Wednesday 2nd October is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, with celebratory events in India and around the world, including in Brisbane, Australia.
“Perversely, billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani is a sponsor of the Mahatma Gandhi celebration. Gandhi’s commitment to peace, non-violence, frugality, vegetarianism and the environment set a modern benchmark in selflessness. That is the polar opposite to Gautam Adani’s hoarded billions, eviction of people from their lands and invasion of the biosphere for profit, a benchmark of modern plutocratic selfishness,” Bob Brown said.
Gandhi disdained modern consumerism. Asked in Britain what he thought of western civilisation, he said “it should be tried some time”. As if predicting Adani, he also said, “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialisation after the manner of the west ... keeping the world in chains. If (our nation) took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.”
Gautam Adani is stripping bare Wangan and Jagalingou woodland in Australia’s Galilee Basin to mine coal while, in Brisbane, he is funding the celebration at Gandhi’s statue. Gandhi said that “all amassing of wealth or hoarding of wealth above and beyond one’s legitimate needs is theft” and that “honesty is incompatible with the amassing of a large fortune”.
Gautam Adani and his political backers might reflect on Gandhi’s anguish, echoed by Greta Thunberg last week, that “what we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another”.
As Adani is displacing Indigenous Gond people from their forests in central India and the Wangan and Jagalingou from their lands in central Queensland, he should recall Gandhi’s observation that “the Earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand it over to them at least as it was handed over to us”.
Gandhi’s legacy is of truths that Adani cannot buy or burn. The organisers of the celebration should spell that out to Adani when they say, “we need to strengthen business and community commitments towards Gandhian values”.
Bob Brown Foundation is holding its own commemoration at Gandhi’s statue in Brisbane on Tuesday, the eve of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. The foundation has also offered to replace Adani as a sponsor of Wednesday’s event.
Link to Adani's sponsorship promotion: