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.


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.”

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

September 30, 2013
Saturday Club, Kolkata

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. SGI President 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 SGI President Ikeda’s proposal was to fight poverty in order to bring about world peace.

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

September 28, 2013
Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, 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 SGI President 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 SGI President 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.”

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

September 12, 2013
Chinmaya Mission, New 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 SGI President 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 SGI President 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 SGI President Ikeda’s vision of peaceful coexistence offered a lot of hope. “So from that kind of displacement and from that trauma, when I read SGI President 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?”

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 Peace Proposal Held in Kolkata

August 30, 2014
Kala Kunj, Kolkata

On Saturday, the 30th August, BSG Kolkata hosted a peace symposium on – “SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal titled Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies, at Kala Kunj.

The high profile 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. There were also over 100 other eminent Guests like, Mr. Hashim Abdul Halim (former Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly), Prof. Sankar Kumar Sanyal President Harijan Sevak Sangh (founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1932) in the audience.

Mr. Indranath Chowdhury, greeted everyone with warmth and cordiality through his welcome address and also shared that the purpose of holding the peace symposium. This was followed by a short film on the 2014 peace proposal where different people commented upon the far-reaching impact of this peace proposal.

The First Speaker was Prof Malabika Sarkar, Former Vice chancellor Presidency University, who also taught English Literature in Jadavpur University, where she was Head of the Department from 2006 to 2011. Her expertise in Renaissance Literature and Humanism especially, John Milton, helped her to connect with SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s humanistic approach towards solving current global problems. She emphasized that one could not neglect the wisdom of the past if the aim was to establish a peaceful society today. She found resonances of Renaissance Humanism in SGI’s effort to establish peace through culture and education. 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 SGI President 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. She concluded her speech by acknowledging that SGI President Ikeda’s writing had inspired her to make a fresh determination towards working for Women and Children at an organizational level.

Professor Sujit K Basu, Former Vice Chancellor Visva-Bharati, spoke about his interactions with SGI President Ikeda, which led him to acknowledge the great influence of Rabindranath Tagore upon Ikeda’s thought and action. He expressed his pleasure of SGI President Ikeda being conferred with the title of “Deshikottama” (Honorary Doctorate in Literature), by Visva-Bharati, Tagore’s own University. 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.

The Key Note Address was delivered with refreshing spontaneity by Justice Altamas Kabir, former Chief Justice of India, who had initiated some path breaking reforms in the laws of the country.

He pointed out that the values projected by SGI President 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. Yet in this negatively programmed society these values lie dormant within us and find no reflection in the environment. He emphasized SGI President 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 SGI President 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 MalalaYousafzai, 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. He used the words of Confucius to echo Ikeda’s proposal for World Peace — “if there is integrity of heart, there will be beauty of character, if there is beauty of character, there will be harmony in house, if there is harmony in house, there will be order in nation, if there is order in nation, there will be peace in the world.”

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

Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 Peace Proposal Held in New Delhi

September 9, 2014
Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi

BSG organised a symposium on SGI President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal on 9 September 2014 at the Chinmaya Mission auditorium in New Delhi. The annual symposium commemorates 8 September 1957, the day second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda called upon the whole world to abolish nuclear weapons. This declaration, made when the Cold War was at its peak, marks the beginning of the Soka Gakkai’s peace movement.

The audience of 300 people, including intellectuals, professionals and educationists, listened with keen interest to the thoughts on the peace proposal, Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies, of three distinguished panellists: Mr. K.C. Singh, former ambassador to the UAE and Iran, who gave the keynote address; Mr. Siddharth Varadarajan, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, and former editor of The Hindu; and Prof. Farida Abdullah Khan, member of the National Commission for Minorities and professor of Educational Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi.

The event opened with a short film made by the BSG, SGI President Ikeda: Peace Proposal 2014, featuring eminent friends of the SGI, including world-renowned Lotus Sutra scholar Lokesh Chandra and lawyer and activist Tripti Tandon. The film shows how the SGI has been encouraging people to “regard their immediate surroundings as the arena for fulfilling their mission, even when beset by great difficulties, and to aspire to create personal narratives that will be a source of enduring hope. This is the way of living, the way of perceiving life, that Nichiren taught his followers.”

Welcoming the guests, Mr. Vishesh Gupta, BSG chairperson, said: “As you saw in the film, the Japanese word soka means value creation, and in this peace proposal SGI President Ikeda highlights how opening up the inner capacities of our lives can bring forth the limitless possibilities of each individual. . . .

“The examples cited by President Ikeda of Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, King Ashoka and others in the 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.

