Experiment with 'Gandhigiri' in Africa

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Visanagar, Jan 26: Two non-resident Indians and a Gujarati Philanthropist have decided to have an experiment with ''Gandhigiri'' in Africa to dispel the notion among locals there that Indians, particularly Gujaratis, are exploiting them.

Kaushik Damani and Harshad Barot, both Gujaratis settled in Africa, and Jitubhai Patel, a local resident, are to take a pledge on Republic day tomorrow to do everything possible to win the confidence of local people of Africa. In the first phase of their project, they want to build houses for locals as even today they live in straw-huts whereas Indians live in houses made of bricks.

''Why should we not do something for the welfare of the backward people of Africa?'' says Kaushik Damani, whose forefathers were settled in Uganda years ago.

''The root cause of the resentment and frequent eruption of the violence against the Indians is that despite the fact that they have settled there for centuries, we have failed to win the confidence of the local people'', he said.

''What we have done for them? Why they not hate us? We are being treated as exploiters. We have failed to infuse the sense of confidence among the black skinned people of African origin.'' Damani said.

Jitubhai, who is also a partner of well known builders' concern 'Tirupati Sarajan' said'' We have decided to contribute our expertise and invest as many as Rs 1500 crore and provide homes to locals at an affordable cost.'' Jitubhai will sign a memorandam of understanding with the NRI duo to this effect tomorrow.

''On the eve of Republic day, we all three will take an oath that we will fight any injustice done to the locals. We will remove feeling of hatred and inculcate a feeling of love for our country. As a beginning, we will provide them a house in their own country.'' ''Believe it or not in Kampala only rich and well to do people have their houses, while others even today spend their lives in straw made huts'' says Barot. Even the University hostels are going on rent, he said.

''We want to show that Indians are not the exploiters, they are the followers of Gandhian philosdophy of truth, ahimsa and equality for all'', Barot said.

''The concern of my two friends should be felt by every Indians as what they are going to do should have been done decades ago when Mahatma Gandhi began his Satyagraha movement in South Africa.'' Said Patel.


UNI

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