‘Seeds of Hope’ in Mumbai Inspires Concrete Steps towards Change

BSG was invited by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to participate in the conference organized by them at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, on 12 June 2014 and put up the exhibition Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps toward change as part of the event. GRI felt Seeds of Hope would be a source of encouragement to the 180 delegates from India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan who would attend the conference.

The Seeds of Hope exhibition, a joint initiative of Soka Gakkai International (SGI) and Earth Charter International, introduces a vision for sustainable living expressed in the Earth Charter, and gives eight examples of individuals and groups, from different countries, who have taken action for change.

The delegates-thought leaders from business, civil society, government and social services-discussed the relevance and implementation of sustainability reporting, particularly in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the UN.

The award-winning SGI documentary A Quiet Revolution, featuring individuals who have worked to solve local environmental problems, was screened for GRI delegates on 11 June, the first day of their two-day Regional South Asia Conference in Mumbai. Seeds of Hope, sponsored by GRI, was shown on the second day as part of the programme that offered a platform for sharing and discussing strategies for systematic sustainability reporting in order to fulfil SDGs.

Makiguchi on the three levels of citizenship

During the first session of the second day, a short film made by BSG was screened, introducing BSG and SGI to the GRI delegates, showing them what the Soka organisations are doing in the field of sustainable development.

Following the film, BSG director Vinay Jain spoke about Soka philosophy and the Buddhist concept of dependent origination. He said:

At the centre of all of SGI and BSG’s endeavours is the core Buddhist belief of dependent origination: that all life is interrelated, interconnected and mutually supporting. Foremost amongst the values we seek is a profound reverence for life itself. It is only through such a sense of respect and reverence, according to Buddhism, that people can awaken to a sense of connection not only with all the forms of life with whom we presently share this planet Earth, but also with future generations.

Soka Gakkai’s founding president, the prominent educator Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, based his radical teaching methods on a close study of the relationships between people and their immediate environment. He stressed that we, as individuals should be aware of three levels of citizenship: first, our local roots and commitments based in our immediate community; second, our sense of belonging to a national community; and finally, an appreciation of the fact that the world is ultimately the stage on which we live our lives and that we are all essentially, citizens of the world. . . .

I would like to share Dr. Daisaku Ikeda’s viewpoint on this. He says: “People must be empowered with courage and hope if they are to take those first concrete steps. Even if we establish agreed-upon ethics and paradigms of behavior, unless an increasing number of people embody and practice these in their lives, the severe realities we face will not change.”

Live drama of Nature and people

Seeds of Hope—the name perfectly fits the venue of the exhibition. The Taj Mahal hotel, taken over for four days in November 2008 by militants who killed 31 guests and staff, does not show its wounds; it is completely refurbished. However, facing the entrance, in the lobby is a silent waterfall: behind a glass sheet, water cascades down a wall inscribed with the names of the people killed by militants in the attack of November 2008.

The Seeds of Hope exhibition echoes this resilience, inspiring each viewer to overcome the feeling of powerlessness and showing how a single individual can initiate positive change in the world.

The exhibition was held in a first-floor room whose windows look out on the Gateway of India and the Arabian Sea. On the street below, it seemed there was a mela: hundreds of children, old and young men and women; vendors selling pink candyfloss; tourists riding horse-drawn buggies; and cars honking to clear a passage for themselves. Everyone cheered as waves came crashing over the low stone embankment, flooding the pavement and street right up to the hotel gates. This live drama between the sea and the people seemed like a live presentation, part of the Seeds of Hope exhibition which stresses the interconnectedness of living beings and Nature.

The exhibition consists of 24 panels, flowing from our interconnectedness with nature, to the feeling of powerlessness, then moving on to what each of us can do to change the world around us. The last of the panels has been left blank for viewers to write what action they will take for sustainability.

