Report: Peace Symposium 2014
‘A great human revolution in just a single individual will help achieve a change in the destiny of a nation and, further, will enable a change in the destiny of all humankind,’ says Daisaku Ikeda of Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), in the brochure for the 2014 Peace Proposal Symposium that took place at the Hall of Culture at Nehru Centre in Mumbai on November 14.
Since 1983, Dr Ikeda, recipient of the United Nations Peace Medal, has been annually submitting a peace proposal to the United Nations, which offers a framework for creating peace in our world that is being increasingly affected by violence. The event was held to discuss Ikeda’s proposal for this year that provides three ideas for peace – education, regional cooperation, and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The event began with a short film about Dr Ikeda, and a welcome address from Naveena Reddi, deputy chairperson of BSG, who spoke about hope in society, and said, “Individuals like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai inspire others to follow in their footsteps.” She also pointed out that, “The challenge for realists is to create a new reality that offers hope.”
After Reddi’s five-minute speech, the panellists took the dais and each presented their thoughts about the proposal. The speakers included Kishore Mandhyan, former director, UN Office of the Secretary General; Neelam Deo, co-founder of Gateway House; Richard Bale, consul general of Canada in Mumbai; and Jacquleen Joseph of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).
Mandhyan, who also moderated the session, spoke about trying to make a difference in lives of others and said that attending a peace talk isn’t enough. “[We should] come back next year and ask if I’ve created value in my life and change in my neighbourhood,” he asked of the audience. And: “Philosophers have interpreted the world in many ways: the point of the matter is to change it.” Neelam Deo says “As we have learnt from Gandhi, the journey is just as important as the aim.” Mandhyan also points out that “We have only begun now the journey to ask these questions in a collective sense and that is the challenge of the proposal.”
Bale too, spoke about the cause of education, saying, “The key to improving the role of the girl child in India is education”.
Our takeaway was the sheer truth and simplicity of this statement by Mandhyan: “Some people have an Ivy League education, three degrees, but zero awareness. Some without any education have complete awareness.”
The hour-long discussion threw up many ideas, comments and solutions; the most important being that education of the youth and spread of knowledge about society’s problems are the best ways to make sure that world peace can be a part of our future.
The night ended with the speakers being felicitated by Shikha Singh of BSG and actor Vinay Jain, followed by guests discussing the talk over refreshments outside the Hall.