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.

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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