New Delhi, May 20,
Government of India has
decided to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda
and a National Committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
The first meeting of the National Committee was held today in New Delhi,
and presided over by the Prime Minister. In his opening remarks Dr.
Manmohan Singh said, Swami Vivekananda did a lot to inculcate a national
consciousness among the people. His message was universal and based on
rationality and righteousness. It was a message that appealed to people
of all classes, castes and creeds. His message of unity and brotherhood
has far-reaching appeal and relevance even today.
Here is the full text of Prime Minister’s opening remarks at the
“I am grateful to the distinguished members for joining us today for the
first meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration of the
150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda which falls in 2013. Swami
Vivekananda was one of our greatest spiritual leaders and will always be
a revered figure in India's history and culture. We should work
sincerely to celebrate the commemorative year in a befitting manner.
Swami Vivekananda did a lot to inculcate a national consciousness among
the people. His message was universal and based on rationality and
righteousness. It was a message that appealed to people of all classes,
castes and creeds. His message of unity and brotherhood has far-reaching
appeal and relevance even today.
We hope to use the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary to promote
interest, particularly among our youth in his values, thoughts and
ideals. In fact, we celebrate Swami Vivekanand's birthday on 12th
January as National Youth Day every year. We recall on this day his
memorable call to "Work, work, work ".
Swami Vivekananda thought deeply about education and what it meant for
Indian society. He conceived of education as the primary means of
rebuilding Indian society. For him, education meant secular learning
that built character and instilled human values in students.
I am happy that among the proposals we have received is one from the
Ramakrishna Math and the Ramakrishna Mission in Belur that is based on
this theme. It seeks to promote and implement Vivekananda's ideas on
value based education. Our education system today is information based
and does not give adequate emphasis on building core values. I think
that thought should be given to how we can mainstream some of Swami
Vivekananda's ideas on education into our school and college curricula.
We have also received proposals from the Ramakrishna Mission Institute
of Culture in Kolkata and also the Public Service Broadcasting Trust in
New Delhi. We will be discussing these proposals shortly.
But I hope that we will be able to invite and receive proposals from
organizations and groups interested in Vivekananda's teachings from all
four corners of the country. I urge the Members of the Committee coming
from different parts to identify such organizations at the local level
so that we can support them to spread the message of Swami Vivekananda
far and wide.
In fact, as is well known, Swami Vivekananda travelled extensively as a
monk, covering the length and breadth of the country. His period of
meditation at Kanyakumari is immortalized by the famous rock named after
him. But his travels in other parts of the country are less well known.
Perhaps some attention should be given to reviving interest in his
travels and even in restoring some of the buildings or places which are
associated with him.
We should be conscious that to reach our youth we will have to use media
such as the internet. I am often told that much of the material on
India, including on our historical figures such as Vivekananda, come
from Western sources. If so, we should make strenuous efforts to develop
our own information sites in a useful and attractive manner. We should
also be willing to subsidise high quality publications on Swami
Vivekananda to make them affordable for our youth.
Swami Vivekananda was one of India's early cultural ambassadors who was
able to propagate Indian philosophy, thought and culture to the outside
world. He drew upon our ancient texts to communicate with brilliance and
eloquence the message of India which lays emphasis on tolerance,
plurality and openness.
Swami Vivekanand's famous lecture at the World Parliament of Religions
in Chicago on 11th September 1893 is a shining moment in India's
cultural history. I understand that the State of Chicago does not allow
memorials of people who are not American citizens. But, we must find
some way of commemorating this event in the place where it happened. I
am sure that the Indian American community could be urged to find
creative ways of doing so.
As we receive different proposals for the commemoration, we will have to
set up a mechanism to examine, approve and later monitor their
implementation. I would suggest that we set up an Implementation
Committee that could take on this task and report back from time to time
to the National Committee. We can discuss this matter later during the
The main purpose of today's meeting is to seek your views on how best we
should move ahead to organize the commemoration events. The National
Committee hopes to be able to draw on the immense intellectual resources
of its members to guide the celebrations. I look forward to hearing your
views. Thank you.”
