The Embassy of India, Brussels, Belgium
Celebrating Mahatma Gandhi's Birth Anniversary in Antwerp, commemorating the father of the Indian Nation, in collaboration with the Office of Governor of Antwerp, Mrs Cathy Berx
Saturday 2th of October 2021
Gandhi's favourite 'bhajan' devotional song, artists from 124 nations pay musical homage
Office of Governor of Antwerp - Provinciehuis
H.E. Ambassador Santosh Jha
From R to L - (Vice-Mayor Jinnih Beels, Vice-Mayor Peter Wouters, Vice-Mayor Nabilla Ait Daoud, H.E. Ambassador Santosh Jha, Mr. Jean Aznar Secretary General Diplomatic World Institute)
H.E. Governor Cathy Berx, Vice-Mayors Jinnih Beels and Vice-mayor Nabilla Ait Daoud Other Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Embassy of India, I extend a very warm welcome to you for joining us for the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Mahatama Gandhi.
Antwerp shares a special affinity with Gandhiji. It is home to a large Indian community, many of whom originally are from Gujarat, his birthplace. The long standing tradition of the city of Antwerp to organize events to commemorate the mahatama are but a small example that Gandhi does not belong to India alone. Gandhiji was born in India but his name finds resonance across continents. Mahatma Gandhi was the most influential Indian of the 20th century.
Mahatma Gandhi was the focal point of India's freedom struggle, and his ideals have fired the minds of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Albert Einstein said about Gandhi Ji that "generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth". By inspiring millions of Indians to join the freedom struggle, he revolutionized people's participation in governance.
Mahatma Gandhi is not merely a great figure from our past. He is a guide for our today and a beacon for our tomorrow. Our domestic and foreign policies, India's very approach to development and diplomacy, to the smallest village and to the global village - in some manner or the other are located in Gandhian philosophy. Following his example, in the last few years, the Government of India has given priority to active and constructive participation of people in governance. Whether it is Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Digital India, the people are now leading these campaigns themselves.
In his advocacy of sustainability, ecological sensitivity and living in harmony with nature, Mahatama Gandhi anticipated some of the pressing challenges of our times. The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations are Gandhian philosophy in action. These range from ending poverty and hunger, securing education, health and employment and combating climate change and adopting an environment friendly lifestyle. In fact, each of these themes is reflected in Gandhiji's writings, advocacy and example. He was truly a figure ahead of his times and the relevance of his teachings has only grown in the modern era. In its essence, Gandhian philosophy is people-centric. It treasures, cherishes and renews the wisdom, culture, resources and life systems of common citizens, ordinary families and indigenous communities.
In his own words, Gandhiji gave us a talisman to judge any policy and indeed any action - to assess if the proposed action would enhance the life, dignity and destiny of the poorest person we had met. In his commitment to reach noble goals by noble methods to ensure the uplift of all - of every man, woman and child, every nationality and every ethnicity, he underlined the importance of respecting the dignity of every human being.
The United Nations quite fittingly observes 2 October each year, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, as the International Day of Non-Violence. I would also like to thank the city of Antwerp and in particular Governor Cathy Berx for affording us to gather today in these premises to observe this important global anniversary. We deeply appreciate her commitment to this cause year after year.
Ps: Speech, video and pictures obtained by the courtesy of the Embassy of India and City of Antwerp