Theatre actress and BSG member Devika Punjabi was confident that the BSG members of Mumbai would be inspired to lift their eyes beyond their immediate communities, while Director of GRI Focal Point India Aditi Haldar hoped the exhibition would open BSG members’ and GRI delegates’ eyes to the effect the Soka movement could potentially have on global grassroots work.

The panels speak to the viewers

Many visitors readily identified a panel that meant most to them, from which they took a concrete idea of what they would change in their lives. For instance, standing before the panel on ‘Powerlessness’, housewife Manju Kariwala—one of the 42 BSG volunteers—said she was inspired to become the one who would bring about harmony in her family and those around her.

Contemplating the panel ‘The Power of Persistence’, featuring futurist and evolutionary economist Hazel Henderson, BSG member Vishal Vij said that, inspired by “this housewife who started a movement that echoes in other people’s lives,” he had taken up the work of fighting the pollution created by waste plastic products around his farm in a tribal area outside Mumbai.

Youthful members reach out to those around them

The strong youth presence supported President Ikeda’s conviction that the power and passion of youth would shape the 21st century.

Youthful visitors responded most strongly to the panel ‘Reaching out’. Abhishek Lamba, who teaches photography and film-making, is fostering the Student Division members in his chapter; he was moved by ‘Today, do something to help a friend.’ Prominent singer Shamit Tyagi had come with two neighbours, his shakubuku Saurabh Joshi and Adwait Gawde, both in the 12th grade, so ‘Get to know your neighbours’ spoke to him. Actor and model Namit Khanna, who takes care of Future Division members in his chapter, points to the panel ‘Make the connections, make a change’ and says he has begun to move about on a bicycle instead of a car.

Among the 520 visitors to the exhibition were author and Gandhi Peace Fellow at Gateway House Rajni Bakshi; political scientist Kishore Mandhyan; former director of postal services of Maharashtra and Goa Abha Singh; former member of the Planning Commission Arun Maira; GRI representative in Brazil Glaucia Terreo; and GRI deputy chief executive Teresa Fogelberg. Other visitors included representatives of NGOs and companies, guests at the hotel and all the delegates at the GRI conference, who took a guided tour of Seeds of Hope.

In his speech during the conference, senior vice president of Environmental Management Centre LLP Shantanu Roy encouraged everyone to take a look at the carbon footprint calculator for Mumbai, which factors in the carbon footprint generated by travelling on local trains and autorickshaws, as well as electricity bills. Adults and children alike can calculate their personal carbon footprint at the recently launched MMR-EIS website. His words were a direct link to the panel ‘Make the connections, make a change’, which says: “Use a ‘Footprint calculator’ to find out how many planets’ worth of resources your lifestyle consumes.”

Impact on children

Environmental professional Deeksha Vats said that she and her colleagues refer to A Quiet Revolution when they have internal discussions. She said that seeing an exhibition like Seeds of Hope might help her 16-year-old daughter to consider an environment-related career, while her 10-year-old would probably love to see the endangered or unusual animals, such as the Siau Island Tarsier, the Kalinga Ornata and the Poison Dart Frog, featured in the bottom half of each panel.

Immediate effect

Several visitors suggested that the exhibition be taken to schools and colleges, and low-income and middle-class residential localities. Former business journalist P. Devarajan, whose beat for several years was the forests of Central India, wrote: “Please could you think of moving this exhibition to places like Dadar, Thane in Mumbai to get the ordinary people interested.”

The immediate impact of the exhibition was visible on the panel left blank for visitors’ comments. By evening it was thick with colourful sticky-notes and sparkling with pledges, many of them taken from the panel ‘You Can’: “I will use public transport as much as possible.” “I will buy locally produced vegs fruits.” “I will recycle a lot of my stuff.” “Shop less!!”

Mr. Kishore Mandhyan commented, “In a short span of time, in a short walk, this exhibition has brought together the wisdom of many different societies. Change will come in a slow, incremental way.”

From such individual efforts will emerge people who can take empathetic action on behalf of others and build on values that will support a truly healthy society. These are the seeds of future hope that are being planted today.

