‘World peace can be created only through a firm commitment to respecting human life and its dignity’-this was the theme of a peace symposium organised by the Soka Gakkai International’s (SGI) Indian affiliate, Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) on Friday.
The symposium, titled ‘Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace,’ was based on the 2016 Peace Proposal by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. The symposium aimed to address the global concerns of violence, conflict and disregard for human rights. Each year Ikeda formulates a peace proposal that goes beyond diagnosing obstacles to peace, and instead provides solutions that encompass attitudinal change.
In his 2016 peace proposal, Mr Ikeda looks at three areas that require prompt and coordinated action by governments and civil society: Humanitarian aid and human rights protection, ecological integrity, and disaster risk reduction.
The three speakers at the Symposium, Dr Smita Srinivas, Head, School of Economic Development, Indian Institute for Human Settlements; Dr Corinne Kumar, Founder, World Courts of Women; and Prof. Ramnath Narayanswamy, Economics and Social Sciences, IIMB, shared their insights on the peace proposal.
In her keynote address, Dr Srinivas focused on issues in economic development and health as a way to respond to the wider concerns that were raised in the proposal on human dignity. According to her, while dialogue is essential, “the ways in which different professions frame the issues shapes how they – with specific training and social privileges – can respond to the essential needs of society.”
Dr Srinivas pointed out that a changing world of multilateralism away from the nation-state, offers increased opportunities in professional engagement with overt value propositions. She went on to say, “increased dialogue needs instruments of professional education explicitly combined with reflective value propositions. I place great value therefore on problem-framing and experiential learning. I am very fortunate to be associated with an organization like the Bharat Soka Gakkai that has been consistently making efforts towards addressing global issues.”
Vishesh Gupta, Chairperson, Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) said, “The preamble of the UNESCO chapter opens with the famous declaration, ‘Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.’ How, then, are defences of peace that are Bharat truly lasting to be built?”
Prof. Ramnath echoed this view when he said, “The truth of life is not to be found outside but on the inside.”
Dr. Corinne Kumar said, “We live in very violent times. Think of the Iraq wars. The words we use now are words that have never been used before. These are times that focus on the rights of the privileged and the powerful. Times that are destroying diversity of the world. We are living in times where dreams are turning into nightmares. Dr Ikeda stresses on the need for dialogue. On dialogue with other concepts of power and religious institutions.”
Gupta added, “In the 2016 peace proposal which is the subject of today’s discussion, President Ikeda highlights that by conducting one-on-one dialogue, we can build strong and unassailable defences of peace in the heart of one individual after another.”
He added, that “The Japanese word Soka means value creation and value creation happens when this inner transformation, the human revolution in a single individual leads to effective change and empowerment on a global scale. Inner change leads to global change-empowering individuals for lasting peace.”
Taken together, Mr Gupta felt that “it compels us to think of some key aspects of human life and behaviour. The first aspect is whether we can empower another life. Second, all action should be based on dialogue. Third, is to see the world from the other person’s perspective, and finally, to believe in the power and passion of youth.”
Gupta quoted Mr. Ikeda, who said “More than anything, it is the depth and intensity of the commitment and pledge that lives in the hearts of the younger generation that will transform the world from one where global issues threaten the lives and dignity of people to one in which all people can live in peace and fully manifest their inherent dignity.”