September 9, 2014
Chinmaya Mission, New Delhi

Aiming to work for a culture of peace, a symposium was held in the capital on September 9, 2014. Titled ‘Value Creation for Global Change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies’, the symposium focused on Soka Gakkai International President, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal on the same subject.

Organised by Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), an organisation promoting a culture of peace through culture and education and the Indian affiliate of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), the symposium drew a gathering of over 300 people comprising intellectuals, professionals, educationists and thought leaders.

At the start of the symposium, BSG Chairperson Mr Vishesh Gupta said, “I would like to quote here the words of poet laureate of Denmark, Esther Gress: ‘If you want to change the world you must change man. If you want to change man you must make him want to change.’

“The examples from the lives of Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, King Ashoka and others which President Ikeda has cited in the 2014 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.”

Rousing the audience to ponder on a critical issue of the day, Prof. Farida Abdullah Khan, Member, National Commission for Minorities, reflected on education in the context of violence and conflict experienced by children. 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?”

In his talk, Siddharth Varadarajan, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, welcomed Dr Ikeda’s call for a treaty on the non-use of nuclear weapons and also on their prohibition. Such agreements would be major milestones in the struggle to rid the world of these dangerous and ultimately illegal weapons. But he suggested an intermediary step — an agreement on no-first use — as the way of getting to non-use. He also said that with at least four de facto nuclear weapon states outside the NPT — India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan — it made no sense to limit the international discussion on these initiatives solely to those countries which were party.

In his keynote address, Mr K.C. Singh (former Ambassador and former Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs) said he felt a deep resonance with SGI President Dr Daisaku Ikeda’s concern over the current social unrest the world over.

”With turmoil in West Asia, the rise of new radical religious forces, stand-off in Ukraine and tensions in East and South China Seas, the challenge to global peace is even graver today.”

In conclusion, Ms Naveena Reddi, BSG Deputy Chairperson, quoted pacifist scholar Johan Galtung: “We must be realists in our brains while keeping the flame of idealism burning in our hearts.” Elaborating on this, she said: “To see the world as it is and how it could be are essential to reform.”