Marking a new beginning in India-Pakistan relations and heralding the possibility of reducing the tensions between the two countries, the Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has laid the foundation stone for construction of Dera Baba Nanak – Kartapur Sahib corridor on the Indian side that will provide a passage to Sikh pilgrims to visit the holy site of Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur in Pakistan.
The event also marked the commemoration of 550th birth anniversary year of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji.
Describing today as a “historic day”, the Vice President while laying the foundation stone, said that it has been our long-pending demand that Indian Sikh sisters and brothers should be able to visit Kartapur site with ease.
Pointing out that the demand for setting up the corridor has been discussed for two decades now, he observed that the dream which was pending for many years was getting fulfilled today. It is a day like no other day. It is a truly path-breaking, potentially transformative moment, he affirmed.
Expressing his happiness that Pakistan has accepted the demand of India to develop a corridor with facilities on their side, Shri Naidu said that this is a corridor that connects to the Guru we revere, to the sacred space where he spent the last 18 years of his life. Paying rich tributes to Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he described him as a saint, scholar, poet, guide and a revolutionary, who gave illumination to humanity for the last five and half centuries.
Terming the corridor as a bridge between the people of the two countries who have so much in common, the Vice President said the corridor opens new doors and new possibilities and promotes a new resolve to connect the people of our two countries through love, empathy and invisible threads of common spiritual heritage. This is a corridor to the shrine of peace, harmony and humanism, to the universal vision of a world as one family, to the sublime ideal of service to humanity, he added.
Shri Naidu observed that from time immemorial India has believed that the whole world was one large family and asserted that today’s event was the reaffirmation of that conviction.
Lauding the Government of India for taking a number of initiatives to commemorate 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji, the Vice President said his vision was timeless and more relevant today than ever before. He expressed his happiness that the Centre and the State Government were working together to construct the Kartarpur corridor in a true ‘Team India’ spirit.
Referring to the growing menace of terrorism, the Vice President said that it is truly a global challenge that requires a global response and we must collectively work towards a just and responsive world order and an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations. We cannot allow the darkness to deter us any longer, he added.
The Vice President stressed that India wants peace with all nations, including its neighbours. He said the killing of innocents in terror attacks needs to be condemned.
The Vice President said that the region was beset with challenges like poverty, illiteracy and gender discrimination, which needed to be addressed on a war footing. The people in the region want peace and development and everyone should work in that direction, he added.
The Governor of Punjab, Shri V.P. Singh Badnore, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt. Amrinder Singh, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Shri Nitin Gadkari, the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries, Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs (I/C), Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, the Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri Vijay Sampla and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
Following is the text of Vice President’s address:
“I am very happy to be with all of you today
It is a historic day today.
It is a day when we are laying the foundation for a project we have been dreaming of for a long time.
It is a day that promises to bring us closer to the Guru we all revere.
A Guru who gave illumination to humanity for the last five and a half centuries. A saint, scholar, poet, guide and a revolutionary who believed in gender equality, who decried caste barriers and wanted the world to be filled with a spirit of social equality, religious freedom and universal fraternity.
A Guru who saw godliness in every human being and the one who addressed the Creator of this universe ecstaticallyas follows,
“You, yourself created the Universe, You, yourself are the bumblebee, flower, fruit and the tree. You, yourself are the water, desert, ocean and the pond. You, yourself are the big fish, tortoise and the Cause of causes”. (Raag-AASA by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Ang- 463)
He was a Guru who emphasized service and said, “If we serve humanity in this world, then we would be welcomed in the court of God”. (Raag- Siri by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. Ang-26 )
His vision is timeless and is relevant more than ever today.
The following words from the Guru Granth Sahib reflect India’s universal world view that strikes a rare resonance in our hearts.
“No man shall coerce another;
No man shall exploit another.
Every one, each individual, has
An inalienable birth-right to seek
And pursue happiness and self-fulfilment
Love and persuasion is the only law
Of Social coherence and harmony”
(Baba Farid. Ang-1384.)
Gurudwara Darbar Sahib at Kartarpur, like other places associated with this extraordinary Guru, has been a source of inspiration for centuries.
It has been our long pending demand that Indian Sikh sisters and brothers should be able to visit Kartarpur site with ease.
Unfortunately, even though the great Guru’s message transcends time and space, we have been bound by territorial limits and national boundaries.
The demand for setting up a corridor has been raised and discussed for nearly two decades now. This dream, which was pending for many years, is getting fulfilled today.
It is a day like no other day. It is a truly path breaking, potentially transformative moment.
This momentous, historic occasion has been made possible by the Government of India’s decision to build this corridor from Dera Baba Nanak to the International Corridor on our side.
