Tag Archives: Asha Society

UN International Day of Non Violence

The UN International Day of Non Violence is on October 2nd, to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Gandhi was born on October 2nd, 1869, and this year, we will be commemorating his 146th birth anniversary. Non Violence is one of Asha’s key values, and I have been thinking a lot about it these days. During my 27 years at Asha, I have witnessed violence in many shapes and forms, from physical violence, to the violent effects of power structures oppressing and harassing the poor, systems, large and small, that incorporate prejudice and exploitation. I began to put to the test the philosophy of non violence from Asha’s very early beginnings, as I dealt with the oppressive and unjust systems on a daily basis.

The Asha communities have received great enlightenment and joy through the practice of non violence that has become a moral imperative, a way of life. It is a weapon available to all of us, and is a wonderful technique for resolving conflicts and achieving desired ends. The goal of non violence is not to defeat the opponents, but to win them over. This then does not alienate our opponents, and in fact, leaves open the possibility of conversion.

In my experience, we invite violence from opponents if they are humiliated or provoked. We are here to fight the antagonism, not the antagonist. Therefore personal sincerity in our interactions that foster trust, can break the cycle of violence and counter violence.

There can be the great temptation to self-righteousness and an unwillingness to see the other’s point of view. Efforts to try and understand the opponents’ motivations, and the lens with which they view the world can affirm their worth as well as their capacity for growth. This can also challenge them to examine their values and beliefs. This way, the oppressed and the oppressor are both liberated. A strong sense of the inherent dignity and worth of each individual brings us closer to an understanding of our shared humanity.

Non violence rejects passivity and submission, and is not an attempt to ignore or avoid conflict or oppression. In fact, it requires a great deal of courage and strength.

Gandhian non violence, termed ‘Satyagraha’, aims to attain the truth through love and right action. It demands the elimination of violence from the self, as well as from the social, political, and economic environment. The end result hoped for is a peaceful and just society.

In closing, for those who might be pessimistic about the ability of non violence to resolve conflicts, I ask, Have you tried? I have, hundreds in the Asha communities have, and it works beautifully. Would you like to consider celebrating October 2nd as Non Violence Day?

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A wonderful meeting with Mr LK Advani

As always, it was wonderful to meet Mr LK Advani, the tallest leader of the ruling party BJP, along with my remarkable high school toppers and team members. Mr Advani was delighted to meet with the students and congratulated them for their exceptional achievements. His continued support over the past many years is as humbling as it is inspiring.

Whilst Asha’s high school toppers shared their journey so far, Mr Advani encouraged them with instances from his own life. He told the students about his early years, his hardships, and spoke freely about some of his challenges. He had wonderful words of encouragement for each student, and wished them well for the future. He offered them his best hospitality as well. “You have made yourselves proud, your families proud, Asha proud, and our entire nation proud. You are a wonderful example for our country,” he said admiring the students’ achievements.

The students we thrilled at such a great opportunity!

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Meeting with Mr Arun Jaitley

Asha Student Ambassador Usha and I were honoured to meet the Hon’ble Finance Minister of India, Mr Arun Jaitley on Saturday, 17 January. I introduced him to the work of Asha, particularly the Financial Inclusion and Higher Education programmes, and how they have impacted thousands of individuals over the years. Usha also explained her background and achievements, and said that she represented thousands of Asha students with similar backgrounds as she stood before him. She presented him with a gift on behalf of all the students that was graciously accepted by him.

We also invited him to be the Chief Guest at Asha’s Celebration of Learning 2015, to which he agreed. Mr Jaitley promised all help and support, and it was decided that the function would be held in either March or April 2015. His office would soon be in touch with a proposed date.

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