Speech by H.E. Mr. V. Mahalingam at the 147th Birth Anniversary of...
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HIGH COMMISSIONER’s SPEECH ON 2nd October 2016

 

Hon’ble Minister of Business  and Tourism Mr Dominic Gaskin and Chief Guest  of this event,

Hon’ble Member of Parliament Mr Clement Rohee

Her Worship Ms Chase Green, Mayor of the City of Georgetown

Distinguished Businessman and our  dear Friend Dr Yesu Persaud

Distinguished  Guests

Media Friends

Ladies and Gentlemen

My dear  beloved Children,

Very Good Morning !

It is my great pleasure to welcome all our honourable distinguished guests , who have taken time to be with us to celebrate the 147th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi which is also the International Day of Non-violence. Your presence today, that too on a Sunday early morning,   reaffirms ‘the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence’ and the desire ‘to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence’.

 

In the latest UN General Assembly debates and speeches, two issues occupied most prominence . They are complex security threats arising from armed conflict  particularly in the middle east  and the  2030 Agenda for  Sustainable Development Goals which are inter-twined with Climate Change. Remarkably, almost a century ago, Gandhi’s  thinking, philosophy and  writings were full of thoughts on these issues. 

 

Gandhiji’s principle of non-violence,  what is called in Sanskrit as

“Ahimsa” ,  is also known as non-violent resistance , which rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. This is often described  as “Politics of Ordinary people  ” .The theory behind Gandhi’s actions, which included encouraging massive civil disobedience to British Law as with the historic Salt March of 1930,  was that” JUST MEANS LEAD TO JUST ENDS”. For Gandhi,  it is irrational to use violence to achieve a peaceful outcome or to create a peaceful society.

 

Gandhiji  in his day to day life too followed  and  practised the principle  of tolerance  in order to avoid violence even if he was provoked personally. Once  a reporter asked Mr Gandhi, "Is it true that one's food habits affect one's character. For example Gandhiji, you drink only goat's milk. Does it affect your character? 
Gandhiji retorted, "My dear young man, just now I had a glass of goat's milk. Now I feel an itching sensation at my temples. May be horns are about to emerge. So pack off and run for your safety."  He used  such humour  to  bring the situation to normalcy rather than getting provoked.

 

Some may argue that  Gandhiji’s ideal of non-violence is too idealistic  to become practical.  Certainly it is not easy to follow the path of non-violence. However, the issue becomes clearer if one looks at the other option. Has violence and use of weapons  succeeded in bringing an end to the problems? Has bloodshed been a more effective way to resolve disputes? Has over exploitation of nature’s bounty led to a better life? The answers to these questions enlighten us how relevant Gandhiji’s messages are today.

We are all aware that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was  adopted at the special United Nations summit of heads of state and government held in New York last year this time and is a lynchpin for fostering economic development, promoting human well-being and protecting the environment at the global, national and local levels. Many may not  be so much aware  that  Gandhiji too  propagated the ideas of Sustainable development. Gandhiji’s famous quotes amply illustrate his deep thinking on these ideas.

Gandhiji said and I quote   “The earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Further Gandhiji went on to say about what India should do  regarding industrialisation  and I quote “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. ... If [our nation] India  took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts”    

Gandhiji too followed in his life  what he preached.  Once a Journalist asked  Gandhiji, "Why do you always choose to travel by third class in a train." He replied "Simply, because there is no fourth class as yet." In another instance, when Gandhiji was going to attend the Round Table Conference in England, a newsman asked, "Mr. Gandhi,  do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King." 

Gandhiji said, "Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us." 

While commending UN Secretary-General’s courageous campaign to combat the adverse effects of climate change and his commitment to sustainable development, His Excellency  President of Guyana,  Brigadier David Granger commented that Guyana has already ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement  and there  by Guyana  readied itself to be  part of this global ‘green’ movement.  I would like to stress here that  Mahatma Gandhi  was one of the pioneers of  that green movement.   Many of Gandhiji’s views and  activities  are testimonies to that emphatic claim.

 You know that  Gandhi prophesised that an economy built on material consumption would cause a serious threat to the environment.

 He viewed man and nature as interwoven, and very prophetically foresaw and warned the world of the monstrous consequences of so-called 'development', which ignored the essential balance in the relation of man and nature. Gandhi sought a return to an age, where the people were at one with their natural surroundings.

 Gandhi set up Tolstoy Farm – an experiment in self-sufficient simple living.

 He sought to show how a simpler way of life based on minimal needs, a basic lifestyle could work in practice. He weaved his own clothes made from khadi and slept on the ground with pillows made from wood.

 A strict vegetarian, when not fasting, he advocated the fruit and nut diet.

 Gandhiji  stated, "A civilization built on renewable resources, such as the products of forestry and agriculture, is by this fact alone superior to one built of non-renewable resources, such as oil, coal etc”.

Who can question then whether Gandhiji was really  Green??

 

That is the reason our Prime Minister has decided that India would  ratify the  Paris Climate Change Agreement on this October 2 as mark of respect and in commemoration of the  147th Birth Anniversary of the  great soul and the Father of India- Mahatma Gandhi.

In conclusion  I am confident that Gandhiji ideals  would never fade and rather  remain eternally relevant  in this world.

Thank you



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