First World Youth Conference on Kindness held in New Delhi

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The first World Youth Conference on Kindness was recently organised by the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development and Ministry of Human Resource Development on the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’ and was held at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. The conference saw participation from approximately 1,000 youth representing over 27 countries such as Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe.

The President of the Republic of India, Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the Conference. Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ also graced the occasion.

This conference was organised with the aim to impart critical competencies (i.e. empathy, compassion, mindfulness and critical inquiry) in global youth to inspire, empower and enable them to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities. Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, the conference aimed to provide global youth and policymakers an innovative, engaging and inspiring platform to come together and strive to discover ground-breaking pathways to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Addressing the gathering, the President said that Mahatma Gandhi was not just a great leader and visionary, he was one who personified certain timeless ideals and values. 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. This is also true of the times we live in. Gandhiji remains extremely relevant to our present day concerns such as need for peace and tolerance, terrorism and climate change.

The President said that the strife and violence that we see in the world today is often based in deep-rooted prejudices. These make us see the world through the binary of “us versus them”. Following Gandhiji’s footsteps, we must let ourselves and our children interact and engage with those whom we tend to define as ‘them’. Greater interaction is the best way to develop a sensitive understanding, which can help us overcome our prejudices.

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