Celebration of 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi
HE Sheikh Hasina
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
New York, USA
24 September 2019
09 Ashwin 1426
Bismllahir Rahmanir Rahim
Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,
Distinguished friends and leaders from different countries,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Assalamu Alaikum and a very good evening to you all.
I feel honoured to join you today as we celebrate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in this commemorative event “Leadership matters – Relevance of Mahatma Gandhi in the Contemporary World”.
Gandhiji, a true patriot, a statesman and a saint, dedicated his life for humankind. He was a beacon of hope, a light in darkness and a saviour in despair. His brilliant and mesmerizing leadership showed the world that an individual could bring earth-shaking social and political change in a non-violent way.
Let me cite a famous quote of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. Gandhiji believed in people’s power, which rests in individuals, who are their own masters. His selfless love and affection for people, regardless of social standing, caste, colour, creed or religion earned him the title ‘Mahatma’. His principles of tolerance, non-violence and harmonious coexistence would continue to guide us as we seek to build nations. In fact, his ideals of diversity are cherished and celebrated all over the globe, wherever democracy is practised.
We are proud to have Gandhi Ashram Trust in Bangladesh since 1946. It follows the Gandhian philosophy of rural development, peace and social harmony, and works for the rural poor with particular focus on women.
As I pay my tribute to Ghandiji, I fondly recall my father and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who took inspiration from him during his formative stage of leadership. We are now preparing to celebrate the Birth Centenary of Bangabandhu beginning in March 2020. Gandhiji’s love for common people and ideals of non-violence contributed to shaping Bangabandhu’s vision of struggle against oppression and tyranny by the then Pakistani rulers against the peace-loving Bangalees. In the face of provocations, Bangabandhu remained unmoved and committed to the principles of non-violence. He, however, declared the independence of Bangladesh in the early hours of 26th March 1971 and called for armed struggle against the Pakistan occupation military when they unleashed an unprecedented genocide against the unarmed civilians in Bangladesh.
Whenever I look at Bangabandhu’s charismatic leadership, his sacrifice and struggle for people, I find a great degree of similarity with Mahatma Gandhi.
You are well aware that we are currently hosting almost 1.1 million Rohingyas, who fled violence and atrocities in Myanmar. Despite resource constraints and other serious challenges, our decision to shelter such a huge number of Rohingyas emanated from our conscience driven by love for humanity – a virtue we see in Bangabandhu and Mahatma Gandhi.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are living in a world, where hatred and bigotry leading to terrorism and violent extremism are dividing the humankind more than ever before. 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.
On this special day, may I wish that Gandhiji’s humanitarian ideals and principles would triumph over all divisiveness and establish an equitable world for us and our coming generations.
I thank you all.
Joi Bangla, Joi Bangabandhu
May Bangladesh Liver Forever.
Long Live Bangladesh-India Friendship.