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"Earth can produce enough for its needs.........."- Baba Amte

There are few people today who have the rich experience of almost an entire century and who can talk with their eyes and their mind set in future. Eighty-six year old Baba Amte is one of them.

Baba Amte received the Rs. 10 million Mahatma Gandhi peace award on January 14, 2000. In this exclusive interview with IndiaCore, Baba with his thoughts anchored in the 2nd World War and the suffering of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki looks to the future with hope for peace and sufficiency for all. 

What is the meaning of Peace in the World today?

Twentieth century was almost soaked in blood, 21st Century will be a period of conciliation. Nothing is more important than peace today and Gandhi is going to be more relevant in the 21st century. The world is realizing the significance of non-violence. The Mudra (form) of the philosophy of Satyagraha (non-violent struggle) that Gandhi cast on this world cannot be erased.

The century we leave behind was full of violence and conflicts. Two World Wars left millions of innocent people dead. Nuclear weapons of mass destruction were dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima bringing death and destruction to these cities. These bombs were dropped even though Japan had already been defeated. The real purpose was to terrorize communist Russia. The cold war with several major conflicts all over the world resulted in misery for thousands and thousands of people. 

What was the purpose of this violence and bloodshed? Now the Soviet Union has collapsed and this has proved the fallacy in the doctrine of class struggle and class war. Berlin wall, a symbol of conflict and struggle of 20th century is now just a museum. Communist China and former Soviet Union import wheat from America.

I am very hopeful about 21st Century. Despite the growth in violence and terrorism, revolution will not come from the barrel of the gun. 

Your views on nuclear arms race in this sub-continent?

Nuclear arms will never be used now. After Pokhran, we have seen Kargil and hijacking of an airline. This only shows how potent and sterile are nuclear weapons in resolving the issues that we face. I think only madmen handle nuclear weapons. 

In this era of globalization and privatization, is the common man getting a fair deal? 

The frolic of a honeybee brings about regeneration and reproduction of innumerable flowers and plants. Similarly development makes sense when it is hand in hand with the needs of the people. 

In India on the one hand, we set up large projects and sky-scrappers and on the other hand we have sprawling slums like Dharavi. What kind of development is this? We all know poverty breeds criminality. In spite of population explosion, this earth can produce enough for its needs. There should be sufficiency for all before there is superfluity for some. 

The crisis of hijacking proved how concerned the government was about 160 lives in the aircraft but what about innumerable lives that are lost due to negligence of someone or the other on roads, railway stations, hospitals, police stations etc. What about these lives? 

In today's setup there is no democracy but only bureaucracy. The bureaucracy takes all decisions, whether it is war or floods. Bureaucrats run the government. 

We have so called intellectuals who keep having conferences and roundtables but achieve nothing. In fact, workshops have become talkshops. We need to realize we don't need discussions but decisions. 

We need to bring about a change. We need to work with the people rather than for the people. We need to change the system of education to leverage the minds of the youth. People test you before placing trust in you. But when common man is aroused with uncommon determination, he will change the century. I believe 21st century will be common man's century. We need development with a human face and this will settle as the way forward in this century.

Your work with the unprivileged and the poor has been restricted to certain villages in Maharashtra. How can this work expand even beyond  this country? 

It is a question whether the work is radiating truth and  transparency. And reason and resolve.

Your views on the Narmada movement?

Narmada is a symbolic struggle against a lifestyle dictated by consumerism and greed. 


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