21 January 2009 | Vienna, Austria
NDTV´s Indian of the Year Awards
Aired on NDTV, India, 21 January 2009
NDTV´s Indian of the Year Awards
by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
I am delighted to join you as you select outstanding Indian personalities of 2008. By recognising excellence in every field - politics, sports, business, cinema, the arts and public service - we identify role models and leaders.
Celebrating role models and leaders reinforces the values of a society. Core values such as decency, tolerance, hard work, solidarity and courage are at the heart of long-term success in every field of human activity and are common to every culture and religion. India´s rich history is full of outstanding individuals who embody such values.
Human beings, unfortunately, do not always live up to these values. 2008 has not been a good year for many of us.
The search for security continues to be the overriding concern for many peoples and nations, yet it remains elusive.
For billions of people, security is the fulfillment of basic needs: food, water, shelter and health care - in other words, freedom from want. For others, it is the attainment of other fundamental human rights: freedom of expression, freedom of worship and freedom from fear.
Among states, security has different meanings. For some, it is the achievement of economic or military parity or superiority, for others the projection of power and influence, and for still others the resolution of conflicts and disputes. Regardless of which aspect of security we consider, the global picture has lately been dominated by failure and disappointment, largely due to a lack of vision and leadership.
It is our great privilege to live in an age in which we are witnessing incredible advances in science and technology, such as nanotechnology, bioengineering and information technology - fields in which many of you in India are making significant contributions.
But it is also our great shame to tolerate, at the same time, pervasive poverty and other forms of inequity. It is an illusion to believe that we will ever have global security while some 1.4 billion people - including about 400 million in India - live on less than $1.25 a day.
The linkage between poverty and injustice, on the one hand, and violence, on the other, is clear for all to see. The carnage in Gaza is the most recent example.
We spend more than 10 times more on armaments than on development assistance to the poor.
There are still 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, many of them ready for quick launch, and we have made little progress in achieving the vision of Rajiv Gandhi of a world free of these horrifying weapons.
In my view, the key to our survival is to always remember that we are one human family. I recall the global revulsion against the horrifying terrorist atrocities and senseless violence in Mumbai last November.
This reinforced my belief that, even in the most difficult of circumstances, we must not despair. Our core value of human solidarity is embedded in every one of us, although, regrettably, it often surfaces only in times of crisis. History has many lessons to teach us about overcoming hatred and division and working together for the common good.
The major problems facing all of us - poverty, the financial crisis, communicable diseases, climate change, the scourge of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction - are global problems that require global action. These are all "threats without borders" - where traditional notions of national security have become obsolete.
We cannot respond to these threats by building more walls, developing bigger weapons, or dispatching more troops. Quite the contrary. By their very nature, these threats to human security require multinational cooperation and collective solutions.
In the settlement of differences between individuals, groups or nations, we must engage in dialogue. Engaging does not mean appeasement or rewarding bad behaviour. On the contrary - it is a sign of confidence and strength. It does not mean agreeing with your adversaries or giving in to them. It does mean being prepared to hammer out a hard bargain that meets enough of your concerns and their concerns to make the resulting agreement worth having.
Some would say that renouncing the use of force is too idealistic. To them I say, taking Mahatma Gandhi as shining proof - this is not idealism, but rather realism, because the key lesson history has taught us is that force does not heal old wounds; it opens new ones. In today´s world, we cannot hark back to the caveman, always in search of a bigger club with which to settle our differences. Instead, we should search for a system of security in which every nation feels secure and every human being is able to live in peace, freedom and dignity.
Outstanding leaders in every field are those who recognise the need to transcend narrow confines and reach out at a human level. They are those who emphasise action over rhetoric, who have a clear vision in uncertain times, who practise what they preach, who lead by example, who share credit for success and accept responsibility for failure, who are willing to acknowledge mistakes and move on, who appreciate that they are privileged for a few short years to contribute to the public good.
Leaders everywhere live to varying degrees in the public eye. It is therefore appropriate that you have chosen to involve the public in deciding who has made outstanding contributions in diverse walks of life in India.
Restoring the moral compass by highlighting core values in times of turbulence is a key role of civil society. I wish you success in your efforts to raise awareness of excellence and celebrate those who have contributed to the vibrancy of Indian society in 2008.