as follows:
Mr. Gandhi, we congratulate you on behalf of entire Jain Samaj on your appointment to the central cabinet. At this young age your achievements are commendable and admirable. In your first ever election, you have achieved this mega success to be nominated as Central Minister. Jain Samaj felicitates you not only for your placement to the position of power but also for your several years of selfless service to your constituency and electorate. News of felicitation programmes at New Delhi and in other parts of the country, definitely confirm your popularity and attachment at the grass-root level. We would like to know more of you and so I am here. Ahimsa Foundation is gratified to you for accepting our request for this interview in spite of your extremely tight schedule.
Question - Sir, According to you does the philosophy of Ahimsa has any relevance with reference to our foreign policy concerning our neighboring countries particularly Pakistan?
Answer- Since the formation of Government of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee the country has undergone through several fundamental changes including foreign policy. The attack of September, 2001 on America has forced the entire world to understand the meaning of terrorism. Regarding Pakistan our PM has always followed the policy of Ahimsa whether it is through bus & train services to Lahore, Agra summit or other trade agreements. Our Tirthankars always professed the philosophy of Ahimsa and today the relevance of Ahimsa remains the same. From Gandhiji to Vajpayeeji we have always emphasized on peaceful solutions and our country strongly believes in the policy of ahimsa. We are doing our best to explain Pakistan that all our problems can be solved through peaceful dialogue, but if Pakistan continues on the path of terrorism it will be condemned by international community. Even American plans to attack Iraq is severely criticized by its own friends.
Question - In present domestic political scenario, when many politicians similar to Raja Saheb of Kunda are playing dominating role, do you see the philosophy of Ahimsa is still relevant?
Answer - Yes, one hundred percent. In the entire political system how many of such controversial personalities exist as compared to total. Due to a few evil elements the entire political system does not become awful. If most of the political leaders did not work, the country would not have progressed in last fifty six years. Actually, in the growth and development of our country politicians have played a significant role, sometimes, even at the cost of their own life. In a country of 1100 million, where 1 person is evil, we must understand the value of rest 99. Infact, 2500th Maha Nirvan day and 2600th hundred Janm Kalyanak of Bh. Mahavir were celebrated at New Delhi with the active participation of the Government. This confirms Government's faith and conviction in the principles of the Ahimsa. Establishing Ahimsa university in Gujarat reaffirms our faith in Jain values.
Question: According to you, does Indian Jain industrial and business community believes in Ahimsa, what should be the definition of Ahimsa in business parlance?
Answer: Your question is very much relevant in present perspective. Our Jain Samaj is mainly a business community. Many of us are also in independent professions. Most of us are performing our professional and business responsibilities keeping in view the principles of Ahimsa. When it comes to business, the meaning of Ahimsa is not with reference to sacrificing animals or physical violence. It also involves moral and reasonable business dealings with our business associates, customers, Government and all others. We know all five fingers are of not of the same size and therefore it is possible that some of the members have not strictly adhere to Jain values, but most of us are sincere and genuine in day to day affairs. In fact a sizeable portion of the money earned by Jains is applied in several social and religious activities . The profits of business always inspire us for service towards society. Jain Samaj is spread all over India and in many countries outside India. Jains have followed the culture and language of the place they are settled to create a social harmony. The people of Jain Samaj have acted like sugar in the milk. Wherever they have gone they have become part of that society and local culture and have also been accepted warmly everywhere.
Question: Generally, Jain Saints in our religion are very popular and acceptable. Do you think that they can play even more important role which will help the growth and development of Jain culture and the country?
Answer: It does not matter whether there exist four or more sects. All saints irrespective of their sects have contributed in our development and growth. They have created a bond within the society. Saints have maintained discipline in the societies and families. If I want to give a message to the society it is possible that many of us may not agree with me but in such situations it is much easier for a saint to communicate. It is due to Saints that we are on right track. If we are not guided and disciplined it is possible that some of us may have lost the direction. They have shown us the way and made us aware of our responsibilities towards our families, society and the country.
All saints, whether they are Jains or represent other religions give the same message of human values, culture, patriotism and peaceful co-existence. The message of family planning is extremely relevant and Jain saints have emphatically propagated in the Jain Samaj about the necessity of adopting family planning. It is also a matter of fact that hundred percent Jain families have adopted family planning. Credit for this to a good extent goes to the saints. Yesterday, Mr. Vilas Rao Deshmukh, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, in his speech openly admitted "it is Jain Samaj which has contributed most in the development of entire Maharashtra". The reason is Jains have operated from a small shop to a large industry everywhere successfully. They are committed, risk-bearing, dynamic and laborious. Hard work and labor is in their blood.
