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Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Joint Release of Postal Stamp at Vaduz to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, Oct 22

Posted on: October 22, 2019 | Back | Print

Remarks by Ambassador Sibi George at the Joint Release of Postal Stamp at Vaduz to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 22, 2019

Excellency, Friends of India, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Good Evening;

Let me begin by thanking the Lichtenstein Post for bringing out this special stamp to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. As Ambassador of India, I bring to you greetings from 1.3 billion people of India.

In recent years, we have seen a steady rise in exchanges and interaction between our two countries. Last year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Liechtenstein. In 2018, His Serene Highness Hereditary Prince visited India and had very fruitful meeting with President of India HE Ram Nath Kovind and also with External Affairs Minister. We were in Vaduz on many occasions celebrating the Festival of India and also for yoga celebrations. Now we are here celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

During the month of October, Mahatma Gandhi’s’ birthday is being celebrated all over the world, by millions of people in all the countries.  Earlier this month, I was in Vatican attending an event at The Holy See to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. While flying black from Rome, flying over the snow laden Alps, I was thinking about the world during the period when Mahatma Gandhi actually lived on this earth. The world then saw several wars, including two World Wars. That period produced so many war heroes, so many who built empires and ruled them. But we don’t see any celebrations on their birth anniversary. But for over a year now, the whole world has been celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. His statues and busts are erected in almost all the countries in the world, postal stamps are issued by almost all countries. For the world he is a Mahatma, a Great Soul. For us Indians, he is more than a Mahatma. He is an embodiment of everything that India as an ancient civilisation and as a modern nation stands for. He represents Indian spirituality, its ethos, its values and is a bridge connecting East and West. 

Last month, the President of India during his State visit to Switzerland, unveiled a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Villeneuve on the banks of Lake of Geneva. There President of India said, and I quote “Mahatma Gandhi believed in the oneness of humanity. He embraced all cultures and all peoples.” Unquote. Now I am happy that Lichtenstein in joining the celebrations.

Now from European and Indian history, let me take you to another continent, where Mahatma Gandhi spend considerable time of his life. 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, defeated the mightiest nation of the world.             

Non-violence is a philosophy evolved over several centuries in India. It is part of the conscience of Indian life 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.

Challenging the British Mahatma Gandhi 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.

I would like to conclude by quoting a Talisman that Mahatma Gandhi gave us. He said, I quote: “Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, try the following. Recall the face of the poorest and the most helpless man or woman whom you may have seen and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him/her. Will he be able to gain anything by it? Will it restore him to a control over his own life and destiny? Then you will find your doubts and yourself melting away.”

Once again thank the Lichtenstein Post for bringing out this special stamp to mark 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Thank you very much.