“In the 2014 peace proposal, President Ikeda has made three specific proposals which are critical to the effort to create a sustainable global society in which the dignity of each person shines. The first relates to education which is the key source of empowerment that enables people to take up this challenge. The second is to establish regional cooperative mechanisms to reduce damage from extreme weather and disasters and promote peaceful solutions. The third is the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons.”

These also were the themes taken up by the three panellists. Prof. Khan spoke on education, Mr. Varadarajan on regional cooperation and nuclear weapons, and Mr. Singh focused on the worldwide unrest and violence, and the need for peace.

Rousing the audience to ponder on a critical issue of the day, Prof. Khan reflected on education in the context of the violence and conflict experienced by children. In her thoughtful, ruminative way, 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?”

Prof. Khan said that children won’t understand how to deal with violence if we gloss over what is happening around them. She said: “We must think how education can be an instrument of peace. I have worked in the field of education and in a lot of remote areas with children who try to acquire an education under extremely difficult circumstances, children who want to be educated but do not have the opportunity to do that. I have also, in my recent appointment in the Minorities Commission, been looking at children in conflict-ridden areas who want an education. I have also done research on education in Kashmir, in areas where there has been conflict for a long time. . . .

“There are actually 28 million children living in areas of conflicts. These conflicts not only take children away from school but also leave scars of violence which are very difficult to heal in future. In situations of conflicts, schools also become a haven away from conflict. The larger question is, what do students learn about conflicts in schools? Do they understand in more profound and deeper ways what is wrong in the world and how to create a better world?

“I am talking specifically of the Indian school system. We introduce the differences [of enormous social disparity and economic disparity] existing in the country, but we do not allow children to look at how these differences create conflicts and what are the things we need to do to resolve these conflicts. Children have a much deeper capacity for analysis than adults realise. I have been in classrooms where there have been debates on issues of oppression, exploitation. Children as young as class 4 and 6 have been able to enter those debates and bring out situations.”

Mr. Varadarajan said he was responding to President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal “as a journalist, as a lay person” and sharing his thoughts on how we might benefit from it in India.

He said: “What I liked is the manner in which this proposal is phrased or framed. It starts with something that is really a goal or a target that is achievable at the local level, at the national level. . . .”

“When we talk of regional cooperation—the phrase SGI President Ikeda uses is resilience, essentially, looking at disaster management—there couldn’t be a more apt time for people in India and Pakistan to talk about this. We have a devastating flood that has ruined the lives of thousands of people in Jammu and Kashmir on both sides of the border. This underlines like nothing else what 60 years of politicking and bickering and fighting have failed to do—that India and Pakistan and the people of Kashmir have a shared destiny that requires countries and people to work together to resolve their differences. . . .

“It is essential that India, China, Bangladesh and Nepal find ways to cooperate with each other, looking at all water resources-related issues so that timely intervention can prevent such disasters. This is an area where unfortunately South Asia lags behind other parts of the world. . . .

“I applaud the specific suggestions that SGI President Ikeda has made, the first one being that there should be an agreement among nuclear weapons states on the non-use of nuclear weapons. . . . A useful stepping stone towards the goal of non-use is for all nuclear weapons states to agree to a treaty on no-first-use, which means you are pledging never to be the first to use these weapons. India, for example, is committed to never be the first to initiate the use of nuclear weapons. We have to address the root cause of the desire to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Singh said in his keynote address that he felt a deep resonance with SGI President Ikeda’s concern over the unrest in the world. “With turmoil in West Asia, the rise of new radical religious forces, the stand-off in the Ukraine and tensions in the East and South China Seas, the challenge to global peace is even graver today.”

In his lively talk, leavened with laughter, Mr. Singh asked, “Is peace a state of international nirvana where every one of the seven billion citizens of this world attain nirvana? . . . That’s never going to be possible. Is it peace when everybody is in complete harmony with the family, with people at the workplace, with everybody on the street? That’s not going to be possible. So what is peace? Is peace a state of stability, as in a city where there is no crime? Globally, what is peace? . . .

“We are exactly 100 years from the start of the First World War, which started a cycle which has still not finished. In 1914 Germany was the rising star, and there were the old powers. When powers are rising, a contest begins. That is exactly what happened in 1914. . . .

“We have instability in the world when we are transiting to a new world order. Power is transferring from the West to Asia. China and India are getting back to where we were at the beginning of the 19th century when 50 percent of the global production was with India and China. As the power shift takes place both from West to East, and within Asia itself, the redistribution of political and economic power will be resisted. [. . .] What SGI President Ikeda is saying is that we must make sure that the children in each of these countries are morally and spiritually enriched so that they can judge for themselves whether what their leadership is doing is correct.”

