Mahatma Gandhi is a man who needs no introduction. He is universally acknowledged as the ‘father of Indian independence,’ the man who won the country’s freedom from their colonial masters without firing a shot.
The Gandhi Commemorative Stamp Initiative began on January 30, 1998, marking the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Yet despite efforts to have his legacy commemorated–a campaign spearheaded in Congress by Senator Sherrod Brown–the initiative did not come to fruition.
However, our community has another opportunity to recognize Gandhi’s legacy, on Gandhi Jayanti. Next year, 2019, would mark the sesquicentennial (150th) birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Thus, Mahatma Gandhi’s US Postal Service Commemorative Stamp campaign was launched again last year with the support of Congresswoman Robin Kelly and Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois. They sent a letter in April 2017 to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee, yet their joint request was denied, stating the following requirements for a commemorative postal stamp were not met:
- The individual in question was not born in the U.S.
- Three years advance notice must be given to facilitate a Time-bound Stamp Release (The date requested is his 150th birthday, on Oct. 2, 2019)
Congressman Krishnamoorthi has recently followed up with a letter of request to US Postmaster General Megan Brennan, and we are awaiting her reply.
Of course, Gandhi’s influence extended beyond the borders of India to the rest of the world. His philosophy of nonviolence, or ahimsa, which inspired civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and his movement for social justice, have informed the history and legacy of the United States as well. Often against great odds, and popular beliefs, Gandhi spent his life fighting to overcome modern forms of enslavement and caste oppression, religious hatred, gender oppression, and poverty. His example of non-violence included civil resistance and refusal to comply with unjust laws. Upon his return to India in 1915, Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence became infused with the struggle for swaraj (self-rule).
Gandhi was an uncompromising opponent of violence. Gandhi knew that the only solution to hatred, ignorance and fear was love, truth, and forgiveness. For Gandhi, the two most powerful weapons were truth and non-violence. Gandhi was able to promote religious harmony through his personal and public actions.
Yet the most enduring example of Gandhi’s leadership remains his worldwide influence. In addition to inspiring Martin Luther King, Jr., he also influenced the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and countless other leaders through his philosophy of non-violence. In 1994, in a Gandhian spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, Nelson Mandela reached out to his adversaries–the same ones who had tortured and imprisoned him for his resistance to apartheid rule.
To recognize and celebrate the life of this truly remarkable global leader on the 150th anniversary of his birth, including his lasting influence and inspiration in the U.S., please support the efforts of the Gandhi 150 Commemorative Stamp Initiative.
Please send letters of support to:
Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501
Sriram Sonty is an ophthalmologist by profession since 1970, and a Gandhi enthusiast from 1986, when he paid tribute to the Sabarmati ashram & Pietermaritzburg Railway Station in South Africa. He is also a Trustee of the Gandhi Memorial Trust in Skokie, Illinois. He has presented at more than a hundred forums on Mahatma Gandhi. He has given permission to use content from this blog post freely. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.