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Today we celebrate Mahatama Gandhi’s Birth Anniversary. The Father of the Nation was born on October 2, 1869. All through his life he was known for his frugal lifestyle and principled ways of dealing with issues. Coming from a poor country his clothing was simple to the extreme. One of my favourite anecdotes about Gandhji is about his tea with King George V and Queen Mary. He arrived at Buckingham Palace wearing his customary loincloth, sandals, and a shawl. He had woven the cloth himself from thread made on his spinning wheel. King George was dressed in his usual splendid Court dress complete with all his medals and ribbons. When someone later asked Mahatma Gandhi if he thought he had worn too little clothing to the King ‘s tea party, he replied: “The King had enough on for both of us.”

Needless to say, he never smoked or drank alcohol. It is therefore fitting that the Government of India has decided that effective today smoking is banned in public places in India.

Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, India’s Minister for Health, to me is certainly one of India’s younger and brighter Ministers. His initiatives like the National Rural Health Mission will give the country great benefits over a period of time. He may have raised a few controversial issues but he has guts and I commend him for the smoking ban. Cynics naturally say that such a ban will be well nigh impossible to enforce in a country like India -given our poor record of civic consciousnesses. But it is a start and a welcome one at that.

The reason is simple. Anything done- however small- to bring down smoking will help. After all, smoking kills 900000 people every year in India -likely to go up to 1,000, 000 by 2010. .

I have no doubt that the banning of smoking in public places is a strong first step in the right direction.

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This is Post No: 303 of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.

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