By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, Sep 27 (IANS) As India gears up to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Birad Rajaram Yajnik is travelling to Paris and Russia in his continuing pursuit of spreading the message of the ‘father of the nation’ through the language of technology.
The digital curator and author from Hyderabad will be part of the special programmes at United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in Paris and also in Russia.
Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, Unesco hold ‘Ahimsa’ lecture every year. This year it will be organizing panel discussion about Gandhiji and his views on education.
“We are doing something exciting this year. Gandhiji will appear in the form of hologram and speak to the audience,” he told IANS.
Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museums (MGDS), of which Birad Yajnik is the curator, is also organizing a special programme in Russia, focused on the unique relationship between celebrated author Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi.
“They never met but exchanged letters over a period of approximately one year. Lots of letters, books and comments exchanged. We have curated an exhibition called Tolstoy and Gandhi. This will be showcased at Yasnaia Polyana, the village of Leo Tolstoy and also at Duma, the Russian Parliament in Moscow.”
Birad Yajnik, who also authored a few books on Gandhi, pointed out that when the two great personalities exchanged the letters, Tolstoy was about 80 years old while Gandhi was half the author’s age. “But their views were same and can be bottled down to two aspects – love for humanity and supreme power of truth,” he said.
Birad Yajnik has dedicated his life to the pursuit of spreading the message of Mahatma Gandhi across the world through his innovative books, interactive talks and curated experiential digital museums. Youth are the focus of his efforts.
He made the beginning in 2012 by setting up the first Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum in Hyderabad.
It came up at Bapu Ghat, the memorial built at the place where Gandhi’s ashes were immersed in Musi river.
Every year only on the occasion of Gandhi’s birth and death anniversaries the memorial used to come into focus due to visit by the governor and the chief minister to pay their homage.
However, it now boasts of a memorial building, a prayer hall, an interactive museum called Peace Truth Ahimsa museum and a 76-feet long collage wall featuring more than 400 pictures of Gandhi.
Also on display at Bapu Ghat is Harley Davidson motorbike. Named Ahimsa Harley, it has signatures of 900 students from 26 countries as a symbol to announce that Gandhi has arrived in 21st century.
“Digital museum is an effort to convey Gandhiji’s message through language of today that is language of technology,” said Birad Yajnik, who is also trustee of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and Managing Director and Publisher, Visual Quest India.
The museum has imparted more than 1.5 lakh hours of Gandhian inspired education to more than 50,000 students in the last five years.
After the success at Bapu Ghat, he set up three more digital museums – one in New Delhi and two in South Africa.
“We have touched almost 20 different cities in the world over last 13 years in various capacities and through different exhibitions,” he said.
Birad Yajnik as a curator contributed 12 projects in the last three years of that involve the head of state or father of the respective nations and five of them were opened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He curated the Mahatma Gandhi Ek Pravasi Digital Museum at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra, New Delhi. A version of this exhibition was launched at the Immigration Museum, Melbourne.
Last year another museum came up at Pietermaritzburg railway station in South Africa, where Mahatma Gandhi was thrown out of a train in 1893. The museum called ‘The birthplace of Satyagrah’ was unveiled in the historic waiting room in July on 125 years commemoration of Pietermaritzburg incident. The scene of Gandhi being evicted from the train was recreated to trace history. He also designed and installed a unique two-sided bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the station.
In 2014, Birad Yajnik curated Mandela Gandhi Digital Exhibition at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg. He also created the Mandela Gandhi engagement wall in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
He created the King Gandhi interactive wall at the Howard University in Washington DC in 2013.
In 2015, he curated the Pha – Bapu: Love for the Nation digital exhibition at Bangkok and Hua Hin in Thailand.
His exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi was featured a part of Festival of India at Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia in February this year.
A month later he curated prestigious digital exhibition on Sheik Zayed and Mahatma Gandhi and was chirstened Zayed Gandhi Digital Exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
Birad Yajnik believes that Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings are very relevant in 21st century. “He wrote on education, health, economy, environment, on how peace can prevail. He covered every topic. There is need to read more and learn more about him and implement it in our lives,” he said.