News Release

Bush to “Honor” Gandhi?


White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley announced that, while in India, President Bush plans to participate in a “wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Co-founder (with his wife, Sunanda Gandhi) of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, Arun Gandhi said today: “India is seeking business from the U.S.; the U.S. wants markets for its products so this Indo-U.S. relationship is nothing but an attempt to exploit each other. From the western point of view it is economic colonization. India has sold its soul to materialism and will bend over backwards to get some dollars from the U.S. … The only way Bush can honor Gandhi is by taking a chapter from his life and showing greater compassion for the poor people of the world and not by laying a wreath at his memorial. Bush is a warmonger, he believes in peace through the barrel of a gun and has set the world on a course of violent devastation. Gandhi had hoped for greater compassion, respect, understanding between the peoples and nations of the world.” Arun Gandhi lived with his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi from 1946 until his assassination in 1948. Arun Gandhi’s books include Legacy of Love: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence.
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Ela Gandhi is granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. In her own political activism, she was under house arrest for over eight years by the apartheid government of South Africa. After the fall of apartheid, she was elected to the South African parliament.

She said today that “Gandhiji’s entire philosophy was based on two fundamental principles, among others: one the belief that people can change — that people, groups and communities can transform, and two that the force of truth and love or Satyagraha driven by the spirit, or soul force, can make a huge difference in the world, in bringing about transformation. So when Bush who is planning to lay a wreath on the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi, during the year when we celebrate the centenary of Satyagraha, performs this act, I hope and pray that this act may help towards changing his beliefs and attitudes. I can only hope and pray that maybe some truth and some possible transformation in his own philosophy is driving him to this sacred place.

“I pray that this contact with the spirit of Gandhiji may inspire him into changing his position on war and violence. I pray that this gesture may help him to see that he must desist from committing the same error he did with Iraq, with Iran or any other country or peoples. I hope he will be inspired by Gandhiji’s implicit belief in the fact that wars cannot solve the problems of the world, they only aggravate them. We need peace, we need some sanity in the world. Gandhiji said, ‘An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.’ That truth should help caution Bush against war and the use of war and violence for any purpose. I truly and deeply hope that the spirit of Gandhiji will help to transform his views and he will stop using violence and war. If Bush really wants to honor Gandhiji he will lay a wreath at the memorial and in so doing commit himself to renounce his use of violence and war.”
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A major agenda item for Bush’s trip is a U.S.-India nuclear deal. India has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Wittner just wrote the article “Gandhi, Bush, and the Bomb.” Professor of history at the State University of New York, Albany, his latest book is Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present.
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Martin is executive director of Peace Action, which has denounced the wreath-laying as a “cynical, disrespectful display of symbolism.” The group will be having a news conference at the Gandhi statue near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Also available for interviews are two past executive directors of the group: David Cortright, who is author of the books India and the Bomb and the forthcoming Gandhi and Beyond; and Gordon Clark, now coordinator of the National Campaign for Non-Violent Resistance, which works to end the U.S. war in Iraq.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020, (202) 421-6858; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167