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.