President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the first-ever World Youth Conference for Kindness organised by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) at Vigyan Bhavan here on Friday.
The theme of the conference was ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.’ In attendance were Union Ministers, prominent artists, nobel laureates and over 1,000 youth representing 27 countries.
The conference was in commemoration of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi and aimed at providing youth with creative, effective methods of engaging and realising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It sought inspiration from Gandhi’s championing of non-violence.
Anantha Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGEIP, said the motivation for this conference was the general observation that “people have increasingly started to think that being kind is a sign of weakness whereas aggressiveness is respected.”
He explained that humans are neurologically wired at birth to be kind but the process of socialisation tears that away.
Mr. Duraiappah said, the current SDGs will be achieved by 2030 and if “we start our campaign next year, we can have a decade of kindness”. “Going forward, the MGEIP hopes to create a movement of inspired and empowered youth through kindness to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities,” he added.
Gandhi’s ideals still relevant
In his inaugural address, the President highlighted the relevance of Gandhi to contemporary times. He said, “kindness’, a value synonymous with Gandhiji, is very relevant for us,” and added that “We could place Gandhiji in a time machine and transport him to any period of human existence and we would find him to be relevant.”
The President said that virtue was important to fight environmental degradation and urged the audience to practice acts of kindness.
The conference hosted 60 international delegates from over 27 countries, each of whom work in the field of positive social change.