2nd International Dialogue on Economics of Non-violence: Cultural Values & Ethics, November 1-3, 2007 Udaipur - Report (2)

Posted: 26.12.2007
Updated on: 07.01.2009

2nd International Dialogue on Economics of Non-violence

A three-day International Dialogue on "Economics of Non-violence: Cultural Values & Ethics" was organized by IILM Academy of Higher Learning, Jaipur in collaboration with ICCR, SID, NHRD Network and Acharya Mahapragya Chaturmas Vyastha Samiti at Mahapragya Vihar, Bhuwana, Udaipur from November 1-3, 2007.

The following is the summary report of the conference.

The Second International Dialogue on "Economics of Non-violence: Cultural Values & Ethics" was inaugurated on November 1, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. at Mahapragya Vihar by Shri S.K. Singh, Governor of Rajasthan in the presence of Acharya Shri Mahapragya and Yuvacharya Mahashraman and participants and guests from India and abroad. Going into the root cause of the issue of violence, Shri Singh said that the system of production and distribution of wealth has evolved over the centuries and its original purpose was to produce good human beings and sufficient agricultural wealth. Though the scenario has changed in the present times even now we can enrich our economy by providing good education and ensuring good health. The more love and Ahimsa and joy there is in the family unit, and respect for women in society, the more economically productive that society is likely to be. Calm contemplation and calmer non-violence calculation and the teachings of Mahavira, Buddha and Gandhi are very relevant today. We need to pay heed to the message given by Gandhi about the philosophy of truth and non-violence, or non-damage and non-hurt, and therefore, non-murder and non-hatred. That alone is the recipe for fruitful productivity, which creates joy and not merely greed in the fractioning of societies.

Dr. Singh emphasized that economics is not an end in itself, but a means for building peace and a base on which may be developed a more satisfying life for peoples and individuals.

Speaking on the occasion Acharya Shri Mahapragya said that just as violence and possessiveness go together, similarly, non-violence and non-possessiveness are concomitant, the non-possessiveness being the cause and the non-violence its outcome.

Acharya Shri said that present-day economics too is centred more around the prosperity of an individual rather than that of the society. He advocated that the principle that 'the minimum basic needs of the entire society should be fulfilled first' can serve as a great fundamental principle of economic system. He said we can conceive the idea of 'relativistic economics' or the 'relativistic system of economics' in which there would be scope for growth of business and industry, but at the same time the system for providing everyone the primary needs of life. Only then can we prevent the reactionary violence that erupts due to the dearth of bread for all human beings.

Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumar said that non-violence and economics may seem to be incongruous at the surface, but without the association of non-violence, cultural values and ethics with economics, we cannot have a sustainable and hunger-free society. He said Acharya Shri Mahapragyaji's Ahmisa Yatra is a constructive step in this direction and is bringing about change in the consciousness of the people.

In the beginning, while welcoming the guests and introducing the subject Prof. Ashok Bapna, Convener of the conference, said that the presence of several international delegates in the conference was an evidence of the concerns of the world society about the prevalent violence and the need for non-violent economic growth.

The keynote speaker Prof. L.N. Nathuramka said that to ameliorate the situation the four basic principles of Jain philosophy can form the basis of an alternative system of economics. These principles are:

  1. Man to be at the center, 
  2. Preservation of Environment,
  3. Decentralization and,    
  4. Self Restraint.

These principles with inclusive growth will eliminate violence automatically.

On this occasion, Dr. Ponna Wignaraja from Sri Lanka, Sister B.K. Jayanti from London and Prof. Michaela Hynie from Canada also expressed their views.

Dr. Wignaraja said that cultural values applicable to conflict resolution / transformation in a multicultural, multireligious and multi-ethnic societies show that political and economic democracy must go head in hand. Prof. Michaela Hynie discussed the different cultural concepts of peace from the perspective of psychology. Sister Jayanti said while money is absolutely essential, it is heartening to note that corporations all over the world are becoming aware of their social responsibility. She emphasized the need for environmental protection. She said spirituality was the answer to all our problems.

