His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali on Sunday highlighted the need for the altruistic nature of anti-colonial nationalist Mohandas Karamchand ‘Mahatma’ Gandhi in today’s society.
In remembering the iconic leader, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead a successful campaign for India’s Independence from British rule, the President called for more leaders to see the bigger picture the way Gandhi did, especially as it relates to vaccination distribution.
“Gandhi sitting in today’s context, would have said we are all equal. Gandhi sitting in today’s context, would have said we all must have access. Gandhi sitting in today’s context would have led from the front to have everyone vaccinated.”
The President said that humanity has been overshadowed by the need for business.
“I asked a question recently, as global citizens are we truly equal? We cannot be truly equal if at one corner of the earth, vaccination is more important than at another corner of the earth. We cannot be truly equal if now our movement can be curtailed based on a vaccine you take, and the vaccine you take is as a result of necessity. Here in Guyana, we tried to get every single vaccine. Every single one of the vaccines we went after for the welfare of the people, and in the interest of the people, we moved with what we had first.”
President Ali said that he wanted to commend India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his global outlook on the vaccination process.
“Even before the people of India were vaccinated, Prime Minister Modi’s philosophy on vaccination was the global outlook, and the Caribbean received its first set of vaccines through that initiative. Canada received its first set of vaccines through that initiative. The UK started the use of AstraZeneca even before the approval.”
This care for all mentality, according to the President, resulted in Gandhi’s philosophy, focusing on peace at an individual level to attain peace at the community level, and by extension, at the national level.
The Head of State said that ordinary people drive societal changes, and that is why there must always be wide consultation in the reform of the constitution.
“The people are the centre of the process and the outcome of the process. The same thing goes for policy-making and government services; it’s driven by the people and the outcome.”
The Head of State underscored the need for citizens to pay heed to their input or lack of input since their decisions would have severe consequences on national development.
“Gandhi never intended for us to be comfortable with every conversation. For a matter of fact, many of his conversations were unsettling, many of his conversations were thought-provoking, many of his conversations evoked conversations, but those controversies in thought evolution were necessary to address the situation that he was dealing with, and that is why their relevance remains because as humans we have failed. We will continue to listen to all the lectures and look at the best videos on these great souls (including Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King) and all that they stood for, and we will embrace their philosophy, but we will continue to fail their philosophy because of a selfish desire.”
Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, the Honourable Dr Ashni Singh; Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Honourable Hugh Todd; Minister of Home Affairs, the Honourable Robeson Benn and Minister of Human Services and Social Security, the Honourable Dr Vindhya Persaud along with members of the Diplomatic Corp, included Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa and British High Commissioner to Guyana, Ms Jane Miller, were also at today’s celebration at the Promenade Gardens.
After the official programme, several commemorative postage stamps to honour the birth anniversary were also released. (DPI)