Resilience empowers a person

August 30, 2014
Kala Kunj, Kolkata
BSG Kolkata held a peace symposium on August 30, 2014 on Dr Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal titled Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies, at Kala Kunj.

The panel consisted of 3 Speakers – Prof Malabika Sarkar, Former Vice Chancellor, Presidency University, Kolkata, Prof Sujit K. Basu, Former Vice Chancellor, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan and Justice Altamas Kabir—Former Chief Justice of India along with Mr. Indranath Chowdury, Director General, Bharat Soka Gakkai and Ms. Naveena Reddy, Head-External Relations and Honorary Deputy Chairperson – Bharat Soka Gakkai.

Prof Malabika Sarkar, Former Vice chancellor Presidency University, emphasized that one could not neglect the wisdom of the past if the aim was to establish a peaceful society today. Referring to the romantic mystic poet William Blake, she could trace the connection between the microcosm and the macrocosm, the Local and the Global as propounded by Dr Ikeda in his concept of “Value Creation.” She urged the necessity of making this wisdom a part of daily life so that Higher Education could make a difference in the Society.

Professor Sujit K Basu, Former Vice Chancellor Visva-Bharati, spoke about his interactions with Dr Ikeda, which led him to acknowledge the great influence of Rabindranath Tagore upon Ikeda’s thought and action. He mentioned that the proposal impressed him that how we can redirect the contents of the 21st century towards greater hope, solidarity and peace in order to construct a sustainable global society, one in which the dignity of each individual shines with its brilliance. Quoting from the peace proposal he mentioned that sustainable global society can be formed particularly through the youth, therefore education is important for youth to empower them to tackle the challenges faced by the society.

Delivering the keynote address Justice Altamas Kabir, former Chief Justice of India, pointed out that the values projected by Dr Ikeda for a sustainable Society were not difficult to understand as these values have already been instilled into us from our very childhood through basic school education, religious beliefs and practical training. He emphasized Dr Ikeda’s proposal was a call to revitalize these core values of tolerance and mutual respect. He discussed that the blue-print of the Constitution of India too elucidated the importance of values like fraternity, equality and liberty.


He chose to highlight the importance of the concept of “Resilience” as propounded in Dr Ikeda’s proposal. Resilience empowers a person to withstand adversities and replace helplessness with hope. In this context he gave the example, of those courageously recovering from natural disasters. And he made a special mention of Malala Yousafzai, a 15 year old who could bring about a revolution in women education in Pakistan, even after being fatally shot in the head. He concluded by celebrating the importance of the will, the language of the heart over the complexities of the mind.

The event was brought to a close with a vote of thanks by Ms. Naveena Reddy, Head-External Relations, Bharat Soka Gakkai.

Seven-Day Leadership Course Based on President Ikeda’s Teachings

September 2, 2014
S.N. Sinha Institute of Business Management, Ranchi, Jharkhand

The S.N. Sinha Institute of Business Management in Ranchi, Jharkhand, in collaboration with Soka Gakkai International, organised a one-week course from 2 September on ‘International Youth Leadership and Global Peace’. The course was based on the teachings of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda.

Mr. Mannan Mallik, Jharkhand’s minister for animal husbandry, fisheries and disaster management, inaugurated the course. He said, “Buddhism has always been linked to peace, and education will play an important role in building peace and harmony in the world.”

Mr. N.P. Singh, chairman of the institute, appreciated the efforts of President Ikeda in promoting peace, culture and education. The S.N. Sinha Institute conferred an honorary professorship on President Ikeda in March this year and established a chair in his name.

The participants watched a film on President Ikeda with keen interest.

Dr. Akash Ouchi, BSG honorary deputy chairperson and SGI representative in South Asia, gave a keynote speech on global youth leadership. He said:

The expressions must and have to no longer motivate people. No one will act unless they are truly convinced in their hearts. When a person is truly moved he may display his great potential, showing tremendous power and ability. For this reason, fruitful conferences and discussions are becoming more important.

