One of the features that have held India together for the past 70 years is the people’s respect for each other’s cultures, values and beliefs. This was said by the Indian High Commissioner to Botswana Dr.Ketan Shukla while addressing guests on Monday August 15 in Gaborone. The country was commemorating 70 years of independence from the British Empire. He said a caring society can only be developed by harmonising religion with modern science.
“Swami Vivekananda had once observed ‘What is needed is a fellow-feeling between the different types of religion, seeing that they all stand or fall together, a fellow-feeling which springs from mutual respect, and not the condescending, patronizing, niggardly expression of goodwill’.” He said it was Mahatma Gandhi’s luminous leadership that made the British quit India in 1947. “When we gained independence in 1947, nobody believed that India would survive as a democracy. The strong edifice of democracy built by our founding fathers on the four pillars of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity has withstood several threats from both within and without and has grown from strength to strength.”
Dr Shukla called on the Indian community to join hands, cooperate, innovate and advance. “India has had remarkable growth in recent times, often growing above eight percent per annum over the last decade,” he said, adding, “International agencies have acknowledged India’s status as the fastest growing major economy in the world and recognised major improvements in indices of ease of doing business and logistics performance.” He said the country’s foreign policy has also shown considerable dynamism in recent times. “We have reinvigorated our historic bonds of friendship with traditional partners of Africa and Asia Pacific. India’s focus in foreign policy will remain on peaceful co-existence and harnessing technology and resources for its economic development.”
The High Commissioner said they had made initiatives to enhance energy security, promote food security, and create international partnerships to take the Indian flagship development programmes forward.
He also touched on the subject of women and children saying the safety and security that the Indiangovernment provide to women and children determines the well-being of the state and society. “Democracy is more than a periodic exercise of choices to elect the government. The great tree of liberty requires constant nourishment through the institutions of democracy.”The country has in the past few years been in the spotlightfor various violations of women’s rights since the gang rape of a 23-year-old student that took place in 2012. The Indian government has vehemently dismissed perceptions that such violent and misogynistic acts were an expression of Indian culture and tradition.
“Our Constitution is not only a political or legal document but also an emotional, cultural and social contract. My distinguished predecessor Dr.SarvepalliRadhakrishnan had said on the eve of Independence Day fifty years ago that ‘We have adopted a democratic Constitution. It helps us to maintain our individuality in the face of mounting pressures for standardized thinking and acting…….. Democratic Assemblies serve as safety valves for social tensions and prevent dangerous explosions. In an effective democracy, its members should be willing to accept law and lawful authority. No man, no group can be his or its own law giver’.”
The commemoration was attended by more than 300 members of the Indian community that included business tycoonSatar Dada, office bearers of various Indian associations; representatives of India’s public sector institutions in Botswana (SBI, Bank of Baroda, Bank of India and RITES); businessmen of Indiandescent , and the community.The Indian High Commission with Indian community will be organizing events for the celebration of BOT-50 and 50 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Botswana that will include food and film festivals, and art exhibition.