Gift furthers student study of human rights
The Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship in Human Rights announced
University of Manitoba graduate students focused on human rights research will soon have another way to support their studies. Drs. K. and G. Dakshinamurti recently established the Mahatma Gandhi Scholarship in Human Rights at the University of Manitoba, with preference given to students working in collaboration with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights (CMHR). The $100,000 donation will officially be announced on November 5 at the CMHR during a special celebration hosted by the Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada.
Dr. Krishnamurti Dakshinamurti is a professor emeritus from the College of Medicine, a senior advisor at the St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre, as well as the president of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada. Dr. Ganga Dakshinamurti is the Liaison Librarian at the U of M’s Asper School of Business, and recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012. The couple’s two daughters and their spouses are all alumni of the College of Medicine, University of Manitoba.
UM Today asked Dr. K. Dakshinamurti to speak to us about the importance of continued study of human rights.
UM Today: Why is Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peaceful resolutions to conflict an important one for today’s university students?
Dr. Dakshinamurti: Mahatma Gandhi led the peaceful resistance against British rule in India resulting in the independence of India. His influence was not restricted to India. His ideas had a tremendous influence on the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa led by Nelson Mandela. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission led by Bishop Desmond Tutu is a clear manifestation that resolution to complex national and international problems requires a reconciliation process. The achievement of progress in race relations in the USA led by Martin Luther King Jr. was through Gandhian nonviolent methods. Currently, the hot spots of violence in the world may be amenable to a solution only through process of reconciliation
UM Today: What inspired you to establish this scholarship?
Dr. Dakshinamurti: As a student leader in the Forties in India, I had discussions with Mahatma Gandhi on the value and efficacy of nonviolent resistance. This has been reinforced by my discussions in the 1960s with Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Linus Pauling whose antinuclear protests were inspired by Gandhi. In Canada, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission headed by Justice Murray Sinclair is a portal toward the establishment of durable partnership with our First Nations. The first step toward any such reconciliation is education of all sections of the Canadian community. The scholarship will help scholars to investigate the causes and consequences of “human wrongs” through history, past and present, in an academic setting. It would also help scholars to understand the value of ideas of justice and reconciliation in establishing human rights. This is the message of hope propounded by Mahatma Gandhi.
UM Today: What impact do you hope this scholarship will have on the recipients?
Dr. Dakshinamurti: The recipients of the scholarship would be inspired by the achievements of people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Linus Pauling as well as the leaders of current times who follow their footsteps in the path to reconciliation. Such inspiration would lead to further education and proper action to resolve conflicts.
The November 5 celebration also includes the presentation of this year’s Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award to CMHR leaders Gail Asper and Moe Levy. The award was established in 2010 to honour original thinkers and initiators of conflict resolution. Tickets are $100 each, with a limited number of $50 tickets for students. Tickets are available by calling Mr. Laksh Khatter, (phone: 204-230-6504; email: Lkhatter [at] gmail [dot] com) or Dr. K. Dakshinamurti (phone: 204-837-3757; email: dakshin [at] cc [dot] umanitoba [dot] ca) of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre of Canada.
I think if to be true to Gandhi’spirit, the scholarship would be offered only to a graduate student who speaks a Canadian first nation language, not the language of the occupier. India citizens speak a variety of Indian native languages, but Canada first nations people, have yet to achieve that basic language right for the continuation of their culture in their country, so we are behind India regarding human rights. To suggest that Gandhi would have approved of England’s continue domination of the people of this land, claiming a civilization of a legal tradition under a foreign language is odd, don’t you think? He would have assured that the multicultural constitutional claims in our Supreme Law, referred to the 600 Canadian speakers of the many original languages and cultures of this nation, before he permitted the foreigners to take from them, demoting them as though they are not yet recognized as the historians of their own nation. If we cannot get Canada right regarding Human Rights, how are we going to help anyone in any international advancement? We are equal as individuals, but the culture and languages of this nation are not based on foreign people who bring their own homeland culture here to dominate and exploit with public finance the demotion of the first nations here, as though they are equal only ethically in their own homelands. This determination to make this a county discovered the day foreigners entered this nation, privileges those foreigners who trade with their own homeland, having advantages which still continue under some concept that the first nation people who live here, are merely natural environment products. If these homelands are not defined by their languages and cultures, then none of the foreign people who live here are aware that the first nation people here have the same rights as any homeland foreign people have in their homelands to define their culture and language there, not here, in another people’s land. If first nation are not people, who are equal to the people of India, as equally entitled to define the languages and cultures of this country for all the people who come from other lands and speak other languages and have other cultures, then we are racists, even the races and ethnic people who claim rights equal to maintaining the first nations as second class citizens in their only homeland, where they are subordinate still in language and culture to the very people that Gandhi non violently kicked out so that his multicultural indians, regionally defined their own languages and cultures. That same right is still not achieved legally here. Why are first nations classified as cultures and native language speaking as though legally still subordinate to their nation’s claims here, that French and English foreign rulers are entitled to demand all foreigners who come here learn their languages and cultures as though Canada has no history or people, legally entitled like the people of India, to not be dominated by those who only came to trade, not to deny culture and language to the very people they gave country rights to when they traded with them. The first nation people have entitlements as indians here, and if they chose to not remain indians as that nation is not here, then they can determine for themselves whether they want to call this nation Canada and be Canadians of origin, who were here before the English, Spanish, French and other crowns and church powers set foot to change them into people with no culture or languages of value. When those who are not canadian indians here, who come from India, treat canadian indians as second class citizens in their own lands, as though merely equal ethnically to them, they do not understand where human rights begin. People without connections to other homelands to define their culture and language should not be privileged here, or have their culture celebrated as Canadian, it is not. Canadians’ culture is not based on foreign lands, it is based on the ongoing oppression of the legal establishment of this nation’s denial of rule of law to those first nations, over 600 multicultural people who are still waiting for all those foreign multicultural people from foreign cultures to acknowledge what they or their families took from them and have yet returned: the human right to define the languages and cultures of their own lands to teach foreign cultures that value is not theirs to take from them, as though they have no history or equality rights to not be victims of cultural genocide, based on a concept that multiculturalism is foreign, not local and tied to the historical existence of the indigenous people of this nation, who have much multiculturalism to define what is Canada, as long as they choose to keep that name, a corporate name claimed under a letter patent of England.
good point Kathleen