s the yahapalanaya or Maithripalanaya government launched on its second crucial year with the focus being on a midterm strategy for sustainable eco-friendly development and social justice, it receives some enlightened advice from Gopalakrishna Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who is revered all over the world as one of the greatest peacemakers of the century.
Gopalakrishna Gandhi -- a leading civil servant and diplomat who served as India’s High Commissioner in Sri Lanka and South Africa — gave the guidelines inherited from his illustrious grandfather when he made the keynote oration at a BMICH ceremony on January 8 to mark the first anniversary of the Yahapalanaya government.
The event, telecast live to millions of people all over the country, was attended by President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Cabinet ministers, top diplomats and officials.
Giving some gems of wisdom which his grandfather was famous for, Mr. Gandhi junior said, it was good to be smart, but it was smarter to be good in the long term. He said the difficulty was that most people lived not in the long term, but in the short term. That short term was the arena for the ill-liberal undemocrats, to do their little acts of violence to democracy, to civil liberties, human rights, and get away with several crimes including murder.
In the widely acclaimed oration titled a Continent of Trust, Gopalakrishna Gandhi said; “There is a saying in Tamil about the tiny cylindrical rice measure, the aazhaakku. It smiles at the aazhaakku imagining that its little roundness has an ‘east’ and a ‘west’: aazhaakkil kizhakku-merkku. Whether the little aazhaakku has directions or not, islands do. Sri Lanka does. Directions are about places and about paths. We can say today, Sri Lanka knows its directions, its paths and is walking with steadfastness on the path its people have charted for it. So I offer my felicitations on the first anniversary of the government of national unity to Sri Lanka in its multi-directional roundness. I offer felicitations to its north and its south, its east and its west and to its Central Highlands where, under the shade of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, I spent four deeply formative years.
The government, headed by you Mr. President, and with you, Mr. Prime Minister, at its executive helm, has sought to bring together all of Sri Lanka’s directions and its sacred centre. It has done more. It has given not just to itself but to the whole of South Asia something that was thought impossible of achieving but has been achieved by the good sense of Sri Lanka’s far-sighted people. This is the replacement of fear by confidence and suspicion by trust.
The idea of a joint UNP—SLFP government, bringing two traditionally opposed parties together, with one of them pitted against one of its own leaders, none other than the President of the day, was thought oxymoronic beyond description, a contradiction within an impossibility, a naiveté within a hallucination as absurd as, say, a king coconut growing on a mango tree. Such a coalescence was seen not just by incurable cynics but by experienced observers as a poetic fantasy until what was regarded as an ‘out-of-the-question’ Idea stood here, right here, as an ‘out-of-the-box’ reality. At the call of the pioneers, the integrated will of the people of Sri Lanka drew out reconciliation from revenge, dialogue from division, peace from war ; and indeed, at the cost of sounding platitudinous, life from death.”
In deed not only the words but also the deeds of Mahatma Gandhi, a model leader for the world. After he led the historic non-violence battle for independence from the British Empire, Mahatma Gandhi could have got any post he wanted. But he humbly declined. He had power but he used it to serve and wash the feet of the people, not to dominate them. He did not seek cheap popularity or prestige. Most importantly perhaps he refused to worship the deity of money or wealth. Instead he lived and worked in a simple and humble way. We hope Gopalakrishna Gandhi’s oration, largely based on the life and wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, would shape leaders who write a golden page in Sri Lanka’s history.
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