Nation pays homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 140th birth anniversary

      The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, led the nation in paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi on his 140th birth anniversary at his memorial "Raj Ghat" here on Friday. Besides the Prime Minister, a host of political and social leaders including new US Ambassador to India Timothy J Roemer offered floral tribute at Gandhi's memorial. A special function will take place at Gandhi Smriti this afternoon, which will include a recital of some of Gandhi's favourite devotional songs. The Union Government has planned a series of other programmes for the occasion. Dr. Manmohan Singh will also inaugurate a National Convention on Panchayati Raj. State Panchayati Raj Ministers, elected representatives of Panchayats will participate in the convention, which will also be addressed by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to mark 50 years of Panchayati Raj in the country. The Gram Nayalaya Act also comes into force from today. The Act paves the way for setting the up of over 5,000 Gram Nayalayas at the grassroots level for the purpose of providing justice to citizens at their door step. The Gram Nayalaya will be of the level of a first class judicial magistrate court and will exercise the powers of both criminal and civil courts. The court will be mobile and move from village to village to dispose off cases. During his lifetime, Gandhi had dedicated the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, for the uplift of the downtrodden classes in Indian society. Most of Gandhi's decision-making in the early years of the freedom movement was done within the peaceful confines of Sabarmati Ashram. His message of non-violence, uprightness and care for leprosy patients is still taught in most schools. Gandhi was a strong advocate against caste discrimination in Indian society.

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