Professor Walter Earl Fluker loves the energy of big cities. That explains why he is fascinated by Mumbai and its people. “The pulse and rhythm of this city is simply amazing. Besides, where else in the world would one get to see so many brown and beautiful people living diverse yet connected lives,” says Fluker.
The Atlanta-based African-American professor is actively engaged in the development of a programme dedicated to strengthening civil society through ethical leadership. And he is in India to visit the land of Mahatma Gandhi, a man Fluker describes as someone who has a great role in teaching the world peaceful coexistence. After visiting Delhi, Udaipur and Baroda, the professor has made a final stop in the city of dreams. “The cosmopolitan ethos of Mumbai is a metaphor for the world which is shrinking day by day while struggling to cope with diversities.”
He feels that India with its multiplicity of languages, cultures and religions has a lot to teach the 21st century world community. The professor believes that the only way of avoiding conflict in the modern world is to combine leadership qualities with ethics and spirituality.
Coming from a poor African-American family in Mississippi and growing up in Chicago, Fluker seems to have experienced conflict and its repercussions first-hand. However he insists that discord needs to be tackled in a positive and constructive manner. “Just like the Mahatma did through his non-violent resistance against colonial rule,” he says.
Fluker is a professor at Morehouse College, Atlanta and also executive director of the Leadership Centre, which trains a new generation of leaders to address contemporary, ethical and social concerns, especially those affecting African American life and culture.
He is currently working on a book on the 20th century African-American civil rights leader Dr Howard Thurman who had met Gandhi in 1936 in Bardoli to discuss the Satyagraha movement.
“When Dr Howard requested Gandhiji to come with him to the US to participate in the civil rights movement, the Mahatma had declined saying that first he needed to test the effectiveness of the non-violent resistance in his own country.”