Small-scale discussion or dialogue is important where you can talk directly. face to face, close enough to sense each other’s warmth; discussions which are not unilateral but convincing. Discussions carried out in this way can relieve worn hearts, open closed minds and change bewilderment and despair into conviction and hope.

In one-on-one discussions, ask yourself: “What are they worried about? What are they trying to say? What are they thinking? What is it they seek?” Try to discern these things in others, try to understand. These are the challenges of leadership. From such compassion arises wisdom.

Of course the work needs to be done. However, there is a huge difference between when someone is ordered to work and when someone is motivated to work, even for somenone who may have reached a position of senior leadership. It is very important for each member of the team to be motivated to work together.

Leaders should make a constant effort to study hard and maintain freshness. The organisation will advance and be filled with dynamism. The organisation will change and develop only to the extent leaders change and develop themselves . . . .

Leaders in particular tend to become arrogant just because they have positions in organisation and think they know everything. This is a common tendency. They put on airs and regard others as being below them.

Authoritarianism alienates people. Sincerity captures people’s hearts. A person of sincerity creates a relaxed and spring-like atmosphere. Because of your sincerity, people will respond with sincerity.

Genuine leaders protect people when they are hired, and nurture them by providing appreciation for their development. . . .

Ultimately, everything depends on whether there is someone willing to take 100 percent responsibility. Someone who takes action for the sake of people and is concerned for the people is a true leader, so working selflessly with dedication will set an example for leadership.

Later, on hearing a report on the event, President Ikeda said: “Please convey my best regards to the organisers and others involved in the event.”

STRIKING A NOVEL PATH TO PEACE

September 9, 2014
Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi

Aiming to work for a culture of peace, a symposium was held in the capital on September 9, 2014. Titled ‘Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies’, the symposium focused on Soka Gakkai International President, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal on the same subject.

Organised by Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), an organisation promoting a culture of peace through culture and education and the Indian affiliate of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), the symposium drew a gathering of over 300 people comprising intellectuals, professionals, educationists and thought leaders.

At the start of the symposium, BSG Chairperson Mr Vishesh Gupta said, “I would like to quote here the words of poet laureate of Denmark, Esther Gress: ‘If you want to change the world you must change man. If you want to change man you must make him want to change.’

“The examples from the lives of Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, King Ashoka and others which President Ikeda has cited in the 2014 peace proposal are testimony to the fact that when one single individual feels empowered to create hope, brings forth his inner goodness and works together in solidarity with others for a larger altruistic goal, then he or she can create value that has ripple effects in the society empowering many others in the process.”

Rousing the audience to ponder on a critical issue of the day, Prof. Farida Abdullah Khan, Member, National Commission for Minorities, reflected on education in the context of violence and conflict experienced by children. She asked the audience: “Does education have any potential for creating a better world? And are inherently unequal societies capable of creating systems of education that encourage social justice and equality and promote truly democratic systems?”

In his talk, Siddharth Varadarajan, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, welcomed Dr Ikeda’s call for a treaty on the non-use of nuclear weapons and also on their prohibition. Such agreements would be major milestones in the struggle to rid the world of these dangerous and ultimately illegal weapons. But he suggested an intermediary step — an agreement on no-first use — as the way of getting to non-use. He also said that with at least four de facto nuclear weapon states outside the NPT — India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan — it made no sense to limit the international discussion on these initiatives solely to those countries which were party.

In his keynote address, Mr K.C. Singh (former Ambassador and former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs) said he felt a deep resonance with SGI President Dr Daisaku Ikeda’s concern over the current social unrest the world over.

”With turmoil in West Asia, the rise of new radical religious forces, stand-off in Ukraine and tensions in East and South China Seas, the challenge to global peace is even graver today.”

In conclusion, Ms Naveena Reddi, BSG Deputy Chairperson, quoted pacifist scholar Johan Galtung: “We must be realists in our brains while keeping the flame of idealism burning in our hearts.” Elaborating on this, she said: “To see the world as it is and how it could be are essential to reform.”

