CHANDIGARH: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday hoped the "Kartarpur model" might help in resolving future conflicts, as he and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu addressed a special session of the Punjab Assembly to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev.
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu too said a new world of peace and sustainable development could be founded if teachings of the Sikh Guru were integrated in daily lives. "Peace and harmony is the only way forward to ensure a prosperous future. The Kartarpur model may be replicated in future too for lasting resolution of conflicts," the former PM said.
The Kartarpur corridor, scheduled to be opened on November 9, links the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan-the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev--with Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur of Indian Punjab.
The former PM also appealed to take forward the message of mutual love and respect propagated by the Sikhism founder to ensure an equitable society. "Guru Nanak Dev Ji's eternal message of oneness of god, religious tolerance and peace can pave the way to end sectarian violence", Singh said, adding that it was the biggest challenge faced by the world.
"Punjab is Guru Nanak Devji's karmabhoomi. How will we keep Guru Nanak Devji's legacy alive if its youth is wasted with drugs, water is becoming poisonous and women are being disrespected. It is the most crucial question on his 550th birth anniversary," Singh added.
Addressing the session, the vice-president described Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev as one of India's most democratic spiritual leaders. Naidu said his vision was timeless and "had as much relevance today as it was when it was expounded five centuries ago".
Naidu, who started his address in Punjabi, said, "It is quite appropriate that this temple of democracy is dedicating a special session to one of India's most democratic spiritual leaders."
"Guru Nanak ji belongs to the long illustrious tradition of India's visionary spiritual leaders who have illumined human existence and greatly enriched the country's cultural capital," said Naidu, adding that the Guru saw what ordinary people could not.
"They enrich people's lives through their insights and ideas. In fact, that is the meaning of the word 'guru'. A guru is one who provides illumination, dispels doubts and shows the path," he said, adding that for the first Sikh Guru, differences and multiple identities based on caste, creed, religion and language were irrelevant.
"Our world view has been continually broadened by timeless messages of enlightened pathfinders like Guru Nanakji. We, as democratic political leaders, and even as common citizens, have so much to learn from the teachings of this great personality," Naidu said.
The vice president further said, "If we can internalise and integrate these messages in our daily lives and reshape our thinking and actions, we can certainly discover a new world of peace and sustainable development,".
He said that the respect for women and gender equality was another important lesson to be learnt from Guru Nanak Dev's life. "This spirit of equality began with Guru Nanak Dev's clear recognition that there is no distinction between a Hindu and Muslim. For him, no country was foreign and no people were alien," said the vice-president.
He said it was worth noting that Guru Nanak initiated an inter-faith dialogue way back in the 16th century AD. "The world needs such spiritual leaders, who can engage in a meaningful dialogue to exchange ideas in order to promote peace, stability and cooperation," said Naidu.
Naidu also said Guru Nanak Dev insisted on earning one's livelihood by hard work. "Work, worship and share (kirt karo, naam japo and vand chhako) was the motto he placed before his disciples. Earn by honest labour and share the earnings with the needy," said Naidu.
Underlining the message of Guru Nanak Dev, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh too stressed the need to protect nature so that future generations do not suffer from environmental pollution.
Recalling the Guru's thought "pavan guru, pani pita, mata dharat mahat" (air is the guru, water the father, and earth the mother), the chief minister underlined the intrinsic bond between the nature and mankind.
This ideology needed to be preserved in letter and spirit to ensure that future generations did not suffer from environmental pollution, as evident from the prevailing air pollution in the entire northern region, including the national capital, said Singh.
He appealed to everyone to preserve the nature and natural resources to make Punjab clean, green and pollution free in line with the Guru's philosophy by making the optimal use of groundwater, diversifying into less water-intensive crops and stop burning paddy straw besides checking the use of chemical fertilisers.
Earlier, the session started with MLAs and MPs from Punjab and Haryana taking part in it. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, Punjab and Haryana Governors--VP Singh Badnore and Satyadev Narayan Arya--also attended the special session.
It is for the first time after the carving of Haryana out of Punjab in 1966 that legislators of both states sat together in the Punjab assembly for this special event.