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Ambassador’s remarks at the Commemorative event on ‘India for Humanity: Role of Jaipur Foot’- at Rayburn House Office Building, Capitol Hill, Washington DC, 20 November 2019

INDIA FOR HUMANITY

‘India for Humanity' was formally launched by External Affairs Ministry 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 acknowledge the presence of Padma Bhushan Devendra Raj Mehta, Founder and Chief Patron of Jaipur Foot. A retired Indian Administrative Service officer and former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (the equivalent of the Securities and Exchange Commission of America); earlier he has held the position of Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. It has been his unstinting drive that has taken this organization to its heights

Dr. H R Nagendra from the Vivekanada Yoga Anusandana Samsthana (Vyasa), in collaboration with Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation (SVYASA) who has graced us today with their presence. He is now the Chancellor of S-VYASA Deemed University. A trained Engineer in Aeronautical field he is not a stranger to USA. He has served as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the University of British Columbia, Canada in 1969 and NASA Marshall Space Flight Centre, USA as Post-Doctoral Research Associate in 1970, moved to Engineering Science Laboratory, Harvard University, USA as a Consultant in 1972 and Visiting Staff at Imperial College of Science and Technology, London later.

I in this regard I would like to congratulate Mr. Prem Bhandari, Chairman of Jaipur Foot, USA, for organizing two major event in New York this April and now in Washington DC to hold up high the great service to the world.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence of Ambassador Dr. Arjun Kumar Karki, Republic of Nepal , Ambassador Edward Yabobe Sawerengera, Republic of Malawi, State Representative Robert Lancia, Rhode Island, Anuj Meherotra, Dean George Washington University, Ambassador Satish C Mehta and Sitarist Rishab Rikhiram Sharma

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.

Under this program, with the sanctions of the Government of India, BMVSS held camps in Vietnam, Iraq, Malawi, Nepal, Senegal, Tanzania, Egypt, Namibia and Bangladesh. Fitting total of 5152 limbs in these camps continuing in some countries due to active demand.

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-pedaled tricycle for paraplegic patients.

Jaipur 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 78 camps in the 33 countries in Asia, Africa & Latin America.

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. 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 Dr. D.R. Mehta has been an important factor in the success of this important philanthropic activity in the service of humanity

ABOUT MAHATMA GANDHI

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’. 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.

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 live music by Rishab Rikhiram Sharma

This year on 2 Oct we were happy that India was honored both in the Senate and House by introducing Resolutions commemorating the 150th Birth Anniversary- recollecting Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to mankind and the presence of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at an event at the Library of Congress.

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.

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