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APJ Abdul Kalam Speech

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 APJ Abdul Kalam Speech

I am indeed delighted to participate in this great occasion of presentation of the Gandhi Peace Prize 2003 to Mr Vaclav Havel a great human being who wanted his people to prosper with freedom and dignity. At this moment I am thinking of Mahatma Gandhi the world's millennium leader of 20th century. I would like to recall an incident from the Indian history. India has witnessed the great war of Kalinga in 261 BC which took place in Orissa. A fierce battle of that time after seven days in Kalinga it was a great victory for Emperor Ashoka. He loved conquering lands, it was his last war to conquer a great part of India.


After victory of Kalinga war, emperor Ashoka wanted to celebrate the victory He with all the happiness majestically walked through the battle field that night. It was a full moon night. He saw nearly hundred thousand people were killed and more than hundred thousand people were wounded. He looked at the beautiful moon and even the moon was red with sorrow. The emperor said, "Oh, Almighty what have I done? What a pain and tragedy I have inflicted on the humanity. Please give me strength to bear what I have done on this day". And prayed to God to give him enlightenment. This resulted in the birth of Ahimsa Dharma, which is symbolized in our Ashoka Chakra.

We saw the Ahimsa Dharma again in a great human being, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in the 20th Century, when he started the freedom movement. He fought for freedom with peaceful means of non-violence. He became 'Mahatma' for the movement that he started against oppression and racial discrimination in South Africa. This movement has become a forerunner for many such movements all over the world. The world saw, for the first time, the ahimsa dharma in full-fledged action leading to freedom and peace.

Friends, what do you learn out of this? We have seen many wars, including the first and second world wars. Now the time has come to realise that peace is essential for individual and a nation's prosperity, and also for the world to prosper. In this direction our Prime Minister has put forth in the SAARC Summit that integrated development of the SAARC region is essential to remove poverty and bring about peace.

We have instituted the Gandhi Peace Prize to gratefully remember Mahatma Gandhi and to inspire peace in the nation, peace in the region and peace in the world. Mr Vaclav Havel has upheld the banner of democratic movement and united civic movements throughout his country despite stiff opposition. The way he kindled and kept the flame of democracy burning amidst a storm of repression and autocracy truly reflects the commitment which Mr Havel has for the Gandhian principles of non-violence and fearlessness in the face of oppression. His methods of moving the masses through his writings and his non-violent protests truly emulated the ways of Mahatma Gandhi who led our own country to freedom without a bullet having been fired. I would say that Mr Havel is the present day torch-bearer of all those principles particularly peace movement, which Mahatma Gandhi held close to his heart.

The concept of soul force conquering the whole world is the only way in which we can ensure that peace and prosperity come to this planet. Violence has no place in our societies. Mr Havel, in his remarkable essay 'The Power of the Powerless' has analyzed the essence of totalitarian oppression and demonstrated the strength of moral resistance of life in truth. When I read about the struggles and achievements of Mr Havel, I am truly convinced that his life and work has been truly inspired by Mahatma Gandhi. He succeeded in realizing his own moral strength and enabled his countrymen to generate a great moral and spiritual strength which has enabled them to overcome the many obstacles on the path towards democracy.

I am sure that the life and work of Mr Havel will remain an inspiration for not only his fellow countrymen but for all the oppressed and downtrodden masses of the world who will take inspiration from the Gandhian ideals practiced by Mr.Vaclav Havel.

It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege for me to honour Mr.Vaclav Havel with the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2003.
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