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145TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF MAHATMA GANDHI
THAI-BHARAT CULTURAL LODGE, BANGKOK
THURSDAY, 02 OCTOBER, 2014

REMARKS BY AMBASSADOR OF INDIA

  • Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai Na Ayudhya, CEO of the Satya Sai School
  • Prof. SrisurangPoolthupya, President; Mr. Raj Matta, Secretary; and Dr. ChirapatPrapandvidya, Joint Secretary of the Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge
  • Mrs. ShobhanaRadhakrishna, Gandhian Forum for Good Corporate Governance
  • Dr. MohiniGiri, Patron of the Message of Non Violence in India
  • Prof. Panduranga Bhatta, Visiting Professor, Chair of Sanskrit Studies, Silpakorn University
  • Distinguished Guests,
  • Friends

I am deeply gratified by the opportunity to address this august gathering at the Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge, set up by Swami SatyanandPuri in 1940 with encouragement from none other than Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore himself.

I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the Lodge for the passing away of its Vice President Shri KishenLalMatta.

It is fitting that we are gathered here today to commemorate the 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi, revered as the Father of the Nation in India, provided steadfast and righteous leadership for the freedom struggle of India. He motivated and led the people of India, irrespective of their standing in society to wage a non-violent struggle for freedom against British rule, with the force of their morality and character. Although his aim was political, he had adapted the principles of social integration, mutual respect, righteous behaviour and moral high ground in achieving it. He tirelessly fought for the upliftment of the socially and economically backward sections of society and inculcated a sense of belonging, unity and self-respect among the general populace. This helped him in galvanizing their support for a sustained mass movement. He devoted a major part of his life in helping communities achieve self-sustenance while striking a balance with nature, simple living and contribution to the larger good of society, through personal example and service. As editor of the Journal, "Harijan", Gandhiji expressed his sentiments and thoughts on the socio-economic problems of his time.A large section of society benefitted from his thoughts and actions. Even today, thesethoughts continue to guide the policies of the Government of India.

At a function to mark the International Day of Non-Violence at the UNESCAP this morning, I pointed out that in today's fast-paced and globally interlinked world, there could be some who question the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi's role in contemporary life. In assessing this, we have to notethat threats to peace, security and social harmony continue to abound. As we look around us today, we see the omnipresence of violence - against each other, including as reflected in the spread of terrorism;Violence against the poor and the vulnerable, against women and children, caused by social strife and inequities; andViolence against the Earth we inhabit reflected in man-made, climate changing activities and unsustainable lifestyles.

No matter how fast paced and technologically advanced our lives have become since Mahatma Gandhi's times, the essence of Gandhiji's truth had not changed, because human nature itself has not changed. The ideals of truth, non-violence, peace, amity, brotherhood and cooperation remain as valid as they did at the turn of the 20th century. A philosophy that could mobilize the complete commitment of not just a few, but thousands and even millions of people to pursue a just cause without any recourse to violence or conflict is an enduring one.At the heart of Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, was his belief that strength comes from righteousness, not force; power comes from truth, not might; and that victory comes from moral courage not imposed submission. He held that means and ends are inseparable, and that in fact the means themselves shape the ends. He believed unworthy means can never produce worthy ends.

Even as we are inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's life, we need to affirm our commitment to the Gandhian way, a commitment that is reflected in demonstrable actions and results. We need to ensure that this Day, does not get reduced to an annual ritual. Let us strive to adopt his methods to our present day challenges, with earnestness and perseverance.

Today, on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, the Prime Minister of India Mr. NarendraModi launched the 'Swachh Bharat Mission', a massive mass movement that seeks to create a clean India based on the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. The Prime Minister has drawn the nation's attention to the fact that a clean India is the best tribute we can pay to Bapu when we celebrate his 150th birth anniversary in 2019. Noting that Mahatma Gandhi devoted his life so that India attained 'Swarajya', the PM has exhorted the citizens of India to devote themselves to 'Swachchhata' or the cleanliness of our motherland.He has urged every Indian to devote at least a hundred hours every year towards the cleanliness campaign following his own example set today of taking a broom and sweeping public areas.

The fact that both India and Thailand stand for the same ideals of peace, non-violence and harmonious existence is reinforced by the recent proposal of the reputed Thammasat University to establishment a Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Non Violence.I would urge all of us here to join in the effort of supporting this noble endeavor dedicated to the cause of fostering of peace and non-violence.

I am also very happy to announce that the Government of India and the Royal Government of Thailand will co-host an exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi and His Majesty the King of Thailand in December this year.Mahatma Gandhi passed away shortly after His Majesty, King BhumibolAdulyadej had ascended the throne of the Royal Kingdom of Thailand. Although Mahatma Gandhi and His Majesty never met, the story that their lives tell to the people of India and Thailand is one of common heritage, complementarities of ideas, cultures and thoughts as well as their deep rooted convictions towards the upliftment of the under-privileged.The proposed exhibition would bring out this aspect to the knowledge of the people and display rarely exhibited archival material in the form of writings, letters, articles, and books by and photos of both Mahatma Gandhi and His Majesty, in an interactive and digital format.

I wish to thank Ms. ShobhanaRadhakrishnaand Dr. MohiniGiri for being with us here today and sharing with us their knowledge of Gandhiji's philosophy and ideals on this 145th anniversary of his birth.

I thank the Thai-Bharat Cultural Lodge, one of the most prestigious Indian cultural organisation in Thailand, one that has made priceless contribution to the promotion of comparative studies and exchanges between Thai and Indian history and culture, for organizing this special event and for all who have taken time off from their busy schedules to join us this evening to commemorate Ganhiji's 145th birth anniversary.

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