Published: 02nd October 2019
Meet Ayush Chaturvedi, the Varanasi schoolboy whose speech about Gandhi went viral
Ayush Chaturvedi is a class XI student from Varanasi. He is also inspired by Bhagat Singh, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela
When he made the fiery three and a half-minute-long speech in his school assembly on September 9, Ayush Chaturvedi had no clue that in the next couple of days, lakhs of people from different corners of the world will be listening to his words. His words were loud, clear and passionate. The class XI student was talking about his favourite leader of all time, the father of the nation and about how he is relevant today.
The speech that he delivered at Central Hindu Boys School in Varanasi made people listen for more reasons than one. "There was no bigger Hindu than Gandhi. But the people from other religions didn’t feel fear when he said ‘Hey Ram’, because Gandhi was a symbol of secularism in India," says Ayush in his speech. Elaborating this, he says, "Gandhi's Hinduism respected secularism. But today, people are killed in the name of God and religion. They are scared of Hindutva, but not Hinduism," he says. "Gandhiji always stood with the minorities — Muslims in India and Hindus in Pakistan," he adds.
Ayush first read Gandhi's autobiography My Experiments with Truth, when he was a class VII student. That was when his admiration for the Mahatma began. "I support his view of non-violence. Also, he practised what he preached," says Ayush, narrating a story to us. "A parent once wanted their child to stop eating jaggery and asked Gandhiji to advise the child. Gandhiji, who also loved eating jaggery, stopped eating it and advised the kid only after that," he says.
In his speech, he also tells his fellow schoolmates about how they must read more books and stop consuming information available on Facebook and WhatsApp. What is Ayush reading now, we sought. He says, "Yesterday, the former JNUSU President N Sai Balaji sent me three books, one of which is Glimpses of World History by Jawaharlal Nehru. I'm reading that now," he says. "Previously I'd read his Discovery of India," adds Ayush, who is also inspired by Bhagat Singh, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela.
A Civil service aspirant, this 17-year-old lives with his mother and father in Varanasi. His father is a social worker. "It was my mother who recorded the video and she later uploaded it on her Facebook profile. After that NSUI BHU shared it and around 2 Lakh people viewed it from there. This was followed by so many shares, including the Chattisgarh Chief Minister's," he says.
We had one last question for Ayush. "What if Gandhi comes back to life? Will he be proud of India?" To this, he says, "He'll be proud of the developments that we've made in space and technology. But the happenings in the social level will definitely sadden him."