Following is the full text of Shri LK Advani’s speech delivered when inaugurating Jain International Trade Organization(JITO) Global Summit at Ahmedabad, Gujarat on January 10th, 2009.
I thank the organizers of this Global Summit of the Jain International Trade Organization (JITO) for inviting me to the inaugural ceremony. At the outset, I convey my best wishes to you for a Happy New Year and also my greetings for Makar Sankranti, which is just four days away.
I have participated in many conferences of business platforms such as FICCI, CII and ASSOCHAM. These organizations are focused almost entirely on business and economy. But your conference is different. This is because the Jain International Trade Organization does not concern itself only with trade matters. Its outlook and activities are far more holistic, embracing many other aspects of life and society.
JITO’s philosophy is encapsulated by five noble commitments: Seva (Service of Humanity), Shiksha (Education), Arthik Sudharata (Economic Uplift), Samajik Utkarsh (Social Progress) and Adhyatmik Unnati (Spiritual Elevation). I compliment your organization because it is actively promoting programmes in each of these areas.
Jainism’s holistic approach to life
This holistic approach to life is not surprising because Jainism itself presents a profound and all-encompassing outlook towards life. Its ideals like satya, ahimsa, and aparigraha are both universal and eternal in their relevance. And in every century, Jainism has produced saintly figures who have both embodied these ideals. In our own times, I can think of two venerable personalities – Acharya Tulsi and his worthy disciple Acharya Mahapragya. I consider it my good fortune that I have sat at the feet of both these great Acharyas.
One of the great qualities that I have observed among Jain organizations is how they have tried to follow the teachings of the Tirthankars to practice philanthropy by enhancement of business. The spirit of volunteerism and social service that they display is truly remarkable. I remember that, at the time of the massive earthquake in Kutch and other parts of Gujarat in 2001, some of the best relief and humanitarian work was done by Jain organizations. I commend JITO for supporting this praiseworthy tradition.
Jainism the most ancient Green Movement in world history
Friends, in popular consciousness, Jainism is associated with its insistence on ahimsa or non-violence. Indeed, the greatest apostle of nonviolence in the modern era, Mahatma Gandhi, has written in his autobiography that he had a Jain ’spiritual mentor’, a young diamond merchant named Shrimad Rajchandra.
We often do not appreciate why Jainism attached such paramount importance to ahimsa. However, we should remember that two of the greatest challenges before the world today Terrorism and Climate Change are both manifestations of violence.
Terrorism is of course the most extreme and inhuman form of violence. And we have seen its evil face in Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Delhi, Bangalore, Guwahati and, most recently, in Mumbai. Violence of this kind must be put down with a firm hand.
But there is another form of violence which the world has been much slower to recognize, and much more hesitant to take firm action against. I am referring to the violence being inflicted on Mother Earth by our materialistic civilization. The destruction of the environment, which is evident in the alarming levels of pollution of our land, water and air resources and which is now climaxing in Climate Change, has catastrophic implications for man and other species on our planet.
It is when we reflect on the challenge of Climate Change that we begin to appreciate the enormous contemporary relevance of the Jain philosophy of ahimsa and jiva daya. We realize that Bhagwan Mahavir and the other Jain Tirthankars were great environmental conservationists. They taught us that we human beings are merely trustees of this planet. We need to re-learn their teachings in our times. If we do so, we realize that eco-friendliness is not a mere fashionable phrase, it has to be interwoven into our development paradigm and also into our day-to-day living. In a sense, we all have to become adivasis or tribals who know how to exist in harmony with the earth. The earth takes care of us, and so we have to take care of her. In this sense, Jainism is the most ancient Green Movement in world history.
I would like to assure the audience here, and the people at large in our country, that, in the event of the BJP and the NDA elected to form the next government in New Delhi, we shall take appropriate steps to deal with both forms of violence – Terrorism and Climate Change.
Vibrant Gujarat: A role model for other states
Friends, your conference is taking place at a time when Gujarat is once again hosting another prestigious meet: The Vibrant Gujarat summit. This annual event has now become an advertisement, both nationally and internationally, for the highly impressive achievements of the Government of Gujarat, under the leadership of its dynamic Chief Minster Shri Narendra Modi.
Even our political and ideological opponents have to grudgingly recognize that Gujarat has now become the No. 1 destination for investments. Recently, a Member of Parliament from Kerala belonging to the CPI(M) publicly lauded Shri Modi and said that the Communist-led Government in Kerala should emulate the example of Gujarat.
Gujarat today is a role model for Good Governance, for Development and an uncompromising approach to Security. It has also set an example for an uncompromising approach to Corruption. Let me assure you that a future NDA Government in New Delhi will replicate this model nationally.
We shall take bold and quick steps to revive the economy out of the recessionary crisis that it is in today. Our policies will help create more employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young Indians. In this, we would actively seek the cooperation of organizations like JITO.
Govt must take firm action against cases of financial fraud
Friends, since most of you are from the fields of business and commerce, I have to share an important thought on this occasion. India has all the potential to grow into a giant economy. The successes of Indian entrepreneurs in recent times, both in India and abroad, have been spectacular.
But as Gandhiji used to exhort, business without ethics is sin. Even if a few business organizations indulge in unethical practices, they bring a bad name to the business community as a whole. I am saying this I am distressed by the recent shocking disclosures about financial fraud in a major IT company in Hyderabad. Corporate India must put its house in order. The Government cannot turn a blind or lenient eye to such fraudulent practices.
With these words, I declare the inauguration of the Global Summit of the Jain International Trade Organization and wish it all success.