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Mahatma Gandhi an integral part of our country: South African Minister
Wednesday January 7, 2015 7:10 PM, IANS

Mahatma Gandhi was an integral part of South Africa and the country shares an inseparable bond with India, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane Wednesday told the Indian diaspora youth at the PBD here.

Addressing a plenary session on "Gandhian Thought in Context of the 21st Century: A Youth Perspective" at the Mahatma Mandir complex as part of the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here, Mashabane said the youth of South Africa and India should take inspiration from the "battles" of Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and defend the national interest of their country and be the best in science and technology.

She said Mandela and Gandhi had "handed over the baton to us, and ours is to move on, defend the national interest of our country and be the best in science and technology".

She said both South Africa and India "have a vision for development of the future and are grappling with challenges".

Her country was just 20 years old after the end of apartheid and still faces the challenges of unemployment and poverty, she said.

Speaking of the "rise of extremism and intolerance" in the world, she said that in 2015, the world would mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Security Council.

"We see rise of senseless violence, especially against women and children. We call for an end to the decade of conflict."

She said people should take inspiration from Gandhi's philosophy of satyagraha and that truth must prevail over all considerations of politics.

The South African minister said Gandhi had said poverty was the worst form of violence and "let us celebrate his immense legacy and contribution to our two countries and our youth be guided by his principles".

To a question on fighting climate change, Mashabane said: "We will be able to deal with challenges of greenhouse gases if we stop pretending that we are equal, because we are not. We need to keep to the principal of equal and differentiated responsibility.

"It is time to come up with economic models that suit us now by bringing alternative energy sources through our own energy sources."

She said the South African constitution was influenced by the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

"This partnership formed by South Africa and India and other progressive forces needs to be defended, for the youth and the future."

Addressing the session, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh said people "need to apply Gandhian thought to almost everything we're doing today".

Mashabane is a special invitee as the PBD is celebrating the centenary of the return of Gandhi to India from South Africa.



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