Some of the members who attended the meeting and contributed to the
discussions were Smt.Sonia Gandhi (Chairperson, UPA), Dr. Karan Singh (M.P.),
Shri Pranab Mukherjee (FM), Shri S.M.Krishna (External Affairs
Minister), Shri Kapil Sibal (HRD Minister), Smt. Ambika Soni (I&B
Minister), Shri B.P. Singh, Governor, Sikkim, Shri Narendra Modi (Chief
Minister, Gujarat), Sh. Ramesh Pokhriyal (Chief Minister, Uttrakhand),
Smt. Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Smt. Girija Vyas
(Chairperson, National Commission for Women) Shri Sitaram Yechury
(Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism & Culture) and
senior Ministers representing the Chief Ministers of West Bengal, Tamil
Nadu, Assam and Punjab. The Rama Krishna Mission was represented by 4
Swamjis including Swami Prabhananda. Prominent among the experts and
intellectuals who attended were Prof. Lokesh Chandra (former M.P), Sh.
Aveek Sarkar (Chairman, Anand Bazaar Patrika Group), Sh. Shankar
(eminent author), Prof. Mirinal Miri (Former Vice Chancellor, NEHU),
Prof. M.G.K. Menon, Prof. Samten (Vice Chancellor, Central University of
Tibetan Studies, Sarnath), Prof. Satkari Mukhopadhyay (Scholar) and
Prof. Rudrangshu Mukherjee (Historian).
Considering Swami Vivekananda’s lasting legacy being the role model of
the youth, the Committee focused on the following six areas:
1. Vivekananda as an Icon for the Youth, for
· Character building;
· Value education;
· Imbibing India’s plural & secular tradition
2. Vivekanand & National consciousness
· Synchronized both eternal Indian and modern India;
· Arouse dormant national consciousness
3. Vivekanand’s relevance in the 21st century;
· Emphasise his ideas in contemporary context;
· Let us move forward, with his ideals
4. His service to the poor and service to the mankind
· Emphasis on BPL population, rural/tribal areas and naxalite pockets.
5. Highlight his contribution to gender issues
· Through his wiritings & letters
· Through special programmes for women education and health
6. Vivekananda’s interest in science
· Research & re-kindle interest in scientific enquiry.
Initiatives and Interventions suggested
1. Involve youth through competitions, essays, interactions and study
(i) Reprint complete works in improved form
(ii) Abridged versions for different segments
(iii) Books of quotations and messages
3. I). Biography of Swami Vivekanand by eminent Authors
ii). Reprint Romain Rollands biography of Swami Vivekananda
(i) Publish letters on secular ideas
(ii) Education and curriculum:
Ř In schools and colleges
Ř Create Vivekananda Chairs in Universities
5. Vivekananda and Yoga
(i) Develop its proper understanding
(ii) Establish standards for it
6. Electronic Media as the most popular medium of propagation of the
(i) All India Radio and Television
(ii) CDs, DVDs etc, Internet and Website
(iii) Films on Vivekanands:
i. Most popular concept unanimity on it
ii. PBST proposal supported
7. Vivekananda Travels throughout India
(i) Preserve some important heritage sites
(ii) Encourage students to visit through concessions
8. International Programmes on Vivekananda
(i) Organize Conferences, Lectures and Seminars
(ii) Involve overseas Indians.
(iii) Establish Chairs in Overseas Universities
9. Research on Religion and Harmony, Inter-Faith Dialogue
(i) Bring his ideas into current discourse, study including Tribal
religion and their autonomy
(ii) Counter current perception of religion as violent and divisive
Emphasis on secular aspects of religion
10. Commemorate Chicago Address
(i) Indian Community in U.S.A. may suggest programmes
(ii) A Chair in Chicago University may be set up
(iii) An endowment for an Annual Lecture be created
(i) Coin a catch word or phrase for the Commemoration
(ii) Create a Logo
(i) Invite ideas for the Commemoration
(ii) Mobile Exhibitions
12. Prime Minister announced setting up of a National Implementation
Committee under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister to work out the