Question: Most of the members of Jain community are well-qualified, financially well-placed and hold good positions wherever they are. Then, why the evils like dowry system, marriage-related other evils, heavy social ceremony expenses and class system still prevails in this society?
Answer: Generally, the bad things are discussed and good things get ignored. From news papers to electronic media tribulations and evils are always highlighted but good and positive subjects get overlooked. Our society is running more than three thousand educational institutions, several free rest houses and thousands of community welfare projects in every part of the country. All these are commendable tasks. But, nobody discusses these things. The attention is always on negative activities. It is also not true that entire Jain Samaj is financially very comfortable. We can say at the most twenty five percent of society is well-placed, 30-35 percent represent middle class and remaining are homeless, jobless and unsettled. Many of Jain families in Maharashtra apply for loans of 4000, 3000, and 2000 rupees and that too they are not able to repay. We expect lot of reforms and changes in times to come with the activeness of the media. Lot of mistakes are done and it is human nature to learn from our mistakes. It is a Maharashtrian proverb that, "man does not learn till he gets injured". I also agree with you that we have to overcome many of the shortcomings in the society wherever they exist.
Question: Should Jain community play more aggressive political role as in business? What guidance you would like to give to aspirant Jain political activists?
Answer: I heartily welcome the young generation of Jains to join politics. Their active participation will further improve the political standards. I believe that our saints and Tirthankars have taught us lot of good things and we will be able to implement these once we are placed in right positions. Secondly, we have to protect our society and provide justice. If we get into politics the influence of entire society over governing subjects will increase and the benefit will go to the entire society. We will be able to project every aspect of Jain religion and do away with misleading campaign like Jains are only involved in profiteering and other social evils. These misunderstandings will also be cleared. Talking about politicians, I would also like to say, most of us work for just eight hours but it is a politician who works on an average for eighteen hours daily with complete honesty and responsibility. He sacrifices his family and works for the nation. Our national president (B.J.P.) Mr. Venkaiya Naidu has also said that young people should come more and more in the politics which will help in national development.
Question: Do you think the reputation of Jain Samaj does gets effected due to sect and sub-sect system ( i.e. Digambar, Shwetambar, Sthanakwasi, Madirmargi, Terapanth, Shraman Sangh and many individual sub-sects run separately by saints).
Answer: The division of Jain Samaj in four sects does not harm any one. These are the changes with the passage of the time. All four sects are propagating same principles in different ways. However, efforts are also being made to bring different groups to a common stage and join. In fact, on many occasions all four sects have come together. The programme of Mahavir Swami's 2600th hundred Janm Kalyanak was jointly hosted in Delhi by all the four sects. Slowly the feeling of unity is catching up. It is also a fact that although we are four but there is no fundamental difference. All of us worship the same Tirthankars but effectively if all four sects come together our recognition and strength will increase manifolds.
Question: These days it has become a common phenomenon to approach courts for most ordinary matters. Jains have also taken their disputes on control of religious properties to different courts. Is it justifiable? Do you think many of these issues can be resolved through political arbitration.
Answer: It is true that we have been approaching courts for many of our disputes. I am not personally in favour of settlements through courts. But it is also true that today the politics is also being run through judiciary. As compared to an elected representative the effect of judiciary is much more. People only accepts to advise which they generally favours them. For example, if there is an illegal construction it can be removed only through judicial orders or collectors orders. But if we say anything people would not re-elect us. In arbitration matters there is always a suspicion of unfairness. Moreover personal egos also do not let things settle easily. In most of our disputes the main cause has become secondary and personal respect and egos have always come in forefront. Every person considers himself larger than others. Our disputes are of self-esteem and not of place and property. If we respect every other person these will get resolved automatically. We should implement ahimsa in our day to day life.
Question: Mr. Gandhi, today you are a minister and in commanding position. Your influence is well-recognized and you are personally acceptable to all the sects. Under these circumstances should you not play an aggressive role to arbitrate in community disputes?
I will bring to your knowledge two issues in Delhi itself where your initiative may help us to avoid litigation. First, in the case of Jain Dadawadi at South Extn. New Delhi two groups of Swetamber Jain sect are conflicting each other on the issue of construction of new temple. In second case a legal case is being fought in Delhi High Court within Digambar Jain community about the mismanagement of Delhi Digambar Jain temples.
