The Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh visited Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s Samadhi at Sri Aurobindo Ashram in the morning of 30th June. “Earlier, the Prime Minister visited the more than 400-year-old Manakula Vinayakar temple, where he was received with temple honours. He also visited Aurobindo Ashram and stood in meditation for a while before the memorials (Samadhis) of Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual collaborator The Mother (Mirra Alfasa).” According to a source at the Ashram reception Dr. Singh observed, “It is my privilege to be here”. During his fifteen minutes visit between 9.30 to 9.45 am he also met the Ashram Trustees who were present and visited the book stall.
Dr. Singh was on a two day visit to Puducherry to open a women and children hospital, hostel and a teaching block at JIPMER and inaugurate the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Institute of South Asia Regional Cooperation in the Pondicherry University campus. The Chief Executive of India in his convocation address reminded the graduating medicos, “The Hippocratic Oath that you are enjoined to take commits you to the idea that you will practice the art and science of your profession in order to secure the “respect of all humanity, at all times”. This is an onerous commitment but I am confident that each one of you will live up to this cherished ideal.” In words that seemed to reflect the recent concerns over unscrupulous and exploitative medial professionals he said, “Students training to be doctors have to be prepared to work with local communities and in our villages. They should be sensitised to the social determinants of health and be as willing to contribute to preventive healthcare and its management as the more lucrative curative systems.” In the concluding part of his address he observed, “I am truly delighted to come to this historic city which became the home of one of India’s great spiritual thinkers Shri Aurobindo.”
At Puducherry University he held, “It is ironic that many universities in the West have chairs or centres that focus on South Asia but here in our own region, we have so few of them! I have often felt that the citizens of South Asia have to start communicating and understanding each other through direct contact rather than through western academic constructs or prisms.” Referring to the present crisis in Europe he noted, “I sincerely hope that the leaders of Europe will find in them the imagination and wisdom to preserve the European project that has served as a guiding light to regional cooperation elsewhere in the world, including South Asia.” The Prime Minister expressed hopes of greater progress for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). “India is fully committed to the idea of SAARC. In recent Summit meetings, I have found a genuine desire among South Asian leaders to write a new chapter in the history of this organization. I am happy that important initiatives that symbolize the idea of South Asia are taking shape. The South Asia University has started its work and will soon have its own full-fledged campus just outside Delhi. The SAARC Development Fund has become operational and has started implementing projects under its social window.”
It is interesting to note that Dr. Manmohan Singh had once quoted from Sri Aurobindo’s writings on karmayoga in a speech at the parliament, when he was the Finance Minister.
1. Ashram Reception