352nd Academic Honor Conferred upon SGI President Daisaku Ikeda

September 16, 2014
Yakutsk, Sakha Republic (Russia)

The S.F. Gogolev Yakutsk Teacher-training College (YTTC) in the Sakha Republic, Russia, presented Daisaku Ikeda, SGI president, with an honorary professorship for his longstanding contributions to the cause of lasting world peace. The conferral took place on September 16, 2014, on the college campus in Yakutsk, coinciding with the college’s centennial celebrations. YTTC Director Klavdia Kopilova entrusted the certificate and a commemorative badge to SGI General Director Yoshitaka Oba, who accepted them on Mr. Ikeda’s behalf. In attendance were faculty members and students as well as SGI representatives from Japan headed by Mr. Oba.

Founded as an institute for training secondary school teachers in 1914, in 2010 YTTC combined with another college and now has six faculties, including preschool education, elementary education, music education and physical education, with two campuses in Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic in eastern Siberia. The former YTTC had also honored Mr. Ikeda prior to the merger, in 2009. YTTC was recently selected as one of “100 Colleges of Excellence” by the Russian Federation.

The college is named after S.F. Gogolev (1896-1933), a famous political figure, who was a YTTC graduate, as was Platon Oyunsky (1893-1939), writer, translator and one of the founders of modern Yakut literature.

Since learning about Mr. Ikeda over 10 years ago, Director Kopilova has continued to read his published works and says she respects him for his active pacifism and concurs with his belief in people and their quintessential value.

In a message, Mr. Ikeda expressed his appreciation for receiving the academic honor on the occasion of the college’s centennial. He lauded the pedagogy of V.P. Vasilevsky, who was the college’s first director 100 years ago and authored its three mottos: teachers should nurture hearts; teachers should help students cultivate their potential; and teachers should make every effort to correctly guide students as they passionately pursue their aspirations. Based on these mottos, Mr. Ikeda proposed three guidelines for the college toward cultivating humanistic education in the next 100 years: Be the sun that inspires, trusting in and shining a light upon people’s potential; be a great tree of indomitable intellect that remains undaunted amidst any storm; and be a mighty river of peace and harmonious coexistence that connects the hearts of humanity.

University of the East in the Philippines Presents Honorary Doctorate to SGI President Ikeda

September 30, 2014
Manila, Phillipines

University of the East (UE) presented SGI President Daisaku Ikeda with the degree of Doctor of Humanities,honoris causa, at a ceremony on the Manila campus, on September 30, 2014. Mr. Ikeda was recognized for his steady efforts to open a path to global harmony and peace. In attendance were: Dr. Minella C. Alarcon, member of the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines; some 400 UE representatives–Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jaime J. Bautista, President Ester Albano-Garcia, Chancellor Linda P. Santiago of the Manila Campus, Chancellor Zosimo M. Battad of the Caloocan Campus, faculty and students; and SGI Vice President Hiromasa Ikeda, representing his father.

Begun in 1946 as a preparatory school for Certified Public Accountant examinations, the school was granted university status in 1951 and changed its name to University of the East. For the January 2011 licensure exams, the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing and Physical Therapy had passing rates of 96%, 98% and 100%, respectively, some of the highest passing rates in the country. With its main campus in Manila, UE has satellite campuses in Caloocan City and Quezon City.

In a citation, President Albano-Garcia lauded Mr. Ikeda’s dedication to peace, stating:
“Dr. Ikeda, through his bold but humble leadership and persistent yet profound push for inner and global harmony, is unique in his fervent belief in not just the possibility but the perceptibility, the palpability, of peace. Through his words and actions, Dr. Ikeda strongly suggests that intangible concepts such as friendship, hope, love and, yes, peace are not just present all around us despite the continued prevalence of enmity, despair, hate and war. . . . Rather than merely being abstracts that reflect human aspirations, friendship, hope, love and peace as far as Dr. Ikeda is concerned may as well be as tangible as your skin and the clothes on it, your feet and the floor they are standing on, your eyes and all that you see. In other words, Dr. Ikeda has spent his entire, colorful life navigating the complexities of so simple a concept: that peace, despite any evidence to the contrary, is within mankind’s grasp.”

