The Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation donates $1.5 million to the MK Gandhi Center in Fresno State
In 1959, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a farewell address to the people of India, he reflected on the parallels between the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi in their quest to heal a divided nation. King challenged current and future generations.
“If this era is to survive, it must follow the path of love and non-violence that [Gandhi] so nobly exemplified in his life.
With that in mind, California State University, Fresno received a $1.5 million pledge from the Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation establish an endowment fund to create and support the “MK Gandhi Centre: Inner Peace and Sarvodaya” at the College of Arts and Humanities. The Gandhi Center will promote the development of intellectual understanding and experiential learning of Gandhi’s philosophy of inner peace and sarvodaya. The idea of sarvodaya focuses on developing the whole person and building a non-violent, peaceful and just society.
“Members of the Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation appreciate one of Gandhi’s most beloved principles, vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the whole world is my family). In the spirit of this principle, although based in Bakersfield, we had no problem reaching out from our hometown to create learning opportunities at Fresno State. At a time of growing unrest and polarization, we are excited about this one-of-a-kind collaboration with Fresno State’s incredible leadership team to create a center of learning that emphasizes the two central pillars of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy – inner peace and sarvodaya,” Drs. Ravi and Naina Patel said in a statement.
A virtual donation announcement will take place at 2 p.m. Friday, February 18. The Gandhi Center Fund will support a director, student academic research, curriculum development, and activities such as lectures, essay and art competitions, and public lectures to bring campus and community together.
The Gandhi Center will be located in the campus library. Mirrored in the windows of the library, the Fresno State Peace Garden takes center stage on campus. Led by Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, professor emeritus and supporter of the initiative, the Peace Garden houses the bust of Gandhi which looks east towards the monuments of leaders Jane Addams, Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez. These leaders were influenced by Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, fortitude and the upliftment of all. Just as the Peace Garden is reflected in glass, Gandhi’s philosophy is reflected in Fresno State’s values of discovery, diversity and distinction.
“Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence changed the course of human history by illuminating a path for the individual to bring about lasting change through peaceful and creative action. Its ideals of peace, fairness and sarvodaya are intertwined in Fresno State’s mission, vision and values. Thanks to Drs. Thanks to the generosity of Ravi and Naina Patel, the MK Gandhi Center: Inner Peace and Sarvodaya will enable an immersive experience for students who will be better equipped to make our community and the world a better place,” said the president of the university, Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval.
Dr. Honora Chapman, Dean of the Fresno State College of Arts and Humanities, is excited about the impact of this initiative.
“We are so grateful to the Patels for forging this unique partnership which underscores the University’s commitment to educating current and future generations on the principles and practices of inner peace and sarvodaya through coursework, service-learning projects, public events and research.”
Sarvodaya is linked to the principles of equality, justice, sustainability and dignity. Gandhi proposed programs intended to create economic, social, religious and political well-being. These programs covered all aspects of human life, including health, education, growing local and organic foods, developing moral citizenship, sanitation practices, interfaith harmony, industries and local government structures.
Dr. Veena Howard, Fresno State Professor of Religious Studies and Endowed Chair in Jain and Hindu Dharma, said, “The Gandhi Center will create academic and experiential opportunities for students to learn the value and social impact of Gandhi’s philosophy of inner peace and inner peace. sarvodaya alongside his methods of satyagraha and ahimsa. They will also learn about historical ties to American leaders, influenced by Gandhi in their nonviolent struggles to confront violence and injustice.