Answer: I know your expectations from me have increased and I do realise my responsibilities. I assure you that wherever possible, I will take initiative from my side to arbitrate. Maintaining the self-esteem of conflicting sides we can resolve so many problems. So far, I was not aware about both the issues, Jain Dadawadi, South Extn. and Digambar Jain Mahasabha legal case in Delhi High Court. I am still a very small person but with this information, I will take initiative and try to resolve the disputes to the satisfaction of all concerned. Once again I will remind you that all problems relate to egos and personal respect and if we honour and respect each other, the problems will automatically get resolved.
Question: We would like to deliver a message from you to Jain Samaj, Jain Samaj leaders, saints and business community through our web portal www.jainsamaj.org
Answer: I would like to reaffirm their faith in me and say the opportunity of service they have bestowed upon me will be well-utilized for the Jain community and the country. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpai, Shri Advani, Shri Pramod Mahajan have placed me on this responsible position I am thankful to them. I am also indebted to all our Jain sects who have supported me all the time. I hope their unity will get stronger in future so that we can implement our projects and progress. The development of our society is the development of our nation. If we support each other we will help the nation. In past our Jain Samaj has always played an vital role in the development and prosperity of the entire country. We must play more active role towards our responsibilities in the society. We should also get better-organised.
Mr. Mansukhlal Dilipkumar Gandhi
Member of Parliament - 13th Lok Sabha
Bharatiya Janata Party - Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
|Father’s Name||Shri Mansukhlal Shrimalji Gandhi|
|Mother’s Name||Smt. Vimal Bai Mansukhlal Gandhi|
|Date of Birth||9 May 1951|
|Date of Birth||Dond, Pune, Maharashtra|
|Date of Marriage||8 May 1977|
|Spouse’s Name||Smt. Saroj Dilip Gandhi|
|No. of Sons||Two|
|No. of Daughters||One|
|Educational Qualifications||S. S. C. Educated at Pune University, Pune, Maharashtra|
|Profession||Businessman, Agriculturist, Political and Social Worker|
|Permanent Address||‘Devendra Bangala’, Acharya Anand, Krishna Marg, Maharashtra, Tel. : (0241) 357839, Fax : 329072|
|Present Address||120, South Avenue, New Delhi-110011, Tel :. 011- 3792361, 3782364|
|Positions Held||Councillor, Municipal Council, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
Leader, Bharatiya Janata Party (B. J. P.), Municipal Council,
District General Secretary, B. J. P., Ahmednagar
District President, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Ahmednagar
Deputy Councillor, Municipal Council, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
President, B. J. P., Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
Joint Secretary, B. J. P., Ahmednagar, Maharashtra
|1985-99||Vice-President, Nagarpalika, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra|
|1999||Elected to 13th Lok Sabha|
|1999-2000||Member, Committee on Petroleum and Chemicals|
|2000||Member, Consultative Committee, Ministry of Finance|
|2003||Minister of State for Shipping in Central Government|
|Social and Cultural Activities||
As a leader, instrumental in starting 352 branches of the Bharatiya Janata Party by forming local committees; played a leading role in organising Kar Seva for Shriram Mandir Mukti Andolan on behalf of his district; actively participated in Ayodhya Andolan and got injured in police action; always striving for the social welfare and social justice to the poor and downtrodden, farm workers and the unemployed.
|Sports and Clubs||Cricket, volleyball, table tennis and swimming; Member, (i) Lion’s Club, Ahmednagar;
and (ii) Ahmednagar Club, Ahmednagar
|Other Information||Chairman, Junior College Bhai Sathha Night High School; Former Chairman, Bharatiya Yuva Morcha;
President, Chaupati Handcart Union, Nagar; District President, Motor Kamgar Sangathan, S.T. Mahamandal, Ahmednagar;
Director, (i) Maharashtra State Housing and Development Authority (MHADA); (ii) Nagar Urban Cooperative Bank, Ltd., Maharashtra; Executive Committee
Member, (i) Hind Seva Mandal; and (ii) Shishu Sangopan Sanstha;
Member, (i) Peace Committee; (ii) Municipal Education Committee; (iii) District Planning and Development Committee; and (iv) Telephone Committee;
Election Chief, (i) Lok Sabha Elections; (ii) Assembly Elections; (iii) Vidhan Parishad; (iv) Stanik Swaraj Sanstha, Distt. Ahmednagar;
Organiser, Child Welfare Centre;
Advisor, Nagar Vyaspeeth; prominently took part in Nagar Mahotsava; worked for more than 15 years in various fields and posts at the district and village level; took active part in various movements and suffered imprisonment; in active contact with people from different walks of life.