In a message read on his behalf at the ceremony, Mr. Ikeda expressed his joy and honor in joining the Philippine university that is pioneering the effort to educate global citizens and aspires to realize the grand vision of José Rizal, the hero of Philippine independence as stated in UE’s Vision Statement, as “an institution of higher learning committed to producing morally upright and competent leaders in various professions, imbued with a strong sense of service to their fellowmen and their country.”

Resilience creates hope for the future

October 11, 2014
Bengaluru
A peace symposium was held today at the Alliance Francaise in Bengaluru, centering around the 2014 Peace Proposal submitted by Dr Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International, to the United Nations. The 2014 Peace Proposal is titled Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies.

Speaking at the symposium, noted author, playwright and educator Ms Poile Sengupta asked, “What is our attitude to non-violence, away from the anniversaries of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela? What do we do in the everyday?” She stressed, “It always comes down to us, the human race, to us as individuals,” adding that as a writer, she felt it was important to write for young people, since they are the most susceptible to influence.

Mr Leo Saldanha, environmental activist and coordinator of the Environment Support Group, said that he had hope that peace could be achieved, but added, “Hope is not something you just think about; it requires strategy; it requires steps.” Quoting from Dr Ikeda’s peace proposal, he said, “The willingness to challenge hardships taps the power within human beings to transform even a place of tragedy into a stage for fulfilling one’s mission.”

He drove in the point that each individual has a mission but collectively, individual missions make global peace possible.

Keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Arjun Muthanna, Director of the Center for Counter Terrorism, Internal Security Division, Karnataka State Police, dwelled at length on the Peace Proposal, starting with the importance of enhancing the resilience of communities. He illustrated this point in the proposal, saying that the strongest communities are where people work together. He also stressed that resilience is not just dealing with events but also creating hope for the future. He gave the example of Malala Yousafzai and her remarkable ability to see the silver lining, hope in everything that she faced. The news of her being conferred the Nobel Peace Prize, he said, gives hope to all of us that you can have such an attitude towards life and that it could be rewarded by society.

Maj. Gen. Muthanna concluded by talking about the need for more concrete action by groups like the SGI to reach out to different communities.

The symposium was attended by a diverse audience, comprising individuals from the arts, culture, literature, administration, the media, the police, the Army, academia, entrepreneurship and business. Mr Chiranjiv Singh, IAS (retd), former ambassador of India to Unesco in Paris, said, “These ideas need to be taken to the people at large – to colleges, universities and schools.” and Mr P.A. Nazareth, noted Gandhian and diplomat. G Viswanath, Director, Organisations & Alternatives Consulting, said, “We as individuals need to do something and not delegate it to the police or to the army. It’s about recognising that each of us can influence the process of peace no matter how small it is.”

The power of one will empower many

October 12, 2014
Bhopal
The exhibition ‘Seeds of Hope – Visions of Sustainability, steps toward change’ was inaugurated in Bhopal, at Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology on October 12, 2014.

The Chief Guest, Mr. Anthony de Sa, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Madhya Pradesh, in his address appreciated the efforts of Bharat Soka Gakkai which is working for peace through culture and education. He drew the attention of the audience to the title of the exhibition which he said “says it all”. Explaining further he said that we all must have two visions for sustainability; first having the community vision which is working collectively towards sustainable development and second to have an individual vision. Citing the fable of the ‘Goose that lay golden eggs’ he related it to the concept of sustainability where he mentioned that when we overdraw on our resources, we are treading a dangerous path. Mr. De Sa believed that “The power of one will empower many”.

