Philatelic Celebration of Revered Mahatma Gandhi’s Life

Speech by UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz at the ceremony "Philatelic Celebration of Revered Mahatma Gandhi’s Life", Berne, 30 January 2019

Respected Ambassador of India to Switzerland, Amb. Sibi George, 
Ambassadors and High Commissioners, 
Distinguished dignitaries, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning, and welcome to the Universal Postal Union.

The world we live in today has been shaped by many great men and women, who have shown us the value of courage in the face of difficult circumstances. These leaders have not only led their own countries, but led the world to be more peaceful, and thus, more powerful.

It is truly an honor to address you on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of such a leader: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi-- Mahatma Gandhi.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Ambassador Sibi George, and the Embassy of India for organizing this great event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

From a man who humbly began his life in the Indian state of Gujarat, to the beloved leader who was revered by millions of people, Mahatma Gandhi has made an indelible impact on the pages of world history.

Mahatma Gandhi played a central role in the freedom of India from centuries of British rule, and inspired his people with two main principles:

Satya-graha, the polite but firm insistence of the truth, and

Ahim-sa, the principle of non-violence.

Mahatma Gandhi suggested that individuals could resist immoral government action by simply refusing to cooperate. His thinking heavily influenced other leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr., thus sowing the seeds for multilateral cooperation.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Gandhi's magnificent example of personal sacrifice and dedication in the face of oppression was one of his many legacies to our country and to the world. He showed us that it was necessary to brave imprisonment if truth and justice were to triumph over evil. The values of tolerance, mutual respect and unity for which he stood and acted had a profound influence on our liberation movement.”

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mahatma Gandhi was a man of the masses. His greatness lay in his humility. He walked, laughed and cried with the people of India as one among them, and he recognized the power of individuals who can come together to change the course of history.

The Universal Postal Union embodies many of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings. Through its vast network, the UPU reaches the doors of billions of people around the world, thus empowering every single one of them. Be it a small handicrafts seller on a remote island, an elderly lady receiving a pension, or a large conglomerate employing thousands, the postal network enables equal opportunity and access for all.

The Vision 2020 of the UPU aims to build a world where the “postal sector’s unique ability to include populations, economic actors and territories is fully recognized and exploited by governments, development partners and international organizations.” Just as Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings influenced multilateral dialogues around the world, the UPU is a prime example of the importance of global cooperation to progress together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The multilateralism of the UPU is strengthened by countries such as India, which is recognized for its contributions, not only financial but also in thought-leadership, consensus-building and sub-regional unity.

May I also take this opportunity to appreciate the dynamic Ambassador of India to Switzerland, Ambassador Sibi George. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with him on a number of occasions, as the UPU has played host to important Indian events, such as the recent International Yoga Day celebrations.

Such collaborations highlight the strong linkages between all of us in this room today. We are part of a close-knit community, we are part of “International Berne”. As members of the UPU and in the spirit of multilateral cooperation, I invite you all to take advantage of this beautiful building and its facilities for important events in your countries’ calendars.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, 30 January marks the day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948, hardly a year after India’s independence. Let us make a pledge today to live by his example of dedication, sacrifice and commitment to the greater good. Amidst the many troubles in our world today, let us keep the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi alive through our own conscious action and our own pursuit of peace.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane.”

Thank you for your attention.