Speech at the Eye Camp organised by the Lions Club Baragorn dated 20-1-1966

I came here not just to visit the camp but to express my solidarity with the people who are attending it.

It is our ability to look beyond the present that helps us to remain humane. Those who can, find in themselves a manifestation of the Supreme Being, whose spark in all of us makes us divine children. All religions have attempted to make us understand this basic truth, that we are all brothers and sisters. When the animal takes control of us we forget this, because in the world of animals, survival of the fittest is the law that prevails. It is only in the world of human beings, that there is concern for the weaker sections. This concern for the poor, the weak and the suffering, is a divine quality. It is this divine quality which has brought us together here. It was very heartening to see young men and women standing by the side of the old and the sick, now convalescing after undergoing operation, who need help from others. It was also refreshing to see people who are better off ready to attend to the needs of the poor.

It has been the effort of the Government to bring medical care within the reach of everyone in our country. Many people still remain outside the pale of government health services. It will not be wise to wait till the Government is able to reach everyone. It is here that the role of the voluntary organisations comes in. Wherever the Government is not able to reach, people’s organisations will have to fill up the gap. When the people and the Government join hands and work together these services can be brought within everyone’s reach early.

The Prime Minister often speaks about taking the country to the 21st century. What does it mean? It means modern life should come within the reach of everyone. It also means that we are able to offer everyone a reasonably good life. In other words we should be able to provide everyone with three square meals a day, necessary clothes to cover one’s nakedness, a shelter to live in, and the basic medical and educational facilities. Siv Sodi

If only we can bring these basic needs within the reach of our people can we take our people into the 21st century. This vision of the 21st century requires a lot of hard work on the part of all of us. Here is a Herculean task before us. I do wish that the voluntary organisations would take up this challenge seriously and undertake the job of organising the peoples’ resources and energy to face up to it so that we are prepared to reach the 21st century when this millenium comes to a close.