Dr. R. N. Saxena, MD State Forest Development Corporation, the guest of honour, highlighted that sustainability should be brought in the legal framework of the country. He emphasised that all resources of mother earth do not belong to a particular generation, rather we are the custodians for the future generations.

Speaking to the audience, Prof. Pramod K Verma, Director General, Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology, emphasised the need to redefine sustainability as part of our daily life. He affirmed his full cooperation towards such initiatives.

Earlier during the inauguration Mrs Jyoti Lal from BSG welcomed the gathering. Citing the example of the Nobel laureates, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi and Ms. Malala Yousafzai, she stressed that the power of one is the power of hope and how a single individual can show the power of change.

Mr. Ram Naresh Yadav, Honourable Governor of Madhya Pradesh, who could not be present due to important engagements, sent a message for this great cause in which he applauded the efforts of Soka Gakkai International and urged every individual to bring a positive change from within so that we can improve not only our present but also leave a better future for our coming generations.

The activities of the inauguration included welcoming of dignitaries with plant saplings by children, signifying the pledge to work towards leaving a better world for generations to come. This was followed by a dance performance depicting the joy of nature and a skit on the theme of the exhibition. The audience were captivated by the screening of the award winning film ‘The Quiet Revolution’ which resonated with the message of “the power of one”.

The chief guest and guest of honour were presented with a copy of the book, ‘A Forum for Peace’ which is a collection of excerpts from the most topical and important peace proposals of SGI President Dr Daisaku Ikeda.

The inauguration ceremony ended with a vote of thanks by Mrs. Kiran Mishra from BSG Bhopal.

Well known personalities from the institutions of national repute were present at the inaugural function which included, Director, MANIT (Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology), Director Indian Institute of Forest Management, Director General M.P. Police, and scientists from the Madhya Pradesh Council of Science and Technology and other distinguished personalities from various fields. Approximately, 700 people saw the exhibition on the day of inauguration.

This exhibition was launched for the public at Regional Science Center, Shyamla Hills, today 13th October, 2014 at 10 am and will be displayed here for the entire next week from 13th – 19th October 2014 for public viewing.

Resilience is deeply rooted in humanity

November 14, 2014
Mumbai
In collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), BSG organised a symposium on SGI President Ikeda’s peace proposal for 2014-Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies—in the Hall of Culture at the Nehru Centre at Worli in Mumbai on 14 November 2014.

The speakers this year included former political director for peacekeeping, humanitarian and human rights affairs at the United Nations, Dr. Kishore Mandhyan, who was a speaker at the symposium on President Ikeda’s 2013 peace proposal, too; the distinguished diplomat and co-founder of Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, Ms. Neelam Deo; the consul general for Canada in Mumbai, Mr. Richard Bale; and the chairperson of the Jamshetji Tata Centre for Disaster Management, TISS, Dr. Jacquleen Joseph.

BSG’s honorary deputy chairperson and head of its external relations division, Ms. Naveena Reddi, set the tone of the Symposium with an overview of the pertinent issues presented in the proposal. The symposium was attended by 73 guests and 140 BSG members.

Dr. Mandhyan, who was moderator of the panel, said that a common thread tied all of Mr. Ikeda’s peace proposals over the years: “Each is rooted in the contemporary moment but is anchored in the teachings of Nichiren, the 13th-century Buddhist reformer.”

He opened the discussion saying that a “conversation” on the peace proposal had three parts: the first “began when you accepted the invitation, when the proposal was written, when you began to think about the issues in the proposal; the second when we begin “to understand the issues at hand”; and the third comes “after you go home; it doesn’t end this evening, it extends until next year before you come back and ask whether I have created purpose in my life and value in my neighbourhood.” He raised the question: “What role does the individual play in change?”

Ms. Deo spoke on a recurring theme in the peace proposals: the abolition of nuclear weapons. She said Mr. Ikeda’s suggestion for a nuclear abolition summit to be held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of those cities, would send a powerful message to the world.

