Mandela should be our moral compass: Sushma

In a world beset by terror and hateful ideologies, “the wisdom of pioneering leaders like (Nelson) Mandela should remain as our moral compass”, according to Extenal Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Speaking on Monday at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit here, she declared, “We Indians consider Mandiba one of our own. We are proud to call him Bharat Ratna, a Jewel of India.”

Mandela was awarded India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, in 1990, a rare honour for a non-Indian citizen.

The Peace Summit was held on the eve of the High-Level General Assembly session to commemorate the birth centenary of Mandela, who led the successful fight against apartheid in South Africa and ended white minority rule. He later became its president.

“We resolve to move beyond words in the promotion of peaceful, just, inclusive and non-discriminatory societies,” the world leaders at the summit pledged in a declaration.

The declaration paid tributes to Mandela’s humility, forgiveness and compassion, and his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the promotion of peace.

Sushma Swaraj said India cherished the close relationship and partnership with Africa and its people.

She added, “Our close bonds are reflected in the philosophy of Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi — the Father of our Nation. Both of them led their peoples to freedom through mass peaceful struggles.”

“They made efforts to overcome the divisive and narrow identity politics (and) to turn diversity of a society into its strength instead of weakness,” she said.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed him as “one of humanity’s great leaders” and recalled that “everywhere, he was a champion for peace, forgiveness, humility, compassion, dignity and human rights.”

General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces said that Mandela’s legacy gave hope to a world facing conflicts, oppression of minorities and threats of proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the peace summit was an opportunity for global leaders to reflect on peace and to take steps to end the wars.