Gandhian way 'real, live option' to confront challenges: Sushma Swaraj

As the world faces growing challenges of terrorism, the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi have become all the more pertinent and the Gandhian way is a "real, live option" to confront the global challenges, India has said here as the UN commemorated his 145th birth anniversary.

New York: As the world faces growing challenges of terrorism, the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi have become all the more pertinent and the Gandhian way is a "real, live option" to confront the global challenges, India has said here as the UN commemorated his 145th birth anniversary.

"The question to ask is not whether Mahatma Gandhi is relevant or not. The real issue is whether we have the courage and strength of mind to follow in his footsteps, whether we are prepared to live our lives by what he preached and most importantly, practised," External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said yesterday.

She was speaking on the occasion of the 'International Day of Non-violence' which is commemorated annually by the UN on Gandhi's birthday.

Swaraj said that instead of diminishing in relevance, Mahatma Gandhi has "actually become all the more pertinent" in the 21st century. "Whichever the challenge we confront, you can be sure that the Gandhian way is a real, live option, an option that informs and illuminates," she said.

Noting that the world of today is vastly different from the world that Gandhi lived in, Swaraj however said new threats to peace, harmony and stability have emerged.

"Today, we face the challenge posed by continuing confrontation in the name of religious fanaticism and ethnicity. At its worst, there is terrorism, which inflicts untold suffering on innocent women, men and children."

With the political discourse centred on a global war on terror, countering violence with even more violence does not provide a durable solution.

"If democracies are going to wage a war against terrorism, the measures that are adopted, should be consistent with and not contrary to the values of democracy. This is in keeping with the Gandhian consonance of ends and means," she said.

During the commemorative event, attended by a large number of UN ambassadors, diplomats and young children, an audio-visual on Gandhi's life and journey was played. 

Swaraj said the world also confronts the challenge of growing inequality both within and amongst nations, threats of environmental degradation and climate change, as well as new diseases that are caused by the Ebola virus.

"Gandhi bequeathed to us three guiding principles: Ahimsa (or nonviolence), Satyagraha (or the force born of truth and nonviolence) and Sarvodaya (or upliftment of all). It is the value of these principles that we have to rediscover if we want to deal effectively with today's challenges," she added.

Swaraj presented a large portrait of Gandhi to UN General Assembly president Sam Kutesa. The portrait depicting Gandhi spinning the charkha was brought from India and has been painted by Raghuvar Dayal.

The Skymusic Choir and Ensemble also performed a rendition of Gandhi's favorite hymns, including 'Vaishnava Jana To', 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram'. 

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