Dalai Lama to Lead Global Gandhian Movement for Swaraj

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama inaugurates the Hind Swaraj Centenary Commemoration International Conference at Surajkund, Haryana on November 22, 2009 by lighting a lamp. Dr Niru Vora (Convener, HSCC), Shri Rajiv Vora (Chairman, Swaraj Peeth Trust) and Prof UR Annanthamurty next to him
(Photos: Pankaj Mistry/www.pankajfineart.com)

Hind Swaraj Centenary Commemoration International Conference: A Unique Global Event of Our Time:

The first ever global Gandhian network has emerged which has its roots in India. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the most respected voice of humanity’s conscience today has accepted its leadership. The network fills the void, as there has been an absence of credible Gandhian voice and presence internationally. People from Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Palestine, Australia, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Nepal, and Burma have been joined in this effort by people from Italy, Tibet, America, Jordan and India. More than 100 leaders representing over 50 initiatives and organisations from 15 countries with a completely unified voice for nonviolent action against violence and oppression, gathered for the first time in Surajkund, Delhi for four days from November 19, 2009, on the occasion of the Centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s root text Hind Swaraj – written in 1909 to define the meaning of freedom and the purpose of struggle in the light of civilisational aggression by what is known as modern civilisation of the West.

They formed a global movement based on the Gandhian principles of Swaraj called the Global Gandhian Movement for Swaraj (GMS). His Holiness the Dalai Lama was present to receive the Global Action Plan from the group. They have taken on the challenge of violence, confronting it not only through the methods of nonviolence, but through the vision of Hind Swaraj where nonviolence and Satyagraha are the means to achieve self-rule , the highest form of cultural democracy. This Gathering made the distinction between unqualified nonviolence and nonviolence that is qualified by Swaraj. Action plan is guided by this distinction typical of the vision in Hind Swaraj and therefore building Swaraj awareness is at the centre of its purpose. This is important to keep in mind because experience informs us that actions not informed by the vision of Swaraj or Truth invariably become incorporated in the service of modern civilisation, so called.

The assembly appealed to His Holiness, whom they said walked in the footsteps of Gandhi, having Swaraj as the ideal of the struggle of his people and nonviolence as the creed – to be their ‘friend, philosopher, guide, teacher and leader’. To a jubilant standing ovation, His Holiness the Dalai Lama accepted this role by saying “I will serve you, I will help you from now on, I will become your leader – it is a great honour!”

“This was a historical moment” said Dr Niru Vora, Convener of the Hind Swaraj Centenary Conference.

This global movement has the mandate of Gandhians and internationally renowned leaders. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Chairman of Hind Swaraj Centenary Committee constituted by Swaraj Peeth along with other members like, Prof Ashish Nandy, Prof DL Sheth, Prof Parthanath Murkerji, and Prof UR Ananthamurthy has brought this effort to life. The conference was inaugurated by Smt Ela Bhatt, Founding Chairperson of SEWA while Dr Kapila Vatsyayan chaired the special session on ‘Exploring Swaraj in Asian Conflict Zones’. Its final day was honoured by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Laureate and proceedings on this day were chaired by Prof UR Ananthamurthy, educationist and an acclaimed literary figure of India. The appeal session was chaired by Achan Sulak Sivaraksa from Thailand, a veteran voice of Asian civil society and a leading Gandhian and founder of International Network of Engaged Budhists. The Conference, initiated and organised by Dr Niru Vora and Shri Rajiv Vora of Swaraj Peeth Trust, comprised prominent leaders of the Gandhian movement and those who have devoted their whole lives to understanding and practicing the principles of Swaraj and nonviolence through Hind Swaraj, like:

Smt Ela Bhatt, Prof UR Ananthamurty, Prof Ashish Nandy, Sri Kanti Bhai Shah, Shri Himanshu Kumar, Shri PV Raj Gopal, Dr Vandana Shiva, Shri Natawar Thakkar, Shivandbhai, Mrs Sarala bahen Jha, Sri Lavanam, Dr Ashok Vaidya ShriGVPrasad, Dr Claude Alvares, Prof Mathai from India; Prof Anthony Parel – Canada; Prof Minoru Kasai and Ms Hiromi Bakshi– Japan; Shri SM Mohmmad Idris – Malaysia; Dr Tint Swe – Burma; Shri Samy Awad – Palestine; Shri Farrukh S Goindi and Shri Kasheef Hamid – Pakistan; Shri Fadi Abi Allam – Lebanon; Dr Vinya Ariyaratne – Sri Lanka; Prof Anna Alomes and Prof Ralph Summy – Australia; Prof Douglas Allen, Kieth May, Dena Marriam and Prof Sushil Mittal – USA; and Martina Pignatti Morano – Italy among many others.

These are all ‘doers and thinkers’ representing a unified, coherent and action oriented voice, neither idle thinkers nor reasonless activists. The Movement is already working to hold its first training session for young people involved in social transformation in areas of conflict. The GMS has decided to intervene in the violence in the tribal region of Chattisgarh in India in December 2009.

In May 2010, 30 activists (drawn from an intended pool of 100), 10 each from Iraq, Palestine and Tibet for strengthening nonviolent movements for Swaraj in their respective areas will be trained in the philosophy and methods of Swaraj to stimulate nonviolent action for promotion of justice and change in their societies at a grass roots level. All participants from over 50 organisations from 15 countries will support each other and work together to create peace in this troubled world.

His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama being presented a traditional Indian shawl by Dr Niru Vora (Convener, HSCC) and Prof UR Annanthamurty during the Hind Swaraj Centenary Commemoration International Conference at Surajkund, Haryana on November 22, 2009.
(Photo: Pankaj Mistry/www.pankajfineart.com)