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Peace Education

Sikkim Conference Focuses on Good Governance

UPF-India held a series of conferences in 2008 crisscrossing the world’s largest democracy from the northernmost state of Sikkim, which borders China, to the southern state of Kerala, on the Indian Ocean. The most eminent Indian dignitaries from government and civil society offered their experience and expertise on pressing issues from terrorism and corruption, to interreligious harmony and character education. A galaxy of social reformers including senior politicians, policy research experts, educators, jurists, sport personalities, nation-reforming agriculturalists, internationally renowned musicians, academicians, and religious leaders from all faiths endorsed and supported the Universal Peace Federation’s efforts to tackle tough issues in this series of conferences entitled, ““A New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance.”

Gangtok, Sikkim, India - The Universal Peace Federation of India, in partnership with the Ministry of Human Resource Development Department and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs & Heritage Department, Government of Sikkim was honoured to have H.E. Sudharshan Agawal, the Governor of Sikkim, as Chief Guest for its June 19, 2008, conference.

The Governor began his address by saying, “I am indeed fascinated by the five basic principles of the parent organization, the Universal Peace Federation, with their motto, 'One Family Under God.'" He listed UPF's basic principles:

  • We are one family created by God.
  • The highest qualities of human beings are spiritual and moral.
  • The family is the school of love and peace.
  • Living for the sake of others.
  • Peace comes through co-operation beyond the boundaries of ethnicity, religion, and nationality.

The Governor went on to underscore this by saying the moment we truly consider the world as a family, animosities and prejudices disappear. Going even further and quoting from Gandhi-ji, he reiterated that businesses and industries should see themselves as “trustees of the nation’s wealth.”

He further stressed that the “State” is there to serve the people (not the other way around). Indeed, the UPF founder, Father Moon, has said, “it is only when the state serves the people that its very existence is justified.”

In summary, the Governor provided an excellent definition of good governance—not limited to elected officials: “Leadership committed to serve the people.”

The conference unanimously endorsed the position put forth by the Hon. G.M. Gurung, Minister for Human Resource Development, that character education will be taught in Sikkim schools and colleges by 2009. The need to teach young people the importance of living for the sake of others more than for themselves was urgent, along with an emphasis on the value of marriage and family.

The UPF Character Education initiative is a multi-pronged approach to building character. It includes a focus on school, family, and community. Studies have shown that a character education program is most effective when it is a comprehensive, intentional effort of these three components working together, thereby creating a support system that will reinforce the lessons learned. Good individuals form and are formed by good families; good families make up vibrant, wholesome communities; such communities create a healthy nation; and healthy nations make for a world of true, lasting peace.

Nestled in the Himalayas, Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest in area after Goa. It borders on Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. It is an ancient land also known as 'Indrakil' or garden of Indra, the king-god of heaven, in Hindu religious texts. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination for its culture, scenic beauty, and biodiversity.

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