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'People in public life must work for others'

Congress President Sonia Gandhi says people in public life should prove they are working not for themselves, but for others, specially the weak, and the oppressed.

india Updated: Jul 28, 2008 15:52 IST

UPA Chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday said people in public life should prove with their work that they are working not for themselves, but for others, specially the weak, the deprived and the oppressed.

"It is true not just for individuals but also for society, the country and the world," she said in her address at the 44th All India Oriental Conference, Kurukshetra University, in Kurukshetra.

She said in "this holy land, Lord Krishna had delivered the sermon of the Gita advocating balance in life in which there is struggle, sacrifice, gain and loss, all of which are for the human culture and its rebuilding".

Laying stress on education, she said that lack of knowledge leads to problems in society and the country.

"In the absence of knowledge, there is no wisdom and it leads to myths, which in turn mislead people away from their path. And whatever happens after that, we are witnessing them around us on Monday," she said.

Gandhi said that we should "learn from our glorious traditions which will help us deal with the problems of Monday in a much better way".

Before her address at the conference, Gandhi dedicated a Krishna-Arjuna chariot at Purushottampura Bagh to the nation and laid foundation of a museum being set up to commemorate the First War of Independence in 1857.

Gandhi also said that the thoughts which create narrowness of mind and give air to violence and cruelty should be rejected.

"This aspect was clearly visible in the ideologies of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru. All our great personalities who lived in the past or at present, had this approach to life which helped in the development of society," she said.

Appreciating scholars of different languages for the knowledge they possessed, she said they are witnesses to the fact that despite diversities, "India's soul has been one".

"The First War of Independence in 1857 was an example of only that feeling. There was no discrimination of any kind in that war. Neither there was a feeling of caste or discrimination of religion nor of region or of any other kind.

"This was such a virtue which united the country. It was with this feeling that we could see the dawn of freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi," she said.

The UPA Chairperson complimented the Haryana Government and the Kurukshetra University for setting up the museum dedicated to the 1857 war.

"It would not only be a museum, but a centre of research," she said giving a special mention to the historic role played by the brave people of Haryana in the war.

She also hoped that the deliberations of the conference, which would be made in areas of religion, culture, language, philosophy and literature and their gist would "prove useful for our present as well as future generations".

The UPA chairperson also made a veiled attack on those "who were in politics only for themselves".

She hit out hard, though in a subtle and humble manner, against all those "who, in the name of Indian tradition and ritualism, were spreading the bigotry, violence and also cruelty".

Gandhi, who spoke in Hindi on the occasion, released a book of summaries of the conference and a compilation on Mahabharata.

After her Kurukshetra visit, Sonia left for Ahmedabad in the wake of recent blasts in the Gujarat city.

In his address, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the conference which has intellectuals and scholars including those of Islamic studies, Arabic, Persian Studies and Iranian studies "can rightly be called a Mahakumbha of great scholars which will continue for three days in Kurukshetra".

He said that Haryana is well known "as the cradle of ancient Indian civilisation. It is the land where the sacred river Saraswati flowed and on its banks the rishis scripted Vedas".

"Our experiences, rich heritage and traditions are our assets which we should transfer to our young and future generations. It is really a matter of concern that this process is continuously decreasing".

Addressing the gathering, Haryana Governor and Chancellor of Kurukshetra University, AR Kidwai appreciated the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the state.

Kidwai hurriedly corrected himself during his speech when he referred Kurukshetra University as Nalanda University and the Haryana Cabinet Ministers and the Vidhan Speaker as Bihar Council of Ministers and the Vidhan Sabha.