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What would Gandhi do in this pandemic?

By The SATimes News Service

By Arvind Vora

In 1910 Mahatma Gandhi founded the Tolstoy Farm on 1,100 acres of land donated by an German Jew architect named Hermann Kallenbach, outside Johannesburg in South Africa. It became a social laboratory. He insisted on cleanliness and expected to the displeasure of his own family, that everyone should clean after them. So, we can expect him to agree and emphasize washing hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Also, he did not hesitate to move his first ashram in India at Kochrab, Ahmedabad to the current location by Sabarmati river in the face of a plague outbreak. So, we can expect him to agree to be at a safe place (isolation, quarantine) during this pandemic.

His views on wearing a mask or face covering are not known, but one can surmise that he would support it, based on his upbringing in Porbandar with a sizable Jain  community. He brilliantly employed Jain principle of non-violence and his familiarity with Jain priestly class who always wear a white face mask.

In a four page article (December 6, 1917 at Nadiad) titled “Some General Suggestions Concerning Plague” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Volume 14:  1917-1918) he describes in detail to keep oneself clean, living area clean, surroundings clean, staying at and keeping distance etc. So, one can infer that the impending Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 when India lost more people in numbers and proportionately due to the arrival of returning World War I soldiers at Bombay and Madras, then spreading it all over the nation.

Gandhi would have filled the void in the current environment when worldwide moral authority is painfully absent.

Mahatma Gandhi tending to a leprosy patient. Photos: Shanti Fund

Arvind Vora is Volunteer of Shanti Fund, and Chairman of

Long Island Multi Faith Forum.

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