Remarks by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa at the...
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Remarks by Ambassador Anil Wadhwa
at the ceremony to mark the International day of Non-Violence
UN-ESCAP, UNCC Bangkok
(October 2, 2013)

Dr. NoeleenHeyzer, Executive Secretary of UN-ESCAP,
Distinguished Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives,
Dr RajniBakshi, the eminent Gandhi scholar,
Mr. Bharat Parekh, President, Eternal Gandhi & Special Projects, Aditya Birla Group, Dear colleagues,

  1. We are gathered here to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence, a day that fittingly marks the birth anniversary of a remarkable man - Mahatma Gandhi - the person who preached, and practiced, non-violent struggle for freedom from oppression of all sorts. He also led India to freedom with his methods.

  2. The Day of Non-violence is a collective homage of the world community to one of the greatest men of all time, a homage that rises above politics and speaks to all humankind.

  3. Today, when more than ever before, nations across the world continue to grapple with the threat of conflict, violence and terrorism - his message has become all the more important. As long as there is temptation to resort to violence in the human mind, the Mahatma’s message of non-violence will tug at our hearts. As long as people resort to might to assert their right, there will always be a Gandhian to remind us of the power of truth, of love, of compassion, of peace.

  4. At the heart of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence was his belief that strength comes from righteousness, not force. Power comes from truth, not might. Victory comes from moral courage, not by imposed submission. He held that means and ends are inseparable, and that in fact the means themselves shape the ends. He believed that unworthy means can never produce worthy ends.

  5. To practice non-violence in its true spirit demands strict discipline of mind: the courage to face aggression, the moral conviction to stay the course, and the strength to do so without harbouring any malice towards the opponent.

  6. The Gandhian practice of nonviolence took many forms, but it always required an intense engagement with the opponent. The victory that Mahatma Gandhi strove for was to win over the adversary, not to vanquish him. The dialogue that he fostered, was founded on a spirit of genuine tolerance - the appreciation and understanding of the “other” or “others”. He asked us to introspect, to reach out and engage, to look within and ask - to what extent are we ourselves responsible?

  7. It is often said that Mahatma Gandhi’s times were radically removed from those we live in today. Some question the relevance of his methods in today’s fast-paced and globally interlinked world, where threats to peace, security and social harmony abound. But the essential validity of Mahatma Gandhi’s truth has not changed, because human nature itself has not changed.

  8. Looking back, if the 20th century was the most bloody in human history, it was also the century where non-violence saw its greatest triumphs, cutting across the boundaries of continents and faiths. Today individuals and movements all over the world continue to develop innovative, non-violent ways to overcome oppression, combat discrimination and build democracy. These are the successes which keep the flame of hope burning bright.

  9. Just a few months ago, we paid tribute to one such man’s dedication to public service, social justice and reconciliation, inspiring millions around the world and in his homeland South Africa, by marking the Nelson Mandela International Day. It was exactly 50 years ago that a young man spoke about his dream to millions in the US and around the world. Martin Luther King’s transformational words helped put civil rights at the top of agenda in the United States and facilitated passage of the Civil Rights Act. We pay homage to such eminent Gandhians in the film we are going to screen shortly.

  10. I would like to acknowledge the presence among us today of Ms. RajniBakshi, Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House – Indian Council on Global Relations, and a very well-known author, who has written extensively on Gandhiji. She has travelled to Bangkok from Mumbai specially to speak to us about how non-violence is relevant in our world today. Her participation has been made possible thanks to support by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs of India.

  11. A special thanks is also due to the Aditya Birla group, and to Mr. Bharat Parekh, President, Eternal Gandhi & Special Projects, for their collaboration in today’s programme. The Birla family has a long, illustrious history of following closely the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. I am particularly heartened to see students and representatives from NIST and from Thammasat, Silpakorn , Assumption, Chulalongkorn and Siam Universities among us today. It is for our youth that Gandhi’s message has a special significance.

  12. I would like to conclude by thanking the UN, all its agencies, and ESCAP in particular, in helping spread the message of Mahatma.

Thank You.

***


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