Peace Symposium

Compassion, Wisdom and Courage: Building a Global Society of Peace and Creative Coexistence (2013)

September 12, 2013
Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi

Peace Symposium in Delhi

Peace Symposium in Delhi

Three eminent speakers – former Chief de Cabinet to the Secretary General of the United Nations Virendra Dayal; Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah; and Planning Commission Member Syeda Saiyidain Hameed – discussed the challenges and solutions to securing peace in a schismatic world at the Peace Seminar organized by BSG on September 12, 2013 in Chinmaya Mission Auditorium, New Delhi.

The seminar, Compassion, Wisdom and Courage: Building a Global Society of Peace and Creative Coexistence, drew its title and theme from the peace proposal submitted by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda to the UN on 26 January 2013.

The 2013 peace proposal focuses on three goals to realize peace: 1) The determination to share the joys and sufferings of others; 2) Faith in the limitless possibilities of life; and 3) The vow to defend and celebrate diversity.

The keynote address by Mr Dayal dwelt on a complete rejection of communalism and divisive politics. He found the peace proposal a “profoundly compassionate and optimistic vision of the world.” Mr Dayal praised Dr Ikeda’s contribution to the UN and his efforts to reduce hostilities among nations through dialogue and people-to-people contact. The more difficult the situation, the more important it is to engage in dialogue. Mr Dayal said what impressed him the most about the recommendations put forward by Dr Ikeda was how he combined spirituality and sustainability. “His vision is both profound and optimistic.”

Mr Habibullah talked about ‘creative coexistence’ in society, where people don’t simply tolerate each other but work with each other to create a new world that benefits all. He spoke of the need to defend diversity: “Too often, diversity becomes a cause of conflict. You feel the concept of us and them; here, the concept that is promoted is we – we are a part of life; we work together in peaceful coexistence, not in competition, not simply tolerating the fact that there are differences, but in fact welcoming and celebrating those differences, because that is the richness of human life; that is the richness of all existence.”

Dr Hameed spoke of a childhood torn asunder by the horrors of Partition. She said Dr Ikeda’s vision of peaceful coexistence offered a lot of hope. “So from that kind of displacement and from that trauma, when I read Dr Ikeda’s words, for me, this is the world, this is the paradigm, this is what it ultimately is – this compassion, wisdom and courage in building a global society of peaceful and creative coexistence – isn’t this what human beings are today striving for?”

Read about the peace proposal symposiums in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

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A Spiritual Framework for Peace

September 28, 2013
Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, Mumbai

Peace Symposium in Mumbai

Peace Symposium in Mumbai

Bharat Soka Gakkai, together with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) organized a seminar on President Ikeda’s 2013 peace proposal at the Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, Mumbai, on September 28, 2013.

In his opening remarks, TISS Director S. Parasuraman focused on the issue of human dignity in India, an issue that Dr Ikeda’s 2013 peace proposal examines extensively. Dr Parasuraman said people are being displaced from their lands and deprived of their livelihood with no alternatives being offered to them. The last, he said, had resulted in conflicts like the Maoist insurgency. He stated that in the prevailing competitive market economy, the dispossessed have no access to justice. However, he asserted, a lot of young people in India want to bring about change and are willing to work with those who are poor and vulnerable.

Former Political Director for Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Human Rights Affairs at the UN, Kishore Mandhyan, stated that India is a very special country, for here he often gets “glimpses of humanity”. The core emphasis of the peace proposal, Dr Mandhyan stated, is the self-transformation of individuals. As a negotiator for the UN, Dr Mandhyan stated, the best assurance for negotiations was “empathy of the heart and the ability to look the other person in the eye”. He emphasized that compassion is wisdom of the heart, not of the mind. “We need to focus on the person in front of us,” he added.

Director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) Sheela Patel said Dr Ikeda’s peace proposal touched her very deeply and forced her to question her own reality, beliefs and commitments. She focused on the problems of rapid urbanization and the challenges brought about by such changes. She claimed that by 2030, depression would be the major cause of death, exceeding even the number of people who die from chronic diseases. She said the peace proposal, with its emphasis on compassion, has huge implications for the health and well-being of all people.

Founder and Executive Chairman of Magic Bus Matthew Spacie said children from poor backgrounds in India have limited choices in life.

Former Director of the National Gandhi Museum Varsha Das said that in order to ensure dignity to each individual, a spiritual framework is needed in society.

