External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday said in New York that India considers Nelson Mandela, fondly known as Madiba, as one of its own and his life is an inspiration for all as he showed fearlessness and courage in the face of discrimination and adversity.
Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Conference at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), she said, "We Indians consider Madiba (Nelson Mandela) to be one of our own. We are proud to call him a Bharat Ratna -- a Jewel of India. India cherishes its special relationship and longstanding partnership with Africa and its people. Our close bonds are reflected in the philosophy of Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi -- Father of our Nation."
"Both of them led their peoples to freedom through mass peaceful struggles. They made all efforts to overcome the divisive and narrow identity politics to turn diversity of a society into its strength, instead of a weakness," she added.
Quoting Mandela's speech at the UN in 1994, "the society we seek to create must be a people-centred society and all its institutions and resources must be dedicated to the pursuit of a better life for all our citizens", Swaraj said, "These words are all the more relevant today."
During her address at the plenary event organised to commemorate Mandela`s birth centenary, Swaraj shed light on how the former South African president`s life continues to inspire people across the globe even in the present day.
"Nelson Mandela`s life is an inspiration. He showed fearlessness and courage in the face of discrimination and adversity. Values espoused by him- forgiveness, compassion, and inclusiveness of society are needed now more than ever in these turbulent times. Our collective survival as a global family requires that the wisdom of pioneering leaders such as Mandela remains our moral compass. Let us share this planet as one. Let us make a better world for our children," she added.
The minister also spoke on how terrorism has sunk its fang worldwide and impacting the lives of people. She said, "Our world is still beset with conflicts, terror & hateful ideologies that are transcending borders & impacting our lives. No one should be allowed to support terror or its perpetration."
Earlier, a life-size statue of Mandela was unveiled at the United Nations Headquarters in New York by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the General Assembly, Maria Espinosa and Secretary-General Guterres. Furthermore, twin stamps of Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela were released in July this year during Prime Minister Narendra Modi`s meeting with South African President Ramaphosa.