By Yoshita Singh
New York, Apr 5 (PTI) India's "international brand", the Jaipur Foot has provided a lease of life to over a million people, India's Ambassador to the US Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said underscoring that the life-changing contributions of the prosthetic limb organisation illustrates Mahatma Gandhi's message of service and compassion to humanity.
Jaipur Foot USA and the Consulate General of India in New York hosted an exhibition and seminar on 'India for Humanity' Thursday as part of the commemorations planned worldwide to mark Mahatma Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary this year.
Shringla, the chief guest at the event, said besides the fact that Jaipur Foot provides prosthetics to such a large number of people, "it gives a lease of life to people. Over 1.75 million have been touched by it."
He said Jaipur Foot USA is doing a lot to support the endeavour of the Jaipur Foot, citing Bhagwan Mahaveer Viklang Sahayata Samiti (BMVSS) Founder and Chief Patron D R Mehta, who said "this is not charity, it is help that we are rendering to people to stand on their own feet."
BMVSS is among the world's largest organisations for the fitment of artificial limbs.
In October last year, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had launched the 'India for Humanity' initiative under which the External Affairs Ministry will partner BMVSS for holding artificial limb fitment camps in about 12 countries as part of Gandhi's 150th birth anniversary commemoration.
"A very important component is the support that the Ministry of External Affairs will give to Jaipur Foot for a number of camps the Jaipur Foot will undertake in India and different parts of the world in this endeavour of marking Gandhi's own service to humanity and his compassion for humanity," Shringla said.
He recalled Gandhi's message of truth, non-violence and compassion, saying the "linkage between Gandhi's own beliefs and philosophy with the practical aspects of what Jaipur Foot is doing to extend his ideology into the realm of doing service for the people, is critical."
India's Consul General in New York Sandeep Chakravorty described Jaipur Foot as "India's international brand," saying it is one of the most popular and famous Indian brands across the world.
Jaipur Foot USA Founder Chairman Prem Bhandari said that from the time BMVSS was founded in 1975, nearly 1.75 million differently abled people have benefited through 73 camps in 30 countries. He noted that Jaipur Foot USA has zero administrative cost and donations go directly to furthering the work of the organisation.
Paritosh Prasad, a doctor, critical care medicine specialist and Gandhi's great great grandson said there can be no better example of demonstrating the Gandhi's dedication than the efforts of Jaipur Foot.
"It is in the actions of Jaipur Foot and the incredible gifts they give, identifying the need and meeting that need, choosing not to ignore all of our fellow brothers and sisters as we walk this life together, that is the greatest way that we can cherish what we have been gifted from Bapu ji and reinvigorate our responsibilities to carry that teaching and way of life into the future," he said.
Addressing the gathering of eminent diplomats and prominent members of the Indian-American community, Consul General of Bangladesh in New York, Sadia Faizunnesa commended Jaipur Foot and its US affiliate for their "tremendous contribution to people and humanity" across the world, including in her country.
Jaipur Foot has collaborated with local hospitals in Dhaka and "through their amazing work, changing lives of marginalised people at zero cost."
She stressed on the close ties between India and Bangladesh, expressing gratitude to India for supporting the humanitarian action taken by Bangladesh in supporting the forcibly displaced Rohingyas from Myanmar.
"We thank India profusely for its very proactive humanitarian role in that sector also," she said.
Malawi's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Lot Dzonzi said while India is thousands of miles away from his country "but Jaipur Foot, the arm that India extended to my country last year, was able not only to touch over 500 people but was able to change their lives of those 500 people.
Shringla also shared personal stories from his career highlighting Jaipur Foot's contribution in helping rehabilitate disabled people across the world, especially those wounded in conflicts.
He said that at the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka, India sent several de-mining teams to the neighbouring nation and Jaipur Foot established camps in areas like Jaffna, where a large number of people had lost their limbs because of landmines and the prolonged conflict.
Shringla further stressed Gandhi's focus on environment and his message that man should be compatible with nature.
"Mahatma Gandhi was the first advocate of sustainable development. In the UN, there is a lot of emphasis on the UN Sustainable Development Goals but Gandhi, more than a 100 years ago, was already expounding on the concept of the need to stay within the environment."
He further said that leader of the American civil rights movement Martin Luther King was greatly inspired by Gandhi and King's movement followed the principles of non-violence.
On the occasion, singer, rapper, inspirational speaker Sparsh Shah, who was born with a genetic disorder that makes his bones extremely brittle, performed Gandhi's favorite bhajan 'Vaishnav Jana To.' PTI YAS AMS AKJ AMS