“This would be a world that would do the Mahatma proud. Let us celebrate his 150th birthday in ways and means that befits the great person that Gandhiji was,’’ he said.
The meeting was skipped by several opposition party leaders, including Sonia Gandhi (Congress), Mayawati (BSP), Mulayam Singh (SP), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Sitaram Yechury (CPM) and Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
About 80 committee members, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, attended the first meeting to discuss ideas for organising different events to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of the Father of the Nation.
Addressing a galaxy of dignitaries that included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, Mr Kovind said Mahatma Gandhi continues to be of significance for everyone in all countries.
The meeting brought together politicians of different hues including union cabinet ministers, state chief ministers and leaders of political parties.
The committee’s mandate is to approve policies and plans including preparatory activities for commemoration of the birth anniversary of Gandhi from October 2, 2019 to October 2, 2020.
The Union Government has earmarked Rs 150-crore for the centenary.
The Ministry of Culture is the nodal ministry for the celebrations, with Union Culture Secretary as member-secretary.
The committee comprises 125 members, including Gandhian, RSS members, spiritual leaders and social workers.
The Committee also has nine international members, including two former Secretaries General of the United Nations – Mr Kofi Annan and Mr Ban Ki-moon – and Nobel laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and former US Vice-President Al Gore.