Greetings to all the representatives of the Gandhi King Foundation, 

Our guest speaker, Dr Ira Helfand,

And to all the representatives from educational institutions, particularly in our host country of India, including:

  • Appa Rao Podile, Vice Chancellor of the University of Hyderabad,
  • Saket Kushwaha, Vice Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University,
  • Anamik Shah, Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapith,
  • Prasanna Kumar Chairman, Mahatma Gandhi National Council of Rural Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India; and
  • Prabha Shankar, Hon. Secretary, Exhibition Society.

I would also like to extend greetings to all of you joining us online from across the globe.

Thank you to the Gandhi King Foundation for organizing this gathering on this most auspicious occasion – the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, born on this day in 1869.

A universal man of peace, Gandhi needs no introduction. He is recognised where it matters most, in the hearts of people from all walks of life, from across the globe. His life and work resonate with so many, and he comfortably stands shoulder to shoulder with other peacemakers who have changed the world, and made a lasting contribution to peace, like Nelson Mandela and Matin Luther King Jr.

I am here today as President of the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, an organisation that has been working towards the pursuit of peace and nonviolence for more than 20 years. We provide a global platform for Nobel Peace Laureates to engage and share their unique peace-making knowledge with the world. Through exploring the heritage of Nobel Peace Laureates, the Permanent Secretariat also aims to engage minds on real matters impacting global affairs, ethnic conflicts, a world without violence, racism, global environmental problems, proliferation of weapons, and more, so as to encourage humanitarian and nonviolent thinking.

Today, not only do we gather to celebrate and commemorate the birthday of Gandhi, but, fittingly, in his honour, 2 October was also declared the International Day of Nonviolence by the United Nations General Assembly.

In the words of Gandhi himself, “Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man”.

As an organisation dedicated to peace, these words, and Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence, resonate deeply with us.

We, as the Permanent Secretariat believe that peace education is intrinsically linked to promoting the philosophy of nonviolence. The youth, as the keepers of our future, need to be equipped with the necessary tools to create a world where nations live together in harmony – not only with each other, but with our planet.  This was the motivation for the formation of our youth program – Leading by Example – which was launched at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in 2012.

The Leading by Example program connects young people with the experiences and teachings of the Nobel Peace Laureates, through educational workshops presented at the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates over the days of each Summit. In addition, we have also developed an educational Curriculum that is the product of more than 20 years of experience in the field of peace-making, based on our collaboration with Nobel Peace Laureate Individuals and Organizations.

The Curriculum consists of two parts: the first is more theoretical, including topics such as human rights, nonviolence, disarmament and leadership; the second is more practical, focusing on the concept of “sustainability” and the Sustainable Development Goals. The lessons are framed to provide opportunities for students to submit their ideas and make their judgments about the world around them.

To date, our Leading by Example network is comprised of some 3 000 students and young professionals who are making a difference in the world every day. They come from over 100 universities, from different corners of the world. Among them we have young environmentalists, social business entrepreneurs, artists, journalists, lawyers, politicians, doctors and nurses. This diversity with a collective aspiration is what makes our Leading by Example program so special.

Our network continues to grow, year-on-year, as the Permanent Secretariat builds new partnerships with like-minded educational institutions and organisations, such as the Gandhi King Foundation.  

We are therefore delighted to announce a wonderful joint initiative:  the Permanent Secretariat, in partnership with the Gandhi King Foundation, more than six leading universities in India, and more than ten partner universities from around the globe, will be launching a series of exclusive webinars on peacemaking. These international online webinars on peace, leadership, human rights and sustainability form an integral part of the Permanent Secretariat’s educational course “Leading by Example” and are aimed at students, youth leaders and activists.

We are very happy to be working with the Gandhi King Foundation, and look forward to growing our partnership in the coming months, as we develop our webinars and seek new opportunities to promote the pursuit of peace and nonviolence.

Thank you.