December 5-6, 2014
Montfort School, New Delhi
On being impressed by the conduct of the Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) volunteers–their smiling demeanour, their warmth and their discipline held at the peace symposium held in Delhi in September this year. The principal of the school invited BSG members to organize the ‘Gandhi King Ikeda: A Legacy of Building Peace’ Exhibition together with Montfort School, Ashok Vihar on 5th and 6th December, 2014 in the school premises. This was the third exhibition organized by BSG in Montfort School. Earlier ‘ Seeds of Change’ and ‘Building A Culture of Peace’ had been shown.

About 1200 students from class VI to XI thronged the exhibition on the first day and viewed the 18 panels with keen interest. The exhibition was thrown open to the parents and teachers on the second day. They were also greatly inspired by the vision and the efforts of these three eminent men, especially the completely non-violent means by which they achieved their goals.

Earlier, nearly 80 students of Montfort School volunteered to participate in the training which enabled them to guide and explain the content of the panels to their fellow students, teachers and parents. About 50 BSG volunteers were also there to support them. The Principal of Montfort School, Bro. Monachan, inaugurated the exhibition. The Principal in his address welcomed the exhibition and expressed the hope that the students would imbibe the message of the exhibition and contribute to peace in the society. It was heartening to see the young volunteers, full of enthusiasm and joy, explain passionately and confidently, the beliefs and achievements of the three great leaders.

After viewing the panels, the students moved on to answer a one-page questionnaire to pen down their understanding of the lives and achievements of Gandhi, King and Ikeda and their own resolve to implement the message of the exhibition in their own lives. One of the questions expected them to list what they would do to bring about peace in their family, society and the world.

Almost all of them said that they would first change themselves in order to bring peace in their family, society and the world. To quote a student, “This exhibition has taught me a lot. To change the world, we should first try to change ourselves. That would surely make a difference.” Many students and teachers had not heard of Dr. Daisaku Ikeda before. The exhibition succeeded in introducing Mr. Ikeda’s monumental work in the areas of peace, culture and education and his humanistic beliefs.

The students were greatly inspired by the message of the exhibition that even one individual, if he or she decides to stand up, can make a difference. This was evident from their response to the questionnaire and their interaction with the BSG volunteers. Parents too appreciated the message of the exhibition and admired the effort of the organization in creating peace in this conflict and violence-ridden society. One parent wrote in the visitors’ book, “It’s a very good effort. Please arrange a weekly class for all students as the children becoming more and more aggressive these days.” The seeds of peace were sown in the hearts of almost 600 parents and 200 teachers. Some parents also showed keen interest to know more about BSG and wanted to know how they could be the part of it.

The exhibition was followed by a talk on ‘Soka Education – A system for cultivation human values’ delivered by Dr. Poonam Khattar of the BSG. Dr. Khattar shared the key points of Soka Education through a power point presentation. The presentation highlighted SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s ideas on education and discussed the basic principles of value-creating education promoted by the two presidents of Soka Gakkai—Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda. Some of the ideas shared during the presentation included respect for the sanctity of life, faith in the richness of human potential, and that education’s real aim is the happiness of the individual and the realization of peace. She highlighted the point that teachers and students have to become partners in the process of learning. The essence of education is character formation, teaching young people how to live in society and encouraging them to think independently.

Representing BSG Ms. Roli Gupta concluded the seminar with a vote of thanks and appreciated the school Principal and the school counsellor Ms. Renu Singhla for their initiative and support in organizing the exhibition. Ms. Gupta also presented two books to the school library on behalf of BSG, “A Forum For Peace” and “Soka Education”.