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Updated: October 3, 2010 09:34 IST

Mahatma Gandhi common denominator for freedom in India, S. Africa: Zuma

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South African President Jacob Zuma. File photo
South African President Jacob Zuma. File photo

The struggle for freedom of the Indian and South African people is intertwined and has a common denominator as both countries were home to Mahatma Gandhi, President Jacob Zuma has said here.

“Gandhi walks through our histories leaving imprints that still direct the paths of both India and South Africa,” Mr. Zuma said at the closing banquet of the first regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on African soil here on Saturday night.

Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and Minister of State for Human Resources Development D. Purandeshwari were also present at the banquet.

“Gandhi’s philosophies remain relevant today as they were during their formulation and practise in his lifetime. It is these beliefs that have ensured the continuity of our relations over the years and led to the strengthening of political, economic and social ties between our two nations,” Mr. Zuma said.

Gandhi’s ideology of empathy, respect for one another irrespective of race, appreciation of one another and each other’s beliefs and understanding have been the foundation of the constitutions of most countries, he added.

Mr. Zuma attributed the “warm relationship” with India to the fact that the two countries have a lot in common, such as the vision of an impartial, just, peaceful and prosperous world order aimed at bringing an end to centuries of poverty and marginalisation.

“Together the two countries cooperate in several multi-lateral forums such as the UN, the non-aligned movement, WTO, G-20, Commonwealth, IBSA and the BASIC groupings. We also share a common approach on a number of global issues including reform of the UN, the future of multilateralism, climate change, South—South cooperation and multilateral trade negotiations,” the South African President said..

“This has led to fruitful cooperation in the Commonwealth, International Atomic Energy Agency and the New Asian—African Strategic Partnership (NASP).”

Commending the South African community of Indian origin, Mr. Zuma said, their deep commitment to cultural identity was evident in all spheres of their lives from their beliefs to their practises.

“This is greatly admirable, at a time when cultures and traditions worldwide have been undermined. We are pleased that while this community remains distinctively Indian, they are still proudly South African. They are as committed to this country as those whose cultural roots are indigenous,” he said

Addressing the gathering, Ravi called on India and South Africa to work together and said “India and South Africa hold the promise of becoming giants in future.”

Lauding the first Indians who arrived as indentured labourers for the sugar cane plantations in the province in 1860, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said “their determination to succeed in the face of great hardship should serve as an inspiration to all of us.”

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