Gujarat: What is the Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment plan opposed by Tushar Gandhi?

Summary

Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has approached the High Court against the governmentisation of the Sabarmati Satyagraha Ashram. In a conversation with ‘Amar Ujala Digital’, Tushar Gandhi explained all the reasons why he would oppose any intervention in the Bapu Ashram.

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“The body is perishable but if my soul is in this ashram it will live forever.

Mohandas Karanchand wrote this in response to a letter written by Prabhudas, a resident of Gandhi Ashram. When they feel lonely when he is not there. This letter is dated February 1918. Many such things and many letters were recorded in Mahadev Desai’s diary. Desai began working as Gandhiji’s personal secretary in 1917. The Sabarmati Ashram was established in the same year. A total of 40 ascetics lived in makeshift tents and dined together. The ashram is just taking shape. For the past few days now, Gandhians have been vehemently opposed to the Gujarat government’s plan to redevelop the ashram.

Gandhian activists across the country also organized a Sandesh Yatra from Sevagram to Sabarmati to oppose the conversion of Bapu Sabarmati Ashram into a commercial tourist destination. Some time ago, more than 100 dignitaries, including prominent Gandhian historians, former Indian Administrative Service officials, industrialists and members of the public, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the proposed redevelopment work.

The letter stated that the proposed “Gandhi theme park” was tantamount to his “second assassination” and that the project would lead to the most important monument to Gandhi and permanently lose the freedom struggle in commercialization. Gandhians like Ramachandra Guha, Rajamohan Gandhi, Nayantara Sehgal, Anand Patwardhan, Ganesh Devi and Prakash Shah are part of this campaign.

Now Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi has approached the Gujarat High Court against the Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment project. Tushar Gandhi was the third son of Mahatma Gandhi and Manilal was the son of Arun Gandhi.

What is the controversy
The controversy erupted on March 5, 2021, after the Gujarat government’s Ministry of Industries and Mines issued a government resolution. The governing council and the executive council were formed for the comprehensive development of the Gandhi Ashram monument. Sabarmati Riverfront Development Corporation Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, has been entrusted with the task of implementing the plan for the proposed redevelopment of the Gandhi Ashram Complex.

263 families had to leave the ashram
According to media reports, the 55-acre area around the ashram is worth Rs. The Sabarmati Ashram worth over Rs 1,200 crore is expected to be redeveloped under the redevelopment project. The newly built memorial includes a museum, amphitheater, VIP lounge, shops and food court, among many other facilities. The government is reportedly planning to turn the Sabarmati Ashram and monument, which were considered temples during the independence movement, into a commercial tourist destination.

It is said that about 263 families had to be evacuated from the descendants of the ascetics who accompanied Gandhiji. Ashram residents believe that this is their last Diwali. They are being offered apartments or compensation of Rs 65 lakh to vacate the ashram premises so that they can grow back in the next three years.

Why is Tushar Gandhi protesting?
In an interview with ‘Amar Ujala Digital’, Tushar Gandhi said – “No ashram of Mahatma Gandhi can be kept under government control. The trustees have been in good condition for over 70 years, so there is no such reason. The government should take its control into its own hands.

He said the government had not disclosed the redevelopment plan to anyone. We know through the news what the government thinks about this ashram. Different things are heard about the redevelopment project. It is said that once upon a time a great commercial tourist center would be built, in which facilities for tourists would be increased, and sometimes it would be built in a pre-1947 condition, but we do not know much about their plan and vision. Surprisingly there is no transparency when it comes to Gandhi.

The government should not interfere in Gandhian institutions
When the Gandhi Memorial Fund was established, it was clearly stated in its constitution that the government would have no role in managing the institutions belonging to Gandhi and Tushar Gandhi said that the corpus created to run the government should do the same. They do not take any help from the government .. then they think that they have to take money from the government .. the role of the government is only as a donor .. the government does not have that right. Deciding or intervening.

