"Seeds of Change" Exhibition Travels Throughout Northern India
In 2007, the "Seeds of Change: The Earth Charter and Human Potential," an exhibition created by the SGI and the Earth Charter Initiative, was shown in many towns and cities throughout northern India. Local Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai (BSG) members organized and promoted the exhibition in their respective cities. The 16-panel exhibition with a peace message about the power of one individual to sow the seeds of change, has proved particularly popular with students. At every location, viewers were inspired by the exhibition's hopeful message and the positive perspective expressed in the Earth Charter. A Quiet Revolution, a documentary film which introduces the efforts of Wangari Maathai and Rajendra Singh to safeguard their natural environment in Kenya and India respectively, was also shown at many locations.
Himachal Pradesh: In June, "Seeds of Change" was displayed at four venues in Shimla, capital of Himachal Pradesh State. The exhibition drew 18,000 visitors, ten percent of Shimla's population, including many students from 100 schools and institutes. Free transportation was provided for visitors from ashrams for the hearing impaired and the visually challenged. The exhibition was inaugurated at the St. Bede's College Auditorium on June 16 by H.E. Justice (retd.) V.S. Kokje, governor of Himachal Pradesh. The governor was pleased that the exhibition not only pointed to environmental problems but also offered solutions. The guests included Himachal Pradesh University Vice Chancellor Dr. Anil Wilson. Local BSG members performed a Himachali folk dance at the opening ceremony.
On July 1, "Seeds of Change" opened in Solan, cosponsored by Dr. Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry. The exhibition was shown until July 10 at six venues and attracted nearly 10,500 visitors--one in four residents of Solan. Students from 71 schools saw the exhibition, and seven students were so inspired that they returned to help as volunteers for four days.
Punjab: Between April 18 and May 2, "Seeds of Change" attracted more than 23,000 visitors in the cities of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, Punjab State. In Chandigarh, the exhibition was inaugurated on April 17 by Governor of Haryana H.E. Dr. A.R. Kiwari, a leading Gandhian. A BSG member who is a professional Odissi dancer performed at the occasion. The exhibition was shown at six schools, where young volunteers acted as guides to explain the show's concepts. The exhibition was also shown at three major local companies, Ranbaxy, Gilard Electronics and Punjab Tractors, as well as at Panjab University. The events were widely covered by local media.
In August and September, the exhibition traveled to Jalandhar, Phillaur and Ludhiana in Punjab, where it was shown in both English and Hindi for the first time. The exhibition in Ludhiana was inaugurated on September 2 by the Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Prakash Singh Badal at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU). PAU coorganized the event. Speaking in English and Punjabi, Chief Minister Badal stated that he had seen many exhibitions, but "Seeds of Change" was among the best. PAU Vice Chancellor Dr. M.S. Kang commented "When ordinary people, you and I, alter our modes of thinking and behavior, a significant social transformation follows." Over 31,000 viewed the exhibition in the three cities.
Uttarakhand: Between September 16 and October 16, the English and Hindi versions of the exhibition were shown at 21 schools and at two other venues in Dehradun, Rourkee and Saharanpur in Uttarakhand State, which attracted more than 25,000. In Saharanpur, where there were very few BSG members to help, 350 students from eight host schools volunteered to help with the exhibition. Before becoming involved, the students had thought there was little they could do to help solve global problems, such as depletion of the ozone layer and abolition of nuclear weapons. However, after the training sessions, they said they felt confident about bringing about positive changes at the local level, while understanding the global impact of such changes. After the showings, one of the schools banned the use of polyethylene and made plans to recycle paper within the school Two schools planned to start tree planting drives.
Since January 2005, the "Seeds of Change" has toured Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad, Nashik, Guwahati and Salem, attracting over 253,000 visitors. In 2008, the exhibition will be shown in 11 different venues in Delhi and the northern cities of Jaipur, Agra and Kanpur.
[Adapted from BSG reports; photos courtesy of BSG]