In her closing address, Ms. Reddi said: “SGI President Ikeda says that each individual’s efforts at inner transformation, or human revolution, will steer the world towards peace. The times are clearly moving in the direction of an age of the people. However, the negative tendency to regard people as the means to an end and trample on their humanity and dignity still continues unabated. That is precisely why, at this critical crossroads, fostering individuals of unwavering conviction is so vital. For, it is individuals who will open the way to creating this age of the people. At a crucial moment it is the strength and courage of ordinary people who have no name or position in society that save the day. The famous, the well-connected, almost always have too much to lose, and they abandon the cause in order to protect themselves.

“I would like to end with a quote from the noted pacifist scholar Johan Galtung: ‘We must be realists in our brains while keeping the flame of idealism burning in our hearts.’ Both of these—to see the world as it is and how it could be—are essential to reform.”

The volume of the collected peace proposals of President Ikeda, A Forum for Peace, was released at the symposium. This substantial volume is a collection of excerpts from the most topical and important of President Ikeda’s peace proposals which he has been submitting to the UN since 1983.

Mr. Gupta gave Prof. Khan, Mr. Varadarajan and Mr. Singh crystal mementos with an image of the Hall of the Great Vow for Kosen-rufu and this legend: ‘On the Occasion of Seminar on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s Peace Proposal: “Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies” – 2014. Bharat Soka Gakkai’.

Guests mingled with each other at the high tea following the seminar. DLF Public School principal Seema Jerath said, “It’s absolutely true that if the world has to change, man has to change, and for man to change, he or she must want to change. The peace proposal, and the very concept of the BSG, will definitely change the world.”

Prof. Vijay Aggarwal from New Delhi, said he was very happy at having had the opportunity to be at the symposium.

Many of the guests were similarly delighted to have attended the symposium.

Mr. M.N. Krishnamani, senior advocate and former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, said, “The seminar was excellent. I enjoyed it.”

Retired bureaucrats P.C. Sen and Binoo Sen both enjoyed the short film screened at the beginning. They are very interested in the Daishonin’s Buddhism and have read some of SGI President Ikeda’s books. Mr. P.C. Sen said, “The event was superbly organised and the volunteers combined amazing discipline with love,” and rounded off the evening with the declaration: “SGI President Ikeda is a Gandhi in a non-Gandhian age.”

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

July 29, 2017
Tagore Public School, Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur.

The first peace symposium of this year was held in Jaipur on the 29th July 2017 based on SGI President Ikeda’s Peace Proposal for 2017.

The symposium was held in Tagore Public School, Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur, and was attended by around 900 members and guests.

To discuss the peace proposal the eminent speakers at the symposium were Mr. Manoj Bhatt, Director General of Police, Rajasthan, well-known Child Psychologist Ms. Nisha Jain Grover, and Eminent Writer Ms. Dharmendar Kanwar.

The keynote address was delivered by the Hon’ble Justice M.N. Bhandari, Judge, Rajasthan High Court.
Speaking first, Eminent writer, Dharmendar Kanwar, said that today’s world is pervaded by the thought that if I am not happy, then why should others be happy. This underlying thought has resulted in widespread violence. She also said that people also look at others to solve their issues, instead of looking for a solution within.
DGP of Rajasthan, Mr. Manoj Bhatt complemented BSG for organizing this event and mentioned that the current world situation of chaos and anarchy has resulted in unprecedented arms race. It is only youth who can bring about peace, he said. Mr. Bhatt also talked about the power of chanting.
Ms. Nisha Jain Grover, well-known child psychologist, also shared her views on the proposal saying that Peace is linked to every individual, every family and subsequently impacts the entire society.
In his keynote address, Justice Bhandari called for a need to deliberate and take positive action for restoring global peace in times of proliferation of arms and nuclear weapons. He also mentioned the importance of resolving border disputes towards that end. He was deeply appreciative of BSG and said here is an organization which is focused on the happiness of ‘others’ also.
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.
In spite of heavy rain, the Auditorium was packed with guests and the warm welcome of the volunteers left a deep impression in the lives of the guests. The detailed and advance preparation of Jaipur members, fueled by their enthusiasm to respond to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, ensured that the Symposium was a great success.
The symposium was widely covered by both national and local media. A few media clips are attached.

The symposium was also preceded by an Interview of Mr. Vishesh Gupta and Ms. Rashi Ahuja which was telecast by Patrika TV.


Symposium on Daisaku Ikeda’s 2018 Peace Proposal, Chandigarh

General V. P. Malik, Former Chief of Army Staff, delivering the keynote address

30th Apr 2018