President of India chairs the second meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

Portugal announces Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s thoughts and quotes
New Delhi: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind chaired the second meeting of the National Committee for Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, at Rashtrapati Bhavan today. Participants of the meeting included members of the National Committee including the Vice President, Shri Venkaiah Naidu; members of the Union Cabinet; Chief Ministers of various states; noted Gandhians among others. Prime Minister of Portugal HE Mr. Antonio Costa, the only foreign Prime Minister to be a member of the Committee, also participated in the meeting.

The Committee was constituted for commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation at the national and international level to propagate Mahatma’s message. The Commemoration has been undertaken taken for two years ie. from October 2, 2018 to October 2, 2020.

In his introductory remarks, the Union Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah gave an outline of the key activities taken up within the country as well as abroad as part of commemoration of 150 years of Mahatma Gandhi. He said that the programmes which have been taken up have highlighted the ideals, philosophy and life of Mahatma Gandhi.He further added that it is being celebrated not merely as a government programme but has taken the shape of a Jan-Andolan involving people across the country and the globe. The Home Minister invited further valuable suggestions which will become the guiding light of the programme in the future.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that it is a matter of happiness for all of us that during the last year and a half, the messages of the Mahatma have reached ordinary people all across the country and the world under the guidance of the National Committee.

The President said that Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has converted Gandhiji’s agenda of cleanliness into a people’s movement. Due to this wide spread popular participation, Gandhiji’s dream of a clean India is getting realized in a short span of less than five years. The success in the direction of making the country ‘Open Defecation Free’ is a great collective achievement. Over the past few months, there has been massive increase in awareness about the impact of single-use plastic on our environment. The enthusiasm of the youth about the various programmes related to Gandhi Jayanti reassures us that the Gandhian legacy is secure with our future generations.

The President said that if the humankind is going to succeed in meeting the critical contemporary challenges, it cannot be without this Gandhian attitude – towards other people, towards flora and fauna, and towards the earth. Today, there is global reverence for Gandhiji because the world is realizing that his vision of peace and equality, and his method of non-violence are even more relevant today.

While addressing the esteemed gathering, the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi acknowledged the suggestions of the members flowing from the first meeting in helping to create a commemorative program that harnesses the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi for Jan Bhagidaari. The Prime Minister said that the world today is eager to know Gandhi and ready to accept him. Hence it becomes India’s responsibility to keep reminding the world of the abiding relevance of Mahatma and his vision.He appreciated the contribution of the Portuguese Prime Minster for his work along Gandhian principles so much so that he became popular as the ‘Gandhi of Lisbon’.

Shri Narendra Modi further stated that while government commemorations of centenaries are held from time to time, the ‘Gandhi@150’ commemorations have become far more than just an occasion. They have become a program of the Jan Samanya and a matter of pride for every Indian.

The Prime Minister reiterated his earlier message from the Red Fort for all citizens to ‘buy local’. This basic philosophy of Gandhi ji for upliftment has the potential to help India develop and progress. He urged all citizens to popularise this as a movement so that it becomes widespread by 2022, when the country celebrates 75 years of Independence and even thereafter as a way of life.

Prime Minister mentioned that it was a matter of pride for the country when, during the recently concluded 250th session of the Rajya Sabha, members were encouraged and came forward to speak in their local languages. He stated that even as we work to take Gandhi ji’s message global, we must work together to keep the Mahatma’s message relevant in a contemporary form for the common man across the country.

The Prime Minister mentioned how Mahatma Gandhi believed that by discharging one’s duties towards the nation and each other faithfully, a human being automatically ensures that the fundamental rights of others are secured. He concluded by stating that if everyone walks on this path and faithfully discharges their duties diligently, India’s dreams will be fulfilled.

In his address, the Portuguese Prime Minister, Mr. Antonio Costa said that it is a matter of great honour for him to be the only foreign Prime Minister in the National Committee for commemoration of 150 years of Gandhi. Gandhi’s message of tolerance and love was revolutionary in his time, and in many parts of the world it is still revolutionary today, he said. Appreciating the article of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi in New York Times ‘Why India and the World need Gandhi’, Shri Costa said that there are many reasons why the world needs Gandhi today. Gandhi’s legacy continues to guide common efforts designed to combat discrimination and promote cultural and religious tolerance, coexistence among communities, peace among peoples and respect for nature, Shri Costa explained. The Portuguese Prime Minister announced that in order to help perpetuate Gandhi’s ideals, Portugal will be launching a Gandhi Citizenship Education Prize, each year inspired by his different thoughts and quotes. The first edition of this prize will be dedicated to animal welfare as Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

The Committee members appreciated the relentless efforts of the government in taking Gandhian values and principles both to the people and through the people in a contemporary idiom. Several committee members gave additional suggestions to make Mahatma Gandhi more relevant for the youth likepopularising his thoughts and life through school curriculum in an interesting style and throughtechnology like artificial intelligence, introducing specialized courses on sanitation and waste management in higher education, making literature of Gandhi and on Gandhi available through digital platform among others.

The Prime Minister also released and presented to the President a book on Commemorative Activities compiled by Ministry of Culture and an Anthology on Gandhi compiled by Ministry of External Affairs. In the anthology, 126 persons of eminence from across the world have written on their experiences with Gandhiji’s teachings. A short film on commemorative activities under taken as part of the global celebrations of ‘Gandhi@150’ was also shown during the meeting.

The National Committee has a total of 125 members, including 116 from India and encompasses the President (as chair), the Vice-President, Prime Minister, Union Ministers, former Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers, senior MPs and political leaders from across party lines, and eminent Gandhians, social thinkers and activists representing a cross-section of Indian society and regional diversity. The Committee also has nine international members, including two former Secretaries General of the United Nations – Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Ban Ki-moon.