Remarks By Ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla on...
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  • H.E. Mr. Shun Ichi-Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNESCAP
  • Mrs. Shobhana Radhakrishna, Gandhi Forum for Ethical Corporate Governance, New Delhi 
  • Ambassadors and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps;
  • Representatives of Universities, educational institutions and schools;
  • Distinguished Guests,
  • Friends


In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution initiated by India to declare the 2nd of October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, as the “International Day of Non-Violence”. The resolution was co-sponsored by as many as 140 of the 191 Member States of the United Nations. As someone who was a part of this initiative in the UN, I consider myself to be fortunate to be associated be associated today with the commemoration at the International Day of Non Violence at UNESCAP, Bangkok.

The decision of the United Nations, reflects the universal respect for Mahatma Gandhi and the enduring relevance of his humane philosophy.  In Gandhiji's own words, “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”. As we are all aware, Mahatma Gandhi’s “novel mode of mass mobilisation and non-violent action” brought down colonialism, strengthened the roots of popular sovereignty and gave impetus to the demand for civil, political and economic rights.  Many great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Luthuli, the first President of the African National Congress, were inspired by the philosophy of non-violence to guide their movements for freedom and justice.  

Prior to the UN resolution of 2007, an international conference on "Peace, Non-Violence and Empowerment – Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st Century" was held in New Delhi.  The conference, attended by delegates from 91 countries and 122 organisations, including eminent personalities and Nobel laureates, solemnly vowed to nurture the values espoused by Mahatma Gandhi and articulated a collective yearning for a new way forward to address the problems of hunger and dehumanising poverty, which continue to plague humanity, to build a just and equitable world where people live with dignity and in peace and harmony with each other in diverse and pluralistic societies.

In today’s fast-paced and globally interlinked world, there are some who question the relevance of Mahatma Gandhi’s methods. However, threats to peace, security and social harmony abound. The Executive Secretary of UNESCAP has noted in her message that as we look around us today, we see violence everywhere.  We see 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; and Violence against Planet Earth 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, I do believe that the essence of Mahatma Gandhi’s truth has not changed, because human nature itself has not changed. The ideals of truth, non-violence, peace, amity, brotherhood and cooperation remain as valid today as they did a century ago in 1914 when Gandhiji returned to India after 21 formative years in South Africa.  A philosophy that could mobilize the complete commitment of millions of people to pursue a just cause without any recourse to violence or conflict.  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, let us today affirm our commitment to the Gandhian way, a commitment that is reflected in demonstrable actions and results. Let us 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.  In this context, we are gratified by the offer of Thammasat University to establishment of a Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Peace and Non Violence.  I would appeal to all concerned to join us in our efforts to support the creation of this valuable institution dedicated to the fostering of peace, harmony and non-violence.

I want to thank all those who have contributed to this programme: Mrs. Shobhana Radhakrishna, eminent Gandhian and scholar, for agreeing to deliver the key note address; the UNESCAP Secretariat, in particular, H.E. Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary - who is not here with us but who has been very supportive of the message of our meeting - H.E. Mr. Shun Ishi-Murata, Deputy Executive Secretary - for his kind participation and remarks - and Mr. Adnan Alliani, Secretary of the Commission - for his support in organizing this event; the Ambassadors of Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Mexico, Russia and Vietnam, and diplomats from a number of other countries for joining us; the Indian Women’s Club for sharing with us Gandhiji’s favourite bhajans; and the talented students of the Modern International School of Bangkok for their musical tribute to Mahatma Gandhi; and last, but not least, all who have taken time off from their busy schedules to join us to commemorate the 145th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and reinvigorating the message of non-violence.

Thank you.

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