The Mahatma Gandhi People's Welfare Trust, India, Confers Ramachandran-Ikeda Award
The Mahatma Gandhi People's Welfare Trust recently conferred its fifth Ramachandran-Ikeda Award on Kerala Harijan Sevak Sangh, a welfare organization. The award, commemorating the 100th birth anniversary of Dr G. Ramachandran and the 75th year of Soka Gakkai's foundation, recognized Kerala Harijan Sevak Sangh's work in providing educational scholarships to socially disadvantaged youth. Kerala University's Vice Chancellor Dr. M. K. Ramachandran Nair presented the award to Kerala Harijan Sevak Sangh Chairman Prof N. Gopalkrishnan Nair at Victoria Jubilee Town Hall in Trivandrum, Kerala State, on January 28, 2006.
In accepting the award, Dr. N. G. Nair stated, "The Kerala Harijan Sevak Sangh is very honored to receive the award of G. Ramachandran and Daisaku Ikeda, both great personalities contributing to world peace." Dr. Nair introduced his organization's work on behalf of the most underprivileged people in Kerala State, especially in providing scholarships to complete their education. India's former president K. R. Narayanan had been a scholarship recipient.
The award ceremony followed a one-day seminar, titled "Towards Humanistic Education: Review of Experiments in Education," organized by the Indian Council of Gandhian Studies (New Delhi), Bharat Soka Gakkai and the Madhavimandiram Lok Seva Trust founded by Dr G. Ramachandran.
Two schools made presentations on "Experiments in Learning." Principal Tarla Nanavat of the K.P.M. Approach to Children: Sri Atmananda Memorial School (AVEF), shared her school's educational philosophy of nurturing the development of the individual, benefiting the world and recognizing that everybody has a stake in education. Pallikoodam [school] Vice Principal June Jones introduced another educational experiment in Kottayam, Pallikoodam, spearheaded by the Pallikoodam of Corpus Christi Education Society. This experiment emphasizes the benefits of group study activities, based on mastery of the students' own mother language. [India presently has 15 official languages, including English, but as recently as the 1990s, a government-published encyclopedic People of India series identified 75 "major languages" within a total of 325 languages used in Indian households.].
Bharat Soka Gakkai Secretary General Akash Ouchi introduced the work of the Soka Gakkai's Education Division, grounded on the pedagogy of first and second Soka Gakkai presidents Tsunesaburo Makiguchi and Josei Toda, realized by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda as the movement for Soka Education, in which students' happiness takes priority. Teachers must always strive to reflect and develop humanistic qualities in themselves, as an example to their students. The philosophy of Soka Education is practical in its application; it is not restricted to institutions but empowers individual teachers to apply humanistic education in their classrooms. Keeping this in mind, teachers belonging to the Soka Gakkai Education Division have chronicled some 50,000 "experiences" as a record of their educational activities.
Sister Mythili, managing trustee of the Madhavimandiram Lok Seva Trust, introduced the work of Dr. G. Ramachandran, a student of Rabindranath Tagore and a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, who established the Gandhi Gram Rural Institute at Deemed University, and began the Shanti Sena movement. IIT Alumni Society Secretary Asiti Verma read a paper on "Gandhi's Nai Talim and Makiguchi's Soka Education" prepared by Dr. Namrata Sharma of the Institute of Education, University of London. Lecturer of the Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women Dr. Karpagam spoke on the educational program for empowering women conducted at the college. Finally, Rangaprabhath Children's Theatre President Kochu Narayana Pillai spoke about the experimental theatre activities of the RCT that have led to the social transformation of the rural community.
[The Mahatma Gandhi People's Welfare Trust was established in 1980 by Dr. G. Ramachandran, Gandhi's distinguished disciple, who passed away in 1995. The Trust, based on Gandhian ideals, promotes various educational, artistic and cultural activities to foster young people. In 1997 the Trust established the Ramachandran-Ikeda Award, named after the late Dr. G. Ramachandran and SGI President Ikeda, for the purpose of recognizing exceptional young people who are making positive contributions to humankind in the areas of nonviolence, human rights, education, peace, social service, and science.]