On this 60th republic day of India, I congratulate the billion Indians living in the country and millions living abroad. It is a proud moment for every Indian. Each one of us has worked to preserve the freedom and maintain the sovereignty of the nation. Some of those who haven’t experienced the British days may take this freedom for granted. To them, my only message is: even a single laborious, torturous day of freedom is worth thousands of comfortable days in slavery.
A nation can demand respect only if possesses self-respect. Only
when each of us learns to live with respect can we expect the world
to respect us. No Indian will ever be able to live in respect as
long as even one poor person goes to sleep on an empty stomach. Why
should I complain about poverty in Slumdog Millionaire being shown
at international award ceremonies, when that reality of life is in
my face everyday? To me, actor Anil Kapoor’s donation of his film
fees to the cause of the poor is more valuable than any award the
film has won. But I will be truly happy when I will see even one
Indian change his course of life and devote even one day in an act
that will bring a smile to a poor person.
Of course, I won’t be satisfied with just that. I want every Indian
to put at least one hour’s work every day in a project that will
improve the living conditions of his poor fellow-countrymen.
I know you are interested in my views about terrorism. I read on the
internet and see on television the people’s movement that is
silently shaping up after the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. I am
often asked to comment on such activities. For the last few weeks, I
have not commented on this issue, because I hold myself responsible
for what happened on that day. I feel that I have failed. My
limitations have put me in a position today that I feel ashamed. I
should have tried harder. I could not kindle the flame of selfless
love in every Indian. I could not encourage them to stay on the path
of non-violence on which they had walked with me for a long
distance. Let no person assume that this is failure of nonviolence
principle. It is my failure. These are my limitations, and today I
believe in them as much as I believed in them during British days.
Act of terrorism is an act of cowardice. Its sole purpose is to
create fear in the minds of its victims. And the only way to fight
terror is by being fearless. If we refuse to be subdued by
terrorism, its purpose is defeated and the perpetrator will have no
choice but to stop its futile efforts to terrorize us.
I am also asked about my feelings about terrorists. There is nothing
new to add. I have said this many times. I don’t hate my enemies. I
hate the wrongs they have done to me, but I still love my enemies as
much as I love my friends. Because hating them is just like hating
myself. Each of have weaknesses. How can I hate others for their
weaknesses when I am painfully aware of my own? I try to love my
enemies as l love myself. Only such unconditional love will change
the heart of my enemies.
The only means of fighting violence is through non-violence means. A
non-violent resistance will make the perpetrator ashamed on his
India has shown courage in her response to Mumbai terror attacks. It
has shown restrain by not resorting to violent means of retaliation
as America did in 2001. As I have always believed, if there is any
country that can successfully showcase the doctrine of non-violence
and truth, it is India. This is the time for India to lead by
example. The world is looking at us. The west is still trying to
recuperate from the wounds of its violent retaliation in the war on
terrorism. The west is looking at us for hope. The violence did not
work. Only non-violence can save us, because it is the other side of
the same coin—the coin of love.
India should not co-operate with Pakistan until Pakistan takes steps
to address the issue of terrorism. However, if Pakistan needs any
help from India to address the problem, India should be more than
willing to offer it. While non-cooperation is a means of solving the
problem, at no stage should India garner the feeling of hatred
towards Pakistan. We should try to change their heart.
We must realize that Pakistan is fighting its own internal issues,
and we should offer to help them in solving those issues, just like
an elder brother helps the younger one in the hour of need. But this
help should be extended only after Pakistan has taken firm steps to
I am an eternally hopeful person. As long as there is even one
living soul on this earth, there is hope for truth and non-violence
to prevail. Because love lives in our hearts.