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Deceased leader reborn to new audience
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By Chris Higginbotham

Born Mohandas Karamchi Gandhi, the leader of the Indian independence movement is known to the world as the Mahatma, or great soul. He's been deceased for 61 years, but his leadership and strict adherence to nonviolent protest remains influential.

A translation of "The Good Boatman", a chronicle of the Mahatma's life, will soon be released in China. It will be the first time the book has been released in Mandarin. The occasion brought about a discussion of the book and the man in the studio of China.org.cn

Gandhi was the spiritual and political leader of India's push for independence from the British Empire.

"Mahatma Gandhi was not only a great leader of India, but also a very great personality for the people all over the world," said Deng Junbing, who spent three years translating the book from English into Mandarin. "I hope those who are interested in reading the Chinese version of this book will get to know Gandhi better and learn from him."

Gandhi was assassinated less than one year after India became a sovereign nation. He barely saw the fruits of his leadership, but his influence still carries on. His birthday is a national holiday in India and is also recognized as the International Day of Non-Violence.

"He himself passed away but his ideals are still alive in the present-day India," said Zhou Gang, former Chinese ambassador to India.

"His ideals and the message of his life have inspired millions of us in the generations that came after him," said India's ambassador to China, Nirupama Rao.

The panel discussed how Gandhi would feel about India's development after more than 60 years of independence.

"I think he would have been extremely happy to see the progress that India has made," said Ambassador Rao. "The fact that India is so well-networked with the modern world today, that India has progressed a great deal in terms of its economic development, uplifting people out of poverty – all this would have pleased him immensely."

But that does not mean India is ready to slow down.

"We cannot rest on what we have achieved so far," the ambassador continued. "There is much much more work to be done – miles to go, as they say, before we sleep."

The translated edition of "The Good Boatman" will be available later this year.

(China.org.cn July 3, 2009)

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