Bhubaneswar: Amid a backdrop of growing regional tensions, the urgent need for universal solidarity and the humanitarian challenge from a growing refugee crisis will come alive on Friday at a symposium centring around Soka Gakkai International President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2017 peace proposal.
Padma Vibhushan Dr. Sitakanta Mahapatra, eminent poet and literary critic and former member of the IAS, was the keynote speaker. Other speakers were Dr. Anup Kumar Dash, Director, NABARD (National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development), Shri Jagadananda, social activist and civil society expert and Dr. Iti Samanta, eminent writer and editor of ‘The Kadambini’.
Dr.Mahapatra stated, ‘I feel happy and privileged to attend this symposium on peace since it is now the prime need of mankind. This is the objective for which Dr.Daisaku Ikeda has been doing so much over the years’.
Shri Jagadananda shared,”The SDGs, Sendai framework and Paris agreement does have a wonderful framework about how the world is going to look like in years to come. We need active citizens and a critical mass of hope to realize the framework operational.”
Dr Dash felt the need for a fundamental shift in our thinking and approach to life and happiness. He said, “We must respect the inherent dignity of all life. We should revitalise life by nurturing values of altruism, cooperation and compassion to restore peace and solidarity in society. The SDGs seek to address problems that are actually man-made. As Dr Ikeda says in the 2017 Peace Proposal, budgetary allocations and other quick solutions are not the answer. The change will only come when there is a fundamental shift in the thinking process he calls ‘human revolution’.”
Dr Samanta said, “The Upanishads stress on the concept, Vasudheiba Kutumbakam which means that the entire world is one family. Echoing this, the visually challenged Odishan Prophet Bhima Bhoi states that one should sacrifice one’s personal comfort for the betterment of society. So, the concept of solidarity and unity is deeply rooted in our culture. “A major force for good lies with the youth. They can drive the world in positive direction by countering feelings of hatred, inequality and violence. Women play a vital role in social reform for they propagate the concept of harmony.”
Focusing on the peace proposal, Vishesh Gupta, Chairperson Bharat Soka Gakkai said: “In these times of conflict, the human touch of reaching out and listening to the other is at a premium. There is an urgent need to establish a culture of trust, a culture of inclusiveness. President Ikeda’s current proposal addresses many of these issues, impressing on us the need to bring to the fore a culture of respect for the other.”
Going further Mr. Gupta quotes President Ikeda and said: “The world is not simply a collection of states, nor is it composed solely of religions and civilizations. Our living, breathing world is woven of the endeavours of countless human beings, … but no two of whom are the same.
“To view and judge others only through the prism of religion or ethnicity distorts the rich reality we each possess as individuals. In contrast, when we develop a deep appreciation, through our individual friendships, of each other’s unique value, differences of ethnicity or religion are illuminated by the dignity and worth of that friend and shine as the value of diversity.”
In his recent peace proposal titled “The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope,” Dr Ikeda says that the world should go beyond looking at the problem of displaced persons in terms of numbers and build truly just and inclusive societies. Towards that end, he has proposed that such people should be given the opportunity to directly work in areas that help others who have been forcibly dislocated.
Further, Dr Ikeda has urged the United Nations and the world’s universities to work together to create educational opportunities for refugee youth, says Dr Ikeda. Despite the many challenges to achieving global peace, Dr Ikeda says he is “not pessimistic about humanity’s future” because of his faith in “our world’s young people, each of whom embodies hope and the possibility of a better future.”
Each year President Ikeda formulates a peace proposal that goes beyond diagnosing obstacles to providing pragmatic solutions based on humanism and nurturing of people-to- people contacts.