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Mahatma Gandhi serves not just as political inspiration but also as motivator of diplomacy: EAM Jaishankar

Hanoi: The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi is very great in today’s world that is beset by conflict and violence and he serves not just as a political inspiration but also as a motivator of diplomacy, External Affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of the bust of Gandhi in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Jaishankar eulogised India’s foremost freedom fighter for his contributions to truth, non-violence and the freedom and independence of people.

“Mahatma Gandhi is without question one of the most iconic figures of our contemporary world. His contributions to truth, non-violence, to freedom and independence of people have been recognised by the UN by proclaiming his birthday as the International Day of Non-Violence,” he said.

Jaishankar, who arrived in Vietnam on Sunday on a four-day official visit, said Gandhi not only unified India but also inspired other nations, continents and peoples in a similar quest.

“The contributions of Mahatma Gandhi extend beyond this. His thoughts today are a very powerful inspiration for human dignity, societal values, spirituality, environment, sustainability, cleanliness and many other areas,” he said.

“The relevance of Mahatma Gandhi is very great in a world that we see today beset by conflict and violence. So, as we strive to harmonise contradictions, to bridge divides, Mahatma Gandhi serves not just a political inspiration, but even as a motivator of diplomacy,” he said.

Jaishankar said the unveiling of the bust is a symbolic moment for the friendship between India and Vietnam, which is rooted in mutual respect and shared aspirations for a better world.

“The unveiling of the bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Tao Dan Park of Ho Chi Minh City is of great significance. Underlines the message of independence, self-reliance and human dignity that brings India & Vietnam together. Privileged to participate in the inauguration along with Vice Chairman Duong Anh Duc,” he posted on X.

He said the installation of Gandhi’s statue in Ho Chi Minh City was a reaffirmation of the strong people-to-people ties, which are expressed from Yoga to culture and to arts and Buddhism.

The installation of the memorial is of enormous significance not just for India or Vietnam, but as a universal message, the minister said.

“It is significant that two great personalities of the last century, Mahatma Gandhi and President Ho Chi Minh, exchanged messages during their lifetime. During his visit to India in 1958, President Ho Chi Minh was quoted to the media as saying, ‘I and others may be revolutionaries, but directly or indirectly, we are disciples of Mahatma Gandhi. Nothing more. Nothing less”, Jaishankar said.

“President Ho Chi Minh laid the foundation of an abiding relationship between Vietnam and India, but this relationship has flourished since over many administrations and during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2016, it was designated as a comprehensive strategic partnership,” he said.

Jaishankar said this relationship today covers political exchanges, economic cooperation, trade and investment, defence and security, development cooperation, culture and people-to-people connections.

“Yesterday, I had discussions with Vietnam’s leadership in Hanoi to strengthen this partnership. We agreed that the long tradition of our friendship and the deep political trust which has been built up over the years, these are our most valuable capitals as we go forward,” he said.

From Vietnam, Jaishankar will travel to Singapore for a visit from October 19 to 20.

(Published 17 October 2023, 06:36 IST)

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