Prof. Marcia Rioux from Canada pointed out that the influence of economic globalisation in the subordination of social justice; equality, basic rights and human dignity to the narrow constraints of economics are quite evident in the modern societies.

During the open discussion that followed a large number of pertinent questions were asked and a lively interaction was generated. Prof. Udai Pareek, Prof. Dayanand Bhargava, Prof. Ezra Zubrow, Dr. Arun Chaturvedi, Manish Tiwari and several other scholars participated in the discussion.
Summing up the discussion, Dr. Ved Prakash, Consultant, IILM said that we need to bring about a quick shift in our economic system, policy and perception and think in terms of happiness for all human beings.

The International Dialogue on the "Economics of Non-Violence: Cultural Values and Ethics", continued on the second day in the Prangan of Acharya Shri Mahapragya, Vihar, Udaipur. The first session of the day was on Cultural Values, Ethics and Peace which began with the blessings of H.H. Acharya Mahapragya. He expressed the need for intellectual and spiritual consciousness for human and related economic development. He suggested that Non-Violence is an effective medicine for deadly prevailing disease of consumerism.

Dr. Ashok Bapna, Chaiman of ICENS and Director of IILM Academy of Higher Learning, Jaipur, presented the theme of the conference and welcomed the guests. He told that values identify our deeds and acts. He stressed on the fact that values are required to become good human beings.

Prof. A. K Sinha of IILM Academy of Higher Learning introduced the speakers of the session.

Prof. Dayanand Bhargava said that giving and sharing and caring are the whole essence of qualitative life. He reiterated what was said by Acharya Shri Mahapragya that "Man Can Change" and become a better human being.

Mr. N.K. Singhi of Indian Economic Service, while speaking on the theme, said that there is a need for incorporating religion in economic development and the principles of Jainism of non-possessiveness and compassion should be included in the concept of economic development. He also stated that there is a need for research as to why Jains are more developed economically. One factor that he identified was their adherence to Mahavira's principles of Jain Culture.
A copy of the translation of the book written by H.H. Acharya Mahapragya, titled "Philosophical Foundation of Jainism" was presented by Prof. M.P. Lele. Prof. Lele also narrated the basic contents of Jain Philosophy highlighting the virtues of Ahimsa, Anekant and Aparigraha.

Prof. Prem Suman Jain also presented a book " Bhagwati Aradhna" to Acharya Shri. In the end of this session, H.H. Acharya Mahapragya gave his blessings by giving the eight fundamentals of Non-violence, Peace and Relative Economics. He said that there is a need for training in Non-Violence, mere intellectual deliberation would not be enough to provide the solution.

In the next session, Prof. Ashish Bose, an eminent demographer and Advisor to the Prime Minister wished for more participation of political leaders in such conferences so that issues concerning development provide practical solutions.

Sister B.K. Jayanti, in her key presentation, told that there is a need for value education in schools. For this, they have started a project named "Touch the Light". She also emphasized the need of Holistic Development and for that they have started "Sampurna Gram Vikas Project" with the objective of imparting education and all round development.

Professor Michaela Hynie, York University, Canada, stressed on the need for research in the domain of peace. She talked about peace in terms of never-ending and multidimensional aspect starting from within and flowing outside. She gave a definition of peace in terms of Non-Violence, absence of war or conflict, central positive values and inner harmony.

Professor Ezra Zubrow, renowned Anthropologist from USA, spoke about two views of cultural values, one as an individual or as private right and the other as a group or community right. He also said that in many countries ethnic groups dominate the cultural heritage of their regions, which becomes the major cause of conflict.

Prof. Arun Chaturvedi, while speaking on the theme of the session expressed that the position and place of peace studies in Indian Universities are ignored to a great extent. He said that there is a need for peace studies for greater development and peace action should become an essential part of education. He stressed that Non-violence and peace will start by inculcating emotions and feeling of understanding in society.

