My life is my message - UPU event with Indian embassy celebrates Mahatma Gandhi’s life

31.01.2019 - Staff of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and members of the international community came together on 30 January at the UPU’s headquarters to celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

The event, jointly organized by the UPU and the Indian embassy, treated participants to a philatelic exhibition commemorating Gandhi’s revered life, his lifelong struggle for social justice and enduring commitment to non-violence. 

Indian Ambassador Sibi George, in his welcoming address, said Gandhi, known as the Father of the Indian nation, lived an extraordinary life and through that life showed how the principle of non-violence led to Indian independence.    

Mr. George quoted Gandhi to underline the Indian leader’s devotion to the principle of non-violence, “’They may torture my body, break my bones, even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, but not my obedience.’”

The principle of non-violence is the overriding belief that, in every circumstance, people should abstain from violence to achieve their desired outcomes. The principle has wrought considerable political and social change and the International Day of Non-Violence is held on 2 October, Gandhi’s birthday.

UPU Deputy Director General Pascal Clivaz, in his own remarks, added, “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.”

Mr. Clivaz  compared  Gandhi’s teachings to UPU’s multilateral vision. “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.”

Acknowledging Gandhi’s long association with South Africa’s own struggle for justice and equality, the South African Ambassador Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele highlighted the many similarities between Gandhi and the late President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. She told the audience that both were qualified lawyers and leaders of conviction.

A series of short films, including a presentation on the Indian government’s own collection of stamps on Mahatma Gandhi’s life, and a film titled Gandhi@150 were shown to the audience. At the ceremony’s close, the audience watched a moving film of the prayer song Vaishnav Jan to Tene Kahiye. The song was Gandhi’s favourite “bhajan” meaning “sharing” in Hindi and referring to any song with a spiritual theme or religious ideas. 

Following the welcome ceremony, moderator, Second Secretary, Rejiv Kumar, invited the audience to attend the inauguration of the philatelic exhibition. UPU Director of Logistics, Jean-Alexandre Ducrest, then provided a detailed description of the many stamps celebrating Gandhi’s life featured in the gallery.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869. He led India to independence, while inspiring many other movements for civil rights and freedom globally. Mahatma, meaning “high souled” in Sanskrit, is an honorific first given to him in 1914 in South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated on 30 January 1948.

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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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