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External Affairs Minister’s address at a Special Event to commemorate the International Day of Non Violence held on the sidelines of 67th UN General Assembly

October 02, 2012
His Excellency Mr Vuk Jeremic, President of the General Assembly,
Ambassador Nazareth,
Permanent Representatives of Pakistan and South Africa,
Permanent Representative, Ambassador Hardeep Puri,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a great privilege for me to preside over the celebration of the International Day of Non Violence at the United Nations today.I am delighted to welcome the President of the General Assembly amidst us. I thank His Excellency for sparing his valuable time to be with us.

It is an honour to be here to celebrate at the United Nations, the temple of multilateralism, the ideals of someone, who was perhaps the best possible proponent of"Vasudhev Kutumbukam" -the world is one family.

The world has known innumerable greats who won celebrated military victories. However, there is only one person who won the world's greatest battles for emancipation and empowerment not by waging war but by waging peace.

Mahatma Gandhi's arsenal included no arms and ammunition, but only "truth force" orsatgyagraha, which he described as,'a force born of truth and the love of nonviolence", his moral equivalent for a war.

When he was evicted from a moving train at a railway station in South Africa on 7 June 1893, a spark was lit which was to change the course of world history.

Excellencies and Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mahatma Gandhi is an ideal amalgam of so many opposing yet inspirational traits. He respected tradition, and yet he was also an iconoclast.

He was a political strategist who shunned conventional politics and held no office.

He was deeply religious, but his was a religion that drew from every faith, a religion that was all inclusive.

He embodied spirituality, but his was a spirituality rooted in an abiding concern for the poor and the deprived, of service to and empowerment of the disadvantaged and underprivileged.

He was impatient for cataclysmic change. Yet, he shunned violence in any form as an instrument to force the pace of change.

In his own words "nonviolence is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction, devised by the ingenuity of man”.

It is true that the world of today is vastly different from the world that Mahatma Gandhi lived in. But conflict and inequality continue to be an inevitable part of the human condition.

Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest lesson to the world was that this need not be destructively so.

Conflicts can be resolved and inequalities can be contained. And, worthy means are needed for achieving worthy ends.

The Gandhian way is a real, live option, an option that informs and illuminates. We must have the courage and strength of mind to follow in his footsteps.

It is my fervent hope that the world will embrace Gandhian truth and action and that leading global multilateral fora, such as the United Nations, continues to be among its torchbearers.

I eagerly look forward to hearing Ambassador Nazareth on his thoughts on the 'non violent revolutionary'.

Thank you