Free Press Journal

Spreading peace in the world: One country at a time


Symposium on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2016 Peace Proposal: “Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace”

Mumbai: Against the backdrop of mounting violence worldwide, Buddhist lay organisation Soka Gakkai International’s (SGI) Indian arm Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) is holding a symposium entitled ‘Universal Respect for Human Dignity: The Great Path to Peace’ on August 27, 2016. The symposium is based on SGI President Daisaku Ikeda’s 2016 peace proposal.

To discuss the main points of the proposal, eminent speakers are Mr. Prakash Shah, India’s Former Representative to the United Nations and Former Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Ajit Ranade, Chief Economist to the Aditya Birla Group and Ms. Shaheen Mistri, Founder and CEO, ‘Teach for India’. Mr. Vishesh Gupta, Chairperson Bharat Soka Gakkai will also address the gathering.

Speaking of this initiative, Mr. Vishesh Gupta says: “President Ikeda highlights when each and every person is committed to the principle of the dignity and sanctity of life, then and there the causes for eliminating misery from the face of earth are created. “This pragmatic approach towards ensuring universal respect for human dignity is oriented to the ideal of a world in which no one is left behind, when we strive to avoid judging a person’s worth or potential on the basis of present appearance and instead focus on the inherent dignity of each individual. It is President Ikeda’s firm conviction that dialogue is absolutely essential if we are to build a peaceful world. By engaging in open and frank dialogue, we are able to see things that had been hidden from our view, and the world begins to appear in a warmer, more human light.”

Each year President Ikeda sends a peace proposal to the UN that goes beyond diagnosing obstacles to peace and provides solutions that encompass attitudinal change and other concrete suggestions. The emphasis is always on tapping humanism, people-to-people contact and deeply caring for each individual. This is not a spiritual document but one that diagnoses problems at a fundamental level and offers concrete, pragmatic solutions.

The key focus of all President Ikeda’s writings is to examine how to bridge gaps between people across different cultures and nationalities in order to actualize a more peaceful world. He believes that the power of dialogue as well as the innate ability of humans to respond positively to difficult situations holds the key.

In his recent proposal as well (which will be the focus of the Symposium) there are several areas of focus that resonate with the above. For instance, that learning should empower people to effect positive change and that we should develop the “the courage of application” for this provides the impetus to emerge from difficult circumstances and create the future we desire.

Going beyond, President 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. There is an emphasis on a humanistic approach in all planning and implementing efforts and the necessity to get young people actively engaged in these moves.

Finally, it is the human link that must be preserved and nurtured. In the words of President Ikeda, “It is indeed in the encounter between people whose paths in life have differed that our eyes are opened to vistas that would not otherwise have been visible. It is in the resonance of people encountering each other in the fullness of their humanity that the melodies of a new creative energy unfold. This is the true significance of dialogue: It can serve as a treasure house of possibilities, a dynamo for the creation of history.”

Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG) is the Indian affiliate of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a global association of grassroots organizations that seeks to promote the values of peace and respect for all people. Established as a registered society in January 1986 with its headquarters in New Delhi, BSG has its membership spread over 300 towns and cities across India. Coming from all walks of life, the members of BSG are engaged in their ‘human revolution’, drawing inspiration from the humanistic life philosophy of the Japanese Buddhist sage, Nichiren Daishonin (1222-1282). Central to this philosophy is the belief that a fundamental change in a single individual can bring about a great transformation in society.

Daisaku Ikeda is the president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a Buddhist association of more than 12 million members in 192 countries and territories. President Ikeda has tirelessly worked to spread the peaceful and compassionate teachings of Nichiren Buddhism throughout the world for more than 60 years. President Ikeda is a staunch proponent of dialogue as the foundation of peace. He has travelled to more than 50 countries, meeting and holding dialogues with people, including political and intellectual leaders, with absolute conviction that international understanding and the realization of peace begins with people-to-people dialogue. Recognizing his tireless and unflagging efforts for world peace, the United Nations conferred the Peace Award in 1983 on President Ikeda.