On the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting and on the 149th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the organization, From India with Love, in association with the International Association of Human Values (IAHV), is organizing a World Summit on Countering Violence.
The summit will bring together global thinkers, policy makers, law enforcement officials, activists, lawmakers and scholars to brainstorm solutions to modern day conflicts through Gandhian principles of ahimsa or non-violence. It will host a delegation of police chiefs, professors, researchers and policy makers from the US, who are in India to understand ahimsa at a deeper level.
As part of their visit, the American delegation, of which the US Police Foundation constitutes a majority, have already toured Mumbai, and learnt practical tools from Indian spirituality such as meditation and Sudarshan Kriya. They will now participate in the two-day conference at The Art of Living International Centre, in the city, on October 1 and 2.
“The idea stems from my discovery, earlier this year, that this was the 149th birthday of Gandhiji,” says Mandar Apte, founder and executive director, From India With Love. “I have been an Indian American for the last 22 years. I had a high-paying job in Shell (Former Manager, GameChanger Social Innovation), which I quit two years ago to start a movement, to reinvigorate the wisdom of non-violence in America when I started observing a trend of growing violence. It is so random and so frequent that we have all become numb to the acts of violence. Just last year, there have been more than 100 mass shootings.
“While I was conducting research on a project for the Foundation, I also discovered that Martin Luther King Jr came to India in search of Gandhi, only to discover that he was no more. After a few weeks, he began calling himself a disciple of Gandhi in his essays and talks. He was convinced that it had to be either non-violence or non-existence. One year ago, I was reading his literature and I felt that India had also lost its way on non-violence, a little.” The summit is a symbol for the rediscovery of Gandhiji and the ideal of non-violence, and is targeted towards transforming the pain into love. “The plan is to come back next year, after having implemented the change, in time for Gandhiji’s 150th birth anniversary. The event is targeted towards police personnel, since they are the first to be called when there is any incidence of violence whether it is suicide, drug abuse, domestic violence, a shooting, or an act of terrorism. They simply jump into the fray to help. If the American police become advocates or ambassadors of peace, it will create a powerful narrative in the country.” As part of the lead-up to the summit, Mandar has met police chiefs from across America, beginning with a two-month programme for gang members and police executives at LAPD. “The LAPD case study helped me engage other police departments in the country. The plan is to channelize the police force to discover new ways of promoting non-violence, with everything we have in our culture from yoga to meditation, and celebration. If America comes and values our culture, I am sure India will also wake up to its value.”
The summit will also spark off further partnerships with the Police Foundation and the Indian police for leadership programmes, and will commence the exploration of the idea of compassionate and collaborative policing. Speakers at the conference include Frank Straub and Dean Esserman from the National Police Foundation; Makarand Paranjpe, Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies; Dr. Joseph Smith, Mayor of North Miami; and Charlie Allen, Institute for Economics and Peace.
“The delegation for the conference comprises 35 police chiefs, professors, researchers and policy makers, from the US, and from other countries such as Argentina, Brazil, and Japan, and over 150 Indian police executives, policy makers, scholars, activists, and, thinkers.”
The conference will veer away from traditional formats and will follow a more informal approach where each speaker will address the gathering for a few minutes, before initiating a discussion among the delegates on how they wish to contribute, and how they can channelize their network to contribute. “It is an exchange, facilitated by thought leaders,” says Mandar. “This is the first ever summit that seeks to counter violence of all kinds, not just global terrorism, but personal violence, suicide, gang violence, domestic violence, violence against women and children, and human trafficking. The summit also seeks to promote India as a hub for peace tourism.”
Topics for discussion include, Making Peace Profitable, Foundations of Peace and Non Violence in India’s culture and Creating Positive Peace Frameworks. The summit includes a Masterclass in Non Violence with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of The Art of Living, and the International Association for Human Values.
For details, visit nonviolencesummit.org .