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Remarks by Ambassador Harsh V Shringla during the Exhibition & Seminar on ‘India for Humanity: Role of Jaipur Foot’- at Consulate General of India, New York on April 4, 2019

INDIA FOR HUMANITY

‘India for Humanity' was formally launched by our External Affairs Minister on 9 October 2018. As part of the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi being held over the year, the MEA has launched the 'India for Humanity' initiative in honour of his service to humanity. I would like to congratulate Mr. Prem Bhandari, President of Jaipur Foot, USA, for organizing this important event.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Dr. Paritosh Prasad, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi; Rep. Robert Lancia, Rhode Island; Ms. Sadia Faizunnesa, Consul General of Bangladesh; Mr. Sparsh Shah, Singer; and Deputy PR of Malawi, Mr. Lot Dzonzi. Special word of thanks is due to Mr. Prem Bhandari of Jaipur Foot, USA and our Consul General in New York, Mr. Sandeep Chakravorty for so successfully organizing this important event.

With its focus on Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of compassion, caring and service to humanity, ‘India for Humanity’ features a year long series of artificial limb fitment camps in a number of countries, for which MEA is collaborating with the renowned philanthropic organization “Jaipur Foot”.

The international limb fitment camps, which aim to provide for the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the differently-abled (Divyang) around the world by helping them regain their mobility and dignity to become self-respecting and productive members of the society, will be fully sponsored by Ministry of External Affairs.

ABOUT JAIPUR FOOT (JF)

Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) popularly know as “Jaipur Foot” was founded in 1975. It is world's largest organization rehabilitating over 1.75 million differently-abled (Divyang).

Mission of Jaipur Foot is to provide prosthetic or artificial limbs, calipers and other physical aids and appliances, free of charge, to as many differently-abled (Divyang) people as possible through its centers, outreach programmes and rehabilitation camps, both in India and abroad.

As a humanitarian organization, it knows no frontiers. It treats all its beneficiaries equally. The disabled all over the world are its concern, and assistance is provided to them without any geographical, gender or community bias.

Jaipur Foot also undertakes and promotes research & development towards improving the existing artificial limbs, calipers and other aids so as to improve the quality and reduce the cost of the devices. In this context, the contribution of USA has been significant.

To maintain and enhance the product quality, Jaipur Foot has entered into techno-commercial collaborations with reputed organizations such as Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and also some of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) as well as the National Institutes of Technology (NIT).

Jaipur Foot has also introduced the self-lubricating Stanford-Jaipur Knee with a revolutionary new technology, developed by Stanford University working with Jaipur Foot and recognized by Time magazine for the year 2009 as one of the world's 50 best inventions.

Jaipur Foot is also collaborating on research projects with MIT for the development of a new knee joint, a polyurethane foot, and an off-road wheelchair-cum-hand-pedalled tricycle for paraplegic patients.

Jaiput Foot has a Special Consultative Status with the economic and social Council of the United Nations Organization (UNO). JF also holds on-the-spot Limb/Caliper fitment camps in foreign countries. This is done at the instance of either the government of that country or the Government of India or some donors. For these camps too, teams of doctors and technicians are sent by JF to the determined locations along with equipment and materials. As of date, JF has held over 50 camps in the 26 countries across the world.

The focus today is on the activities of Jaipur Foot in India and in other countries of the world as an extension of the humanitarian intervention of India. In India’s diplomatic narratives, we often speak of important political, strategic and economic initiatives. What is less known is India’s extensive diplomatic initiatives in the service of humanity in keeping with our civilizational values of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the world is one family.

In my personal experience, I have seen the positive impact of Jaipur Foot camps in post-conflict northern Sri Lanka as well as more recently in Bangladesh, where we worked with the MOIN Foundation. Bangladesh Consul General spoke a short while ago of India’s humanitarian assistance for Rohingya refugees. In fact, India air-lifted and sent by special ships four tranches of relief assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced families that are in camps in Bangladesh. This has been our commitment not only to deal with humanitarian issues created by the influx of over 700,000 displaced persons from the Rakhine state in Myanmar but also in working closely with our neighbours and partners in dealing with humanitarian issues at their doorsteps.