Of course, we have the blessings of the Guru whose birth anniversary was celebrated a few days backand whose 550th Birth Anniversary is proposed to be celebrated throughout the world next year.
We urged the Government of Pakistan to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community in India and develop a corridor with facilities on their side as well so that our pilgrims from India can visit the holy Gurudwara at Kartarpur Sahib throughout the year.
We are happy that Pakistan had accepted our long pending demand.
Now, you would not have to take a long and arduous route through Attari border. Now you would be able to visit the holy Kartarpur site directly.
This is a corridor that connects us to the Guru we revere, to the sacred space where he spent the last 18 years of his life.
Not only that, it is a bridge between the people of the two countries who have so much in common.
This is a corridor to the shrine of peace, harmony and humanism, to the universal vision of a world as one family, to the sublime ideal of service to humanity.
This is a corridor that opens new doors. It is a path that opens up new possibilities.
It is a unifier, building bridges across old chasms. It promotes deeper understanding and a new resolve to connect the people of our two countries through love, empathy and invisible threads of common spiritual heritage.
My dear sisters and brothers,
From time immemorial, India has believed that the whole world is one large family. Today’s event is the reaffirmation of this conviction.
It promises to be, in many ways, the beginning of a new chapter in our efforts to bring two family members even closer. I am hopeful that the following words of Guru Granth Sahib will be a balm and having soothing influence:
“I have forgotten to speak ill or think ill of any one,
Ever since I learnt to live in the company of good and holy saints,
No one is my enemy nor any one stranger to me,
I get on well with one and all.”
(Raag- Kaanra by Guru Arjan Dev Ji Fifth guru. Ang 1299)
India believes that peace is an inexorable pre-requisite for progress and this can be achieved only if we have mutual respect and a stronger focus on the five Ps that underpin the global agenda for sustainable development- People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership.
As Guru Granth Sahib says, “We treat everybody as our friend, and all are our associates,”and hope that others will also reciprocate with similar approach.(Raag Dhanasri by Guru Arjan Dev ji fifth Guru. Ang-671)
It is this message of goodwill and a willingness to work together that this event today sends out. In fact, Guru Nanak Devji’s vision and voice, like the one propounded by many saints and philosophers of India and the world, has a great relevance for creating conditions for lasting peace.
I am happy that the Government has taken a number of initiatives to commemorate the 550th birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji and spread his message and teaching far and wide.
The historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi, associated with the life of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, is proposed to be developed as a ‘Heritage town’. It will be developed on the smart city principles, including energy efficiency, to highlight Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji’s emphasis on sustainability and reverence for nature. A heritage complex by the name “Pind Babe Nanak da” will be established to depict life in the times of Shri Guru Nanak ji.
Railway station at Sultanpur Lodhi will be developed with all modern amenities and the Ministry of Railways will run a train passing through the various holy places associated with Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, for pilgrims and tourists.
I am glad that the Government of India is planning to establish a Centre for interfaith studies at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar as well as Chairs on Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji in one University each in the UK and Canada.
In order to disseminate the wisdom of the Gurus and connect their thoughts with the contemporary realities, publication of the holy text in different world languages and seminars are being planned.
In a world that is increasingly torn with narrow tunnel vision, bigotry and dogmatism, a world that is being fragmented and divided, a world that is witnessing needless violence and endless conflicts, we need all the strength to dispel the darkness that constantly threatens to envelop individuals, communities and nations.
A manifestation of this darkness is the growing menace of terrorism across the world. It is truly a global challenge that requires a global response. We must collectively work towards a just and responsive world order and an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations. We cannot allow the darkness to deter us any longer.
The word “Guru” means “one who dispels darkness”. He or she is the one who provides a moral compass and makes us tread a path that is good for all of us.
Guru Nanakji, as well as other illustrious Gurus who have made our country a spiritual lighthouse, have shown us the path.
But it is up to us to walk on the path and further embellish it with our own actions.
As the Guru Nanak Ji had exhorted, let us, on this auspicious day, “make the heart the pen, the intellect the writer and write that which has no end or limit”.
(Raag Malaar by Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Ang- 1291)
That is the history we have to create together, a history that will make our two countries and the entire world a more peaceful place for our children and grandchildren to live and grow together.
I hope this corridor will pave the way for peace and greater progress of all our people.
Let me conclude with a Vedic prayer written more than twenty centuries ago.
“May we hear good voices with our ears
May we see pleasant things with our eyes
May we have the devotion, dedication and steadfast resolve to serve humanity with our our hearts, minds and bodies “
I am hopeful that the small but significant step we are taking today will lead us all towards that goal of a harmonious, peaceful, fulfilling life.