Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President Naidu at the International Conference of Global Mothers, in New Delhi on 15 November, 2019.

New Delhi | November 15, 2019

“I am delighted to be here today with all of you for this international conference on “Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam –Family System and Role of Mother”.
Let me extend my deep appreciation to Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) for organizing this momentous conference. The theme of the conference is a highly relevant one, an idea that we must ponder upon, especially in this fast-paced world where families are increasingly being fragmented by emerging socio-economic and cultural factors.
I am happy to know that IGNCA is committed to in-depth research, promotion and preservation of Indian arts & culture. I applaud IGNCA for its efforts towards understanding women’s history from an Indian perspective, through its Nari Samvaad Prakalp (NSP): the gender studies program.
I am told that this event is being organized in collaboration with Foundation for Holistic Development in Academic Field (FHDAF), an organization that has been actively involved helping needy students and people from border areas.
Dear sisters and brothers,
“ayam bandhur ayam neti gananaa laghu chetasaam/
udaara charitaanaam hi vasudhiava kutumbakam//”
meaning, “The distinction of ‘this (person) is mine; and this one is not’ is made only by the narrow-minded, or ignorant people. For those who are of noble conduct (or the one who knows the Ultimate truth) the whole world is one family (one unit).”
The phrase Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam is made up of three Sanskrit words, Vasudhaa (earth/world), iva (like) and kutumbakam (large/extended family). The verse finds mention in Maha Upanishad (VI.72); and is further referred to in the Hitopadesha and other literary works of India.
The context of the verse is to describe the attributes of an individual who has attained the highest level of spiritual progress and one who is capable of performing his worldly duties without any sense of attachment to the material possessions.
This verse has been the guiding light for the Indian family system since time immemorial.
Our ethos and socio-cultural fabric is woven around this perceptive phrase and our worldly wisdom resonates with such moorings, visualized and expressed so lucidly by our sages.
I am also glad that this conference is a celebration of motherhood.
The entire world is indebted to mothers and this is the reason that in all religions and in all parts of the world mothers hold a special position of relevance and reverence.
Hinduism says - “janani janma bhoomish cha svargaad api gareeyasee” (जननीजन्मभूमिश्चस्वर्गादपिगरीयसी), meaning – “the Mother and the motherland are superior even to the Heavens.”
In Islam the Prophet Muhammad also says in a famous narration: - “Al jannanto tah-ta aqq-daam al-omm-haat” meaning, “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother.”
In Christianity – “Motherhood is spoken of throughout Scripture as a high and important calling. Children are viewed as a blessing—a heritage from the Lord... a reward from Him” (Psalm 127:3). 
The Rig Veda reveals a tolerant and unbiased society where women and men were equal and women enjoyed great liberty.
In the Rig Vedic family, the matriarch occupied a place of great important place, so much so that the compound word for father and mother stated ‘Maataraa pitaraa’, signaling the importance of mother.
The word Maatri is used most often to refer to mother. We also find some words like Maatritamaa (meaning very loving mother) to denote the expanse of the concept.
In the Rigvedic times, the mother was identified as the most important person in one’s life.
In the Vedic culture there were several Vedic Rishikas (Women seers) who were the fountainheads of wisdom.
They lived the ideal life of spirituality and chose the path of Vedic studies.
Co-education seems to have existed in this period and all the students got equal attention from the teacher, irrespective of their gender.
It is remarkable that young girls, during Vedic times, were given education after undergoing an initiation ceremony (Yajnopavit) just like the boys.
In the Puranic tradition, women are considered as the harbingers of power and prosperity and revered as Lakshmi, as Sarasvati, as Subhadra, as Durga and as Kali.  Even divine power in the form of Shakti is considered feminine.
The Great Bhishma explained the same concept in the Mahabharatha to his great grandson Yudhisthira, ‘O ruler of the earth (Yuddhisthira), the lineage in which daughters and the daughters in-law are saddened by ill treatment, that lineage is destroyed. When out of their grief these women curse these households, such households lose their charm, prosperity and happiness.’ (Mahabharata, Anushashanparva)
Manu-Samhita says
“Yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra Devatah,
yatraitaastu na pujyante sarvaastatrafalaah kriyaah”
Meaning ‘where women are honored, there the gods are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite yields rewards. Where the female relations live in grief, the family soon wholly perishes; but that family where they are not unhappy ever prospers.’
