The World Thinkers and Writers Peace Meet was organized for Kolkata, December 27-31 by Dr. Santinath Chattopadhyay and his son Dr. Sudipto Chattopadhyay, leaders of ISISAR (the International Society of Intercultural Study and Research), based in Kolkata. The Peace Meet transpired as a grand international conference with many participants from India, West Bengal, and internationally. Within the context of this Peace Meet were scheduled the 14th session of the Provisional World Parliament (PWP) and the 15th International Conference of International Philosophers for Peace (IPPNO). It was a highly successful and inspiring five days.
I arrived on December 25, and our special guest of honor for the Provisional World Parliament, Puan Sri Datin Seri N. Sarsawathy Devi, prominent international lawyer from Malaysia and WCPA patron and Vice-President, arrived later that night. Madam Devi travelled to Kolkata explicitly to support the Provisional World Parliament, which we very much appreciated. Dr. Almand and I requested that she sit on the dais with us as the Parliament session was conducted. That same night, Mr. Josiah Eck arrived from the United States, coming to the Parliament and to subsequent WCPA events with the intention of participating as my assistant, a task that he performed very well. In the morning of the 27th, there were opening ceremonies for the World Peace Meet and in the afternoon, opening ceremonies at the first session of the Provisional World Parliament.
Part of my opening speech to the World Peace Meet was recorded and can be found at https://youtu.be/NlzDRpRelFw . The photo on the left below of the opening ceremonies of the Peace Meet, from the left, features Dr. Phichai Tovivich, Vice-President of WCPA from Thailand (whose attendance and support we very much appreciated), Hanita Carolin Hendelman, an important human rights activist and stage artist from Israel, Mohammad Nurul Huda, prominent poet from Bangladesh, and on the far right, Madam Saraswathy Devi, Vice-President and patron of WCPA. In the audience are Mahbubul Islam, WCPA Youth Coordinator, and several other WCPA members from Bangladesh. In the photo on the right, Dr. Eugenia Almand, WCPA Secretary General, address the audience.
The Parliament took place in one of the auditoriums of the Ramakrishna Institute of Culture, and was scheduled to meet in five sessions from the 27th to the 29th, concurrently with two other sessions going on for the World Peace Meet. These concurrent sessions limited the number of participants in the Parliament, but those attending, like Gandhian activist E.P. Menon from Bangalore, and prominent peace historian Klaus Schlichtmann from Germany/Japan, made the delegate participation very high quality. In the photos below, the meeting auditorium is on the left and the banner on the third floor of the Ramakrishna Institute of Culture is on the right. Below that are photos of the Parliament in Session. At the head table are Dr. Eugenia Almand, Secretary of the Parliament, myself, and Madam Devi, our special guest.
In a break from the hard work of the Parliament, Madam Devi’s prominent Kolkata friends took us out for a fine dinner (above right). After the Parliament session ended with the passage of two major Legislative Acts and several minor adjustments to previous acts of the Parliament, the International Philosophers for Peace Conference commenced. These acts that were passed at the 14th session are posted at http://www.radford.edu/gmartin and at http://www.worldproblems.net. They will be bound into a nice looking volume along with the Earth Constitution and distributed widely within the UN and elsewhere. One evening at the Conference, led by Dr. Santinath Chattopadhyay and Dr. Sudipto Chattopadhyay, we formed an organization called the “World Peace Committee” to join together the several peace organizations participating in the conference. After the Parliament, there was a special session of the World Thinkers and Writers Peace Meet for poets. My poem “The Children” was published in the special edition of ISISAR’s Culture and Quest at this Peace Meet. The poem I read for this session, however, was called “Thoughts on Visiting Hiroshima. It was recorded and can be found at https://youtu.be/y-8jZ_6uD9Y.
Professor Mar Peter-Raoul, IPPNO Treasurer, founded a “Dump Project” a few years ago in Kolkata in which children and their families who lived in a certain dump were placed in school and the families moved to a village. Mar’s local contact, Christopher, brought the whole group into Kolkata to meet us. In the photo above are also Josiah Eck (back), Dr. Patricia Ann Murphy, Chair of IPPNO’s International Advisory Board (center), and Sri E.P. Menon (right) long with children and their mothers from the “Dump Project.”
Following the World Peace Thinkers and Writers Meet, Menon, Josiah, and I flew to Trivandrum on January 2nd. We took a taxi to Kanyakumari, the town at the tip of India and the rock a few hundred yards from the tip at which three oceans come together in a dramatic physical confluence. The rock has a Vivekananda Temple on it (left photo). We stayed in town at the Vivekananda Kendra Guest House, near Sunrise Beach, where each morning people would congregate to watch the sun rise (photo). Kanyakumari is also a charming fishing village (photo). Menon had arranged for a number of social activists and concerned citizens to meet at the Guest House in Kanyakumari for a two day seminar on “The World We Need” in which I would present the absolute need for ratifying the Constitution for the Federation of Earth.
There were 10 of us altogether and for two days we explored the need for global institutional transformation under the Earth Constitution. During this trip to India, I brought with me 100 copies of the new compact edition of the Earth Constitution, which I distributed to key people in Delhi, Kolkata, Kanyakumari, and Bangalore. Some participants at Kanyakumari are pictured below.
On January 7, Menon, Josiah, and I took the train overnight to Bangalore. Menon had arranged lodging in the Hotel Janardana, as well as a seminar and dinner for a group of social activists, academics and journalists to meet about “The World We Need” on January 9th. The owner of the hotel supports this work for a transformed and just world and said that he was privileged to donate these resources for our work. Our working group for the seminar is pictured on the left below. On January 10th Menon brought us to a Jain wedding, extraordinary in its beauty and ritual complexity (photo below right). On January 11th Menon had arranged for me to give a
talk to an audience of faculty, students, and administrators of Seshadripuram College in central Bangalore. It was a fitting conclusion to our work for WCPA on this India trip because of the great enthusiasm and interest of these young people who are, after all, the future of India and the world (photos below).
That same day I mailed letters to India’s Prime Minister Modi and President Mukherjee, which included descriptions of our extensive work in India and our vision of a permanent home for the Parliament in India, along with copies of the Earth Constitution. The following day, before taking me to the airport, Josiah and I were treated to a trip outside Bangalore to a beautiful park at the top of a mountain where both Gandhi and the Queen had stayed. Mr. Murthy, who had been with us since Kanyakumari (right in photo below), and his brother were our hosts on this trip. Josiah took advantage of the trip to interact with the many monkeys living there. This outing was a beautiful conclusion to a very fruitful and productive month for WCPA in India.