Speech by Armoogum Parsuramen on 10th September 2022 on the occasion of the unveiling of the SSR Bust.
I am extremely honored to address you on this solemn moment when we will be unveiling a Bust of SSR in the premises of the Dr Prabha Ghurburrun Charitable Trust and the Global Rainbow
Foundation. I wish to express my sincere thanks to all of you who have responded to our invitation and and who have contributed to the success of the event today.
We have three busts of eminent personalities in our compound: from left to right Mahatma Gandhiji, Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam and Dr Beegoonauth Ghurburrun I wish to pay tribute to each one of them first and then delve on the significance of having the Bust of Mahatma Gandhi The Father of Indian nation and that of Sir Seewoosagar Ramgoolam father of the Mauritius Nation next to each other.
First I wish to pay tribute to Late Sir Beergoonath Ghurbhurrun for his vision of setting up the Gandhi Ashram 55 years ago and in 2016 The Dr Prabha Ghurbhurrun Chartiatable Trust with the blessings of Dr Prabha Ghurburrun and her daughter NIshta Ghurburrun put this complex at our disposal to enable GRF to offer all the services you have seen during your visit today. We are committed to ensuring that the vision of Late Beergoonath for service to humanity will continue for many more years with the joint partnership we have between GRF and Ghurburrun
Charitable Trust. We unveiled his Bust last year on his birthdate 14th January 2022.
Second I wish to express my sincere thanks to all our distinguished guests who have responded to our invitation and honour us with their presence.
My thanks and gratitude goes to Dr Navin Ramgoolam who is a genuine friend and gave me all his support for the GRF mission. We are honoured and grateful to you Dr Navin Ramgoolam for honouring us with your presence today in spite of all of your pressing commitments.
We are meeting today to pay tribute to SSR, a great soul who from a modest beginning in life worked hard with a vision and determination and gave Mauritius its rightful place in the world of Nations by giving us independence …dignity and global recognition. For GRF He is an icon, a source of inspiration for persons with disabilities in Mauritius and globally. SSR father passed away when he was 7 years old. He accidentally lost one eyesight at the age of 12. He has fully demonstrated to us that disability is not an impediment to Rise and Shine in Life.
The ceremony today will put our two great World Leaders and our two Fathers of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi and SSR side by side in the Gandhi Sarvodaya Kendra premises. Myself and my team will draw inspiration from the presence of the Busts of our three great personalities namely Mahatma Gandhi, SSR and Beergoonauth Ghurburrun and blessings from the statue of Lord Ganesha who is the great remover of all obstacles on our mission of service to humanity.
1. My inspiration in public life
Two legends; Gandhi and SSR have inspired me by their work especially in the field of education and services to humanity. Both are known for their great sacrifice and contribution for the betterment of the society. Living with a simple life they both inspire the youth to become great.
Gandhi Smriti, Martyr place where Gandhi was assassinated on 30th January 1948, but his theories of truth, non-violence, and supremacy of means over ends cannot be lost sight of and a constant source of inspiration for us. In fact, when I was appointed as Director UNESCO New Delhi in 2009 and I had to assume my charge, I visited this place first and took blessings from his great and holy Soul ‘the Mahatma’
2. SSR encounter with Gandhi in England
SSR during his universities studies in UK met Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru.
In 1935 he returned to Mauritius after completing medical studies in London and work to improve the living and working conditions of the bulk of the island’s population which consisted of the descendants of indentured Indian laborers and enslaved Africans.
3. Both are Father of the Nation
Both are respected and revered as Father of the Nation and there are a number of common elements which bring these two great souls into a convergence of vision.
GRF is inspired by Mahatma Gandhi in our vision and mission of service to humanity and we have adopted the Gandhi quote “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members” and have also adopted his favourite bhajan, written by Narsingh Mehta in the 15th Century“Vaishnav Jan to tene kahiye je” meaning:
“A Vaishnav is someone who feels the pain of others”
4. 12th March 1930 and 12th March 1968
On 12th March 1930 Gandhi started his famous Salt March to break the British Salt Laws and launched the inauguration of the civil disobedience movement, Satyagraha. SSR chose 12th March 1968 as the date for the celebration of Mauritius National Independence day.
5. Fight for Human Rights
Gandhian concepts on Satyagraha, Education, Unity, Truth etc. relate to human rights and responsibilities. Gandhi ji stood for love, universal brotherhood, freedom, justice and equality to him. Service to community is service to God. Human rights are said to be those fundamental rights which every man or woman inhabiting any part of the world should be entitled to by virtue of having been born as a human being.
Infact Mahatma Gandhi was an international symbol for human rights whose personal dedication to nonviolent resistance inspired generations
In 1973 SSR was awarded the United Nations Prize in the field of Human Rights in recognition for his “outstanding achievements in the field of human rights.” The President of the UN General
Assembly while presenting the Award to SSR stated: “you have done exceptionally valuable work in the protection and defence of an exemplary multi-racial society”
6. UNESCO Medal
Both Gandhi and SSR were both recognized and honored by UNESCO with the prestigious UNESCO medal. You imagine my feeling of pride as SSR UNESCO Medal was awarded during my tenure of office at UNESCO Paris.
7. Gandhi and SSR: as a Political leader/journey of leadership
Gandhi began his struggle of India’s independence between 1915 and 1920. After Gandhi returned to India towards the end of World War I, he began employing non-violent tactics in his home country that he refined in South Africa. After raising grassroots support among the lower castes in the nationalist movement he organized strikes, boycotts, and hunger strikes. Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gokhale. Gandhi took leadership of the Congress in 1920 and began escalating demands until on 26 January 1930 the Indian National Congress declared the independence of India.
SSR during his University studies in London spent time at the Indian Student’s Association, an organization that provided support for Indian students who had come to England from abroad. While at India House he came into contact with the Indian leaders of the early twentieth century: Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Lalla Lajpat Raid, and the writer Rabindranath Tagore. Ramgoolam also became a founding member of the Indian Student’s Central Association that was located at Knightsbridge in West London. Even though he was a serious student, he continued his political activities on a very intense level. By 1924 he was the president of the London branch of the Indian National Congress.
The paths of these two emblematic figures have been linked and they have each contributed greatly to the development of their respective nations perhaps through the exchanges and vision which were undoubtedly born in London. I believe that it is, therefore, fate more than mere coincidence which has led us to celebrate their greatness at by installing their busts side by side. We bow to our beloved leaders on this auspicious occasion. There is much to learn from their lives and noble thoughts. May their ideals keep guiding us in creating a prosperous, peaceful and compassionate world.
Let me conclude with words of thanks to those who keep GRF going rising and shining in its mission of service to humanity and also an a few announcements.