Indian Ambassador’s Speech on 150th Anniversary of Gandhiji
H.E. Mr. Dang Nguyen Anh, Vice President of VASS
H.E. Mr. Nguyen Van Thao, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs
H.E. Mr. Nguyen Tat Thanh, DG, South East Asia, South Asia and South Pacific Department of MOFA
Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Standing Vice Chairman of the Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha
Most Venerable Thich Duc Thien, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Executive Council of Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and Padma Shri Awardee
Distinguished Guests, Members of the Media and Ladies and Gentlemen
Xin Chao / Namaste,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all for today’s special commemorative function on the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is venerated in India as “Father of our Nation” and as a “Mahatma”, an exalted soul, not only because he led our freedom struggle against the British colonial empire but also because, in the words of our leader Sardar Patel, “India is a land of diversity and if there was one person who brought everyone together, made people rise above differences to fight colonialism and enhanced India’s stature at the world stage, it was Mahatma Gandhi”.
As we celebrate the 150th birth anniversary, the media in India and around the world is looking at the various aspects of Gandhiji’s life and thoughts and their relevance for contemporary issues and problems. Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded our citizens today that Gandhiji lived for others because of the spirit of his favourite hymn “Vaishnav Jan To Tene kahiye Je, Peed Parayi Jaane Re” which means “a good soul is one who feels the pain of others”. Gandhiji’s life’s Mission was impelled by the concept enunciated by Swami Vivekananda of Daridra Narayan, or looking at the Almighty in the faces of the poorest of the poor, and believing that service to humanity is service to God. I look forward to listening to the rendition of this hymn by celebrated Vietnamese singer Ms. Pham Phi Nhung, later in the programme.
Among the many articles written on the occasion of the 150th anniversary are comparisons between President Ho Chi Minh and Mahatma Gandhi. Professor William J. Duiker in a celebrated biography of President Ho Chi Minh said that “Ho Chi Minh was half Lenin and half Gandhi”, who always sought to achieve his objectives without resort to military force and had a clear-eyed view of international and domestic realities, a flexible pragmatic approach and the patience and subtlety to seek diplomatic solutions. President Ho Chi Minh himself said: “I and others may be revolutionaries but we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi, directly or indirectly, nothing more nothing less”.
Mahatma Gandhi and President Ho Chi Minh were not only ‘Fathers of their Nations’, but also wise and intelligent political leaders who understood the corrosive impact of brutal colonialism on their societies, their peoples and its impact on traditional cultures and values. They built their political struggle and narrative around the civilisational and cultural underpinnings of their societies and desired to usher in their countries onto the global stage through an inclusive and all-round development process where no one was left behind. They led simple lives sacrificing their own comfort. Gandhiji lived in ashrams and President Ho Chi Minh in a gardener’s cottage before shifting to the famous Stilt House. They did not have many personal possessions. Gandhiji was inspired by Ramayana and Lord Ram was his favourite deity; President Ho Chi Minh lived a life of correct behaviour inspired by Confucian tradition.
This year, we were fortunate to have our External Affairs Minister Mrs. Sushma Swaraj inaugurate in August a Bust of Gandhiji at our Embassy. We will be celebrating a number of events to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Today’s function is the first of many. We are fortunate to have eminent dignitaries, academics and students in the audience. We also look forward to hear their message and are delighted that we will have an opportunity as part of our ‘Satya Varta’ series, meaning ‘The Message of Truth’, how Gandhiji has impacted the lives of common people around the world. The first speaker is Most Venerable Thich Duc Thien, a Padma Shri Awardee and a monk who has written on the similarities between Lord Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi.
I once again welcome you to this function and thank you for your participation.
Cam On / Thank You / Dhanyawad!