Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), 1939, by Jawaharlal Nehru, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7091, Image no. SIA2010-3714.

Collaboration’s Value in the Pursuit of Science and Peace

Advancing peace requires a strong, wide, and active network.

With International Day of Peace just three days away, we’re highlighting the advantages of a strong, wide, and active network of visionaries invested in peace.

One person who often comes to mind when considering major actors for peace and dignity is Mahatma Gandhi. Two photographs of Ghandi came to the Smithsonian Institution Archives by way of the Science Service Records. Similar to the Smithsonian, the founders of Science Service, a news source established for disseminating scientific and technical information, were conscious of avoiding any particular science agenda. So what’s the connection to Ghandi?

Two people, wrapped in blankets, sit cross-legged.

The Science Service editorial staff built a global network not only of scientists across many disciplines but also scholars, journalists, and educators. One such correspondent was Kanaiyalal Maneklal Munshi (1887-1971) of India, known also as Kanhaiya Lal or K. M. Munshi, who had the privilege of working with Ghandi as part of the Indian National Congress and the Indian Independence Movement. Munshi had many interests and advocated for education throughout his life. He was instrumental in establishing the University of Bombay’s department of chemical technology as well as Bhavan’s College and five other schools in the 1920s. Perhaps it was Munshi’s work as a proponent for applied chemistry that initiated the correspondence with the Science Service, though the specifics are not clear. 

Although Munshi’s interest in literature, science, and education did not waiver, his commitment to a non-violent political process did. So much so, that Ghandi asked him to leave the Indian National Congress. Later, Munshi returned to a non-violent expression of his convictions, and Ghandi invited him to rejoin in 1946.

While political seasons and agendas will change over time, this profile points to the value of a wide network of colleagues if science and scholarly pursuits are to advance. Maybe this year, we can respond to the United Nation’s call to action, “Climate Action for Peace,” and learn more about our climate and the threats it faces. Knowledge is power, yes?

Gandhi and another person walk. Gandhi waves at the camera.

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