PM quotes Gandhi, associates animal welfare to nations’ greatness

  • Lusa
  • 12 October 2021

António Costa and Education Minister Tiago Rodrigues were this Tuesday at the award ceremony for the first edition of the "Gandhi Prize for Citizenship Education" at the Hindu Community of Lisbon.

Portugal’s prime minister on Tuesday quoted Mahatma Gandhi to associate animal welfare “to the greatness of a nation” at a session in which he spoke about education for citizenship.

António Costa and Education Minister Tiago Brandão Rodrigues were this tuesday at the award ceremony for the first edition of the “Gandhi Prize for Citizenship Education” at the Hindu Community of Lisbon, a ceremony that was also attended by India’s ambassador to Portugal.

In his brief speech, Costa focused on ‘animal welfare’, the theme of the first edition of the prize, and the protection of the oceans, which will be the theme of the next edition.

“Mahatma Gandhi is surely one of the most remarkable and inspiring figures of the 20th century. He was a great humanist, a great fighter for freedom, for tolerance and the affirmation of the strength of ideas against a culture of violence,” Costa said.

Costa then said he had had the honour, at the invitation of the head of the government of India, Narendra Modi, to have been part of the international committee for the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth in 2019.

In an allusion to one of the issues that has gained greater relevance in Portuguese political life in recent years, António Costa quoted Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

“In this world in which we live, we certainly live for each other, but we must also live for the other living beings that share life on earth with us. These, which we call animals, deserve our care, our attention and the guarantee of their welfare”, he said, in an allusion to the theme of the first edition of this prize, which is also one of the action priorities of the People-Animals-Nature party (PAN).

As the minister of education had pointed out before, Costa considered that it was motivating how schools in the country have mobilised to present projects on animal welfare and took the opportunity to respond to the controversy surrounding the usefulness of this subject in the education system.

“This is a good demonstration of the essential function of this curriculum subject to help develop the best values of citizenship. And there is no citizenship today that does not include the idea of animal welfare,” he said.

In his speech, Costa pointed out that the next edition of this award, which distinguished 30 projects from different schools, will be on the oceans this year.

“The oceans are the most threatened space on the planet, whether by microplastics or melting ice. So it should be an inspiring cause for the future. If we want to save the planet, we have to start by saving the oceans,” he added.

Costa then mentioned that Portugal, together with Kenya, will be the organiser of the next United Nations conference on the oceans, which will take place, in Lisbon, in June 2022.