Singapore: Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence remains sage advice in a world where differences are more easily amplified and people take offence more readily, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.
Singapore has been celebrating 150th anniversary of Gandhi since last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the Mahatma Gandhi Plaque at Clifford Pier in June.
Prime Minister Lee paid elaborate tribute to the Mahatma when he joined Prime Minister Modi in United Nations earlier this week.
The national hero's philosophy of non-violence remains sage advice today, in a world where differences are more easily amplified and people take offence more readily, noted the Singapore Prime Minister.
"If we take Gandhi's message to heart, then we must try our best to resolve differences calmly and peacefully, appreciating the views of the other side, and without inflaming passions or hardening attitudes.
"In doing so, we will build mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for one another," said Prime Minister Lee in an elaborate tribute to the Mahatma in New York.
Lee cited Singapore's Gandhi Memorial Hall which was built with SGD100,000 fund raised by local Indians then and has a Bronze bust, a donation by businessman Sheth G. Uttaram on April 25, 1953.
Elsewhere, the Global Indian International School (GIIS) here has three busts and a statue of the Mahatma.
Lee said, "But beyond these physical traces, Gandhi's ideas and ideals have resonated and endured." The Indian High Commissioner to Singapore Jawed Ashraf lighted a lamp on Friday, commencing a series of films on Gandhi over this weekend, recapping the close relationship and reverence Singaporeans have for the Mahatma.
"Whatever he has done there is no comparison. India gained independence through his non-violence approach," added Dolly Sinha Davenport, creative director at Singapore's Tagore Society which is organising the screening of films on Gandhi.
Ameerali Jumabhoy, a 94-year old Singaporean businessman, shared his experience of student days in Mumbai and served "happy moments" of being jailed for part of the movements and initiatives of Gandhi.
Jumabhoy underlined the power of Gandhi independence movement which led to the independence of a number of South-East Asian countries such as Malaya (now Malaysia and Singapore), Indonesia and Vietnam following India's freedom gained in 1947.
The events are expected to recall Gandhi's influence on the diaspora and how the Indian community in 1948 campaigned to have his part of his ashes in Singapore.
On October 2, 2019, the High Commission will be organising a solemn ceremony at Gandhi Marker at the Clifford Pier to pay homage to the Mahatma.
"We are also supporting IIT Mumbai's proposal to organise the assembly of solar lamp kits on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, October 2, 2019, at GIIS," the High Commission said.
"They intend to spread the word amongst students across the world on Gandhian values of preserving the environment and sustainability. The United Nations International Day of Non Violence is also being commemorated on the day, where the High Commissioner will be delivering the keynote address." "In order to reach out to the children, we are involving schools and organising competitions," the Mission said.
The Mission has also distributed 1,500 copies of the book "The Story of My Experiments with Truth- Mahatma Gandhi" to the invited guests at the Business Summit.
During Prime Minister Modi's visit to Singapore in 2018, Singapore's former premier Goh Chok Tong jointly unveiled a plaque to pay tribute at the immersion site of Gandhi's ashes at the waterfront Clifford pier in the city-state.
After Gandhi died in 1948 and was cremated, Singapore received part of his ashes, which were scattered at sea 3.2km from the southern tip of Singapore. Gandhi had never visited Singapore, but the strong relationship and impression he had developed with the Indian community.
In March 1948, an urn containing Gandhi's ashes was brought to Malaya by the then Representative of the Government of India, John Thivy. The urn was taken to Singapore (where it was kept on display at Victoria Concert Hall), Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bahru and then to Penang before returning to Singapore where the ashes were carried in procession to a spot on the seafront at Clifford Pier for an immersion ceremony.
The Indian High Commission here has also re-recorded a video of the music performances "Vaishnava Jana to" by a group of women of Indian origin in Singapore and rendition of 'Raghupathi Ragava Rajaram' by Singapore Chinese musicians on their instruments.
As part of the extended celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi's anniversary, Ila Gandhi, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi visited Singapore from October 7 to 9 October and delivered a lecture at Singapore Management University on 9 October 2018 for United Nations Day of Non-Violence in honour of the Mahatma.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has written on "What Gandhi Means in the 21st Century" as a part of the Gandhi Anthology being compiled here. (PTI)