Peace meet highlights need to protect human rights

Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), the Indian chapter of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), held a peace symposium at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) on Friday.

The symposium was based on the topic ‘Towards an era of human rights: building a people’s movement’, which is the title of a peace proposal mooted by Daisaku Ikeda, the president of the SGI.

Vishesh Gupta, chairperson of BSG, said the symposium was the fourth in a series based on the same topic. He said, “The theme of this year’s peace proposal is to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. When we see others suffering, we should empathise and take compassionate action to encourage them out of the wish that they become happy.”

Mr. Gupta said broadening the understanding and support for such a way of thinking and living is the key to building a solid grassroots movement for peace that can unite people around the world. The speakers at the event included Roshan Dalvi, retired Bombay High Court Justice; Aarti Wig, co-founder and director of Yunus Social Business India; Ishaat Hussain, former executive director of Tata Sons; and Rishabh Shah, founder of II-MUN.

Mr. Hussain said that the peace proposal had substance and its timing was critical given the fragile political, social, economic and environmental situation. He said, “The proposal argues firstly for a new era of humanity based on human rights for all. I underline ‘all’. And secondly, to achieve it through a peaceful inclusivist movement.”

Justice Dalvi narrated a series of cases she had presided over to highlight the importance of humanity in interpreting the law, especially in cases which involved children and women. “It is the little things that go a long way,” she said.

Ms. Wig stated that business today was catering to a small minority and how economic inequality was rampant in society. She said, “As a society, not only do we promote greed, we also feel that if everyone is greedy, it can bring economic peace and stability. The truth is far from it.” Ms. Wig added that we cannot be schizophrenic as a society and limit ourselves to attending symposiums advocating peace and sustainability and not practise these values in our daily lives.

Mr. Ikeda has been presenting a peace proposal to the United Nations since 1983, outlining a broad framework for creating a more harmonious and peaceful world. Mr. Gupta said the organisation has a presence in 192 countries and two lakh members in India. An international Buddhist organisation, SGI was founded in 1975 and promotes peace, culture and education through personal transformation and social contribution.

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