He said he had received this information saying that the government had set up a new trust and would now run the ashram itself. This is the first time the government has taken care of the ashram now, when the government was asking the trustees to leave.
What is said in the petition
The petition states that the project proposed for the redevelopment of the Gandhi Ashram monument is contrary to the personal aspirations and ideology of Mahatma Gandhi. The petition was filed by advocate Bhushan Ojha and will be cross-examined in court by senior advocate Mihir Desai.

Mihir Desai said in a statement, “Mahatma Gandhi never wanted to turn the ashram into an attractive tourist destination. The simplicity of the ashram must be maintained. If the government implements this scheme, the history and sanctity of the ashram will be destroyed ”.

In the petition, Tushar Gandhi said that they had taken responsibility for the redevelopment of the Sabarmati Ashram. At the same time, we have made six trusts into parties, which seem to have shied away from their responsibility. We questioned before these trusts why these trusts were not fulfilling their responsibility. In the case of the Sabarmati Ashram, the government is acting contrary to Bapu’s idea and gift.

He added, ‘Bapu wrote that the ashram allotted to the Harijan Sevak Sangh should be used for the betterment of the Dalits and I think nothing was thought of in the redevelopment plan. Let me know if there is any such plan at the government. If not, it is the complete opposite of Bapu’s idea. We therefore resorted to the court to keep it as it is. He also raised in the petition that the expenditure of Rs 1,200 crore could not be justified under the present circumstances.

Importance of Sabarmati Ashram
The Sabarmati Satyagraha Ashram is the legacy of the patriarch Mahatma Gandhi and the independence movement. Situated on the banks of the Sabarmati River, Bapu carefully selected this place, which is close to the British Jail. Gandhiji wrote in his autobiography that “all ascetics should be ready to go to jail at any time.” Gandhi lived in the Sabarmati Ashram from 1917 to 1930. During his stay, the ashram witnessed many historical events, including the Dandi March. It is a living monument to the Mahatma and the freedom struggle. The ashram is considered to be a testament to Bapu’s peace and simplicity.

Spread over an area of ​​36 acres, the ashram is open 365 days a year. People come from all over the world to see it. The main place of the ashram is Hriday Kunj where Bapu spends most of his time. Bapu used items are also kept here.

Ilaben Bhatt, chairperson of the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, said in a recent interview, “The government has assured us not to do anything under this project which is against Gandhian values. I believe that party politics is not involved in this.

Expansion

“The body is perishable but if my soul is in this ashram it will live forever.

Mohandas Karanchand wrote this in response to a letter written by Prabhudas, a resident of Gandhi Ashram. When they feel lonely when he is not there. This letter is dated February 1918. Many such things and many letters were recorded in Mahadev Desai’s diary. Desai began working as Gandhiji’s personal secretary in 1917. The Sabarmati Ashram was established in the same year. A total of 40 ascetics lived in makeshift tents and dined together. The ashram is just taking shape. For the past few days now, Gandhians have been vehemently opposed to the Gujarat government’s plan to redevelop the ashram.

Gandhian activists across the country also organized a Sandesh Yatra from Sevagram to Sabarmati to oppose the conversion of Bapu Sabarmati Ashram into a commercial tourist destination. Some time ago, more than 100 dignitaries, including prominent Gandhian historians, former Indian Administrative Service officials, industrialists and members of the public, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the proposed redevelopment work.

The letter stated that the proposed “Gandhi theme park” was tantamount to his “second assassination” and that the project would lead to the most important monument to Gandhi and permanently lose the freedom struggle in commercialization. Gandhians like Ramachandra Guha, Rajamohan Gandhi, Nayantara Sehgal, Anand Patwardhan, Ganesh Devi and Prakash Shah are part of this campaign.

Now Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi has approached the Gujarat High Court against the Sabarmati Ashram redevelopment project. Tushar Gandhi was the third son of Mahatma Gandhi and Manilal was the son of Arun Gandhi.

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