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Buddhism in Action for Peace
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On September 9, Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) organized a symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2014 peace proposal at the Chinmaya Mission auditorium in New Delhi. This annual symposium commemorates September 8, 1957, the day of second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda’s landmark declaration to abolish nuclear weapons and the beginning of SGI’s peace movement. The event comprised a panel discussion in which speakers shared their perspectives on themes outlined in the 2014 proposal, Value Creation for Global change: Building Resilient and Sustainable Societies. Some 300 people, including educators and leading thinkers, attended.
Speaking on the theme of youth empowerment and education, Farida Abdullah Khan, member of the National Commission for Minorities and professor of Educational Studies at the Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi, reflected on the role of education, and the Indian school system in particular, in addressing the needs of children living in areas of conflict and violence. “The larger question is what do students learn about conflicts in schools? Do they understand in more profound and deeper ways what is wrong in the world and how to create a better world?” she probed. “Children have a much deeper capacity for analysis than adults realize,” she said.
In his talk, Siddharth Varadarajan, senior fellow at the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory, Shiv Nadar University, Delhi, and former editor of The Hindu, welcomed Mr. Ikeda’s call for a treaty on the non-use of nuclear weapons and their prohibition. He also supports the intermediary step—an agreement on no-first-use, where all nuclear weapons states would pledge never to be the first to use these weapons—as a way of arriving at non-use.
The keynote address was delivered by K.C. Singh, former Indian ambassador to the UAE and Iran, who expressed a deep resonance with Mr. Ikeda’s concern over the current state of global unrest. In her closing address, BSG Vice Chairperson Naveena Reddi stated: “The negative tendency to regard people as the means to an end and trample on their humanity and dignity still continues unabated. That is precisely why, at this critical crossroads, fostering individuals of unwavering conviction is so vital.”
On August 30, a similar symposium was held at the Kala Kunj auditorium in Kolkata. The panelists were Malabika Sarkar, former vice chancellor of Presidency University, Kolkata; Sujit K. Basu, former vice chancellor of Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, (founded by Rabindranath Tagore); and keynote speaker Justice Altamas Kabir, former chief justice of India. Major themes discussed ranged from the concepts of value creation and resilience to youth empowerment and education for global citizenship.
Another peace proposal symposium is scheduled to take place in Bengaluru on October 11. Updates can be found on the BSG website.
Adapted from articles on the BSG website; photos courtesy of BSG.
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