United Nations, Oct 3: The message of Mahatma Gandhi, whose peaceful struggle helped the birth of an independent India and inspired countless people around the world, is more relevant-now than ever before amid rising global tensions, intolerance and conflict, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. ''Communities around the globe were increasingly mired in rising intolerance and cross-cultural tensions. We see extremist dogma and violent ideologies gaining ground, as moderate forces retreat,'' said Mr Ban addressing the General Assembly"s first observance of the International Day of Non- violence yesterday.
'' And we have witnessed lethal force being used against unarmed and non-violent marchers who exemplified the very spirit of the Mahatma"s teachings,'' he added, referring to the recent wave of peaceful protests witnessed in Myanmar.
'' By incorporating non-violence into everyday life the Mahatma inspired countless individuals to lead better and more meaningful lives,'' asserted Mr Ban remembering the man who led the greatest mass movement for civil rights and freedom across the world.
General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim, a former foreign minister of Macedonia highlighted the need to spread the message that non-violence, tolerance, respect for human rights, democracy, development, and diversity.
It was Gandhi"s belief, Mr Kerim said, that intolerance was the worst form of violence, and that without genuine tolerance, no dialogue can have a lasting impact.
The Assembly is set to convene a high-level dialogue on interreligious and intercultural cooperation later this week.
Also marking the occasion, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro participated in a roundtable discussion, at which she said today"s violent and unsettled times cry for Mahatma Gandhi"s healing touch.
''Gandhi"s philosophy guides much of the UN"s work for peace.
That is because all of us at the organisation realise that the UN"s efforts to end war must reach well beyond the mere absence of conflict. Peacekeepers and preventive diplomacy remain essential tools in our efforts to silence guns and implement ceasefires,'' she added.