Peace Symposium

Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace (2016)

July 6, 2016
Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyasramam, Chennai

2016-07-06-Chennai1 On July 6, 2016, Chennai had the distinction of holding the first peace symposium based on SGI President Ikeda’s peace proposal for 2016.

Three eminent academicians drawn from Chennai’s intelligentsia were Dr G. Vishwanathan, Founder and Chancellor of VIT University; Dr D. Vishwanathan, former Vice Chancellor of Anna University; and Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan, Principal of MOP Vaishnav College. All three were appreciative of President Ikeda’s and the SGI’s efforts towards peace and congratulated BSG on organizing a seminar on the subject as an antidote to the current climate of conflict.

In his welcome address, BSG Chairperson Vishesh Gupta said, “President Ikeda highlights when each and every person is committed to the principle of the dignity and sanctity of life, then and there the causes for eliminating misery from the face of the earth are created.
“This pragmatic ap­proach towards ensuring universal respect for human dignity is oriented to the ideal of a world in which no one is left behind, when we strive to avoid judging a person’s worth or potential on the basis of present appearance and instead focus on the inherent dignity of each individual. It is President Ikeda’s firm conviction that dialogue is absolutely essential if we are to build a peaceful world. By engaging in open and frank dialogue, we are able to see things that had been hidden from view, and the world begins to appear in a warmer, more human light.”

In his keynote address, Dr G. Vishwanathan expressed concern over large numbers of people getting affected by man-made and natural disasters and said, “All things begin with human beings” and therefore can be resolved by them. Addressing the issue of international conflicts between neighbouring countries like East and West Germany and North and South Vietnam, he drove home the importance of “meeting up together” and “solving conflicts by having dialogues”. He emphasized the importance of education and said that the youth need more opportunities to develop their potential. He also shared few learnings from his mentor Dr Abdul Kalam (former President of India) who always stressed on the role of the youth in achieving world peace.

Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan spoke of creating inner peace and also harmonious families. This, she felt, would lead to peaceful societies and a peaceful world. She echoed President Ikeda’s message of resolving conflict through dialogue and said, “In any conflict, one should not react, but, respond with wisdom.”

Dr D. Vishwanathan talked of the connection between education and peace, and the need for educators to be oriented towards peace so that they can pass on the message to their students. Quoting extensively from the peace proposal, he felt that such a document was of great value, especially the emphasis on the fact that no one should be left behind.

Read about the peace proposal symposiums in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai

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Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace (2016)

July 23, 2016
State Art Gallery, Hyderabad

2016 07 23 HyderabadThe city of the Charminar, Hyderabad, had its first peace symposium on July 23, 2016. Collaborating with BSG in this event were the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, (JNTU, Hyderabad) and the Environment Protection Training and Research Institute (EPTRI). The symposium was held at the State Art Gallery and was well-attended with over 110 guests.

The speakers were well-known personalities in their field: B. Kalyan Chakravarthy, IAS, Director General, EPTRI, Padma Bhushan, Arjuna and Dronacharya awardee and Chief National Coach, Indian Badminton Team, Pullela Gopichand; Karuna Gopal, thought leader on sustainability and smart cities; and Shailaja Ramaiyer, IAS, Vice Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University. Well-known personalities in their fields, they provided a range of impressions on the peace proposal and commended BSG for organizing this event, particularly in a climate of mounting violence worldwide.

In his welcome address, Chairperson Bharat Soka Gakkai, Vishesh Gupta referred to President Ikeda and said, “The Japanese word ‘Soka’ means value creation and in this peace proposal President Ikeda highlights that when a citadel of peace is built in the heart of every single individual… then and there the causes for eliminating misery from the face of the earth are created.”

The first speaker B. Kalyan Chakravarthy was unable to come due to a last minute exigency and his speech was read by BSG representative. Adopting a reflective approach, he questioned how great philosophical truths nurtured in India in ancient times are absent today. Analyzing this, he concluded, “It’s a fascinating story of how a change in peoples’ philosophy can change the future of a state, a nation, and perhaps of a civilization… it’s a story of what was lost and what could have been.” He commended the organizers in trying to revive this.

When P. Gopichand spoke, he delved into his own spiritual journey. It started with a knee injury that prevented him from playing. Pointing out that spiritual truths can come from varied sources, he recalled words of his coach, “It’s not how many times you fall but how quickly you get up.” He said that sport teaches respect for one’s opponent: “No matter which path an individual chooses, respecting the other person is very important.” On a lighter note, he pointed out that playing sports can take care of pent-up aggression and help people adopt a more peaceful attitude.

The next speaker, Karuna Gopal, emphasized the importance of prioritizing goals. For instance, she said, if we work on a single goal like the empowerment of women, we can solve many related problems. “When a woman is empowered, wouldn’t she be able to lead people out of poverty, wouldn’t she be able to make wise decisions, prevent herself and others from communicable diseases? Ms Gopal also urged people to believe in the power of the self and to be visionaries who can light the path for others.

Shailaja Ramaiyer, the keynote speaker, focused on how inner transformation can bring about global peace in a world torn by rage, anger, cruelty and war. Asking ourselves questions like “What can I do to change this situation, what can I do to bring a change in my life? How can I contribute positively?”, helps us bring about a change in ourselves. This has a ripple effect, bringing about a change in our neighbourhoods, communities, cities and countries. Speaking on issues of respect, dignity and positivity, she appreciated the peace proposal and the activities undertaken by BSG. The mood was of absolute joy and happiness and all the guests were impressed with the humility and warmth of the BSG members.

