BJP's Shivraj Singh Chouhan donates Rs 1 cr to revive Mahatma Gandhi's 'Tolstoy Farm'

Written by PTI | Johannesburg | Updated: Jun 10 2014, 22:52pm hrs
Mahatma GandhiTo nurture the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, where he first began his Satyagraha, the MP govt will donate one crore rupees. Reuters
To nurture the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa, where he first began his Satyagraha, the Madhya Pradesh government will donate one crore rupees for the restoration of his once home "Tolstoy Farm".

BJP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced this during a visit to the now derelict area, south of here, owned by a neighbouring brick manufacturing company.

Paying his tributes, Chouhan touched the ground and recalled the ideals of compassion, non-violence and the force of truth that Gandhiji stood for.

"This contribution is symbolic of the commitment of the people and Government of Madhya Pradesh to uphold and preserve the universal values that Gandhiji stood for," he said.

"Gandhian values are more relevant than ever today in our common pursuit to foster a peace loving and harmonious global society," the CM added as he stressed the ancient Indian value of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' (the world is a family).

Chouhan is leading a high-powered delegation from the state to promote investment and joint ventures between South African public and state enterprises.

Indian High Commissioner, Virendra Gupta, initiated a project to establish a 'Garden of Remembrance' at the Farm, to be developed and managed by a group of local community organisations.

"To commemorate 100 years of Gandhiji's return to India from South Africa in 1914, a function is being organised by the High Commission of India in collaboration with the local Indian community and the Government of South Africa on 20 July 2014 at the Tolstoy Farm," Gupta said.

A Trust to take forward the Garden of Remembrance project will be formally launched on the day, he added.

Established by Gandhiji in 1910, the Tolstoy Farm drew its name from the great Russian author Leo Tolstoy, whose writings had influenced the Mahatma. It spreads over an area of 1100 acres donated by his architect friend Herman Kallenbach.

People from diverse backgrounds, race and religion stayed together here to form a community of Passive Resisters. They adopted Gandhi's principles of Satyagraha to fight the unjust and racist regime of the then South Africa.

Tolstoy Farm was then a thriving self-sufficient commune for scores of people led by Gandhi, who had a law office in the city.

After the last family moved out in the 1970's, the remaining buildings and huge fruit orchards were destroyed by vandals and all that remains is the foundation of the house occupied by Gandhi.