Secretary General Antonio Gutteres,
Prime Minister Lee,
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
Prime Minister Andrew Holness,
Prime Minister Ardern,
Prime Minister LotayTshering,
Today we all have gathered here to discuss the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the current era on his 150th birth anniversary.
I welcome all the distinguished guests here.
I express my special thanks to the UN for issuing a commemorative stamp on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi Ji was an Indian but he was not only for India. Today this platform is a living example of the same.
This is not seen anywhere in history when a person which does not have even far-fetched relationship with the administration and with the power of truth and non-violence, he not only shook the centuries-old empire but also instilled the spirit of freedom in many patriots.
Mahatma Gandhi was such a person and despite being so far away from power, he is still ruling the hearts of crores of people.
You can imagine how impressed people have been with his life even though he never met them. Whether it was Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela, the basis of their ideas was Mahatma Gandhi, it was Gandhi's vision.
Today the definition of democracy has a limited meaning that the people should choose the government of their choice and the government should work according to the expectations of the people. But Mahatma Gandhi emphasized on the real power of democracy. He showed the direction in which people should not depend on governance and become self-reliant.
Mahatma Gandhi was the focal point of India's freedom struggle, but for a moment we should also think that if Gandhiji had been born in a free country, what would he have done?
He fought the freedom struggle, this is important but it is not the total expansion of Gandhiji’s work.
Mahatma Gandhi pioneered a social system that did not depend on the government.
Mahatma Gandhi brought change, it is well known, but it is also fair to say that he awakened the inner strength of the people and awakened them to bring about change.
Had Gandhi not been responsible for the freedom struggle, he still would have gone ahead with the basic elements of Swaraj and self-reliance.
This vision of Gandhiji is becoming a great medium of solving big challenges that India is facing today.
In the last 5 years, we have given priority to Peoples Participation. Whether it is Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, the people are now leading these campaigns themselves.
Mahatma Gandhi used to say that his life is his message. Gandhiji never tried to make an impact from his life, but his life became the cause of inspiration. Today we are living in the era of How to Impress but Gandhiji's vision was - How to Inspire.
I want to tell you an incident related to what was the strength of Gandhiji's loyalty towards democracy. When I met Queen Elizabeth of Britain a few years ago, she showed me a napkin with great emotion. This was a handkerchief made from Khadi, which Gandhi had gifted her at the time of her marriage.
Just imagine, with whom he had a conflict of principles, still he had so much sensitivity in his relationship with her. He also wanted, the wellbeing and respect for those who were against him, with whom he was fighting the freedom struggle.
It was this commitment to the principles that drew Gandhi's attention to seven such perversions that everyone should be aware of. These are
Wealth Without Work
Pleasure Without Conscience
Knowledge Without Character
Business Without Ethics
Science Without Humanity
Religion Without Sacrifice
Politics Without Principle
Whether it is climate change or terrorism, corruption or selfish social life, these principles of Gandhi ji act as a guide to protect humanity.
I believe that this path shown by Gandhiji will prove to be a motivator in creating a better world.
I understand that as long as this flow of ideas of Gandhiji with humanity continues, Gandhiji's inspiration and relevance will also remain among us.
Once again I express my gratitude to all of you!