Former President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda has said that Gandhi's ideals of 'Satyagraha' have more relevance in the present world beset with strife than during his own times.
Speaking at an international seminar on 'Peace, Nonviolence and Empowerment: Gandhian Philosophy in the 21st century', in New Delhi on Monday, he said the world should count on Gandhi's teachings as it is poised to face more dangers ahead. "The world has become a more dangerous place to live in. Yet it will be the most challenging century for human development," he observed.
Launching a broadside against the US and the UK for creating strife in Afghanistan and Iraq and in different parts of the world, including the Middle-East, he said while the poor are the worst sufferers, arms manufacturers and suppliers have become the beneficiaries.
"Satyagraha provides us an opportunity to tell the warmongers that enough is enough," he said. He rued that technology has changed the art of war and has made it more destructive. The very instruments of welfare — science and technology — have become the weapons of destruction.
Kaunda targeted USA for resorting to military campaigns in different parts of the world as a means to resolve conflicts. "Time has come to deal with the root cause of the conflicts. I appeal to US President George Bush to stop these wars," he said to a thunderous applause from the gathering.
In this connection, he pointed out that military strategies and campaigns have miserably failed. This could be gauged from the fact that USA and UK are presently less safe today than they were before the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So was Israel for that matter.
The senior statesman appealed to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and other Islamic militants to shun the path of violence. Islam espouses love and peace, he said adding : "It is time to pursue the path of peace and dialogue."
Making a special mention about Middle-East, he said special efforts be made to resolve the region's conflicts. Deal with the Palestinian issue with honesty, he added. "Let us say 'no' to war, terrorism, armed killers and government leaders who push young men and women to die on one pretext or the other." The world
must be armed with Gandhi's wisdom to save humanity from destruction,
In his videographed message from South Africa, shown to the gathering, Nelson Mandela described Gandhi as the "sacred warrior".
Narrating an incident when The Time magazine had asked him to write about one of the most influential persons of the world, he said he wrote about Gandhi without any hesitation. Peace and non-violence hold the key to human survival, he said.
Mandela said the Mahatma had greatly inspired the freedom struggle in Africa. It is appropriate for India and South Africa to jointly celebrate the centenary of 'Satyagraha', he averred. Referring to the Gandhian concept of economics, he said Gandhi's insistence on self-sufficiency was the key to the eradication of poverty.
Lech Walesa, former President of Poland, said the massive presence of the erstwhile Soviet forces in his country had convinced him that it could be countered only through Gandhian means. Referring to the present global developments, he expressed concern that the countries that were suppressing "us" were now trying to reap benefits of globalisation. "We are faced with new challenges and must find solutions to them," he said while appealing that Gandhi should not be confined to India and South Africa.
Mohammed Yunus, Nobel peace prize-winner from Bangladesh, said that
Gandhi's message is even more important in the present context than before. He said Gandhi had rightly commented that poverty was a threat to peace. This threat is looming large even now.
Yunus counted on the achievements of his rural financing experiment through Gramin Bank that he said was in tune with Gandhian thinking.
Excluding poor from the financial services was akin to financial apartheid, he observed. He looked forward to create a framework of cooperation within SAARC as for instance setting up Gramin Bank branches, building highway network and watershed management.
"I have been talking of building social businesses where benefits are passed on to targeted social groups… we can create a world where poverty exists only in museums."
Nasser Al Kidwa, former Foreign Minister of Palestine said the Middle-East has been suffering on account of wars and religious intolerance. Seeking a just resolution of the crisis, he said it posed a serious threat to world peace.
In an interactive session, Fransesco Rutelli, Deputy Prime Minister of Italy said dialogue and cooperation with India will help achieve various goals of the 21st century. Gandhian thought, he said, was not merely fascinating, it was a profoundly educative experience.
Referring to Gandhi's contribution in India's freedom struggle, he said here was the man who defeated the mighty UK colonialists.
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