4 People Who’ve Followed Gandhian Principles To Create An Impact

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

ahatma Gandhi needs no introduction. Even decades after India lost one of its most prominent leaders and flag bearers of non-violence, his words, teachings and philosophy continue to inspire people across the globe.

Mahatma Gandhi’s immense contribution to India’s freedom struggle and his lessons on kindness, sacrifice and equality will be remembered for years to come. But what better day to remember him than on his birthday, and what better way than to talk about those who carry forward his teachings and his legacy to make a difference in the world.

Here are four people who follow the Gandhian philosophy and have created an impact:

Medha Patkar

Indian activist Medha Patkar was doing her PhD from TISS, Mumbai and working in the tribal areas of Gujarat when her life changed. She came across the Narmada River, and saw the number of dams being built across it that threatened to destroy it. It’s been 33 years since, and the Narmada Bachao Andolan led by Medha Patkar remains the longest living Gandhian movement in the world. It also follows Gandhi’s principles of decentralised and small scale models of development, with the Indian village as the focus.

Mustu Khan

One of Mustu Khan’s favourite Gandhian teachings is — If an enemy strikes your left cheek, offer him your right. Greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, Mustu chose to settle down in a tribal village called Khatisitra, near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border. What was a village of about 123 families with no schools, medical centres or even roads, soon grew to a self-sustained community thanks to Mustu’s relentless efforts. Having done his masters in social work, he aimed to inculcate the 11 vows given by Gandhi and followed his ideals to work towards his goal of creating an impact.

Suresh Rambhai Punadiya

Suresh was mentored by veteran Gandhi followers like Gopalbai Patel, and has travelled to about 800 villages in Gujarat. He’s working towards making tribal villages self-sustainable and evolving them into a decentralised and independent community. His focus on education and organic farming has helped transform many villages and even encouraged children to make their own toothpaste using neem, tulsi and rock salt, among other activities. Suresh strongly believes in Gandhi’s ideal of — be the change you wish to see in the world.

Manish Jain

Manish had learnt about Gandhi’s teaching during his college days and it left a great impact on him and his future goals. Although he was an investment banker and studied at Harvard, Manish moved back to India in 1998 and started Shikshantar — a movement that selects and incubates education models based on Gandhi’s beliefs of basic education for all and Swaraj in India and across the world. He is the co-founder of Swaraj University, India’s first university dedicated to localization.

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