A law alone cannot solve the problems of society, the attitude of the people need to change, said Ela Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, on various issues that have come to stay on the Indian psyche in recent times, like the violent sexual assault on the young girl in Delhi and the issues of corruption.
In the city as part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet, Ms. Gandhi, in an interview told The Hindu that the capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender nor Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system.
The issue of corruption was individual-based and not party-based, she said. Punishment would only be punitive action, said the soft-spoken Ms. Gandhi in her definitive way.
The malaise in society lies in the divisions of caste, class and gender, the three evils that result in societal problems and women were generally the first victim of all conflicts, said Ms Gandhi, who took forward the legacy of the Mahatma in adopting non-violent methods in her quest to bring in justice in the South African society.
The divisions are hierarchical in nature too that denies access to education, food, healthcare and housing for all in an equitable manner. Kerala had presented itself as a very different society when I had come here earlier, said Ms. Gandhi. There was greater equity in society. The togetherness of people and respect for each other, but Kerala is perhaps changing for the worse…, she added.
You could have a caste system but need not be hierarchical, she said. Some people would be good with hand work and some with brain. Everybody has different talents and they are all equally important. One cannot look down upon a certain class of work, she said.
As a parliamentarian for ten years from 1994 to 2004, Ms. Gandhi said that their biggest contribution in first five years was to change all laws based on racism and gender inequality. Lots of laws were against women. As a political worker, every week she would visit her constituency in Phoenix to know the pulse of the people, she said.
Having born and brought up in South African, Ms. Gandhi said she feels her patriotism for her nativity as she had grown with the problems society faced and had been part of the long struggle for freedom from the Apartheid regimen. She loves the country of her origin as she has her people here and feels blessed about being part of the family of the Mahatma.
Daughter of Manilal and Sushila Gandhi, she said that she looked up to her grandfather as her hero just like all others did. At the time of India’s independence, I remember running around as a sever-year-old at my mother’s village in Akola in Maharashtra with a piece of stick attached with handkerchief and raising the slogan “Jhanda Ooncha Rahe Hamara”.