Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Mahatma Gandhi helped bring out the inner strength of people and inspired them with his philosophy, even among those who had never met him.
Modi made the remarks on Tuesday while hosting the “Leadership Matters: Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the Contemporary World” event at the UN headquarters here to commemorate Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
In his address, Modi stressed on the contributions of the ‘Father of the Nation’ to the cause of greater human freedom in the 20th century; emphasis on the welfare of all (Sarvodaya); championing of the downtrodden (Antyodaya); and prescient concern for environmental sustainability.
He said that Gandhi was at the centre of India’s freedom movement but his philosophy was not just for that.
“He helped to bring out the inner strength of people, and inspired them and even if he had not been engaged in the freedom struggle he would have spent his life on swaraj and self reliance. His vision is before us.
“Through peoples’ participation, jan bhagidari, people are leading such programmes in India, whether it’s the Swachh Bharat Mission or Digital India, people are now leading these campaigns themselves,” he said.
“At a time when everybody is thinking of how to impress, we must remember what Mahatma Gandhi stood for – how to inspire. Mahatma Gandhi never held positions of power, yet he motivates people around the world.
“Millions of people, several nations drew strength from his ideals and attained freedom,” he said.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, said that Gandhi gave a talisman to judge any policy.
He said sanitation, maternal health, primary education, gender balance, women empowerment, reduction of hunger, and ensuring partnerships for development formed the basis for Gandhi’s life and practice long before the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) or Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were designed.
Guterres added that the SDGs were in fact Gandhian philosophy in action.
The event was attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Other dignitaries who took part in the event include Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering, First Lady of Korea Kim Jung-Sook, senior officials of the UN and diplomats from member states.
India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar gave the welcome remarks.
Later Modi along with other leaders jointly inaugurated solar panels atop the UN Headquarters and the Gandhi Peace Park in New York.
A stamp on Mahatma Gandhi was released by the UN on the occasion.