Honorable President of the Indian National Congress Smt. Sonia Gandhi,
Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh,
Excellencies, Former Presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan,
Mr. John Kufuor of Ghana,
Olusegun Obasanjo from Nigeria,
Her Majesty Queen Dorji Wango Wangchuk
Former Prime Minister of Nepal Sh. Madhav Nepal
The leader of Arab League Mr. Amre Moussa,
The Rapporteur General, Mr. Mani Shankar Iyer,
Invitees and Friends,
Mr. Mukul Vasnik and I must recognize here the presence of the celebrated freedom fighter Mr. Ahmed Kathrada and the former Prime Minister of Nepal Sher Bahadur Deuba Ji,
Delegations of political parties from Asia, Africa and Europe, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman,
It is both an honor and privilege for me to welcome you all on behalf of the president, the leadership and the members of the Indian National Congress in this historic International Conference to commemorate the 125th Birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
This conference has brought together leaders from across the world and provides as a platform to collectively recall the struggle, the sacrifices and the enormous contribution of an industrious son of India our leader and a statesman for the world.
Nehru, as we all know was the stalwart of India’s freedom movement and he ceaselessly fought to create a society that was fair and just for millions of subjugated people of this country. He was an inspiration, a courageous leader of great compassion and conviction. He was also a symbol of human dignity and freedom. He has left a proud legacy. Nehru’s greatest gift to us is democracy. That is inclusive, all embracing the rich diversity of a pluralistic society of India and in that empowering all our people.
For Jawaharlal Nehru equality and civil liberties were articles of faith for which he fought relentlessly never wavering in his convictions. The essence of his philosophy and values are enshrined in the constitution of The Republic of India, the enforceable fundamental rights for all the citizens are guaranteed. Nehru was a leader of astonishing popularity, a prolific writer, he authored master pieces of highest intellectual order during the long year that he spent in prison. For us Nehru is a Hero and for the world a scholar’s statesman.
He is a builder of modern India. He established in a country which emerged after centuries of colonialism, institutions of excellence, General Institute of Science, Technology, Management, Nuclear Science, Space Science, all were established by Jawaharlal Nehru, it was his vision of a modern India. That’s why we call him the builder of our great nation.
These institutions which have truly scripted the story, the Indian story of what India is today.
Nehru believed in freedom for all the people. He fought against imperialism and colonialism both and supported proactively liberation movements and freedom struggles in Asia and Africa. To quote Nelson Mandela “Jawaharlal Nehru was an outstanding man of letters, a militant freedom fighter against colonialism, the eminent architect of Afro-Asian unity and the policy of non-alignment. To all South Africans in the struggle he remains one of us, an architect in the fight against racism in the worst form apartheid“
We are happy therefore, that his close comrades, fellow prisoner Robben Island and Ahmed Kathrada is with us.
Nehru’s legacy is precious for the human kind and his values have an enduring relevance for the world we live in. For us his idea of India is non-negotiable.
We thank you by honoring us with your presence, accepting the invitation of the Congress President and we are looking forward, Excellencies, leaders from across the world to your enriching contribution.