LOCKPORT — The teachings of Mahatma Ghandi continue to live on for many people — including his grandson, a Western New York resident.
Arun Ghandi, 85, is the son of Manilal Ghandi, Mahatma Ghandi's second of four sons. He visited Lockport Community Television recently as a guest of Marion Hannigan's show "Community Forum." The two met at a Niagara University event.
Arun Ghandi was born in South Africa, which is where his parents lived when they were preaching the family philosophy of non-violence against the apartheid regime. He lived there for about 22 years and then went to India after his father passed away in order to take care of his father's ashes.
He met an Indian women and decided to get married to her, but with South Africa still practicing apartheid they wouldn't allow Arun Ghandi and his wife back into the county so he spent 30 years as a journalist in India.
In 1984, he was given the opportunity by the University of Mississippi to do a comparative study of racism and prejudice in the United States, South Africa and India. He had planned to turn it into a book.
Arun Ghandi joked that he never was able to finish the book after the University of Mississippi "publicized that Ghandi's grandson was studying racism in the country."
"I never got to finish that book. It got put on the back burner ... and I got side tracked through writing and speaking," he added.
He then moved to Memphis for a bit and relocated to Rochester to be closer to his daughter.
Arun Ghandi said prejudice in India is more so based on a class system, while prejudice in South Africa was more about skin color.
However, he said prejudice and racism exists in all parts of the world.
"It's a very depressing thing to see that we as human beings are prejudice against people and prejudice exists all around. It's not just the white people, but also the blacks, and the Indians, and everywhere in the world we have prejudice against people for one reason or the other. Whether it's color or a race or it's some economic thing, we find a way of discriminating," Ghandi said.
Arun Ghandi feels that the solution to decreasing racism and prejudice is learning to respect each other and promote diversity.
"I think the mistake that we are making in modern times is we are teaching children tolerance ... We can tolerate something that we don't like, but that's not the kind of relationship we want between people," Ghandi said. "We want a relationship that is based on respect. Whatever you are or whatever I am, there should be a respect in us as human beings. So it's when we learn to respect each other that we'll be able to get over these prejudice Until then we have to learn to be separated."
This respect must be taught through education, he added.
"Our education today is based so much on giving a young person a career to go out and make money. The component of human relationships is not there in education at all," Ghandi said. "You don't have any subject at all where you teach each other about diversity about human beings, and about building relationships and all that. And that is the foundation of a child growing up, so when you feed the child with all kinds of garbage. The child is going to suffer the consequences."
Arun Ghandi has published several books over his life time, with two children's books "Grandfather Ghandi" and "Be The Change." He also has published "The Gift of Anger" which touches on how his grandfather taught him how "anger is something that is very useful and powerful if we learn to understand and use it intelligently."
He said his grandfather would be disappointed with the world today because it's departing from what he envisioned the world to be.
"And that was harmony and respect for each other. Peacefully living with nature and each other. But we are far far away from that. We have created societies all over the world which is based on exploitation. We individually exploit each other to gain whatever we want and collectively as nations we exploit each nation," he said. "And we all think that we can be the most powerful nation in the world and be able to safeguard our interests. We forget no nation in the world however powerful or rich it may be cannot survive if the rest of the world is going down the tube."