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Home > News > Report

Sonia speaks up for Gandhism

January 29, 2007 15:40 IST
Last Updated: January 29, 2007 16:18 IST


Quoting the Mahatma in the aftermath of Hiroshima, "...violence cannot be destroyed by counter-violence... Mankind has to get out of violence only through non-violence," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said, "Since then nuclear weapons have become even more of a terrifying reality. She was speaking at an international conference in New Delhi to commemorate the anniversary of the satyagraha movement.

In this context, she pointed that the world's nuclear weapon states had more than adequate atomic arsenal to destroy humanity many times over. "And it is not just clear weapons. We also confront the spectre of chemical and biological weapons."

"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind," she said, while highlighting that these words of the Mahatma had showed that he was decidedly against the idea that violence was the only answer to violence.

Sonia said the end of the cold war had not seen a pandemic of peace and pointed out that the 'growth of nationalism, in the guise of building pride, was stoking prejudice with horrifying consequences'. "We are today faced with the scourge of terrorism fuelled by religious, political, ethnic or sectarian conflict," the Congress president said.

Asserting that in many cases violence was the cry of the oppressed and the exploited, Sonia said, "It is a sad reality that in many instances violence has to be resorted to in order to be heard." She said violence provided no solution but instead would lead to untold suffering and atrocities.

In this context, Sonia said, "While the underlying causes of conflict have to be understood, it does humanity no good to rationalise, let alone romanticise, violence in any way."

Analysing the negative and positive impact of globalisation, Sonia said India had made spectacular gains over the past decades and was being rapidly transformed. But destitution, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy were still widespread and inequality very visible. In this context, she said economic growth must be accelerated.

"To be equitable, economic growth has to be sustainable. To be sustainable, economic growth has, in turn, to be all-inclusive. All-inclusive is no longer the greatest good of the largest number. It is actually sarvodaya or the rise of all. This, Mahatma Gandhi saw as essential to satyagraha itself." Calling for urgent dialogue among cultures and peoples, Sonia said the reality today was a civilisation of clashes.

In this context, she cited that no dialogue could have an impact without tolerance.

Recalling the impact of the Mahatma's satyagraha and ahimsa around the world, Sonia said it would be a grave error to write off the Gandhian approach as irrelevant to our age.

There were individuals and groups who were trying to adapt and adopt satyagraha to deal with changing circumstances and situations.

"The challenge for us now is to find creative inspiration from Gandhian ways to evolve a satyagraha appropriate to our times," she added.

Sonia said the participation of delegations and individuals from 90 countries and 122 organisations around the world was clear proof that Gandhian ideals and philosophies were still relevant today.

Sonia said though much of what the Mahatma did had to be seen in the specific context of his times, the core of his philosophy reverberated even more strongly today.

Calling upon the youth to take the Gandhian torch forward as in the days of the freedom struggle, she said, "The task before us is how we, individually and collectively, launch an organised, disciplined mass movement for peace, non-violence and empowerment, which is the very essence of satyagraha."

Advocating a "new global compact, a new global covenant," the Congress president said, "The foundations of this new edifice can be found in what Mahatma Gandhi preached and practised, in what he lived and died for."

However, she cautioned that it was difficult to emulate the Mahatma though "he fascinates and enchants."

"It is easy to make him an icon. But it is infinitely more exacting to make him our beacon," she said, concluding her 30-minute-long speech at the function attended by former Zambian President Dr Kenneth Kaunda, former Polish President Lech Walesa, Nobel Laureate Mohammad Yunus, Social activist and grand daughter of Mahatma Gandhi Ela Gandhi, Senior Palestinian leader Nasser Al Kidwa, Defence Minister A K Antony and External Affairs Minister Pranab Kumar Mukherjee.


UNI



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