Speeches/Statements Ambassador‘s speech on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti 2023 - International day of non violence delivered at Jintai Museum, Beijing

Ambassador‘s speech on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti 2023 - International day of non violence delivered at Jintai Museum, Beijing

Dear friends,

I feel honoured to be here, addressing this gathering on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.

On 10 September 2023, leaders of the biggest economies on planet earth visited the memorial of a man who had never held any governmental position in his life. He was no king. Neither was he known for material wealth or worldly power. But it was perfectly in order for these leaders who represented most of the humanity to pay their respects to him.

As you all know, the memorial is Rajghat and the man was Mahatma Gandhi, affectionately called “Bapu” by his followers and revered by all of us Indians as “Father of the nation”. To know why this fragile man assumed such importance in his life time and continues to hold sway over minds and hearts of peoples, organizations and even nations more than seven decades after he breathed his last, is a question that has many answers.

Today I would like to begin by focusing on an important principle that Gandhiji held close to himself. That principle is Non-violence and it also made him quite different in the world arena. It stood him apart in an era that found itself bracketed between two world wars. And that principle also has deep connections to the motto of the G20 Presidency of India, which is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

Many people might not immediately make that connection but on a deeper vein, non violence is the binding force that makes it possible for the World to be One family.

Why do I say so?

Let us approach this question differently. The concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is not new, it was propounded in Mahopanishad, an ancient text.

In chapter 6 of Mahopanishad is a line and I quote,

“Ayam bandhurayam neti ganana laghuchetasam udaracharitanam tu vasudhaiva kutumbakam”
It means: “Only small men discriminate saying: One is a relative; the other is a stranger. For those who live magnanimously the entire world constitutes but a family.”

But how can strangers become part of one family? They do need a set of rules, frameworks or principles through which they deal with each other so as to sustain a positive sense of brotherhood or kinship. What is that glue that will bring this family together?

The answer for the same is also available in our Indian philosophy and thought.

The idea of non violence, is also found in many of the ancient Indian value systems and beliefs, including Jainism and Buddhism. An essence of these teachings is that non violence is a set of composite ethics that includes moral restraint, right behaviour, compassion and friendliness.

In Gandhiji, non violence was realized in its modern version. It also got transformed into a solution for the global ills of war, colonialism, racism, inequality and communalism. It became a source of inspiration for people around the world to carry on their fight for equality, justice and also to find meaning and purpose in the fast growing world.

Another important concept put forward by Gandhiji was Sarvodaya. Sarvodaya does not discriminate on the basis of any caste, class gender, community or territory and endorses equal value for the labour of an intellectual or a cultivator. It talks of greatest happiness to all in comparison to utilitarian theory of greatest happiness to greatest number. Thus, this too brings the whole humanity in its fold and adds another nuance to the ideal of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.

Gandhiji came up with ideas that have foretold the modern advocacy for sustainable development, green growth, sanitation and peaceful international relations.

He foresaw a world which we have still not achieved yet but one that is perfectly within our reach.

Along with all of you, I pray that we have the strength to achieve the same.