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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Opening of Philately Exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi at Berne on January 30, 2019

Posted on: January 30, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Opening of Philately Exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi at Berne on January 30, 2019

Good Evening Everybody,
Honourable Mr. Pascal Clivaz, DDG of Universal Postal Union,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors, Diplomats, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by welcoming you all to this evening. I thank DDG Mr. Pascal Clivaz and the leadership of Universal Postal Union for hosting us today and also for joining us in to organize this Philately Exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi. Considerable efforts has gone into in organizing this exhibition today by including postal stamps of several countries.

In eighteen hundred and ninety three standing in front of thousands of Indian labourers in South Africa, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, an young lawyer from India said, “There are many causes for which I am ready to die for, but there are no causes for which I am ready to kill for’.

Dear friends,

This was a vow of non-violence in body, spirit and mind which Mahatma Gandhi followed throughout his life and it was with this weapon of non-violence that Mahatma Gandhi won freedom for India. Nonviolence is a philosophy evolved over several centuries in India. It is part of conscience and ethos of Indian life for several millennia, which can be traced to its ancient Hindu philosophy and teachings of Lord Buddha.

Mahatma Gandhi had proved time and again that Nonviolence is not a weapon of the weak. It is in fact a weapon of the strong and that it requires greater heroism and discipline than that of disciplined soldiers. Mahatma Gandhi challenging the oppressors said, “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. But then they will have my dead body. But not my obedience”. This is the courage and discipline required for a practioner of non-violence.

Over the years, Mahatma Gandhi emerged as the symbol of fight against oppression anywhere in the world. He inspired many leaders including Hon’ble Nelson Mandela and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Let me quote President of India, who said, “Mahatma Gandhi belongs not just to India, but to the entire world. His universal teachings have a special resonance in all corners. In these times of strife, his powerful message of non-violence and peaceful co-existence stands all the more relevant.”

January 30 of 1948 was among the saddest days in the history of India as it was on this day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. I remember growing up as a child in my village observing one minute silence at 11 AM on January 30 every year as a mark of respect to Mahatma. 1.3 billion People of India, came to a standstill on that day to mark their respect to their Apostle of Non Violence.

May I request all of you to please stand and observe one minute silence in honour of Mahatma Gandhi who died on this day in 1948.

On June 15, 2007 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution to establish October 2, the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi, as International Day of Non Violence.

On October 2, last year in presence of many of you we launched a two year Programme to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in Switzerland. This anniversary celebration is special in Switzerland, as Mahatma Gandhi had visited this land in 1931. I quote Hon’ble President of Switzerland last year HE Dr. Alain Berset who wrote in an Anthology: “The name Mahatma Gandhi conjures up two things in our minds: firstly, the historical figure, who was a political celebrity in India, and secondly – symbolically – the universal qualities of selflessness, peacefulness and tolerance. The greatest tribute that we can pay to Mahatma Gandhi on the 150th anniversary of his birth is to try to uphold these values in our 21st century lives.”

Gandhiji said; ‘My Life is My Message’. He was one of those who spoke as he thought, and acted as he spoke, one of those few, on whom no shadow fell between word and deed. His words were deeds, and they built a movement and a nation and changed the lives of countless individuals.

I am happy that we have today, Ambassador of South Africa Her Excellency Madam Mahanyele is here with us to share her thoughts on Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi had spent considerable time of his life in South Africa. It was there that he initiated his initial steps of non-violence. Let me quote another global icon of universal justice, Hon’ble Late Nelson Mandela of South Africa who said: “You gave us Mohandas Gandhi; we returned him to you as Mahatma Gandhi.” Your Excellency Ambassador, thank you for your presence.

I once again thank the leadership of Universal Postal Union for its support today. I also thank Your Excellencies Ambassadors, diplomats and friends of India who have joined us today to pay their homage to Mahatma Gandhi.

Thank you.