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13th September 1937
H.H. THE AGA KHAN'S PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS WHEN HE TOOK THE CHAIR
The Aga Khan: With warmth of feeling at heart that I can bring to my lips, I thank you, You have done India, my country, a great honour, and my delight is undisguised.
It is an honour done to a country whose whole philosophy of life is attuned to the fundamental principles on which the League of Nations is grounded, and whose greatest thinkers, from time immemorial, of whatever culture or creed, have sought in the supremacy of law the sole escape from the anarchy of force.
I am very conscious of the weight of responsibility now laid upon me. In the spirit of devoted service to the League of Nations, I take it up, fortified by your goodwill, and in the assurance of your co-operation I shall bear it willingly. May goodwill be undiminished when I lay it down.
Never, in very truth, were goodwill, co-operation and service more incumbent on all State Members of the League than today. We must face reality unflinchingly. The world is sorely troubled; a storm has long been raging in the extreme corner of Western Europe, another has broken out yonder in the far East. Grievous wrong has been done to the peace of the world and to the principle for which we stand, but though it is very neat and proper that we should take stock of our failures, we must not allow failures to blind us to the reality of our successes, or to rob us of their inspiring influence.
Without the League, would the Dardanells or the Sanjak of Alexandretta have found their peaceful adjustment? And if there have been unforgettable defections from the ranks of the League, is it a small thing, a matter void of significance, that nations still knock at our doors for admittance? In the five years in which I have been privileged to lead the Indian delegation, no fewer than six nations, among them one of the Great Powers - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - have been admitted to the League. Indeed, to a Moslem like myself, the League is now more universal, more truly Catholic, than when I first knew it, and I rejoice, with great rejoicing, that I have been privileged to join in welcoming first Turkey, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, and, this very year Egypt into the League.
These are surely portents of good omen, for light comes from the East, and it is true that the League, like the world itself, is passing through troubled times, and that its ideals have been sorely wounded, it is no less true that the League's ideas live and shall live, and, please God, shall prevail.
And now let us turn to the business we have in hand. There is plenty of it. To the onlooker, much of it may seem undramatic, but much of what affects human life most nearly is undramatic, and if we can do something to bring about a more equitable adjustment of things in economics and in social life no less than in politics, the world will be the better for our labours and we shall have helped the League on the long road to the goal that lies and will ever lie before it - the peaceful removal of all causes of war and the establishment of the unchallengeable empire of peace throughout the world.
(13th September 1937.)