Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2017 Peace Proposal Held in Pune

August 19, 2017
SVC Auditorium, Symbiosis University, Pune.

The second peace symposium of this year, based on SGI President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal for 2017, was held in Pune on 19th August 2017.

The symposium was held in SVC Auditorium, Symbiosis University, Pune, and was attended by 535 members and guests.

To discuss the peace proposal, the eminent speakers at the symposium were Dr Vijay Bhatkar, Chancellor- Nalanda University (Padma Bhushan Awardee), Ms. Pratima Kirloskar, President Innovations- Pune Chapter, Promoter Group- Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and Dr. Ganesh Natarajan, Founder – 5Fworld, Chairman – Nasscom Foundation and Global Talent Track. The keynote address was delivered by Dr S.B. Mujumdar, Founder & President – Symbiosis Society, Chancellor- Symbiosis International University (Padma Bhushan Awardee).

Speaking first, Dr. Mujumdar said “SGI President Ikeda is described as a philosopher, educator, writer and poet, but to me, he is a dreamer of Peace, and for this single service he has been widely praised.”

Dr. Bhatkar, who is known for being the architect of India’s initiative in supercomputing, said that he was touched by the great philosophy of the Soka Gakkai. He said the depth of thought was reflected in the name of the organization which is ‘Value Creation’. He also deeply thanked BSG for inviting him to the symposium.

Ms. Pratima Kirloskar, spoke about the importance of reinventing oneself and the crucial aspect of having a purpose in life. She further said, “Peace comes from within, from a sense of self pride.”

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan said, “Vision is great, but vision without action is just a dream, action without vision just passes the time, but vision with action can change the world”. He also shared the story of rescuing the starfish and cherishing one single individual to which all the BSG Members relate to.

The symposium concluded with presentation of mementos to the speakers.

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

The key highlight of the symposium was the presence of 235 Student guests who were in attendance from different universities heralding the emergence of a new era of transformative Youth. The preparation of the symposium was spearheaded by the youth of Pune whose enthusiasm and hard work ensured the grand success of the event with a large number of guests in attendance.

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Symposium on Daisaku Ikeda’s 2017 Peace Proposal, Jaipur

Mr. Manoj Bhatt, Director General of Police, Rajasthan, addressing the audience

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2010 Peace Proposal Held in New Delhi

September 8, 2010
Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), New Delhi

The event was jointly organized by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG). SGI President Ikeda, a 21st century Buddhist philosopher and peace activist, submits peace proposals to the United Nations each year in his capacity as President, Soka Gakkai International (SGI). These proposals bring to light various global and local concerns and offer practical solutions towards their resolution.If the world wants to free itself of poverty, hunger and war, then a thought revolution is required that stops judging people’s worth solely on money and instead reawakens the human spirit, says SGI President Ikeda in his peace proposal for 2010, titled Towards a New Era of Value Creation.

Limitless greed drove the world to the recent credit bubble that gave rise to recession while the deepest negative impulses of the human heart have triggered off the race for nuclear weapons, he says and stresses upon the importance and need for spiritual strength. “Replanting our feet firmly in the here and now is the foundation and pivot of all aspects of human activity. If we lose sight of this and base ourselves on a virtual world, we end up slaves of the very technologies we ourselves created,” he says.

It is his unchanging conviction that the source of energy to create value and open the door to a new era is to be found in religion, in a spiritual movement that is compatible with and embraces the insights of science, but can guide and restrain those technologies that, if misused, have the potential to wreak devastation on humankind.

SGI President Ikeda describes the movement of Soka Gakkai (Soka literally means ‘value creation’) as one that works quietly to revive the human spirit and reawaken ordinary citizens, exhorting people to choose the good that is the fruit of self-mastery and resist the destructive pitfalls of evil. It is an attempt to realize a fundamental transformation in human priorities based on the idea that a change in the destiny of a single individual can change the destiny of all humankind.

Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), was the keynote speaker at the event. Others who addressed the gathering are former Ambassador A.N. Ram; Dr Minoti Chatterjee, Principal, Kamla Nehru College; and Dr RC Gaur of the Kala Nidhi Division of IGNCA.

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2011 Peace Proposal Held in Mumbai

November 5, 2011
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Convention Centre, Mumbai

On 5 November 2011, BSG, in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) organised a seminar on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2011 Peace Proposal, Towards a World of Dignity for All: Triumph of the creative life, in Mumbai. The seminar was held at TISS’s Convention Centre and was attended by some of the city’s renowned advertising and media personalities and senior government officials. A large part of the audience were young students from TISS who were greatly inspired by the discourse on the peace proposal.In her welcome address, Registrar and professor at TISS Neela Dabeer appreciated Soka Gakkai’s efforts in promoting the peace agenda. She hoped that TISS in its platinum year (2011), would collaborate with SGI in promoting human rights education through its upcoming Centre for Human Rights Education.

