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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the event to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi organised by Bharatiya Association of Berne on Sept 28, 2019

Posted on: September 28, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the event to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi organised by
Bharatiya Association of Berne on Sept 28, 2019

Good Evening Everybody, President of Bharatiya Association Berne, Respected Seniors, Children, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank Bharatiya Association of Berne for inviting me to this important event today.
During the last one year, we have been celebrating Mahatma Gandhi in Switzerland. I am overwhelmed by the enthusiasm shown by the Indian Diaspora and Friends of India in celebrating Gandhi in Switzerland.
We met at several occasions in various parts of Switzerland with the message of Mahatma Gandhi.
I am so happy to state that almost every Indian Association in Switzerland, almost thirty of them, big and small, have organised at least one major event to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi. I congratulate Bharatiya Association of Berne for organising this event today in collaboration with the Embassy.
The highlight of the Gandhi celebrations in Switzerland this year was the unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi statue in Villeneuve by none other than the Hon’ble President of India on September 14. Some of you were present there to witness that historic moment. I thank the Swiss authorities in naming a square in Villeneuve on the banks of Lake Geneva as Gandhi Square, the place that Mahatma Gandhi visited in 1931. 
Most of the events that we do to celebrate the birth anniversary will be forgotten soon. But, the values and principles that Mahatma practiced and upheld during his lifetime will continue to inspire generations to come. I am happy that the Gandhi statue and Gandhi square in Villeneuve will be permanent remindersof his values for generations to come in Switzerland. When after 50 or 100 years from now, when the world celebrates his 200th and 250th birth anniversary, they will recall that there was a generation of Indian Diaspora and Friends of India who together celebrated his 150th birth anniversary in Switzerland.
I invite you to join me on Oct 2 to pay floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Square in Villeneuve.  I also invite you to join me at the Commemoration Evening at the Universal Postal Union on Oct 2, which is main event in Switzerland to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi.
My dear friends,
Now from Switzerland, let me take you to another continent and over a century back. In eighteen hundred and ninety three, standing in front of thousands of Indian laborers in South Africa, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a young lawyer from India said, “There are several causes for which I am ready to die for, but there are no causes for which I am ready to kill for.”
This was a vow of non-violence in body, spirit and mind. It is with this weapon of non- violence Mahatma Gandhi, the father of Indian nation, defeated the mightiest nation of the world and ended two hundred years of slavery.             
Non-violence is a philosophy evolved over several centuries in India. It is part of the conscience of Indian life and society. It is the same philosophy which several world leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela used to transform their polity and society.
Non-violence is not a weapon for the weak. It is the weapon for the strong. It requires greater heroism than of the bravest soldiers. It is the expression of the deepest love for all humans including one’s enemies. It is not only the lack of the physical harm towards others. It also lacks hatred and ill will towards them.
Mahatma Gandhi challenging the British said, “They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me, then they will have my dead body, not my obedience.” Non-violence is not running away from the challenges that we face. It is not running away from our responsibilities. It is facing these challenges with courage and discipline.
In a world dominated by violence and hatred, Mahatma Gandhi reincarnated the Indian concept of non-violence. His example influenced and inspired many later freedom struggles. He continues to inspire millions across the world. His catchwords, now or never, do or die continue to evoke fear in the minds of oppressors. His famous words, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” remains a guiding principle for humanity. It is in recognition of this contribution that, in 2007 the United Nations General Assembly unanimously, I repeat, unanimously adopted a resolution to observe October 2nd every year as the International Day of Non-violence.

Dear Friends,
We live in a world of violence. Today morning I spent one hour watching T.V. What did I see? Murder and bloodshed, bombs and bullets, guns and tanks, missiles and rockets. By the time, a new born child of today, leaves high school, he or she must have seen several thousand murders and violent scenes.There was a time when the children used to learn the color of blood in the biology class. But today they see it getting spilled in the streets across the world every day.
Dear Friends,
The biggest celebration we could have on this week is to spread Gandhiji’s message of love and compassion. We can spread his message of love and peace in our family, in our work place and this way in the whole world.
I once again thank Bharatiya Association for organising this event.
Thank you very much.