The theme of the next session was "Corporate social responsibility and Ethics - Dialogue with Acharya Mahapragyaji".

While speaking on the theme, Mr. Anupam Martin, from Singapore, spoke about ethical consumerism, decentralized economy, sustainable growth and explained the concepts with examples. He defined success, not only as attaining power and money, but also as happiness, appreciation by the critics and the ability to appreciate beauty.

Prof. Ezra Zubrow, from USA, explained the principle of Equity, and suggested that companies should understand the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and not as Corporate Social Charity.

This was followed by an interactive open discussion on the theme. Summing up the discussion, Dr. Ved Prakash, Consultant, IILM Academy of Higher Learning said cultural values and ethics can act as a bridge for materialism and spiritualism. The vote of thanks was presented by Dr. Y.S. Kothari.

After this, Dr. G.L. Jain conducted a session on Preksha meditation. In the slide show, he explained the steps of meditation and the advantages of practising it. It was followed by a 30-minute practical session.
In the end, a short film produced by IILM Academy, Jaipur entitled "Towards a Non-violent Model of Development" was shown.

The programme was coordinated by Mr. Sudhir Upadhyay and Mr. Rustam Bora, Faculty, IILM Academy and was compered by Sunil Devjani and Amoli Mehrotra, students of IILM Academy, Jaipur.

The International Dialogue on the "Economics of Non-Violence: Cultural Values and Ethics", concluded on its third day in the Prangan of Acharya Shri Mahapragya Vihar, Udaipur.

The first session of the day began with a Business session chaired by Prof. Muni Mahendra Kumarji. The session began with a Presentation on "Poverty Reduction and its impact on Non-violence" by Mr. B.Raj Bhandari from Geneva. He defined poverty not only in economic terms but also in terms of Non economic factors like denial of services like health, education, infrastructure and medical facilities etc. While throwing light on world poverty reduction he said that only certain counties like China have succeeded in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He also tried to relate poverty reduction with economic development. On speaking in the context of India he said in absolute terms, poverty has been reduced but the distribution of people below poverty line in different states is not proper. He also related poverty with globalisation, which has resulted in increasing our needs and also resulted in increasing violence in society. He said that globalisation has not increased poverty, but it has increased inequality in income distribution. He also wished that the conference would make substantial contribution towards reduction in violence. The session was followed by open discussion by the panellists.

On this occasion, a ten point Udaipur declaration was proposed based on new Non-violent economic concept on balanced spiritual and material development, new concept of relative economics, corporate social responsibility, change in education system including Spiritualism, Morality, development & society, emotional control for saving the society from conflicts, tensions, protection of environmental pollution. The detailed ten points, which were proposed, are enclosed with the report.

In the valedictory session, Prof. Ashish Bose, an eminent demographer and Advisor to the Prime Minister, said that the conference has helped the students of IILM Academy of Higher Learning, Jaipur in becoming value added managers. He identified two problems that are present in the world as Fundamentalism and Corruption. The solution to these problems lies in Non-violent economics as a new model of economics.

The chief guest of the valedictory session, Mr. Gulab Chand Kataria, Home Minister, Government of Rajasthan, said that in India Ahimsa is in our culture. He identified the root cause of violence in our society as growing disparity between the rich and the poor. The solution to the problem is that those who are rich should spend a part of their income in reducing poverty.

The conference was formally concluded with the blessings of Acharya Mahapragya. He expressed the need for practicing spiritualism in our life. He said that one should work with inner-consciousness and one should curtail needs. He stressed the need for training in Non-violence for intellectual and spiritual consciousness for human and related economic development. He suggested that Non-Violence is essential in the making of a good human being.

The valedictory session was compered by Sunil Devjani and Amoli Mehrotra, students of IILM Academy, Jaipur.

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