Bajaj Foundation Representative Venkat Chary called President Ikeda an “indefatigable and relentless lover of peace, a humanist, poet and a prolific writer all rolled into one”. He said, “With rare vision and resoluteness, SGI President Ikeda has encouraged dialogues between world leaders in order to ease tensions and build bridges of friendship.” President Ikeda won the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation Award in 2005. The award was given for his efforts in promoting Gandhian values outside India.

Commenting on the peace proposal, Mr Chary said: “What I find remarkable is SGI President Ikeda’s tremendous sense of optimism. The choice of the words, ‘The Triumph of the Creative Life’ in the title of the proposal is indicative of his robust optimism, in a person who is past 80 years of age.”

Director Postal Services (Mumbai) Abha Singh talked about the role of women in creating a peaceful society. Drawing on her own experience she explained how she inspired many widows in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh by encouraging them to deliver letters wearing Post department uniforms instead of traditional dresses.

Elaborating on the importance of Buddhist values, Ms Singh said Buddhist teachings promote “mindfulness”. “Whatever we do, we do with the thought of adding value.” Appreciating President Ikeda’s focus on youth taking centre stage, she said that while it is old people who make wars, it is the youth who have to fight for peace. Therefore, the “decision-making has to come to the youth”.

Another panelist, Mumbai-based author and journalist Rajni Bakshi, said SGI President Ikeda’s views on the necessity of interfaith dialogue is the key to creating lasting peace. While concluding her speech, Ms Bakshi posed a question to other participants: “Can we extend our commitment to peace by embracing the otherness of the other?”

The keynote speaker, advertising guru Gerson Da Cunha, emphasised the importance of individual action. Sharing an important lesson from his years in advertising, Mr Cunha explained the hierarchy of action — you may notice the communication, but not read it, read but not understand, understand but not accept, and accept but not act. “Being aware is not enough,” stated Mr Cunha, adding that “Knowledge alone is not enough. There is no linear relation between levels of knowledge and practice.”

Mr Cunha called for the creation of a Fifth Estate, “which is you and I” who would do what the First, Second, Third and Fourth estate have failed to do.

In his closing remarks, BSG leader Ashok Arora elaborated on the aim of Buddhist practice: “To establish a truly peaceful society based on the empowerment of the individual, grounded in respect for the Buddha nature inherent in everyone.”

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2011 Peace Proposal Held in New Delhi

September 8, 2011
New Delhi

What are the common threads of humanity? Where does violence end and non-violence begin? Did we forget the philosophy of right and wrong?Those were some of the questions discussed by speakers at a peace seminar on September 8, 2011, a day after a bomb blast ripped though the heart of New Delhi and left about a dozen people dead and 75 people injured. Eminent speakers including parliamentarian Dr Shashi Tharoor, principal of Janaki Devi Mahavidyalaya Indu Anand, and Editor-in Chief of the Outlook group Vinod Mehta, echoed at a seminar based on the 2011 peace proposal of Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda that there is no substitute for dialogue in promoting peace and harmony among people from different faiths.

Dr Anand championed the cause of women. She spoke eloquently about the significance of helping people tap creative value. Even though there is progress on paper, ground realities are very different. So many women suffer silently. There is a need for women to be educated, equipped and represented in post conflict planning. Countries where women enjoy equal rights are prosperous.

Dr Anand expressed her condolences to the families who lost their loved ones in Wednesday’s bomb blast. She said terrorism is pure poison. If we cannot stop violence there is no future. Let us cleanse the air, open our hearts and build a society where peace shines.

Mr Vinod Mehta commended SGI President Ikeda for his courage in presenting to the world a holistic peace proposal every year. He emphasized two important points from the 2011 Peace Proposal and discussed their relevance in the present scenario where civil society is protesting worldwide. The first point is the importance of the role of civil society and youth, which can be seen internationally in the upheaval in the Arab Spring and nationally in Anna Hazare’s movement. Whether or not you support the movement, it illustrates the power that people have when they unite for a common cause. The second point Mr Mehta highlighted was President Ikeda’s argument on the need for Inter-faith dialogue and that the rules of engagement must be framed.

