The third peace symposium of this year based on President Ikeda 2018 peace proposal titled “Towards an Era of Human Rights: Building a People’s Movement”, was held in Ahmedabad on 26th July 2018.
The symposium was held in J.B. Auditorium, Ahmedabad Management Association and was attended by over 300 members and guests.
The main points of the proposal were discussed by eminent speakers – Professor Errol D’Souza, Director, IIM Ahmedabad, Dr. Bhushan Punani, Executive Secretary, Blind People’s Association and Dr. Preeti Shroff, Dean, MICA, School of Ideas. The keynote address was delivered by Mr. Kartikeya Sarabhai, Founder and Director, Centre for Environment Education.
Speaking first, Prof Errol D’Souza shared that one of his learnings from the Peace Proposal was that ‘If we really want to be human, we should know the consequences of our actions’. He pointed out a very specific human trait which we can call as ‘Foresight’. He said, “With foresight we can foresee the consequences of our actions and work backwards to see what we can do now to avoid some of the adverse consequences”. Prof D’Souza hailed President Ikeda as a visionary and reaffirmed that dialogue is the way forward to build hope for humanity.
The next speaker, Dr Bhushan Punani spoke passionately about his groundbreaking work for the welfare of the disabled. Referring to very touching stories of how his organization has helped many such individuals to completely transform their lives and become independent. Dr Punani stated that the 2018 peace proposal duly recognizes human rights of elderly, women empowerment, human right education, averting nuclear war and education for migrant children. In addition to these, he urged the audience to also advocate the rights for the disabled as 20% of people in the world have disability of some kind.
Speaking next, Dr Preeti Shroff thanked BSG for creating a classroom to take a break from our hectic lifestyles to pause and ponder about peace. She talked about a few points from the Peace Proposal that touched her life. She said, “the means you choose to achieve an end changes that end. So, if we choose violence, it will become the new normal for our society”. Dr Shroff further quoted the story of Yusra Mardini from the Peace Proposal who said, ‘Refugees are normal people like you, capable of extraordinary things if given a chance.’ Dr Shroff concluded by talking about women’s empowerment saying that women have the ability to create nurturing societies with their leadership.
Padma Shri, Kartikeya Sarabhai started his keynote address by saying that the movement of peace cannot come externally. Talking of the Peace Proposal he said “It’s a wonderful proposal and the people movements angle is very important”. He further added, “This kind of debate is the cornerstone of starting peace solutions.. Dialogue, as advocated by President Ikeda, is the foundation of Soka Gakkai and is the best way of beginning this work”. He concluded his speech by lauding the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the BSG members and said that he looked forward to more interactions in the future.
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.
This was the first time BSG held a peace symposium in Ahmedabad, and the members responded with great enthusiasm and dedication. The symposium was attended by more than 150 guests out of which 66 were student guests. One of the guests remarked, “Thanks a lot for the invitation to join in a wonderful symposium. Right from the parking place the volunteers created a cheerful and positive atmosphere. I was overwhelmed by the politeness, dedication and commitment of the youngsters who volunteered”.
The united and painstaking efforts of all the volunteers ensured that the Symposium was a great success.
The symposium was widely covered by both national and local media (some media clips are attached).