The personal leadership of the President of the Jaipur Foot Mr. D.R. Mehta has been an important factor in the success of this important philanthropic activity in the service of humanity. I am also happy to note that Ambassador Satish Mehta, a sterling member of the Indian Foreign Service, has also joined the organization and is adding his experience and organizational prowess to the effort.

ABOUT MAHATMA GANDHI

It has been seventy years since Mahatma Gandhi departed from our midst. But his life and soul continue to animate humanity transcending national and international boundaries. His contribution to human development is far too great and varied to have been forgotten or to be overlooked. The world today recognizes him as a far more compelling social innovator than humanity ever realized.

The life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is a story of heroic effort to establish the values of Truth and Non-violence in human life. In pursuing this objective Gandhiji became a ‘Mahatma’ from a mere ‘Mohandas’.

As the theme for today’s discussion is India for humanity, I wanted to discuss some humanitarian aspects of Gandhian philosophy. The essence of what is to be human is expressed clearly in the life and action of Mahatma Gandhi. His whole life, Gandhi made personal sacrifices for others and taught us about the great difference which each one of us can make if we shed individualistic pursuit of goals and consider ourselves a part of the larger community. Peace and Non-violence – the centerpiece of Gandhian message are concepts which have welfare of the whole humanity as their focus.

Mahatma Gandhi belongs not just to India, but to the entire world. His universal teachings have a special resonance in all corners. In these times of strife, his powerful message of non-violence and peaceful co-existence stands all the more relevant. His favorite bhajan or song was “Vaishnava Jan to Tene Kahiye” the essence of which is compassion, kindness and goodness for others, for once and for always, without letting pride enter one’s mind. This captures the inner voice of the Mahatma. I am happy to note that a great American singer Chaka Khan lent her voice to this beautiful Bhajan last year when we launched the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi. We were also happy to hear Sparsh sing this bhajan.

UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Today, while there is a lot of emphasis on UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, very few people realise that Mahatma Gandhi always championed the cause of environment and nature. His famous saying, “the world is enough for man’s needs but not for man’s greed” sums up his philosophy on the issue of Sustainable Development. His idea of compassion and kindness extended beyond the human pale around him. He had deep respect for the forests, rivers and our habitat. These are values that we all passionately own, share and keep close to our hearts in our daily lives.

VISIT TO ATLANTA – U.S. CONGRESS

My first visit to Atlanta coincided with Mahatma Gandhi death anniversary on 30 January 2019. I paid tribute to the Father of our Nation at his statue in Atlanta located right next to the memorial of another great individual inspired by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King and therefore I am happy to share with you that Congressman John Lewis, one of the closest disciples of Dr. Martin Luther King, proposes to introduce a resolution in the US Congress to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi and the 90th birth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King and would propose an exchange of research scholars from India and the US working on peace and development issues. I was also happy to hear a short while ago that Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney from New York plans to introduce a resolution for the institution of a Mahatma Gandhi Gold Medal.

On another note, Gandhiji and New York City strike a common chord. He, as this great City, had the deepest regard and respect for multi-cultural ethos. As a City which is home to people from every part of the world, Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy could not be more relevant to its values and ethos.

By undertaking the programme “India for Humanity” we are honoring the memory of the Mahatma.

CONCLUSION

I would like to make special mention of Jaipur Foot USA and the entire team here led very ably by Mr. Prem Bhandari. I am amazed by the dedication of his team which has been collecting valuable resources here and spending them in organizing camps in India. I understand the next camp is planned in Bihar with support of Jaipur Foot USA. What is also highly creditable is that the entire amount raised in the US is sent for use by Jaipur Foot. Not a cent is spent here in the US on administrative costs. This speaks volumes for the organization.

I would like to assure everyone about the commitment of my Embassy and our Consulates to the mission and activities of Jaipur Foot. You are our humanitarian Ambassadors. What you do brings great deal of affection and praise for our country. In many ways Jaipur Foot is India’s global brand.

Thanks

Jai Hind!

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