Dr Shashi Tharoor said that he was struck by the importance SGI President Ikeda placed on language and said that words are important, dialogues are important. “At the United Nations, I often found myself talking about the need for talking. I was struck by SGI President Ikeda’s emphasis on inter-faith dialogue. Very often the problem is not with the faith, but with the faithful.” He said there’s a very constructive basis for an inter-faith dialogue, so long as you start with a premise of accommodation.

He concluded with a touching story about a sage who asked his disciples when does the night end. There were several answers but none satisfactory. So he answered: “When two travellers meet from two ends of the world and sleep and sleep under the same sky and see the same stars that’s when the night ends.”

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal Held in Chennai

December 1, 2012
IIT Madras, Chennai

The lush green campus of IIT Madras was an appropriate setting on 1 December 2012 to mark the 40th anniversary of the dialogue between Arnold. J. Toynbee and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, the two world thinkers and promoters of ecological sustainability and peace.The audience included members of the Indian academia, the media and several students from IIT and the Soka Ikeda College for Arts and Science for Women.

The audience was first shown a short film Towards the Century of Humanity, that includes glimpses from the dialogue that took place in London between Toynbee and SGI President Ikeda.

The speakers — Devdas Menon, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT-Madras; Justice Prabha Sridevan (Retd), Chairperson, Intellectual Property Appellate Board; and B. S. Raghavan, IAS (Retd) — were very appreciative of the depth, foresightedness and broadmindedness of Toynbee and SGI President Ikeda. Prof. Menon found the dialogue very insightful, emphasizing the role of ethics in a human being’s life. He said the primary focus of today’s educational institutions on grades is taking us away from crucial issues. The fast-paced modern life, he commented, was overwhelming people. People need to “choose life and not let life choose them.”

Justice Sridevan extensively quoted from the book on the issue of death penalty, an issue she herself has written about. She was struck by the idea expressed in Choose Life that while we talk about the abolition of death penalty we must also talk about abolition of war, “for in a war an unwilling person is forced to commit murders”. She said: “We should abolish war in the same breath that they say we should abolish death penalty.”

In the keynote address given by Mr Raghavan, he praised the Soka Gakkai movement’s efforts for peace. He said the world is going through a crisis, a crisis of character and of identity brought on by human beings themselves. He considered the role of Soka Gakkai, “a simple and humanistic organization” crucial in reminding us to reinforce eternal values that uphold and sustain life.

Mr Raghavan stated that Toynbee and SGI President Ikeda had discussed 40 years ago the defects of democracy in a practical way. The problems still persist, he said, simply because we have not changed from within. The external world had undergone a transformation but not the one within.

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal Held in Kolkata

December 17, 2012
Kala Kunj, Kolkata

Choose Life is the ananda mantra for peace, declared Bharati Mukherjee, ex-vice chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, at the peace symposium organised at Kala Kunj, Kolkata, on 17 December 2012.Prof. Mukherjee emphasized that peace today is possible not in the scientific and technological world but “in the ethical world”. She said that if we remember this mantra, “we will be able to win over ourselves, win over our own greed and save mankind.”

Besides Prof. Mukherjee, the distinguished and diverse panel of speakers included Goutam Ghosh, acclaimed film director; Gautam Mohan Chakrabarti, IPS, Director General (Traffic), West Bengal; and Bharati Ray, ex-Pro Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Calcutta University.

Prof. Mukherjee, who delivered the keynote address at the symposium, said that although the Choose Life discussions were held 40 years ago, they continue to serve as a “manual” to guide us today to choose values that are pertinent for leading a good life, a life that is “moral, ethical and religious”. The 71-year-old scholar defined the dialogue as a “search for peace by two great minds”, who belonged to different cultures and religions but were united in their quest for happiness of all human beings.

Prof. Mukherjee drew attention to the Buddhist concept of esho funi (i.e., human beings and their environment are inseparable). All the four Vedas, Prof. Mukherjee elaborated, indicate how man and environment are “tied in a tight knot together”. Unfortunately, she stated, scientific development has made us forget this close relationship. In Choose Life, she said, SGI President Ikeda has offered pragmatic solutions to resolve the crises of the 21st century. As development and growth cannot be stopped, SGI President Ikeda proposes that human beings have to control their greed and channelize it for the welfare of all.

The book Choose Life left a deep impression on Mr Ghosh, who had read it almost two decades ago. SGI President Ikeda and Toynbee, he said, cautioned us 40 years ago that our planet is endangered. The increasing destruction of nature and growing intolerance among people, he added, is largely due to human greed.

