I would like to thank everyone who was present at the Telangana Jagruthi International Youth Leadership Conference 2019 from different parts of India and youth from over hundred countries in the world who travelled all the way for this noble purpose of understanding Mahatma Gandhi‘s path to sustainability and innovation between the 18th to the 20th of January 2019 . With, 2800 applications, 550 delegates from 110 countries deliberating on 17 SDGs over 3 days TJIYLC became the largest international youth conference hosted in India.
Our aim was telling the world about the unique ideas of India that could create a more sustainable world expressed and lived through the person of Mahatma Gandhi. It is not easy to comprehend the greatness of a person like Mahatma Gandhi. Hundreds of leaders in the world have come and gone, they have a achieved success, fame and fortune. But sooner or later they are forgotten. Yet Mahatma Gandhi stands tall in the annals of history as a leader who has universal appeal, as a leader who was courageous yet peaceful, revolutionary yet cautious, passionate yet strategic, obstinate yet flexible. What is the reason that Mahatma Gandhi strikes a chord with everyone throughout the world and is still remembered today when many leaders of his times have already been forgotten?
I think the reason for this lies in the deep philosophical understanding of the society that Gandhi ji possessed. An understanding based on certain societal truths such as The fact that violence even though a powerful social force has its limits on the other hand peace and love are Limitless. They are subliminal to the human nature. Violence can end with resources and to maintain a rule based on violence requires an unlimited supply of resources. However, a rule or a fight based on peace and love can be sustained forever and in the long run love and peace would how to live and outshine violence. He said “Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of Mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapons of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. “
Similar to the Gandhian identification of the unending power of peace and love, is his identification of the unending capacity of the earth to provide for human needs. He famously said that the “earth can always provide for the human need but not for the human greed”. So again you would notice how Gandhi ji was able to identify the limitless forces in the world. And sustainability is in essence basing our lives on resources which can be limitlessly harnessed – such as the sun, the wind, water – and to respect and preserve them. Indeed, Gandhi’s ability to identify the limitless made him a man who knew Infinity.
If Gandhi ji were here today, he would perhaps be the most vocal champion of the need to promote renewable energy in this world. Similarly, what is infinity in infrastructure? That it has to be simple not complex it has to be functional and not necessarily mammoth. The infinity in progress is social peace and harmony – The feeling of brotherhood between the nations and between communities within the nations. In terms of health and hygiene it starts with self help – making your immediate surroundings clean through manual labor.
Indeed his life was a message in the practice of sustainable living. He and his wife gave away all their property. They had nothing beyond the clothes that they wore and a change or two. He used scrapes of papers to write brief notes and reversed envelopes for reuse to send letters. He believed in minimalism and simplicity and practiced that to set an example.
I am happy that so many youth came from all around the world in the city of Hyderabad which Gandhi ji also visited exactly 90 years ago. He came here to visit a school which had opened the gates for all communities without any discrimination. I was happy to see so many youthful faces eager to make a difference in the world crossing the barriers of identities and educating themselves on how to make this world a better place just like Mahatma Gandhi did.
The Gandhian principles can be applied to each and every sustainable development goals. However, to cultivate a Gandhian perspective one has to develop a deep sense of spirituality. Not a spirituality based on fear and superstitions but one directed towards Seeking truth and morality. We all appreciate and understand that in the coming from the standards of ethics and morality could be different on the surface but the human heart knows that certain basic truths hold everywhere. That poverty is deleterious to human life and the society, that gender injustice brings deterioration, that the pain of being treated unfairly is felt the same way everywhere in the world and this is the truth that we can learn from Gandhiji. Who is spirituality was based on these fundamental truths? He once said
Indeed it was this clear conception of human morality and human purpose that set Gandhi apart from other leaders of his time. Also his spirituality and practices were innovative in a sense. Simply by conducting prayer meetings and reciting paragraph from the Gita and Quran while talking about nonviolence and love and simplicity he was able to overthrow one of the strongest colonial empires and bring freedom to one of the largest and most diverse sections of the human population.
His purpose, we must remember was not merely a political one it was a revolution of the mindset. His purpose was to reinstate our faith, in morality, in truth and sustainability – not merely by theory or teachings but by a lived example. This I hope that the youth from around the world will take away from this conference and share with the humanity living in different parts of a planet.
I thank all participants again and feel confident that the world is now in the hands of youth who are courageous yet peaceful, revolutionary yet cautious, passionate yet strategic, obstinate yet flexible. Who have a little bit of Mahatma Gandhi in them?