Good evening honourable guests, ladies & gentlemen.

It is indeed a great honour to be here and share my thoughts. I will address two questions that I have been asked multiple times while creating this book.
Why another book on the Mahatma ?
Why am I here in London?

I was born 99 years after Gandhiji’s birth or twenty years after he ceased to walk this earth. Needless to say I never had the opportunity to see him or hear him in person; my exposure to him in the initial years of my life was the story of independence at bedtime by my grandmother Nivedita and a chapter in the middle school text book.

October 2nd, national holiday in India and the minute of silence on the 30th of January each year have served as a constant recall on the name Mahatma and the person Gandhi.

The film Gandhi by Sir Richard Attenborough, like many from my generation was the first real comprehensive exposure to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, I was 14 and it was a film that moved me to accepting the power and wisdom of the man. I saw the English version.

Over the next twenty six years his name and context have crossed me a few times, some in the form of simple discussions and some in the spate of films from Bollywood that hover around Bapu. What I am trying to say is that I come from a generation that sees Gandhi multiple times a day without an emotional connect or a realisation of the values he stood for. Our recall is limited to the image of Gandhi on the rupee notes, postage stamps and dusty photographs in government offices.

I am from a generation that does not associate khadi with peace and non violence but with politics and corruption. The charkha is just an Uber kool artefact. And the context of Salt is Iodised or not.

I am from a generation that has lost the power to learn from his experiments of truth. All we get is trivia and 1000 word articles whether or not he said the words “Hey Ram “when he was assassinated. Or if he was to be blamed for the politics of that day.

We have forgotten to see the glass full, its time to move on and leverage his principles for the success of humanity. We need to draw from his experiments, as he was a scientist of Human Values and scientists don’t make mistakes they experiment.

Hence the decision to create this book, to lay Gandhiji’s life out in words and pictures for a generation that was born and lives in the attention economy.

The book is a visual insight to Gandhiji’s life, it’s a presentation of facts and images in a hope that it would mean something different to each viewer and allow my generation to explore the principles of the Mahatma.

It has an age line along with the time line of his life, this would allow us to explore his life using our age as a barometer. The book has 200 plus photographs to show his transitions in life and 20,000 words that provide a commentary into incidents of his life.

The book by no means is an exhaustive compilation of him; it is more a visual catalyst to set one on a journey to explore more.

The book is produced to act more as a piece of art and the contents published to be treated as treasured experiences of a man so simple yet so unique and valuable. The end objective would be that this book acts as an heirloom and is passed down generations spreading the simple message that would be relevant for a long time to come.

I hope that the generations of today will draw from his experiments of life and seek their interpretations and learn from a simple Man we made the Mahatma.

Thank you for your patience, I request 2 more minutes …. As I have 2 more very important things to say the first answer the question why this book was launched in London and the 2nd to thank everyone.

I was questioned “Why London” and my answer was “Why not” …. But the real reason truly is that history has proven that London is the epicentre of the single largest body of humanity that has the courage and conscience to accept and appreciate an opponent. The collective conscience of the people of England has been and will be its strength and hence we could not think of a better place to launch the book.

The Most important part of this evening,

I would like to thank you all for coming down; braving the weather I am humbled by your presence. Thank you to Mr BK Syngal , and a very special thank you to his daughter Shruti Syngal who is one of the few people that I have met in my generation to whom Karma Yoga is 2nd nature, Sir Gulam for his support and gracious gesture of providing me access to Gandhiji’s letters, Talvin for the musical tribute that you all will witness shortly. All my friends and family in the audience, some of you who have travelled all the way from India. Specially Rekha Reddy a close friend , Sumeet my cousin .. Your presence did mean a lot to Deepti and I.

A special thank you to my production team at Visual Quest, Deepa Gunti and Colonel Pashupathy need a special mention for putting in all the extra hours. My father in law – Dr Brig S. N Capoor for discussing the initial idea on the book and allowing me to marry his beautiful daughter. My parents who could not be here but taught me the power of right.

Finally a very big thank you to two very special people … wife Deepti for putting up with my whims and fancy, my erratic work schedule, inspiring me and grounding me at the same time and thank you to the four year old running around here today .. My daughter Adya .. For adding magic in my life.