Defining peace, Prof. Ray stated that it is a state where no one experiences social injustice. Appreciating the beauty and profoundness of the dialogue, Prof. Ray believes SGI President Ikeda has been on a spiritual quest to actualise peace. She stated that a spiritual awakening, suggested in Choose Life, along with practicing positive norms in daily life, can resolve several issues of conflict and disharmony within people and between people and nature.

Mr Chakrabarti said he was very surprised and impressed by the frankness and radical approach of the two participants in the dialogue. He said the current crises in our society — ecological imbalance, rampant corruption, increasing intolerance — were discussed by Toynbee and SGI President Ikeda 40 years ago.

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal Held in Mumbai

November 24, 2012
Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Convention Centre, Mumbai

The world today needs to focus on GNW (Gross National Welfare) and not on GDP, declared Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Managing Trustee and Honorary Director, Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai, at the Choose Life peace symposium held at the TISS Convention Centre on 24 November 2012.Ms Mehta said that SGI President Ikeda’s idea of developing GNP was very appealing, as the primary consideration in the world today is “cultural and spiritual welfare”. She said that instead of measuring how much a country produces in a year, it is far more important to know how well the product serves the needs of citizens. She stated that the Toynbee-Ikeda dialogue dealt with every topic connected to life — spirituality, religion, politics, environment, good and evil, urbanization, motherhood, and social structure.

Besides Ms Mehta, the panel included Kishor Chaukar, Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives; and P.K. Shajahan, Associate Professor and Chairperson, South Asia Centre for Studies in Conflicts Peace and Human Security, TISS.

Dr Shajahan said while technology and human intelligence have reached their peak, human exclusion and marginalization have also increased beyond measure. He found SGI President Ikeda’s use of dialogue as an appropriate tool to realize peace in the world today. Mr Chaukar posed a question to the audience, “What is happiness?” Drawing from different fables, he stated that true happiness lies in contentment and the two requisites for contentment are responsibility and discipline. He asserted that organizations such as BSG instill a sense of responsibility and discipline among people.

Nearly 400 people attended the symposium including several university students, academics and media persons. Specially designed commemorative plaques were presented to all the speakers. In recent years, TISS and BSG have collaborated to promote ideas of human dignity and justice.

A short film titled, Towards the Century of Humanity, was shown at the start of the symposium to convey the common conviction of Toynbee and SGI President Ikeda.

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2012 Peace Proposal Held in Haryana

October 28, 2012
Soka Bodhi Tree Garden, Haryana

At the Peace Symposium, ‘Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Choose Life: Toynbee-Ikeda Dialogue’ held on 28 October 2012 at the Soka Bodhi Tree Garden in Haryana, eminent speakers called for a new code for humanity, a spiritual thinking that will ensure peace in the world.Forty years ago, British historian Arnold J. Toynbee met SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in London to start a series of discussions on topics ranging from dwindling natural resources, rising armed conflict to challenges posed by technological advancement and the future of humanity. The discussions were later published in a book Choose Life: A Dialogue. The book promotes genuine dialogue as a force for peace. It includes Buddhist concepts such as human revolution and the oneness of life and its environment and highlights the significance of SGI’s discussion meeting movement.Speakers at the symposium included Director General of the National Archives of India Mushirul Hasan, Padma Bhusan awardee and renowned journalist-writer Mark Tully and Director of India International Centre Kavita Sharma. Mr Tully said that his biggest learning from Choose Life was the need for a humanistic religion. He said he was attracted to the Bhutanese idea of measuring a nation’s progress in terms of Gross National Happiness instead of Gross Domestic Product. He stated that GDP left “little room for spiritual growth”.

Dr Sharma asked: “Why the title Choose Life? If you don’t choose the ethical mode of life, we can’t have life.” Asserting that human beings are essentially altruistic, she said everything in the universe, and in the human world, is interconnected. “There is a whole world contained even in a piece of bread. Somebody grew the wheat, somebody harvested it, somebody baked the bread and somebody marketed it.”

Prof. Hasan shared President Ikeda’s efforts in conducting dialogue for peace and going that extra mile to talk to all people. He drew a comparison between three great thinkers — Daisaku Ikeda, Nelson Mandela and M.K. Gandhi — who advocated cross-cultural goodwill.

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2013 Peace Proposal Held in Chennai

September 29, 2013
Seminar Hall, University of Madras, 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. “SGI President Ikeda believes that where hunger rules peace cannot prevail.” He also drew attention to the common pool of values that SGI President 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 SGI President 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 SGI President Ikeda’s mission, SGI President Ikeda’s call, that has a transcendental approach to human existence, becomes important.” He said SGI President 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 SGI President 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.”