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President Of India Inaugurates The First Ever World Youth Conference For Kindness By Unesco Mgiep

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UNESCO MGIEP concluded the first ever World Youth Conference on Kindness at the Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi today, on the theme ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: Gandhi for the Contemporary World: Celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’. In order 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, the conference started with a three-day training workshop from August 20-22 by UNESCO MGIEP for 60 global youth from 27 countries at the OP Jindal University, followed by the main event on August 23rd, which was inaugurated by Honourable President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind. On this occasion, the Director of UNESCO MGIEP, Dr. Anantha Duraiappah alongwith the President of India unveiled the tenth edition of UNESCO MGIEPs’ flagship publication, Blue Dot. The latest edition focuses on the Institute’s main area of work, primarily in social and emotional learning.

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, in commemoration of his 150th birth anniversary celebration, the World Youth Conference on Kindness aimed to provide global youth and policymakers an innovative, engaging and inspiring platform to come together and strive to discover ground-breaking pathways for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The conference is a collaborative quest to actualize, among the youth of today, the Gandhi eulogized by H.E. Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, during his address at the University of Chile, “For me, he was the ‘experimental Gandhi’, defying class and race boundaries. A ‘creative Gandhi’, who transformed salt into a powerful symbol of a mass movement. And the ‘determined Gandhi’, who with his frail body walked through the villages of India with a lamp of truth amid the all-pervading darkness of violence that marked our independence.”

The plenary topics at the World Youth Conference for Kindness were on topics such as The Art and Science of Peace; Talking Across Generations on Education: Can Kindness Prevent Violent Extremism? Youth Agency: Scaling Up Acts of Kindness.

Special Address by Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, Shri R. Ramesh Pokhriyal’Nishank’; Honourable Minister of State of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, Shri Kiren Rijiju; J S Rajput, Chair, Governing Board, UNESCO MGIEP;  R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India; Aya Chebbi, First African Youth Envoy (video message);  Suhani Jalota, Founder, Myna Mahila Foundation among others.

The panellists at the conference included eminent speakers such as  Michael N Nagler, Founder & President, Metta Center for Non Violence; Nandita Das, Director and Actor; Nandini Chatterjee, Neuroscientist, UNESCO MGIEP; Ramin Jahanbegloo, Executive Director, The Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Nonviolence and Peace Studies, O P Jindal Global University; Jo Cutler , Doctoral Fellow, Neuroscience and Psychology of Giving, University of Sussex; Abdulla Rasheed, State Minister of Education, Maldives; Arno Michaelis, Motivational speaker and author of My Life After Hate; Upma Chawdhry, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India; Youth: 6 Youth Delegates; ChakerKhazaal , reporter, public speaker , author of ‘Tale of Tala’ and ‘The Confessions of a War Child’ trilogy; C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor, O P Jindal Global University; Achyuta Samantha, Founder-chancellor, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) and Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) and Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Laureate, Founder- Kailash Satyarthi’s Children’s Foundation.

Commenting on celebrating 150 years of Gandhi, Dr. Anantha DuraiappahDirector, UNESCO MGIEP said, “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, the pertinent question is how can we move beyond simply advocating Gandhi’s ideas – especially for the 21st-century youth who are diverse, tech-savvy, aware of their rights and demanding agency and change? If real societal change is to be achieved, Gandhi’s learnings, which he meticulously imbibed through his experiments, need to be built into our education systems and exemplified in our daily lives. The World Youth Conference for Kindness is a step towards our goal of creating a movement of inspired and empowered youth through kindness to transform themselves and build long-lasting peace in their communities. The need for resilient and adaptive individuals for rapidly changing environments is becoming increasingly important. Recent research has demonstrated that students need to be “socially aware” and “emotionally-connected” in order to learn effectively and for societies to flourish. In the tenth issue of The Blue Dot, experts and youth voices give their perspectives on social and emotional learning and the importance of introducing these skills in our education systems.”

The World Youth Conference on Kindness culminated in the adoption and release of the New Declaration on Kindness. The Declaration is a synthesis of 1,300+ submissions by young applicants from 117 countries; meticulous work of the 60 youth from 27 countries that travelled and attended the intensive workshops at OP Jindal University, Sonepat and final discussion and adoption at the closing plenary of the Conference.

Grammy Award winner & UNESCO MGIEPs’ global ambassador for KindnessRicky Kej created and produced a special anthem on Kindness. “Shine Your Light”, which was also launched at the conference. The anthem is about showcasing simple acts kindness in our everyday lives, and how this can solve most of our problems. The song features musicians from 4 continents, including Grammy Award winning flute virtuoso, Wouter Kellerman, Grammy Award winning singer, Laura Dickinson, the Mzanzi Youth Choir and Grammy nominee and co-author of the song, Lonnie.

Prof. (Dr.) C Raj Kumar, Founding Vice-Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University speaking on the occasion said, “O.P. Jindal Global University is privileged to extend the platform in association with UNESCO-MGIEP at the opportune 150thanniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. India accounts for the largest section of youth, and to see them engage and articulate at this platform fills me with contentment. Each one, especially the youth, at large, is going to be more compassionate towards others in society. There should prevail a sense of inclusivity as it roots from Kindness. The conference’s ultimate aim was to channelize this young energy help achieve the SDGs through innovation and engagement.”

Last year, UNESCO MGIEP launched the #KindnessMatters for the SDGs campaign campaign on the International Day of Non-Violence or the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, October 2 last year. The goal of this campaign is to mobilize the world’s youth to achieve the 17 SDGs through transformative acts of kindness We have received close to 5,000 transformative acts of kindness generated through the #KindnessMattersCampaign, it aims to be the foundational step towards the ultimate request (backed by 250, 000 transformative stories of kindness by global youth) for the Member States of the United Nations to Declare a Decade of Kindness for the Sustainable Development Goals – 2020 to 2030. Earlier this month, UNESCO MGIEP launched a social media mass campaign #VirtualGandhiMarch on International Day for Youth (August 12th ) which will culminate on Gandhi Jayanti and International Day for Non-Violence (October 2nd).All the stories are being submitted here. More information can be found here .

Digital version of the Blue Dot issue can be downloaded here.

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