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Peace and Disarmament

Back to listAug 12, 2005

Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai and Times Foundation Cosponsor Peace Symposium Pointing to Dialogue as the Way to Lasting Peace

From left to right: BSG's Naveena Reddi; Dr. R. K. Pachauri; Dr. L. M. Singhvi; Mr. Lalit Mansingh; and BSG Chair Gopinath Menon
On August 4, Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai (BSG) and the Times Foundation of the Times Group, India's largest professional media group, cosponsored a peace symposium based on "Toward a New Era of Dialogue: Humanism Explored," the 2005 peace proposal SGI President Daisaku Ikeda submitted to the United Nations, which was carried in The Times of India that day. Among the 700 guests attending were: Dr. Abid Hussein, former Vice-Chairman of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies; Dr. Lokesh Chandra, director of the International Academy of Indian Culture; Dr. R. K. Pachauri, director-general of the Tata Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), North America; Dr. L. M. Singhvi, member of parliament and formerly India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom; and former Indian Ambassador to the U.S. Lalit Mansingh. The symposium focused on environmental issues, building a global society based on humanism and the future of global diplomacy. All together, six newspapers and television stations reported on the event.

Welcoming the guests, BSG Director General Naveena Reddi informed the group that the SGI commemorated its 30th anniversary this year. Introducing Mr. Ikeda's peace proposal, Ms. Reddi said Mr. Ikeda does not offer a simple solution, yet urges people not to fall into meaningless and unproductive pessimism. She affirmed Mr. Ikeda's stance that human beings are the cause of problems, and therefore are also responsible for their solutions. Saying dialogue is the key, Ms. Reddi also emphasized that people must refuse to discriminate on the basis of stereotypes and challenge to transform even conflict into something positive and valuable.

In a keynote address, Dr. R. K. Pachauri called for a review of human activities based on fundamental truths to ensure the welfare of all beings on the planet. Thus far, the paradigm of development has been based on consumerism, which pays little heed to the delicate balance between cause and effect. He stated that Dr. Ikeda's peace proposal clearly explains the causal relationships between human beings and the world in which we reside. Referring to Mahatma Gandhi's concept of ahimsa, Dr. Pachauri also underscored the nature of violence that was not limited to violence perpetrated by humans against other humans, but also that of humans against nature, and vice versa. He urged that societies like India should involve pragmatism and philosophy in development efforts.

Dr. L.M. Singhvi recognized peacebuilding as a formidable task through his work with UNESCO. He said Dr. Ikeda has endeavored to nurture peace and understanding in the minds of individuals through dialogue and the mutual celebration of their humanity. He said that unlike the West-espoused movement for rationality and a lessening of religious influence, Dr. Ikeda's humanism belongs to the Asian tradition--humanism that stems from a desire to build bridges and establish equations of tolerance in the world. His call was for a new era centered on humanism in which people challenge to create a world reflecting all its aspirations and ideas with a sense of togetherness, belonging, bonding and duty. Dr. Singhvi contended that though he was a hard-headed lawyer by profession, the only "brief" he has is for peace.

Saying skepticism comes easy for a diplomat, Mr. Lalit Mansingh said his approach to Dr. Ikeda's peace proposal was underscored with skepticism, convinced that global problems like terrorism cannot be combated by soft options. However, he found he was in virtual agreement with Dr. Ikeda's approach. He focused on four important aspects of the proposal: the importance of dialogue, reform of the United Nations, urgency of global disarmament and the need to address environmental crises through a dialogue with nature. Dr. Mansingh affirmed dialogue was fundamental to diplomacy, and when it breaks down, the threat of war emerges. He expressed his hopes for successful reforms to the UN and permanent representation for India. Dr. Mansingh stated that Dr. Ikeda's pleas for a multilateral disarmament process coincide with what India has been calling for the past half century.

[Adapted from BSG's August 4, 2005 press release and August 12, 2005 Seikyo Shimbun article.]