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The Gandhian bridge

Timothy Roemer writes in India Today:

The US, India, and Gandhiji have a long history of influence on each other and Gandhiji’s impact, both past and present, on the US has been immeasurable, invaluable and immense.

Gandhiji was a guiding light for Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and Gandhiji’s teachings on civil disobedience set the tone for the civil rights movement in America.

Just as Gandhiji inspired Dr King, the American philosopher Henry David Thoreau helped shape some of Gandhiji’s strongest beliefs. Gandhiji’s civil disobedience movement was greatly inspired by Thoreau’s essay “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” written in 1849. In fact, Gandhiji titled his 1930-31 movement after Thoreau’s essay.

Thoreau himself was motivated by the ancient Hindu writings, the Upanishads, which had been translated into English in the early 1800s and read by Thoreau while studying at Harvard College. Thus, as former US Ambassador to India Chester Bowles wrote, the political technique of boycott and non-violent protest has already crossed and re-crossed the ocean to strengthen hearts and to influence minds in South Asia, South Africa and in the US.

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