High Commissioner’s remarks to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and 100 years of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman organized by Gandhi Ashram Trust Statements & Speeches

High Commissioner’s remarks to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and 100 years of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman organized by Gandhi Ashram Trust

High Commission of India



High Commissioner’s remarks to commemorate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and 100 years of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman organized by Gandhi Ashram Trust

(26 September 2019)

Your Excellency, Dr. Abdur Razzaq, Hon’ble Agriculture Minister of Bangladesh,

Your Excellency, Narayan Chandra Chando, MP

Shri Swadesh Roy, Chairman, Gandhi Ashram Board of Trustees,

Muntasir Mamun, Bangabandhu Chair, Department of History, University of Dhaka

Towfiq Imrose Khalidi, Chief Editor, bdnews24.com

Raha Naba Kumar, Director, Gandhi Ashram Trust, Noakhali

Ladies and gentlemen,

At the outset, let me thank Chairman, Gandhi Ashram Board of Trustees for organizing this discussion as this has come at an opportune moment when we are about to observe the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on 2 October and the beginning of Mujib-borsho in 2020. It is only appropriate to remind ourselves and follow the ideals of our respective Fathers of Nations.

2. We commenced the commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary of Gandhiji in 2018 and it will be culminate in a few days time on 2 October 2019. All over the world, including in Bangladesh, we celebrated the life and ideals of the apostle of peace and non-violence through various activities. Epitomising Bapu’s message of living in peace and harmony with the planet, PM Narendra Modi and other leaders jointly inaugurated solar panels atop UN Headquarters & the Gandhi Peace Park in New York on 24 September 2019. We were honoured to have Heads of State and Government from Bangladesh, New Zealand, Jamaica, South Korea, Singapore and the Secretary General of the UN.

3. At the heart of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, was his belief - that strength comes from righteousness, not force. Power comes from truth, not might. Victory comes from moral courage not imposed submission. History, both past and contemporary, confirms that violence only begets violence in an unending spiral, fostering hatred and revenge. Violence seeks to impose and overwhelm, which is why its victories are transitory. Non-violence seeks to engage and persuade, which is why its results are enduring. The achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela demonstrate that the outcome of non-violent change, achieved through persuasion rather than coercion, are durable. As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina mentioned in her speech in New York, Gandhiji’s philosophy of life and his unwavering support for all peoples can unite us today to meaningfully and effectively address formidable challenges of global concerns like hunger, poverty and impacts of climate change.

4. Our commitment to Gandhian ideals should not be limited to seminars, speeches or an annual ritual - it should be through our actions, the perfect example of which is Jharna Dhara Chowdhury who passed away recently. There are many people like Jharna di who are silently and tirelessly practicing non-violence through thoughts, words and deeds.

5. Bangladesh will commemorate the centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 2020 will be called Mujib-barsho. Let me reiterate what our Prime Minister informed the Hon’ble President of Bangladesh during their meeting in May this year- it will be our joint effort to suitably commemorate the centenary of the birth of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (in 2020) and the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Liberation, in 2021. I understand that Government of Bangladesh has planned elaborate programmes to commemorate the life and times of this great person in a befitting manner. You must be aware that a feature film on Bangabandhu is being jointly co-produced by India and Bangladesh. We have also undertaken the preservation of artifacts -the personal belongings of Bangabandhu and his family members now kept at 32, Dhanmondi Road, the Bangabandhu museum. We will be happy to do more.

6. Bangabandhu was one of the most influential and courageous leaders of twentieth century. He championed the cause of democracy, secularism and social justice throughout his life time. His sacrifice for Bangladesh continues to be a source of inspiration for millions of people all over the world. Bangabandhu was a great friend of India. He was committed to strengthening the relations between our two countries. May I add that he is revered as much by the people of India as he is by the people of Bangladesh.

7. Bangabandhu’s dream of sonar bangla is also our dream and we stand ready to extend all possible cooperation. We are fortunate to have the legacy of shared martyrdom which is unique in the history of the world. Today, India-Bangladesh relations today are better than ever. In the last few years, close to 90 agreements including in high-tech areas, such as space, IT, electronics, cyber security and civil nuclear energy have been signed between India and Bangladesh and the Prime Ministers have inaugurated 16 development cooperation projects, including construction of Bhairab and Titas bridges; additional supply of 660 MW electricity, Akhaura-Agartala rail line. Our bilateral trade today stands at close to US$ 10 billion. The border-haats, an unique set-up between our countries have made it easier for the people living at the borders to trade with each other. In recognition of the contribution and sacrifices of gallant Muktijoddhas, free treatment in Indian Army hospitals, five year visas and Muktijoddha scholarship has been started. India is also a committed development partner of Bangladesh, and we have provided US$ 8 billion in concessional financing to Bangladesh under three Lines of Credit. This is the largest amount of concessional credit India has given to any single country which demonstrates that India accords highest priority to relations with Bangladesh. India remains committed to continuing its role as a reliable development partner of Bangladesh and in its vision of becoming a middle- income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041.Our common struggle for the liberation of Bangladesh and great sacrifice in that pursuit will continue to inspire us to work together for the better future of the common people of both countries – we are also fellow travelers on the road to development.

8. While moving towards the road to development, it is important that the people of Bangladesh- the youth in particular, are imbibed by the spirit of Muktijuddho (Muktijuddher chetana) so that they understand and value the sacrifices made by Bangabandhu and muktijoddhas to liberate this country – a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Bangladesh. This is where seminars like this play a major role to remind the society about the contributions made by great souls.

9. I thank the organizers once again for this opportunity to pay tribute to the Fathers of Nation of India and Bangladesh and wish you all the best in the deliberations.