PUNE: At an age when materialistic pleasures mean more, 26-year-old Nitin Sonawane has dedicated his life to spreading Gandhian principles worldwide. Sonawane has embarked on a peace walk and will cover 75 countries to spread the message of peace, non-violence and harmony.
Sonawane is an engineering graduate who left work within six months to dedicate his life to spreading social messages. He started on November 18, 2016 from Bapu Kuti, Sevagram Ashram in Wardha and cycled to Yavatmal, Washim, Buldhana, Jalna, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Pune and Mumbai. He aims to complete his journey on October 2, 2019 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
SMALL ISSUES’ SOLUTION
Sonawane was raised in a conservative environment, hailing from a village Rashin near Karjat taluka in Ahmednagar district. He said that he was more spiritual and religious than radical. “There have been many conflicts in my village, from caste discrimination to men and women inequality. I was 17 when I ran away from home and returned to be a better person. When I was away from home, I was exposed to many social issues which intrigued me to do something. Till then, I knew Gandhi through history books and films, but somehow I felt situations can be normalised if we did it the Gandhian way. Hence, I started reading and understanding Gandhi while I was working for social causes. From small instances, I could make out Gandhi’s principles will make a huge change,” said Sonawane.
COMING TO PUNE
Sonawane then came to Pune and enrolled with Maharashtra Gandhi Samarak Nidhi and worked towards many social causes with the mode of Satyagraha. “Today, many youngsters from my village are involved in spreading Gandhian thoughts. The villagers have now started looking at consequences of caste discrimination and disparity it has caused. I am happy I could make some difference there,” said Sonawane. It was then that Sonawane decided to embark on this journey to understand people around the world.
“I am traveling with only one bag, tent and my cycle. I have received help from people who have come across me and learnt about my initiative. This simple gesture of humans explains that there is still scope for peace and harmony, which we all are looking for,” said Sonawane.
So far, he has covered around 11,000 km on cycle from India to Japan. He has already visited social institutions and villages in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Hong-Kong and Macau. At present, Sonawane is in Japan, where he will be walking from Hiroshima to Nagasaki to mark August 6 and 9 -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day.
He has met around 5,000-6,000 people on his journey and he is connected on social media with over 1,000 people who have been following his activity. The 75 countries in his check list include countries in Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and Middle-East, ending in Pakistan in 2019.
Speaking about one of his experiences during his stay in Cambodia during the elections in June this year, he said, “Cambodians follow monarchy. They didn’t conduct elections for over two decades. The youngsters and intellectuals there strove hard to make elections real. While the elections were ahead, we happened to interact with the youngsters there with whom we discussed about Gandhi’s ideology. We enlightened them that one can be born as a king, but only people create a good leader and government. Therefore, everyone should stand up to vote and support elections. The youth there took up this ideology during election campaigns. I look at it as one of the impacts we could leave on them,” said Sonawane.