Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies

Promotes peace and a global beloved community through nonviolence.

Gandhi Essay Contest 2011-2012

The URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies and
The URI Honors Program present
The 2011-2012 Gandhi Essay Contest

Essay Prompt:

Gandhi brought his wife and children from India to South Africa in 1898 on a ship called the Courland. A crowd of white South Africans protested the ship’s arrival and threatened violence to the dark-skinned immigrant passengers. When Gandhi disembarked, he was surrounded and violently attacked by the angry mob threatening to lynch him. He narrowly escaped and when asked to identify his attackers, so that they could be arrested and punished, Gandhi refused. Throughout his life Gandhi chose love and truth over violence, never retaliating with violence against his attackers. Gandhi was once reported to have said, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”

Write a personal essay in which you explain what you think Gandhi meant by the quote, “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.” Also, discuss how you think this saying has meaning for our world today. Describe examples of what you have done or what you could do to make the world a better place, following Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence.

Who is eligible to participate?

All students in Grade 8 who attend public, private, parochial, or home school programs in Rhode Island.


Every student will receive a certificate of participation. Multiple winners will receive additional awards and prizes.

Essay Guidelines

  • Format: Personal Essay.
  • Essay must be double-spaced, typed, and a maximum of 3 pages (750 words).
  • 12-point font size, 1 inch margins.
  • MLA format will be used for any in-text citations and for the works cited page. Works cited page is not included in page and word count.
  • COVER PAGE with student name, grade school, mailing address, telephone, email contact. Attach to original
  • Please provide 1 additional copy of your original essay (a total of 2 essays), stapled. Do not include your name on the essay (your name will be on the cover page). Be sure to keep an additional copy for yourself because we will not return your essay.


Essays will be judged based on how well they address the prompt, and whether they are well-written, thoughtful, and memorable. Ideas should be developed and clearly organized, using effective and grammatically correct language.

Submitting Your Essay

Please mail or deliver your cover page, original essay, and three copies of your essay to:

Dr. Paul Bueno de Mesquita
Attn:Gandhi Essay Contest
URI Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies
74 Lower College Road
Kingston, RI 02881


Essays must be postmarked no later than
Saturday, January 30, 2012
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday


  • The URI Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies and the University Honors Program
  • The University of Rhode Island

Decisions will be announced May 1, 2012

PDF Version of Prompt Announcement

Gandhi Essay Contest Winners


Director of the Center, Paul Bueno de Mesquita, and College of Business Professor Ruby Dholakia with the 2011 Gandhi Essay Contest Finalists

Veda Narasimhan performs the sitar for our Gandhi Essay Contest Winners (2011)

For more information
If you have any questions please email

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