Gandhiji's ideals not just past, also future, Chipko Movement taught world power of Ahimsa, says President

New Delhi,The President of India,Pranab Mukherjee presented the Gandhi Peace Prize for the year 2013 to  Chandi Prasad Bhatt today at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan. 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said the Gandhi Peace Prize is an expression of our belief that the ideals that Gandhiji espoused are part of our collective living heritage. This heritage is deeply imbued with the idea of being ‘one people.’ It is a celebration of our diversity, our plural culture, our many languages, religions and different modes of life. This was the idea that moved those who strove for India’s freedom. Our deep and abiding commitment to democracy stems from this idea. We continue to be guided by these ideals; we remain committed to them not because it is our past, but because it is also our future.     
  The President said we must always keep in mind that we are the Trustees of the heritage of Mahatma Gandhi. As Trustees, it is our sacred duty to preserve, protect and disseminate this heritage, which is truly a legacy of all humanity. In honouring Shri Bhatt, we honour all those countless women and men who became Trustees of the Nature and who through their embrace expanded our Swaraj. He praised Shri Bhatt for his dedicated, tireless and invaluable work for the conservation of the environment. 
   The President said Shri Bhatt is a life-long Gandhian, devoted and far-sighted modern environmentalist of our time whose life has been his message. His work embodies a unique love, a love that has long since become universal. It is a love of Nature and Nature as encompassing entire creation. The Chipko movement started by him in 1973 followed the same method of peaceful and non-violent Satyagraha for the redressel of the legitimate rights of the hill people to collect wood and fodder and saving them from natural calamities owing to large scale deforestation. It highlights the unique responsibility of protecting creation that has been placed on human beings. The Chipko movement was and continues to be a movement of deep love. Love as enacted in the act of hugging trees. This action meant embracing Nature in all its diversity, bounty and munificence. It highlights the unique responsibility of protecting creation that has been placed on human beings. It is a movement of love against pulverising greed. 

     The President said in Gandhiji’s words he had no use for economics without ethics. This simple injunction created a moral frame within which human ingenuity has to function. By placing ethics at the heart of economics, Gandhiji gave us an idea whose significance we have just begun to understand. Shri Bhatt’s movement is one of the finest examples of this idea of Trusteeship. Through his work, Shri Bhatt has reminded this nation and the world as a whole that we are responsible for the future as well.

     The President said Ahimsa is not just a method or an instrument. It requires recognition of the humanity of others, including the humanity of those we seek to challenge, including the State. It is an active force that embraces the other, eradicating the differences between I and Thou. Shri Bhatt’s movement showed the way of practising Ahmisa by physically embracing the endangered and the inanimate. Shri Bhatt has not only deepened our understanding of responsibility but also provided an object lesson to the world on the power of Ahimsa.

    The President said in 2019, we will mark 150th anniversary of Gandhiji’s birth, which we can truly celebrate by ending the indignity of homes without toilets and making a success of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan announced by the Government to ensure hygiene, waste management and sanitation across the country.
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