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South Asia Peace Initiative

Bangalore Conference Calls for Living with Dignity

Bangalore, India — The International Leadership Conference was honored to have Justice Shivaraj V. Patil, Former Judge of the Supreme Court, as Chief Guest on August 7, 2008. In his Inaugural Address, Justice Patil twice spoke about the importance of individual transformation as the basis for creating institutions of good governance. This was because governments are derived from the people.

Justice Patil, who is also head the Human Rights Commission of India, called on the people to develop competency, character, and commitment, which he said were essential components for compassionate governance and the rule of law. Without this, society he said developed three social evils of caste, crime, and corruption which were a “cancer to development.” In fact, poverty and corruption were seen as grave violators of human rights.

 

He commended the UPF on organizing the conference, which he described as a thoughtful, relevant, urgent and useful initiative in the cause of peace. He pointed out that laws were not adequate to enforce the spirit of the Indian constitution, which was one of the finest in the world. There must be a realization that all people are the children of God and therefore equal in His eyes. The right to live did not mean merely the right to survive, but the right to live with dignity.

He called compassion the foundation of all religions, but said that people were sometimes misled into being more cruel than animals. Religions with their emphasis on love, truth, non-violence, righteousness, and peace, have been distorted in almost every country to become deadly weapons. Modern technology penetrates space but not the hearts of men. World peace is impossible without peace in the hearts of all people, according to Justice Patil, and he called spirituality a road map to sustainable peace.

In closing, Justice Patil said that good governance is something everyone must participate in; peace requires that good leaders must speak out to give moral direction and guidance to society.

Dr. M.R. Srinivasan, Former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission delivered the Keynote Address. He highlighted the role of spirituality as a major social, cultural, emotional and even civilizational force. The earlier sense of certainty and predictability which used to characterize the scientific mind-set has now given way to an acknowledgment that the laws of nature may be dependent on a superior or “divine” force.

Dr. Srinivasan agreed that good governance could only be achieved by fulfilling a number of requirements, in which eradication of corruption, greater transparency and accountability, education for all, ensuring security, were matched by citizens displaying a sense of responsibility and displaying respect for the rights of others.

He deplored the low quality of political leadership and hoped that with younger politicians coming in the forefront this problem would be elevated in time. Education for all was vitally necessary, as was a revival of the tradition of imparting fundamental ethical values through strong family ties and value-based education. Science answers the question of “What is this?” and spirituality addresses, “Who am I?” The keynote speaker praised the UPF for emphasizing the true priorities and guiding society in the right direction.

The internationally renowned scientist urged the affluent classes not to indulge in conspicuous consumption. In the spirit of Gandhi-ji, they should consider themselves as trustees to safeguard the interest of the poor and emulate Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who use vast portion of their wealth for charitable purposes.

He agreed with the UPF message that in a democracy the opposition and ruling parties should consider themselves in
a parental role and work jointly for the common good. Regrettably, the ancient Indian tradition of progress through consensus had given way to strident divisions on every issue.

Swami Sadyojathah, Director of International Affairs for The Art of Living Foundation, defined the ABCs of good governance as

  • A (awareness)
  • B (belongingness)
  • C (commitment)

When these are satisfied, the fourth D (direction) is ensured. Referring to science and spirituality as two sides to the same coin, he recalled Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s message, “IT is not just Information Technology, but also Inner Transformation, and the .com stands for ‘clarity of mind.’”

H.G. Geevarghese Mar Coorilos, Metropolitan of the Mumbai Diocese of Indian Orthodox Church, applauded various UPF initiatives, including bringing about UN reform through interfaith consultations, and urged young members of the audience to carefully study the message of the UPF in order to become spiritually awakened and empowered citizens of the world.

Other speakers highlighted the importance of creating awareness within civil society and institutions of governance in order to bring about clean and efficient governance and the need for every individual to care for those less privileged. They also emphasized the need the make value education compulsory in the school curriculum and ensure that education enables students to become peaceful human beings motivated to serve others.

The conference agreed on the urgent need to revise and expand education syllabi in order promote character education as a means to inculcate the values of love, responsibility, respect for diversity, and peaceful means for resolving differences among the youth. It strongly endorsed the UPF emphasis on “the family as a school of love and peace.” It urged the media to fulfill their potential role in peacebuilding and deeply appreciated the basis of peace and good governance as defined by UPF. It also urged religious and spiritual leaders, civil society and policy makers to harness the power of science and spirituality in promoting inclusive development and sustainable peace.

Bangalore, in southern India, is the country's third most populous city. A center of India's information technology industry, it is home to some of the most well-recognized colleges and research institutions in India.

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