Conference Statement

Your Holiness, Distinguished Chairman, Honoured Guests,

As Martin Luther King said: “If humanity is to progress, Gandhi is inescapable. We may ignore him at our peril”. One of Gandhiji’s most important contributions is Hind Swaraj, and we have come to celebrate “100 Years of Hind Swaraj”.

Gandhi went beyond all limiting and destructive forces of violence and thought of eliminating the force of other states and keeping order and justice through nonviolent methods.

In this Centenary Year of Gandhiji’s Hind Swaraj we are here because the forces of violence are united, while the forces of nonviolence are dispersed. We need to reverse this equation and find the way out for lasting and genuine peace.

In spite of diverse methods we must have a common program to make our efforts more visible and effective in the future. We must have collaboration and cooperation with an understanding of the larger picture because we will be faced with more challenging situations to come.

The constructive work program and presence of the nonviolence force can be registered in the minds of decision-makers and individuals who are perpetrating violence unnecessarily for small purposes. We have inflicted violence on all living creatures and destroyed the environment. If this continues, this small planet Earth, within decades, may become unlivable. It is necessary to become self-grounded. Violence does not support this, it is destructive and we will have to create a new civilization.

Gandhi had warned us that the resource-hungry, consumerist model rests on war and creates ecological disasters. It is this dual threat of conflicts between people and violence against nature that can destroy civilization.

There cannot be peace while unreasonable lifestyles that require control and destruction of environmental resources and destruction ecological balance continues. While structurally in-built injustice and poverty remain, no peace is possible until domination of the weak by the powerful, is brought under restraint and transformed.

Lasting peace cannot obtain without disarmament by those who are maintaining their war industry. We need to think of the ceiling, of which Mahatma Gandhi talks in Hind Swaraj, that must be exercised on so called progress; on science and technology of war, violence and of time and labour saving devices, and on consumption standards. Ceilings must also be exercised on the growth of cities and mega cities and on destruction of and cannibalization of environmentally sound and time tested science and technology. Such technologies and economic and social structures still survive in many nations. In order to avert ecological disaster, the question of life styles is the core issue which is not given its due, because it is believed that modern science can save us from the problems it has created and that it has the answer.

On the question of Human Rights protection and violations, powerful nations have always adopted double standards. Therefore a third force needs to be created so that justice is done in such cases; and, nations should feel secure from destabilizing and exploitative military and political interventions The Gandhian fraternity must speak up and act against violation of human rights, irrespective of where it happens. The message should be that global Gandhian movement will not remain silent when human rights are violated.

This Gandhian fraternity all over the world should raise its voice to create public awareness for nuclear military powers to take responsibility for the reduction of nuclear military force. Of similar importance is the issue of reduction in carbon emission. Both of these issues are such that no one should wait for the other to take the first step. If there is competition in matters of economic progress, it is much better to have competition among nations in a matter that dispels the cloud of impending global disaster. Democratic and peace loving nations should take the initiative. It will be a refreshing change to have a competition for those who can produce the maximum benefit for humanity.

It is time that every nation for its own liberation from various forms of violence as a victim, perpetrator or collaborator should write its own text of Swaraj. People talk of Capitalism and of Socialism as if these two or their variables were the only paths for human destiny. It is time to introduce the philosophy of Swaraj and the programme for Swaraj Awareness. Hind Swaraj suggests from the very beginning the methods for raising public awareness disaffection for what is wrong and affection for what is good.

We have an irresistible opportunity to embrace transformation of not only the self, but all levels of existence. The inspirational life of Gandhiji was about action…and may we also be inspired by one of his most famous quotes:

“My life is my message”


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