Naming any street and park or erecting a statue “won’t be a real tribute” to Mahatma Gandhi, but following his ideals to make a strong, equitable and discrimination-free India would be a true homage to him, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said Monday.
Addressing a function hosted here by business body FICCI to mark 150th birth anniversary of Gandhi, Naidu extolled him has one of the greatest revolutionaries and said his teaching and preaching are “eternal” with a sense of “universal appeal”.
“Naming a street or a park or erecting a statue or wearing a cap or having his name alone is not the real tribute. Have some name, but we should follow his ideals, the value he stood for and follow them. That should be the real homage to the Mahatma,” Naidu said.
Gandhiji understood the inalienable love of mankind and knew no discrimination between countrymen and foreigners.
Naidu said that Gandhi believed in equality and relentlessly spoke of women empowerment. The Mahatma himself was influenced by iconic women like Annie Besant and Sarojini Naidu in his life, he said and urged policymakers of India to place gender equality and women’s empowerment at the centre of the development agenda.
“We should imbibe the values of Gandhiji and work together towards a society where people won’t be discriminated on the basis of caste, creed, colour, religion or region. That will be the true tribute to the Mahatma on his 150th anniversary,” he said.
The vice president also urged the people to work towards uplifting the poor and bringing development in rural India, which he said Gandhiji considered the place of real India.
“Gandhi was an ardent believer in the principle of self-reliance. He constantly spoke about ‘swadeshi’. He yearned to build self-sufficient ‘adarsh villages’. He said that the soul of India rested in its villages. It is time we honour his wishes,” he said.
“Uplifting of the poorest, most deprived groups of people, the ‘Antoyodya’ was a mission close to the Mahatma’s heart… He struggled against injustice by practicing justice, he struggled against violence non-violently, he opposed discrimination by embracing one and all,” Naidu said.
Gandhiji’s principles of liberty, dignity and equality are not limited by space and time. They have universal applicability and timeless value. He was one of the greatest revolutionaries the world has ever seen, only his revolutions were bloodless and peaceful, he added.
On the issue of corruption, Naidu said that world should arrive at a consensus in refusing shelter to economic fugitives and create a framework for extradition treaties and exchange of information on black money.
As the event coincided with the World Toilet Day, Naidu also touched upon the Swachh Bharat mission of the Centre.
“Gandhiji firmly believed that cleanliness was next to godliness. He felt that sanitation was as important as political freedom. Today, the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan has become a mass movement,” Naidu said.
“Let us all strive together to realise Gandhiji’s dreams and usher in a ‘Ram Rajya’ where all are equal and there is no discrimination of any kind,” he said, adding, “let us rededicate ourselves to the cause of the nation”.
Naidu also visited an exhibition on Gandhi’s life put up in the foyer of the venue, Ambedkar International Centre here, and urged the organisers to host more such events.
Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer; Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Chairman V K Saxena; Rajashree Birla, philanthropist and Chairperson of the FICCI – Aditya Birla CSR Centre for Excellence; and Sudarshan Iyengar, former Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth also addressed the gathering, which included industry leaders and school children.