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B.K. Modi: Address to World Summit 2014

Address to the World Summit 2014, Seoul, Korea, August 9-13, 2014

In 1998 Ted Turner, Kofi Annan, who was heading the UN at that time, Rev. Moon and I got together. Ted Turner had started CNN and was trying to connect the houses with the help of a channel which could be seen worldwide. Rev. Moon had a great dream of bringing the whole world connected through a system of highways, which can be linked underground through the help of tunnels, while I was involved in connecting the world through a system in which people could speak to each other through the help of mobile phones.

Kofi Annan told us he was very disturbed that the United Nations had not been able to do much. More than 30 million people had died in various wars which took place after the UN was formed. He was also very disturbed that most of these wars were of a religious nature, and he felt that with the new millennium coming the spiritual leaders of the world should come together in the United Nations.

We created the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders [at the United Nations, Aug. 28-31, 2000]. I was in India at that time, and India brought the largest delegation, nearly 500 people, to this big gathering of 2000 people at the United Nations in the year 2000. In this big gathering it was felt that the political leaders have neither the vision nor the will nor the power to create one world, so there is a role for the spiritual leaders.

A lot has happened after that. It is now in 2014, and still there is a feeling that the political leaders have neither the will nor the power to create this one world. That’s why I was very keen to reconnect with UPF.

In the meantime, I started a body called the Global Citizen Forum. There are many, many bodies which have been formed in the last 15 years, including one by Google, known as Forward, and one by Facebook, called Network. Many NGOs have been formed by many corporations who desire to create one world, a peaceful world where the whole of humanity can live as one.

Whether this remains a dream or this is a reality, I think the desire is there. The dream is common. It is no longer a dream of a particular type of people or particular countries. It is a global dream. But as we have been hearing, that is not happening.

The one hope which took shape after the United Nations was created is in Europe. The experiment of Europe, where the two world wars were fought, has been an example. But this they did by themselves. People sympathized with this, but it was something which took shape by bringing East and West Germany together, creating one currency, and creating one assembly where the political decisions would be taken for Europe.

This creation of Europe has sparked a hope that more and more of these economic frameworks can be created before we create one world. One world is a big game, because you are talking about so many nations. Before we get one world, can we create regions which are one? Most of the conflicts are in the regions. America has also moved towards creating one North American economic format.

We in the Asia-Pacific have not done much of it. I think the Asia-Pacific region has been highly fragmented. It is a region which had been colonized. It is a region which has not been united. The great prophets Muhammad and Buddha both promoted peace, and they were trying to bring peace in this region.

Buddha, who came from India, was a messenger of peace; he talked about equality; he talked about peace. Buddhism spread to China, Japan, Korea and most of the Asian countries.

Even Islam, which started in the Middle East, spread in most of these countries, including India and Singapore. Today Singapore, the country I belong to, has been a symbol of peace. I took citizenship in Singapore in 2002 for that reason. I feel that Singapore has the psychology for peace. It is one country which has tried to make bridges with every nation of the world. I think that in the Asia-Pacific the role of Singapore as a peacemaker should not be missed.

Three major forces are going to play a role in restructuring the Asia-Pacific:

  1. The role of Japan is extremely important. Japan was an aggressor in the Second World War, and their responsibility is greater. This region has suffered because of Japan. This region has a lot to ask from Japan. In Europe, Germany has to play a bigger role and has to assume greater statesmanship to bring Europe together. Japan has to become a greater statesman. I think Japan should not ask what other nations can do; instead, Japan should ask it can do for other nations. Like Germany, Japan has been the aggressor in the past; it conquered and colonized most of the nations in this area, including China and Korea. So I think one commonality between Europe and Asia is that they have Germany and we have Japan.
  2. China has veto power in the UN Security Council. In this whole region there is only one country which has the veto, and it should use this veto judiciously. It cannot be a party to the vetoes used by Russia, U.S., France or U.K. I think we expect China to use its veto power for Asia, not for the people of other parts of the world.
  3. India is a very historic country. It is a country which has always talked of peace. It is known as a nation for peace. It has a history of peace. It is one nation which has no history of aggression in the world. Even when Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan by India, India got out of Bangladesh within less than a month. It did not seek control like what happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places by keeping their army in place. So I think India has a tremendous history of peace.

Not only governments have a role also NGOs. That’s why the Global Citizen Forum is working with UPF and many other organizations trying to bring a change where Asia can work as one country, as Europe is doing.

I fondly remember Rev. Moon. We had a lot of discussions together. When his vision of the international highway network was first presented to me, I was fascinated. I was fascinated with the dream he had, and I was fascinated by this great visionary with this vision to unite the world by roads. We had been talking of uniting the world by air and by TV, but this person came up with the idea of physically connecting the world.

For that I salute him, and I feel very honored to be here with you in this program which is organized in his memory.

For more information about the World Summit, click here.