‘India has a lot to offer to the global community’

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind during a ceremonial reception in New Delhi in 2019. (AFP/File)
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Updated 15 August 2020

‘India has a lot to offer to the global community’

  • ‘It has been the tradition of India that we work for the well-being of the entire world’
  • Our visionary leaders brought together a diversity of world views to forge a common national spirit

It gives me great pleasure to greet all the people of India, living in the country and abroad, on the 74th Independence Day. 

Aug. 15 fills us with the excitement of unfurling the tricolor, taking part in celebrations and listening to patriotic songs. On this day, the youth of India should feel the special pride of being citizens of a free nation. We gratefully remember our freedom fighters and martyrs whose sacrifices have enabled us to live in an independent nation.
The ethos of our freedom struggle forms the foundation of modern India. Our visionary leaders brought together a diversity of world views to forge a common national spirit. Their thoughts and actions shaped the identity of India as a modern nation.
We are fortunate that Mahatma Gandhi became the guiding light of our freedom movement. As much a saint as a political leader, he was a phenomenon that could have happened only in India. Troubled by social strife, economic problems, and climate change, the world seeks relief in his teachings. His quest for equality and justice is the mantra for our republic. I am glad to see the younger generations rediscover Mahatma Gandhi.
The celebrations of Independence Day this year will be rather restrained. The reason is obvious. The whole world confronts a deadly virus which has disrupted all activities and taken a huge toll. It has altered the world we lived in before the pandemic.
It is very reassuring to note that the central government, while anticipating the tremendous challenge, responded effectively and well in time. For a country so vast and diverse with high population density, meeting this challenge requires superhuman efforts. All state governments took measures in accordance with local circumstances. People also supported wholeheartedly. With our committed efforts, we have succeeded in containing the magnitude of the pandemic and saving a large number of lives.
The nation is indebted to doctors, nurses and other health workers who have been continuously on the forefront of our fight against this virus. Unfortunately, many of them have lost their lives battling the pandemic. They are our national heroes.


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The poor and daily wage earners are the worst hit by the pandemic. In order to support them through this phase of crisis, virus containment efforts have been supplemented by welfare interventions. By introducing “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,” the government has enabled millions of people to earn their livelihood, and mitigate the impact of job loss, dislocation and disruption caused by the pandemic. The government continues to extend its helping hand through a number of initiatives, supported wholeheartedly by the corporate sector, civil society and citizens.
Committed to taking care of our people stranded anywhere in the world, the government has brought back more than one million Indians under the Vande Bharat Mission. Indian Railways has been operating train services, in these challenging circumstances, to facilitate travel and transportation of people and goods.
Confident of our strengths, we reached out to help other countries in their fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19). In responding to calls from countries for supply of medicines, India has once again shown that it stands by the global community in times of distress. We have been at the forefront in evolving regional and global strategies for an effective response to the pandemic. The overwhelming support India got at the elections for the nonpermanent seat of the UN Security Council is a testimony to the goodwill we enjoy internationally.
It has been the tradition of India that we do not just live for ourselves, but work for the well-being of the entire world. India’s self-reliance means being self-sufficient without alienating or creating distance from the world.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The world now realizes what our sages had said long ago: The global community is but one family. However, even while the world community needs to fight together against the greatest challenge before humanity, some in our neighborhood tried to carry out their misadventure of expansion. Our brave soldiers laid down their lives defending our borders. The entire nation salutes the martyrs of Galwan Valley. Every Indian feels grateful to their family members. Their bravery in combat has demonstrated that while we believe in peace, we are also capable of giving a befitting response to any attempt of aggression. We are proud of the members of our armed forces, paramilitary forces and police personnel who protect the borders, and ensure our internal security.
When India won freedom, many predicted that our experiment with democracy would not last long. They saw our ancient traditions and rich diversity as hurdles in democratization of our polity. But we have always nurtured them as our strengths that make the largest democracy in the world so vibrant. India has to continue playing its leading role for the betterment of humanity.
We have a lot to offer to the global community, especially for intellectual and spiritual enrichment and promotion of world peace. With this spirit, I offer a prayer for the well-being of one and all:
May all be happy,
May all be free from illness,
May all see what is auspicious,
May no one come to grief.
The message of this prayer for universal well-being is India’s unique gift to humanity.
Thank you,
Jai Hind!

 

Ram Nath Kovind, the writer, is the president of India


Saudi health campaigners think pink for breast cancer awareness month

Updated 6 min 5 sec ago

Saudi health campaigners think pink for breast cancer awareness month

  • Regular checks are a must to detect and fight the disease in its early stages

JEDDAH: Breast cancer, once a taboo subject in many Saudi social settings, is now openly talked about thanks to years of awareness campaigns led by an organization bearing the name of a victim of the disease, Zahra.