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Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace (2016)

August 19, 2016
Kala Kunj, Kolkata

2016-08-19-Kol2The third peace symposium based on President Ikeda’s peace proposal of this year was held in Kolkata – the City of Joy — on the 19th of August. The Kala Kunj hall in south Kolkata was packed with around 400 members and guests and many stood throughout the event.

Discussing the main points of the proposal were eminent speakers: General Shankar Roy Chowdhury PVSM, ADC, Former Chief of Army Staff, Ex Rajya Sabha Member, Mr Atri Bhattacharya, Principal Secretary, IAS, Departments of Information and Cultural Affairs, Government of West Bengal, Ms. Sujata Sen, CEO, Future Hope and Former Director, East India, British Council and Dr. Kunal Sarkar, Eminent Surgeon.

Speaking of this initiative, BSG Chairperson, Mr. Vishesh Gupta said: “President Ikeda highlights when each and every person is committed to the principle of the dignity and sanctity of life, then and there the causes for eliminating misery from the face of earth are created.

“It is President Ikeda’s firm conviction that dialogue is absolutely essential if we are to build a peaceful world. By engaging in open and frank dialogue, we are able to see things that had been hidden from our view, and the world begins to appear in a warmer, more human light.”

In his keynote address General Roy Chowdhury recalled his personal experience during the Bengal partition and said that the highest form of disrespecting human dignity is colonialism. Looking at all decisions through the prism of human dignity is very important he felt. Respecting human dignity is something that begins in our own home, in our own vicinity and not in some distant place, he said. Dignity is the divine right of every individual. He agreed with President Ikeda’s standpoints in the Peace Proposal and complimented and applauded the Bharat Soka Gakkai for taking such initiatives in bringing about a change in society.

In the inaugural address, Mr Atri Bhattacharya complimented President Ikeda on his belief that each human being is worthy of respect. He strongly supported the ideas put forward in the peace proposal like moves towards dialogue and creating an atmosphere of tolerance. Here Mr Bhattacharya felt that the best way to work towards this is through exemplary behaviour. Finally, he spoke about the youth and strongly agreed with President Ikeda’s focus on the youth being the force for change.

Ms. Sujata Sen said, “In an interconnected world it is not enough to recognise the good done by others, the responsibility to do good lies with all of us, because the failure to do good will produce an evil outcome.” President Ikeda’s belief that those who have experienced the greatest suffering have invaluable lessons and capacities to share was a thought she resonated with. She added another point from the peace proposal — that education is the key to taking any vision forward but added that “education should be the provided with love, care and individual attention to the total needs of a person.

The eminent cardiologist, Dr Kunal Sarkar spoke of another aspect that related to respect for life – a new dimension to the dignity of human life – the right to health. A good health care system is what guarantees that a human being has the strength to live with dignity. Health, he said is a very neglected sector today. When a person is ill and suffers he does not have the life force to be compassionate. What is required he says, is a ‘healthcare revolution’ and the freedom to seek healthcare.

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Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace (2016)

August 27, 2016

The fourth peace symposium of this year was held in Mumbai on the 27th of August based on President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal for 2016.

The symposium which was held in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), was widely appreciated and was attended by around 450 members, guests & VIPs. There were also student guests from various leading educational institutions in attendance.

To discuss the main points, the eminent speakers were Mr. Prakash Shah, India’s Former Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Former Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist to the Aditya Birla Group, Ms. Shaheen Mistri, Founder and CEO, ‘Teach for India’ and Professor K.M. Parivelan, Chairperson and Associate Professor at the Nodal Centre for Human Rights Education, School for Legal Rights and Constitutional Governance, Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

In her address, Shaheen Mistri said, “The peace proposal had several points that I could connect with. For instance, that everyone has the right to be happy. I think it is important to touch the life of each person. We need to ask ourselves what is it that I can do in this single minute, day or night to help others. I truly related with the concept of the courage of application and the beauty of transformative leadership. Through concrete action, we can change the climate and contribute to the peace and happiness of each and every person.”

Mr. Prakash Shah started by sharing that he has met Dr. Daisaku Ikeda both in Delhi and in Tokyo and lauded his endeavours for Peace. Mr. Shah talked about the need to reduce the world’s stockpile of small arms and nuclear weapons. He further said, “As President Ikeda says, that while we cannot eliminate the problems the reduction itself is a process by which we can move towards elimination — whether it is poverty, suffering of children, HIV or the Ebola virus, the reduction is a step towards elimination. Our efforts in these areas will go a long way in implementing what Dr Ikeda writes in his proposals.”

Dr. Ajit Ranade said that no stone could be left unturned in the pursuit of peace. He added, “Where does peace come from? Peace actually comes from justice and justice comes from the idea of fairness, we all need to be treated fairly. Peace is not a matter of debate and there is no compromise. In India we are politically equal but social and economic inequality exists. We need to remove this contradiction between political equality and social and economic inequality.

Professor K.M. Parivelan found the peace proposal inspiring and profound. He felt, “The principle that we need to reach out to everyone and not leave anyone behind is very important. We need to truly respect and believe in the inherent dignity of all life. We all need to take this message of peace and practise it.”

This was followed by a brief panel discussion.

The welcome address was given by BSG Chairperson Mr. Vishesh Gupta and vote of thanks by WD Chief Ms. Rashi Ahuja.

The symposium was widely covered by both national and local media. A media clip is attached.Media Coverage – Mumbai Peace Symposium

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