Dr. Das said President Ikeda has written this proposal to return dignity to the individual through a grassroots movement (like the SGI) in which each of us can participate. “This can be achieved if each of us were to think globally and act locally.”

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Equality and Equity Bring Peace

September 30, 2013
Saturday Club, Kolkata

Peace Symposium in Kolkatta

Peace Symposium in Kolkatta

Nearly 350 people gathered at the Saturday Club, a landmark of Kolkata, on September 30, 2013, to attend a seminar titled Compassion, Wisdom and Courage: Building a Global Society of Peace and Creative Coexistence, based on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2013 peace proposal. The peace proposal emphasizes the importance of building a global society based on creative coexistence and dignity of life.

Dr Ikeda has called for the establishment of a “Social Protection Floor (SPF)” in every country to ensure that those suffering from extreme poverty are able to regain a sense of dignity. He argues that although governments provide social safety nets, there are always people who “slip through such nets”. The concept of SPF would support such people and build a culture of human rights in every country.

Former Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Calcutta and distinguished historian Bharati Ray said in her keynote address that President Ikeda’s thoughts were similar to those of poet laureate Rabindranath Tagore, who believed in the power of humanistic ideas. The 2013 proposal, she said, focused on building a global society — not a local one, since humankind is one — with the tools of compassion, wisdom and courage. Further, the proposal emphasizes that peace is not just the absence of war but a state of mind and society in which there is no inequality or inequity.

President of All-India Lawyer’s Association (Calcutta High Court) and Member of Senate of Calcutta University, Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharya, said, globally, absence of war is equaled to peace, although inner peace is equally crucial. Peace, he elaborated, has to be collective peace, and not limited to some individuals. Therefore, everyone needs to think of change collectively. Mr. Bhattacharya also spoke of the importance of compassion, a crucial aspect of peace-building. Equally significant is the urgency to fight off inequality to achieve peace. In fact, Mr. Bhattacharya said that Dr. Ikeda’s proposal was to fight poverty in order to bring about world peace.

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Fighting Poverty for the Sake of Peace

September 29, 2013
Seminar Hall, University of Madras, Chennai

Peace Symposium in Chennai

Peace Symposium in Chennai

On September 29, 2013, a group of scientists, columnists, academicians and diplomats came together to discuss SGI President Ikeda’s 2013 peace proposal at the Seminar Hall in the University of Madras, Chennai.

Chairman of MS Swaminathan Research Foundation and father of India’s Green Revolution Dr MS Swaminathan gave the keynote address at the seminar.

Dr Swaminathan said that food, health and education are fundamental requirements for improving the quality of people’s lives. “Dr Ikeda believes that where hunger rules peace cannot prevail.” He also drew attention to the common pool of values that Dr Ikeda, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin King Luther, Jr promoted: diversity, the worship of diversity or understanding of diversity or tolerance of diversity. Dr Swaminathan reinforced Dr Ikeda’s suggestion in the proposal for the formation of a ‘Social Protection Floor (SPF)’ to ensure a life of dignity, especially for all poor people.

Reinforcing the tenets of the peace proposal, columnist, author and retired IAS officer BS Raghvan talked about the crisis of character that is wrought by the startling pace of economic growth in the world today. He stated that this obsession with the hectic speed of existence and the exclusion of the spiritual, intellectual and the social dimensions of that growth, would prove disastrous. “That is why Dr Ikeda’s mission, Dr Ikeda’s call, that has a transcendental approach to human existence, becomes important.” He said Dr Ikeda’s proposal encouraged everyone to embrace people whom society might neglect, disregard and discard.

Consul General of Japan in Chennai Masanori Nakano described how poverty caused distress and prevented people from assuming a meaningful role in society. Mr Nakano quoted Dr Ikeda’s words that “poverty deeply wounds human dignity.” He added: “With growing globalization in recent years, there has been an increase in humanitarian crisis, resulting from transnational threats such as terrorism, environmental destruction, the spread of infectious diseases, sudden economic crises and so on.”

Vice Chancellor of the University of Madras R Thandavan said, “Echoing the sentiment of Dr Ikeda, I must say that the foundation of progress in Tamil Nadu lies in upholding the dignity of life, faith in the limitless possibilities of life, and celebrating diversity.” Citing conflicts in the global arena, he said, “All these events only prove a fact that there is a gradual emergence of global order, to create a global society of peace and creative coexistence, based on compassion, wisdom and courage, as you have very rightly identified.”

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