Bhubaneswar: Utkal University celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Joining as the Chief Guest, His Excellency Prof Ganeshi Lal, the Governor, and the Chancellor of Utkal University, inaugurated the day-long program and unveiled GandhiJi’s statue at the Ahimsa Sthal. The Governor in his inspiring address quoted the Nobel Laureate Albert Einstein who famously said that forthcoming generations would hardly believe that a man like Mahatma Gandhi ever walked on this earth in flesh and blood.
He went on to add how Odisha influenced and attracted Gandhiji to visit the state several times. Stressing that Ahimsa is nothing but compassion and is central to all faith systems, Prof Lal quoted from the holy scriptures of the Bible, the Koran, and the Upanishads. He highlighted that the world is moving from competition towards collaboration and how the world has so much more to learn from Odisha’s people who live their life with contentedness and honesty. The Governor launched a Program for Peace Studies and dedicated the Ahimsa Sthal at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Park for the practice of non-violence and global peace.
Shri Madhusudan Padhi (IAS), the Distinguished Guest of Honour, appreciated the unique concept of Ahimsa Sthal and congratulated the university authorities and the NBCC for completing the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Park within one month. He praised the university for showing exemplary commitment to the idea of non-violence and peace. Mr. Padhi highlighted how Gandhian ideas remain relevant to today’s many problems including those in the contexts of environment and climate change.
In his address, Prof Soumendra Mohan Patnaik, the Vice-Chancellor, expounded his vision for the Ahimsa Sthal and the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Park as a creative space to engage with Gandhiji’s ideas. He argued why Swaraj, Swadeshi, Satyagraha and Sarvoday are parts of an interconnected quadrangle of the Rama Rajya to which Gandhiji referred as essential requirements of an ideal state, to which we today popularly call as the practice of good governance.
For this event in the morning Prof Mitali Chinara of the Department of Economics was the host, Prof Sabita Acharya, Chairperson of PG Council delivered the welcome address and Shri Dayanidhi Nayak (OAS) the Registrar offered a vote of thanks.
In addition to the above events, a special inaugural session of a three-day-long international conference on “Interrogating the trends of Rural Development and Social Transformation in South Asia”, was dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi & his vision of rural development and social transformation. Organized by the Department of Sociology and the Global Centre for Rural Studies in collaboration with the Indian Sociological Society and Indian Anthropological Association, the conference has attracted academics and practitioners from the USA, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. The seminar will debate and deliberate on several themes such as Rural Development today, Sustainable Agriculture and Development, Women and Agriculture Development, Globalization and Development and Science, Technology and Society etc, informed Dr. Rabindra Garada, the Organizing Secretary of the conference.
The university organized a traditional Prabhat Pheri program along with students of the university campus school during early morning hours. In the evening a cultural program was organized on the occasion by the students. Distinguished Gandhian organization SNEH conducted a peace concert. The unique musical dedicated to the Mahatma was well complemented by dance and vocal performances by students of the university. .