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High Commissioner's remarks at Sree Narayana Guru Mission on 30 August 2015

High Commissioner’s remarks at Sree Narayana Guru Mission
30 August 2015

General Secretary and other office bearers of the Guru Narayana Mission, UK, Councillors.

Greetings and happy Onam to all of you.  I am happy to be with you at this Town Hall.  I have heard about your Centre which was acquired in 1989 and formally inaugurated in July 1994.  I am delighted to follow the tradition of former High Commissioners including Dr.Seyid Muhammad and Dr. L.M. Singhvi who have been associated with your work in the early years.  Felicitations to you.

Onam is an occasion for all the Keralites to celebrate the keeping of faith and promise.   Our PM conveyed greetings on Onam which is now celebrated all over India and indeed all over the world wherever Keralites have moved.  I myself have celebrated Onam in at least 10 countries.  

Today it is fitting to pay respects to the memory of Sree Narayana Guru who was born on 28 August about 160 years ago but whose influence is still widely felt. 

Sree Narayana Guru will always be remembered as one of India’s great social reformers who fought against social injustice.  People who see Kerala today would hardly believe that in the late 19th Century it was described as a mad-house of the caste system.  That it has become a more egalitarian State which provides opportunities for all sections of society, is owed to the great contribution of Sree Narayana Guru as well as some other reformers.  In many ways Kerala moved faster on social reform than other parts of India. 

Sree Narayana Guru spoke in terms of promoting harmony, equality and diversity which are part of our religious legacy.   But he did not promote mere ritual.  He believed religion should make a better person and betterment of the person was the most important aspect of religion. 

This message is important for us in India as we are now rapidly developing as an economic power.  Our society is going through a great transition as the spread of education and skills is being promoted by the government and this will bring about huge social change.   During such a period of transition it is necessary for society to maintain its spiritual anchors and roots.   Which is why the universal message of Sree Narayana Guru is so important.  The spiritual anchors and roots of our tradition must help us build better persons and not mere revival of rituals or a sense of religiosity.  India’s great legacy is to combine diversity with tolerance and a commitment to unity.   In this it has a message for the world.  Yoga, Ayurveda and meditation have already become worldwide interests.  In a new era of India help achieve a balance in life – which others can find of use. 

I congratulate the Guru Mission of the UK for your achievements since 1979 when you started work in this country.   We are happy that people of Indian origin have maintained their identity, and their roots in Indian culture, even while becoming good citizens of the UK.   The Indian community is often cited as an example of good integration, and I congratulate all of you in having played a part in this process.  I have been told by many leaders here how well Indians have done and this is a matter of pride.  You have lived up to the advice of the first PM who asked Indians abroad to be loyal to their countries of adoption, but in their hearts to keep a place for India!

I spoke about the rapid progress in India today.  We are happy the Hon’ble PM will be here in a few months time.   His visit will be an occasion to further strengthen the close business, political, scientific, educational and cultural links between the UK and India.  It will reinforce the Indian community as a vital bridge between our two nations.   You have strengthened the ties between our countries by giving them a special human dimension.

I am confident that all of you will join enthusiastically in welcoming the PM to UK.   There will be a major Indian community event at Wembley and we look forward to seeing many of you there.  We in the High Commission are happy to work with the Indian community.   We have made efforts to improve our services but I am aware that there is much more we can do.   I assure you we will continue our outreach to all of you.    

In conclusion, please accept my felicitations on the birth anniversary of the great Sree Narayana Guru and the work of the Mission UK.  I am honoured to be at your Centre where you are holding monthly prayers and other activities.  You have made this a point for the community while keeping the memory of the great Guru alive.   Congratulations.  Thank you. Jai Hind.

Sep 2, 2015
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