On January 27 - 28 I participated at the conference "Gandhi in the New Millennium: Challenges and Issues." Organized by the Nagindas Khandwala College of Commerce, Arts & Management Studies and Shantaben Nagindas Khanwala College of Science in Mumbai. The conference was sponsored by the University Grant Commission , The Gandhian Study Centre.
From right to left: Dr. Marina Pereira, Dr. Ancy Josh, Dr. V.T. Patil, Dr. Marek, Birendra Kumar and C.A. Ramesh
The program of the conference was organized around the following topics: Bapu - Leader of Leaders, Gandhirigi in Reel and Real Life, Fasting - Medical, Spiritual, and Modern Approach, Ahimsa and Terrorism, Gandhi in the New Millennium, and Impact of Gandhi on Economics and Management. I participated in two sessions: Bapu - Leader of Leaders and in Impact of Gandhi on Economics and Management.
Dr. N. Radhakrishnan, The Chariman Indian Council of Gandhian Studies at the closing of the conference.
At the first at session together with Birendra Kumar we had our key note presentation on "The Role of Partnerships and Networking in Realization of UN Millennium Development Goals; the case of the Gandhi College for Social Work in Champaran). We briefly presented to the audience worldwide efforts directed on eradication of poverty and hunger and the commonly accepted idea that without local and global partnerships achieving of this goal will not be possible. In this context we presented the role of organizations with missions similar to this of UCP-SARnet and finally we presented our effort s to create a Gandhi College of Social Work in Champaran, that is intended to become a model of community based higher level educational institution (please see attached Power Point notes for details.) Our presentation was very well received and resulted in finding new supporters for the College, as well as new prospects for organizational and individual members of UCP-SARnet. An interview with Dr. Wosinski was aired on ETV Television network.
Birendra Kumar and participants of the conference.
The session "Impact of Gandhi on Economics and Management" was extremely interested for us, both from the perspective of our work on the Gandhi College, as well as for our plans for African Region. The session was opened by the key note presentation by Dr. M.R. Kurup, Secretary of the Kelkar Education Trust . He presented statistics regarding poverty in India pointing out that the amount of poor people in India has not changed over the years proving that the attempts to resolve the issue of poverty are not effective. The only solution in his opinion is to invest in education of underprivileged class as well as provide them with the skills necessary to create sufficient income and sustainable community (please see attached Power Point notes for details.)
Dr. Kurup accentuated that according to Gandhiji Economic Development should focus on the entire spectrum of society and more particularly on the poorer masses, agriculture, rural industries and vocational education. He said "We failed to incorporate Gandhian ideals of EMPOWERING THE POOR, right from 1947, and are paying the price in terms of poverty, malnutrition, unemployment, general/food inflation, socio-political marginalization/militancy, regional imbalances, etc. " Gandhiji said way back in 1937 that the system of education in India does not meet the requirements of the Nation, that for all round development, student ' needs to be trained as an agent of production - a producer', to add value to his labour. To make education socially, and economically useful we need to combine knowledge with skills (Learning to Know and Learning to Do, UNESCO 1998) so that those who are in urgent need of a livelihood are directly employable (please see Power Point notes for details.)
These comments are giving us confidence that our vision for both Gandhi College for Social Work in Champaran, as well as for our leadership training proposal for African Region are sound. Please read the blog about our discussion with the corporation Jain Irrigation Systems, Ltd. and the Gandhi Research Foundation for further details about how we plan to implement these ideas.