As Breast Cancer Awareness month gets underway, campaigners in the Kingdom will be urging people to think pink, the internationally recognized symbol of October and a color adopted by the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Saudi Arabia.

The association was one of the first bodies in the country dedicated to raising awareness about the disease and providing support to patients and survivors. And its mission is far from over, with more outreach programs and initiatives in the pipeline.

While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to follow the vital steps toward detecting the disease in its early stages, but the association is leading the fight to highlight the need for regular checks.

Known to be the most common cancer in women worldwide, it is the leading cause of death among Saudi women, according to a retrospective epidemiological study conducted in 2012.

The findings showed high-incidence rates occurring at an earlier age in Saudi women than in those in Western countries.

More than 25 years ago, Dr. Suad bin Amer, the head of breast cancer research at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, struggled to understand the disease which her mother, Zahra bint Ali bin Harfash, suffered from.

In order to comprehend her mom’s grave situation and treatment, that went on for several years, Amer went on a hunt for information and was able to answer the questions of her ailing mother, who succumbed to the disease years later.

Since early 2003, awareness workshops and seminars have been conducted in a number of institutions in Riyadh, and awareness campaigns run in shopping centers were later expanded throughout the Kingdom.

With a mission to provide a clearer understanding of the disease, support patients, and help them to live a pro-active life after recovery, Amer co-founded the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in 2007, named after her late mother.

In carrying out her awareness work, she took to heart the words of her mother who said: “Women must be made aware of this disease, must seek knowledge and information about it by themselves, and should undergo screening.”

With this message in mind Amer began her journey of spreading awareness in the Kingdom about the importance of early detection with a team of dedicated co-founders and members.

CEO and co-founder, Hanadi Al-Outhah, told Arab News that breast cancer awareness month would go ahead despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, using digital means to reach out to as many people as possible, even beyond Saudi  borders.

“This year, we’re focusing on the four main pillars of thought, priorities, behavior, and gratitude toward health and how the events of the year were able to change the mindset of patients and survivors. We’re focusing on their growth and providing them with the support they need after recovery,” she said.

Al-Outhah added that the organization would be participation in the upcoming Civil20 (C20) event at which the importance of supporting cancer survivors, post-treatment, would be discussed.

“It’s an area that we are falling behind on in the Kingdom and regionally. It’s never been discussed before and the aim is to target the G20 countries and encourage them to support them after their treatment, while activating their roles as survivors after. The result would be more impactful as many NGOs are founded by survivors themselves,” she said.

Hala Aseel, a co-founder of the association and a mental-health counselor, said: “I, like everyone at the time, was oblivious to what breast cancer was but understood it with time as I am a daughter of a cancer survivor.

“I believed in the goal of Zahra because people needed to change their view of the disease with survivors who can live to tell the tale. With enough support they can, and they’ll find a wider support group that also includes survivors to help.”

Another co-founder and clinical psychologist, Ahlam Al-Shamsi, said: “We went from knocking on people’s doors to people knocking on ours. With the help of the Ministry of Health, this was achieved. With the help of Zahra, we aim at empowering women, survivors, to go out and advocate about the screening process and talk about their journeys.

“With support, we’ll be able to do more to help and ensure that patients and survivors receive proper moral and psychological support that will ensure their continued journey in life.”

Public acceptance and acknowledgement of the importance of screening has encouraged many and helped in generating a better understanding of the risk factors relevant to patients.

“One of the main goals now is to fill in a gap and calculate the impact measurement, to ensure that there are enough people to continue providing psychological and social support by training specialists in the Kingdom, support research projects and empower members of the medical field, and provide them with the needed education,” said Al-Shamsi.

Zahra’s plans for the future include establishing a constant presence at specialist hospitals with cancer treatment centers and recruit community figures to help bring a local flavor to initiatives.

Al-Outhah noted that support would continue to be needed from all levels.

Breast cancer survivor, Awatif Al-Hoshan, who is a member of the board and a Zahra ambassador, said women were often confused and found it daunting to inquire about the disease, sometimes fearing the worst.

“When cancer patients and survivors see other women come forward, it brings a sense of ease and comfort. Zahra ambassadors follow a simple and important therapeutic path, to lend a helping hand,” she said.

“It’s a scientific fact that early detection saves lives and we’ve come a long way as we’ve cooperated with many health organizations to try and complete the circle, health-wise, mentally, and physically.

“The support I had while getting treatment wasn’t what I needed. I understood that and learnt from the experience. I am now a proud Zahra ambassador helping out patients and creating a community of caregivers with hopes to expand and have more people join,” Al-Hoshan added.

The association’s mission is far from complete, but its outreach has expanded throughout the Kingdom, and participation in this year’s C20 will provide a platform for its message to be heard around the world.

“Working with various entities throughout the years has helped to spread awareness at unprecedented levels. But support is everything,” said Al-Outhah.