Shakta Sutra explicitly establishes Goddess or Feminine as the ultimate transcendental reality as well. Adya Shakti, is considered as the Mother of all origins, the matrix of the unborn. ‘All forms of knowledge are aspects of Thee, and all women throughout the world are Thy forms.’ (Devi Mahatmya)
As a mother, woman becomes a figure of profound reverence; ‘Treat your mother as a deva’ maatridevobhava... is a common dictum in Hinduism.
Indeed God is described as ‘mother’ in many verses, as mentioned in the Devi Mahatmya.
The Atharvaveda states that women should be valiant, scholarly, prosperous, intelligent and knowledgeable; they should take part in the legislative chambers and be the protectors of family and society.
The Yajurveda tells us, ‘The scholarly woman purifies our lives with her intellect. Through her actions, she purifies our actions. Through her knowledge, she promotes virtue and efficient management of society.’ (20.84)
In any family, be it nuclear or joint, united or extended; the mother is at the centre. She is the bond that holds the family together. By her dedication she converts the four walls of house into the home where love, affection, respect for others, selfless contribution towards family, society and country exist.
I would confidently say that in our culture, women are considered not just equal to men, but in many respects, superior.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, our strong values have been weakened.
Today we see a formidable rise in violence against women and abandonment and ill-treatment of elderly mothers. 
Mahatma Gandhi, who used the term ‘Stree-Shakti’, once wrote that, “the way we treat our women is an indicator of the richness of our culture”. No one can deny that men may have greater physical power than women, but women have more internal strength and energy. This is the reason that women are identified as Shakti (the embodiment of Power) in the Vedic civilization. The weakening of Shakti will lead the weakening of the family, society and the country, too.
Though we have taken a number of steps to secure the rightful position of respect and leadership to our women,  from Beti Bachao and Beti Padao to institutionalizing 50 percent reservation in Local Self Governments for women, much more needs to be done to protect women and give them an equal platform. 
My dear sisters and brothers,
I believe that without discussing the rich philosophy of Indian family system and tradition, a deliberation on family systems and values would remain incomplete.
Our forefathers developed the best family model based upon the values of sacrifice, respect and togetherness and practiced the same for ages together.
The guiding force for our value system were the Vedas, and it is because of this Vedic foundation that the institution of marriage and the philosophy of an inclusive family; which assimilated the entire world into its fold, without any discrimination, came into being.
A strong family system can be the best possible solution to overcome several crippling social evils.
India can be a role model for the entire world because of its robust family value system which has successfully withstood the test of the time.
India, like most other less industrialized, traditional, eastern societies, emphasizes more on family integrity, family loyalty, and family unity.
Indian family system discourages individualism and encourages collectivism.
India has grown and attained its current stature under the strong and supportive framework of its joint family system.
Here in the presence of the elderly, children learnt lessons of ethics and morality.
Respecting and loving elders, caring for them and seeking their wise counsel while taking important decisions, are few practices which are followed in Indian joint families.
The joint family system develops a sense of responsibility, a propensity for adjustment and love for discipline in children, right from an early age. In case of disagreements, the matters are wisely sorted out by consultative and democratic processes, rather than taking recourse to bitter unilateral decisions.
But we must also recognize that with the advent of urbanization and modernization, even in India, joint families are being fragmented.
People are migrating in search of jobs and thus new family systems are emerging in the evolving socio-economic scenario, replacing the traditional joint family model.
Change is, of course, inevitable. Whatever the family system be, the core values that sustained and nourished Indian families for centuries together must never be compromised.
Even if families are far away physically, they must always remain close to one another, firmly bonded in the eternal values of love, brotherhood and sacrifice. 
I am sure that platforms like this conference will help us find means to adapt to changing scenarios without compromising on the identity and individuality of our civilization. I hope that through informed deliberations and open discussions, you will further strengthen the institution of the family in whatever form it may assume.
I extend my best wishes to each one of you to make this great vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam”- a reality.
I am confident that together we will fulfill the responsibility entrusted to us by our ancestors to lead the world from darkness and ignorance to the light of wisdom.
I wish IGNCA and this conference a great success!”