NEW DELHI, Mar 23: Democracy is a concern for humanity and with compassion, genuine sense of kindness and concern for others, change can be brought, said Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama today at a two-day international conference on democracy at India International Center in New Delhi.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama made the statement in his inaugural speech as the distinguished Chief Guest at the conference organized by the Institute of Social Sciences, Asia Democracy Network and World movement for Democracy being held over Mar 23-24 to honor the legacy of George Fernandez, former Union Minister, trade unionist and a long-time supporter of the Tibet cause.
“Build friendship and trust to unite people”, added His Holiness calling use of force and violence, a totally wrong method.
His Holiness also noted the absence of Africans and Arabs in the conference and asked the organizers to invite them to such international conferences in future.
The elected head of the Tibetan people, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi were among a wide range of speakers on the first day of the conference attended by the three brothers of George Fernandez and delegates from various Asian countries.
Along with delegates from more than twenty asian countries, a Tibetan delegation comprising of more than twenty representatives from various Dharamsala-based NGOs as well as Central Tibetan Administration also attended the conference titled ‘Strengthening Democracy in Asia: Inclusion, Participation and Rights”.
Sikyong Sangay in his remarks called His Holiness a true democrat. He recalled how His Holiness ushered in democracy in the Tibetan society, formed the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, introduced women representation in the Parliament in the early 60s and finally voluntarily retired from political authority in 2011 unlike many other leaders who cling to power.
Recalling how George Fernandez support the cause of Tibet and helped release the Tibetan protesters following demonstrations against visiting Chinese leaders, Sikyong Sangay said he was not only sympathetic toward Tibetans, but toward all the refugees.
“He was a true and rare friend of Tibet, refugees, marginalized people and democracy,” Sikyong said.
Sikyong also noted that George felt Tibet was a core issue for India and vital for the environmental health of Asia as Tibet is the source of fresh water for more than one billion people in Asia.
Three panel discussions on the topics, “Strategies to Promote Democracy among Marginalized Workers”, “Urbanization and the Challenges of Local Political Leaders in Engaging Citizens” and “Adaption and Innovative: Youth Approaches in Building Democratic Processes” were held throughout the day before Special Guest Kailash Satyarthi, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate joined the conference and spoke on Dignity of the Child: Freedom and Education.
Kailash said a democratic world and inclusive society and economy is not possible if hundred and thousands of children in the world are denied education and used as a source of cheap labor.
“If people do not raise voice against denial of education to children, it shows democracy is weak, a failure of democracy,” he said.
The 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate regretted not being present in the morning with the Dalai Lama, whom he admitted, admires a lot and spoke about his participation in the Tibetan struggle and getting arrested by police twenty years ago.
He revealed that the Nobel medal has been given to the people of India through the office of the President of India and said it is now the responsibility of every Indian to uphold the dignity of the child.
The cash prize that comes with the Nobel Peace Prize which is still lying with the Nobel Committee will be given to organizations that work against child labor and do practical work toward changing policies.
The conference was generously supported by National Endowment for Democracy and the Government of Sweden through Civic Space Initiative among others.