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Peace Education

Puducherry Conference Addresses Good Governance

The Universal Peace Federation of India, in partnership with the International Centre of Goa and the IILM India Forum of the Centre for Policy Development and Management in New Delhi, held a conference on “A New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance” on October 1 in Puducherry.

The conference was honored to have Hon. Chief Minister of Puducherry, Mr. V. Vaithilingam, as Chief Guest, and Hon. Dr. Prof. M. Ramadoss, Member of Parliament; Honorable Minister of Tourism, Youth and Sports, Mr. Malladi Krishna Rao; and Hon, Member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. T. Thiagarajan as Guests of Honor at the inaugural session. The conference was attended by leaders from all walks of life, including politics, government, business, the media, and academia.

The Honorable Chief Minister was presented with an Ambassador for Peace certificate for his outstanding achievements in leadership and good governance. Furthermore, UPF appointed the following persons as Ambassadors for Peace:

  • Dr. Prof. M. Ramadoss, Member of Parliament
  • Mr. Malladi Krishna Rao, Minister of Tourism, Youth and Sports
  • Mr. T. Thiagarajan, Member of the Legislative Assembly
  • Rev. Fr. Ratchagar, Director, PMSSS
  • Dr. P. Kangueane, Director, Bio-Medical Informatics
  • Mrs. Bhanumathi Appaji, Founder-Chairman, Jwala Home for the Mentally Challenged

Puducherry is a Union Territory of India with about 900,000 inhabitants. It is a former French colony, consisting of four non-contiguous enclaves, or districts, on the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and named for the largest, Puducherry, which is an enclave in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu.

Participants discussed major issues including the need for sensitive but effective handling of threats to security arising from terrorism, religious extremism, and other conflicts. The conference unanimously agreed on the following components of good governance:

  • Sensitive and inclusive governance that focuses on the needs and problems of the common people;
  • Leaders who consider themselves to be trustees of the people and strive to serve rather than aim to rule;
  • Celebrating, not just tolerating, diversity and multiculturalism, which are some of Puducherry’s most precious assets, in order to end the growing atmosphere of intolerance and violence;
  • Combining ethical values with efficient governance, noting that civil society should not be a passive spectator in case of shortcomings on either front;
  • Fostering dialogue and cooperation among people of different faiths, including religious and spiritual leaders in civil society, and promoting discourse on ways to improve governance and foster individual contributions to peace;
  • Cross-party consensus on issues that are critical for peace and inclusive development; and
  • Addressing shortcomings in the democratic framework by establishing a sound and healthy party system, strengthening democracy within political parties, inculcating accountability and transparency, ending opportunistic practices reflected in frequent defections, upholding civic and political morality, and inculcating the consciousness of liberty among all sectors of society.

Conference participants offered a variety of recommendations about leadership as it relates to development:

  • Giving due regard to “sustainability” and “equity” and not merely be influenced by considerations of “profit” and “efficiency”; this applies to areas such as business, tourism and agriculture need
  • Using a transparent and participative approach to decision-making; leadership must be transparent, accountable, and seen to be practicing probity; it should focus equal attention to means as well as ends
  • Caring for the people of the world as one family, which will diminish animosities, stereotypes, and prejudices
  • Ending ostentatious living and acknowledgement by businesses and industries that they are, as Gandhi-ji had urged, but “trustees of the nation’s wealth”
  • Eradicating corruption in every area through developing a conscience of serving the greater good
  • Reducing gross inequalities between different sections of the population
  • Addressing comprehensively the main components of inclusive development, namely, harmony between the individual and nature, eliminating poverty, and building an inclusive society in which there are no winners or losers
  • Challenging the media to fulfill their potential role in peacebuilding
  • Frequent recommendations were made in reference to education:
  • Character education in schools and colleges that teaches young people the importance of living for the sake of others; respecting different cultures, traditions, and faiths; and resolving differences and conflicts amicably and through dialogue and understanding. Only value-based education can help produce good leaders in every field of activity;
  • Motivating and involving youth in improving the quality of life of underprivileged sections of the population through outreach programs
  • Encouraging innovative and sensitive approaches to development in the country’s institutes of higher learning, keeping in mind the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid

Discussions referred to various Millennium Development Goals:

  • The conference agreed that maternal and infant malnutrition constituted the cruelest form of inequality and called for an end to practices like female foeticide.
  • Nutrition and education were described as the two pillars supporting children’s growth into responsible and productive adults.
  • It endorsed the call to address the urgent issues of inter-generational inequality, because climate change and bio-diversity loss pose potential threats to children yet to be born.

Speakers emphasized the importance of rejecting violence as an option in resolving differences and disputes. It strongly endorsed the UPF emphasis on “the family as a school of love and peace,” and the core principles of the world as one family and living for the sake of others, which are completely compatible with India’s own traditional ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.”

Tribute was paid to UPF initiatives, such as service projects in various parts of India, that cultivate empowered and responsible citizens working in partnership with the government in order to ensure sustainable peace and prosperity for all.

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