Telangana

Sneaking into the Guinness Book in a Gandhi garb

School children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi gather in an attempt to qualify for the Guinness World Record, in Nalgonda on Tuesday.

School children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi gather in an attempt to qualify for the Guinness World Record, in Nalgonda on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Singam Venkataramana

Gandhi’s iconic garb — a loincloth, khadi shawl and a stick — to identify himself with the poor, is meant to teach students the simple way of life the Mahatma preached and practised.

But organisers of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi in Nalgonda, went a step further, to create a record, teaching schoolchildren Gandhi’s practices — truth and non-violence — in a demonstration.

Bare-chested, with bald head caps, round glasses, watercolour moustaches and sticks, thousands of students reached the N.G. College Grounds here, for what they were told will be, “a historic exercise”.

Record-breaker

Organising the ‘largest gathering of people dressed as Mohandas Gandhi’ in the town, members from the Gandhi Global Family and Gandhi Gyan Prathishtan said the event was breaking a Guinness world record, of 4,605 students dressed as Bal Gandhis in Bengaluru in 2015. An organiser announced that the official count for the record on Tuesday was 5,500 students, all between age six and 14. “This is not only an attempt to get into the Guinness World Records (GWR), but to tell students to walk in Gandhi ways,” chairman of GGF G. Rajender Reddy said. He later read the ‘Gandhi pledge’ to the gathering. While no one from from the Guinness World Records was present, the organisers were meticulous in hiring a lot of photographers, videographers and a drone camera to record the event.

No Gandhigiri this

However, for parents who were at the venue, organisers teaching the students ahimsa or non-violence and truth, through the event was just ‘going overboard’, and was aimed only for a record.

“Like all parents, I dropped my son in school at 7.30 a.m. Why should they stand in the sun for four hours, for a ten-minute song and video recording for their competition? How will this help them learn about Gandhi?” P. Vara Prasad, a parent questioned.

Another parent pointed that all the 5,500 students were photo and videographed individually, for evidence, with numbered tokens, and then allowed into enclosures, causing the delay. Many were seen holding umbrellas and water bottles for their children in the 35 degree Celsius temperature, and some feeding them. By the end of the programme at 12 noon, tens of students were down due to dizziness, and were helped by volunteers.

Speaking to The Hindu, a member from the GGF justified the waiting. “If they are unable to be like Gandhi for four hours, how will they serve the country in future?” he asked. He eventually expressed regrets for missing out on amenities for some students.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 5:05:39 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/sneaking-into-the-guinness-book-in-a-gandhi-garb/article25105837.ece

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