The Institute of Gandhian Studies (Gandhi Vichar Parishad) is an educational and public charitable institution that has been set-up as one of the commemorative projects of the Jamnalal Bajaj Centenary Year. It was established to create and offer facilities to study the life, thought and methods of Gandhi, and to learn lessons that can be of value in addressing the problems of the present. The objectives of the Institute identify the growing relevance of Gandhi and the need for providing opportunities for the study and application of his thoughts and methods.
More than six decades have passed since Gandhi fell to the bullets of an assassin. But every year in these decades has only heightened the global awareness of the dimensions and the meaning of his message. A very real threat to survival is threatening humanity to look for alternative to the paths that have led it to the brink of extinction. Violence and war seem to have become counter-productive as instruments for settling differences or resolving conflicts. Giant strides in science and technology have no doubt added to the knowledge and power at the disposal of man, but not to peace of mind in the individual or harmony in society, nor to the liquidation of want and poverty, illness and ignorance.
Sophistication in technology has not led to freedom, but have focused attention on the potential for increasing disparities; for centralization and concentration of power, the danger of divorcing the processes of production from the personality and creativity of the individual human being; the profligate and thoughtless depletion of non-replaceable natural resources, causing irreparable damage to and imbalance in the eco-system, in turn posing a threat to the survival of man and the natural and social ethos of the planet. The relentless pursuit of material goals has led to a grave crisis in the psyche of the individual and society.
These threats to its very existence have made humanity commence a search for:
- New means for the resolution of conflicts and differences in opinion and outlook.
- Values that will promote individual liberty and progress while strengthening the forces of cohesion.
- A new blend of the spirit of science and the role that man has inherited consequent on his entry into realms that give him access to the power of the spirit.
- A new technology that will no longer result in alienation, robotization, dehumanization and exploitation, but enable man to exercise his creative talents and achieve liberty and equality.
- A new era in which government will rest on the principles of self-government, and humanity will out-grow narrow loyalties that can place a question mark before the survival of man
Many thinkers and activists, in the world today, have begun to turn to the life, thoughts and methods of Mahatma Gandhi to look for solutions that can take humanity in this direction. Many countries have witnessed popular movements for freedom, equality and peace, which drew inspiration from the life and methods of Gandhi. Activists and thinkers of the younger generation in the world are looking to the alternative path that Gandhi showed, in the belief that his message and testament are of crucial significance to the survival of mankind.
Of all the influences that contributed to the making of the personality of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj none was greater than his close association with Gandhi, and his implicit faith in the epochal significance of Gandhi’s life, message and the concept of Trusteeship. He asked Gandhi to consider him as the Mahatma’s fifth son, thereby accepting a share of the responsibility for preserving and transmitting the heritage of Gandhian thought to succeeding generations. The establishment of the Institute was thus a fitting memorial to the life and work of Shri Jamnalal Bajaj in his Birth Centenary Year.