Speaking at the symposium, noted author, playwright and educator Ms Poile Sengupta asked, “What is our attitude to non-violence, away from the anniversaries of Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela? What do we do in the everyday?” She stressed, “It always comes down to us, the human race, to us as individuals,” adding that as a writer, she felt it was important to write for young people, since they are the most susceptible to influence.
Mr Leo Saldanha, environmental activist and coordinator of the Environment Support Group, said that he had hope that peace could be achieved, but added, “Hope is not something you just think about; it requires strategy; it requires steps.” Quoting from Dr Ikeda’s peace proposal, he said, “The willingness to challenge hardships taps the power within human beings to transform even a place of tragedy into a stage for fulfilling one’s mission.”
He drove in the point that each individual has a mission but collectively, individual missions make global peace possible.
Keynote speaker Maj. Gen. Arjun Muthanna, Director of the Center for Counter Terrorism, Internal Security Division, Karnataka State Police, dwelled at length on the Peace Proposal, starting with the importance of enhancing the resilience of communities. He illustrated this point in the proposal, saying that the strongest communities are where people work together. He also stressed that resilience is not just dealing with events but also creating hope for the future. He gave the example of Malala Yousafzai and her remarkable ability to see the silver lining, hope in everything that she faced. The news of her being conferred the Nobel Peace Prize, he said, gives hope to all of us that you can have such an attitude towards life and that it could be rewarded by society.
Maj. Gen. Muthanna concluded by talking about the need for more concrete action by groups like the SGI to reach out to different communities.
The symposium was attended by a diverse audience, comprising individuals from the arts, culture, literature, administration, the media, the police, the Army, academia, entrepreneurship and business. Mr Chiranjiv Singh, IAS (retd), former ambassador of India to Unesco in Paris, said, “These ideas need to be taken to the people at large – to colleges, universities and schools.” and Mr P.A. Nazareth, noted Gandhian and diplomat. G Viswanath, Director, Organisations & Alternatives Consulting, said, “We as individuals need to do something and not delegate it to the police or to the army. It’s about recognising that each of us can influence the process of peace no matter how small it is.”