The Words of the Adhikari Family
New Delhi, India -- Conferences on the theme of "Foundations for Sustainable Peace in Asia's Century" took place in four cities of India from July 3 to 9 and featured leaders of UPF-Asia as well as notable Indian scholars, government officials, activists, and NGO leaders.
Asia is in the midst of a historic transformation. The past four to five decades have been an era of rapid rise of Asia, and if demographic and economic trends persist, the 21st century will be an "Asian century," dominated by Asian politics and culture.
The emergence of an Asian century opens up a new era for humankind which the founder of Universal Peace Federation, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, has termed the Pacific Rim era. With prophetic vision, he has been emphasizing the key role of Asian nations in building lasting peace. To stimulate discussion, regional UPF leaders traveled to Gangtok, New Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai for a series of leadership conferences on the theme "Foundations for Sustainable Peace in Asia's Century."
The first conference took place in Gangtok, the capital of the state of Sikkim in northeastern India, on July 3. UPF-India joined with the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in organizing the event, which took place in the prestigious Chintan Bhawan Conference Hall of the Sikkim government.
The conference began with welcoming remarks by the Chairman of UPF-Sikkim, Hon. G M. Gurung, in which he highlighted the activities of UPF and emphasized the need for moral and ethical education as foundations for sustainable peace. The chief guest was the Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, Hon. K.T. Gyaltsen. In his address he praised the work of UPF and encouraged broader involvement. He added that "UPF is aware that freedom and peace are intertwined. Indian democracy needs sustainable and equitable growth."
Other speakers included the Chairman of UPF-Asia, Dr. Chung Sik Yong, who conveyed the greetings and peace message of the UPF founder. Then Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, Minister of Government of Nepal, spoke on the topic Peace Prospects in Nepal, and Dr. Robert Kittel, Director of Education of UPF-Asia, gave a presentation about the vision of UPF. Rev. John Paul Hong, Asian representative of the Tongil Foundation in South Korea, spoke on the topic Strong India? Strong Asia? He described the expansion of China as a challenge to democratic countries and especially to the peace and human security of Northeast Asia.
The conference was attended by 300 people and was covered by the local newspapers.
The delegation of UPF also visited the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India University at the invitation of the university's Vice-Chancellor, Dr. S.G. Tashi, who is also an Ambassador for Peace. In a small interactive meeting on campus, ideas for promoting peace and harmony were discussed.
The second conference in the series was organized in New Delhi in collaboration with St. Stephen's College of the University of Delhi, an eminent college with many distinguished alumni. The event took place at the university's Conference Center on July 5.
Amb. K.V. Rajan, Executive Vice-Chairman of UPF-India, delivered the opening remarks. He highlighted the purpose of the conference and briefed the audience about UPF's activities promoting world peace. The main speaker was Former Governor H.E. Bhisma Narayan Singh, who quoted Mahatma Gandhi as a great apostle of peace and appealed to the audience to adopt Gandhian principles as the best model for sustainable peace.
This was followed by presentations similar to those given in Sikkim by UPF-Asia leaders. Then Dr. Sangeeta Thapalia, an expert in South Asian security studies, critiqued the role being played by Nepal as "China's playground."
Dr. Chung Sik Yong presented Ambassador for Peace certificates to Associate Professor Dr. Pramod Mehra and Dr. Sangeeta Thapalia and delivered the keynote address. "In this new Asian era," he said, "India will play a crucial role as the world's largest democracy and the second most populous nation on earth." He called upon the audience of 87 Ambassadors for Peace, professors, NGO leaders, youth, and students to uphold traditional family values and promote the spirit of living for others. He expressed hope that India will both address its domestic economic disparity and build good relationships with its neighbors.
"People look to India as a mother nation," he added. "They look to you as a beacon of spiritual light." He expressed his conviction that UPF principles can enrich and enhance India's great heritage and help her be a true champion of peace and democracy.
The UPF delegation paid a call upon the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Tejendra Khanna, an Ambassador for Peace, at his official residence and presented him with a commemorative booklet about the Little Angels' Korean Folk Ballet tour on the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of Korean War. In 2010 and 2011 they gave performances in nations that helped defend freedom in South Korea, such as India, which sent a medical support team.
The third conference of the series took place in Mumbai, the economic center of India and the capital of the state of Maharashtra on India's west coast. The event was held at the Conference Hall of the Indian Institute of Workers' Education on July 7 in joint collaboration with the institute, which is under India's Ministry of Labor.
Following the same pattern the as previous programs, the Mumbai Conference began with welcoming remarks by Mr. Sidhartha More, Senior Education Officer of the Indian Institute of Workers' Education. He gave a briefing about the institute and appealed to UPF to support its work. The Chief Guest of the program was Hon. Arun Dev, Deputy Mayor of Mumbai, who was appointed an Ambassador for Peace. He encouraged UPF to promote peace principles in Mumbai, where many people are focused primarily on material gain. "UPF's principles can help the people of Mumbai to find peace in their life," he said.
Dr. Robert Kittel, Rev. John Paul Hong, and Dr. Chung Sik Yong gave similar presentations as at the previous conferences to the audience of 57 people.
The fourth conference took place at the Savera Hotel in Chennai, the major commercial, cultural, and educational center of South India and capital of the state of Tamil Nadu. The July 9 conference included the same UPF presentations as those given in Mumbai. In addition, the well-known social activist Dr. V. Mohini Giri spoke on the topic of Empowerment of Women for Sustainable Peace. She emphasized that better gender balance is needed for sustainable peace, which she said can be achieved by the practice of love and compassion as taught by Mahatma Gandhi and UPF. Veteran social workers in rural areas Mr. K. S. Ramamurthy and Dr. Balaji Sampath spoke on the topic of No Sustainable Peace without Inclusive Development, and Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation, respectively. Other speakers included Prof. Dr. Jayakumar, a physicist, on Nuclear Energy/Weapons as Deterrents to World Peace?; Mr. C. E. Karunakaran on Global Warming and Climate Change -- Innovative Approaches; and Prof. Dr. Venkatesh on Reflections on Globalization. The speakers were highly experienced in the field of their expertise, and each speech was well received by the audience.
The program concluded with the appointment of five new Ambassadors for Peace.
During a special meeting at the official residence of H.E. Dr. K. Rosaiah, the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Chung Sik Yong described the vision and activities of UPF. The governor expressed his best wishes for the success of the leadership conferences and willingness to support future programs.