Responding to Mr. Ikeda’s urging that we “achieve universal access to primary and secondary education, to eliminate gender disparity at all levels and to promote education for global citizenship”, Mr. Bale said we should make the ideals contained in the proposal a part of our daily lives. He said he would “become involved” and “volunteer” in such projects in India.

Dr. Joseph suggested that while we should consider all three aspects of disaster management—hazard, vulnerability and disasters—our focus should be on resilience, or the “ability to bounce back”. President Ikeda has said that it is not only a select few who have the quality of resilience; each one of us, even the most vulnerable person, is resilient. “Resilience is organic and deeply rooted in people’s natural desire to come together and realise a hopeful future,” she said. Since it is human beings who create the problems caused by war, it is human beings, she said, who can provide solutions to violence.

In his closing statement, Dr. Mandhyan spoke about Yugoslavia, where he was posted on a mission from the United Nations, as a land of civilisation and great natural beauty torn apart by war. “Humanitarian space competes with political space; we need to see how we can reconcile the two,” he said. “Deep within us there is violence, and the veneer of civility is very thin. We have only just begun the journey to ask these questions in a collective sense and that is the central challenge of the proposal.”

Education is the key for empowerment

November 27, 2014
Chennai
The ‘Peace Proposal Symposium held on 27th November 2014 at F50 hall of the Madras University was witnessed by around 300 people who expressed it as ‘an extremely rare event’.

Dr. A Padmanabhan IAS (Retd), Former Governor of Mizoram and Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu and President Emeritus, World Poetry Society Intercontinental presided over the function. Dr Gowri Ramnarayan, a renowned playwright, theatre director and music composer and Professor, Dr. R. Thandavan, VC, University of Madras were invited as speakers on the occasion.

Mr Vishesh Gupta, Chairperson, Bharat Soka Gakkai welcomed the gathering and highlighted the key areas of Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal. Hon. Dy Chairperson of BSG, SGI representative to India Dr Akash K Ouchi expressed his thoughts on the occasion. He said that Ikeda’s peace proposals are relevant not just for governments and activists but also for the ordinary people.

Dr A. Padmanabhan appreciated the efforts of Daisaku Ikeda for his consistent efforts to promote peace and his vision of sustainable global society. He said that no one has ever talked so fervently about the need for elevation of human dignity for attaining universal peace. Though there may have been others who might have had similar values, there was none other that Ikeda who has been so consistent year after year in his focus on attaining universal peace.

Dr Gowri Ramnarayan said, ‘Reading President Daisaku Ikeda having dialogue with farsighted achievers in diverse fields is to join his stimulating, thought-provoking sangham with world leaders and public intellectuals. In these talks Mr Ikeda’s own comments, questions and reactions are marked by a deep understanding of the human condition today, and the possibility of transformation, before tomorrow. It is easy to see that he is motivated by compassion (karuna), for all the people of the world, a quality we associate with true vidya (knowledge) and genuine gnana (wisdom). I am particularly struck by how easily he encapsulates the highest truths in the simplest language. This is what makes his Peace Proposal 2014 relevant and convincing’.

Professor, Dr. R. Thandavan, said that he was particular impressed with the theme of the symposium as he found peace a rare commodity today. It was a rare combination of humour and seriousness when he pointed out that peace was missing in the university.

Coming to the peace proposal, Thandavan, pointed out that he would like to focus on Ikeda’s mission for establishing education for global citizenship. He said that he was in complete agreement with Ikeda’s conviction that ‘education can develop the capacity to create value, underpinned by indomitable hope and the spirit of learning from the collective wisdom of humankind.” Dr Thandavan also referred to Dr. Ikeda’s discussion with Dr. Arnold Toynbee and Dr. Nelson Mandela on this issue and pointed out that Dr. Ikeda believed that ‘Education is the key source for empowerment. He expressed his commitment to creating an educational system on the lines of Dr. Ikeda’s dream at the University of Madras.
Ms Naveena Reddi, Head-External Relations and Honorary Dy. Chairperson of BSG concluded with a vote of thanks.