Asian Buddhist Media Conclave on ‘Mindful Communication for Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development’, at the Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF), New Delhi, 27-28 Aug 2018
Welcome Address by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF

Ven Dr Dhammapiya, Secretary-General, International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), Admiral KK Nayyar, Chairman, VIF, Sh S Gurumurthy, Vice Chairman, VIF, Hon’ble Chandraprema Gamage, Secretary, Ministry of Budha Sasana, Government of Sri Lanka, Sh Malay K Sinha, Director General of IBC to the inaugural session, distinguished participants and guests, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the VIF and IBC, I extend a hearty welcome to the eminent speakers, distinguished guests and the members of media to the Asian Buddhist Media Conclave. The Conclave will focus on developing suitable communication methodologies to promote ‘Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development’. It is heartening to note that scholars, writers, academics, film makers, and TV, print and social media personalities from a number of countries are participating in the Conclave.

As you are aware, in 2015, a Hindu-Buddhist Samvad was launched in this very hall at the initiative of Prime Minister Modi and Prime Minister of Abe of Japan, on the theme of ‘Conflict Avoidance and Environmental Consciousness’. At a declaration adopted at Bodh Gaya, it was noted that “The Hindu-Buddhist civilisations have a special responsibility to work on conflict avoidance and environmental consciousness for expounding the philosophical principle common to the Hinduism and Buddhism to save the world from fratricidal conflicts”.

In a world torn apart by conflicts fueled by geopolitics based on narrow national interests, it is necessary to look for alternative ideas to construct a more humane caring and inclusive world order. While globalisation and technological advances have brought enormous benefits to society, the world is also witnessing by rising inequality, crisis of identity, deepening alienation, environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. Morality and ethical principle have been relegated to the background in a world characterised by crass materialism and self-centeredness. Around us, as for instance, in West Asia and Africa, we see civil wars, large scale human migrations and human suffering. Millions of people, including women and children, are living in subhuman condition in relief camps across the world. Clearly something is wrong with the way the present world order is shaping. We need to think about our future and take corrective actions as soon as possible.

In a world of turmoil and conflict, ancient Indic-Buddhist civilisations can give guidance, as their principles touch human nature at the deepest level. They have the potential for providing the foundational principles for a new world order based on conflict avoidance, environmental consciousness and sustainable development.

The world is looking for new organising principles which prioritise peace and cooperation over conflicts and violence. Prime Minister Modi, in his numerous speeches delivered at prominent international fora, has expounded the themes of Vasudaiva Kutumbkam, “the world is a family”, and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina, “let there be happiness for all”. We must find an alternative to the world order driven by greed, profit motive, and reckless exploitation of resources.

The noble vision and intent of the high level declarations need to be converted into reality. A well thought-out strategy of which effective communication in the age of instant connectivity is an important ingredient. The Asian Buddhist Media Conclave will discuss how the humane message of Indic-Buddhist civilisations can be spread effectively through media networks, films, TV, print, social media, popular culture and capacity building. This will require thought, vision, resources, cooperation and perseverance.

One is confident that the conclave will throw up practical suggestions. I wish the participants success in their deliberations.

Thank you.

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