Speech at the function organised by the Catholic Association Jabalpur, dated 6-10-1985
I am deeply indebted to you for the warm and affectionate reception you gave me this morning. I am an ordinary farmer’s son and many of you know my moorings because you come from that part of the country. I have been appointed the Governor of the largest State in India. This is one of the States which has very few Christians. The gathering of Christians here is, therefore, very happy that a member of their own community has become the Head of State here.
How did this happen? It has happened because we have evolved a system in which the great and the small are all involved in managing the affairs of the country. To achieve this that we fought for our freedom; we liberated the country from British rule, from the rule of the rajas, princes and nawabs so that the governance of the country would pass on to the people of this land.
On 15 August 1947, the British Empire bid goodbye to India and sovereignty passed on to people of this country, the great and small, without regard to their caste, creed or religion. Now a Governor represents that sovereignty. I fly the flag of the country in the name of the people of India. The national salute is given to me, not in my personal capacity but to honour the people of India whom I represent. So in our system anyone can be chosen to the high office. This is one of the merits and the strength of our system. It has enabled a poor farmer’s son to represent the sovereignty of the nation in the largest of State in India. It is this system which has made it possible for one belonging to one of the smallest communities in India
to occupy such a place. It is again the system which has enabled one from the southernmost corner of this sub-continent sized country to be the Head of the bigest State, the heart of India. This system has given power to the people and brought them into the governance of the country.
It is a liberating system: A system in which the Christian community has a big role to play. What exactly is the essence of Christianity? Jusus Christ came to liberate men from the bondage of evil. What is evil? Anything that causes suffering to others is evil. And, liberation from this bondage is the mission of a Christian which is why many of you have left their kith and kin and come here to work for liberating the people from the bondage of evil, the bondage of suffering. This mission every Christian has to carry forward.
It was this mission which animated Mahatma Gandhi to take up the leadership of our struggle for freedom. He wanted not only political freedom which was, for’ him, a means to achieve freedom from all bondage but also freedom from ignorance and poverty. He wanted freedom so that people may live a richer and fuller life.
Now that we are free, freedom has to be made meaningful and tangible to the people of our country. They must have food to keep body and soul together, clothes to cover their nakedness, shelter to protect them from the weather, necessary health care to keep diseases away from their doors and they must have information and knowledge to lead a better life. Freedom has conferred on us the right to obtain and making them available to the people is as much a Christian mission as an Indian mission. It is a mission in which all of us can work together.
I am happy, my brothers and sisters here are doing good work for the development of the country, for the emancipation of our people, for liberating them from the bondage of all kinds of evil. Come, let us all work together to carry forward this mission.