DR. SANJAY PRADHAN: Vice President of the World Bank Institute and a member of The World Forum for Ethics in Business: A warm hello to everyone. I wanted to just bring up the issue that in order to realize our dream of stress-free, violence-free world, we will need to put special attention on a set of around 50 countries, which have a particularly large concentration of violence and poverty. These are known as fragile and conflict affected states, like Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and the DRC. These countries seem so difficult that there is a tendency to say that we will not focus on this, we will look at other places. But about 1.5 billion people reside in these countries, which are affected by violent conflict, and these countries have repeated cycles of violence. In the last decade alone, 90% of the civil wars in the world came about in these countries, which had a civil war before. And because these countries have so much violence and conflict, all aspects of economic development suffer; and the poor suffer the most. So it happens that in these countries, more than one-third of the world’s population that survives on a dollar and twenty-five cents a day, is found in these sets of countries. And about half of the world population of children which die before they reach the age of five, are found in this set of countries. So these countries represent a major problem, and they are also hot beds of terrorism and disease. So the real question for Guruji is what can we do to tackle the problem of these countries? The international community has not been very successful. The international development community has been providing basic services and building basic constitutions, but that doesn’t seem to be sufficient to build trust and cohesion in these societies that are ethnically so tall. Perhaps this global initiative, Guruji, that you have started, can start to build peace, trust and cohesion at the level of the individual, at the level of the community, at the level of the nation state in these countries that can rebuild these ties. So the question is what can be done in these sets of countries which are such a concentration?
SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR: Sanjay, I got the question. Sanjay, you know when people are sick what do we do? World health organization sends medicines and doctors there. When people are starving, what do we do? We send them food. Similarly, when the mind is sick, when people are agitated, angry, upset; we have not devised anything that would help them come out of it; rather we don’t use those things which are available. If we can train volunteers who can go and help people who are so stressed, who are mentally not stable, and who are aggressive, and give them that orientation. See neither at school nor at home, does anyone teach you how to handle your negative emotions. So when negative emotions start boiling from within you, it simply gets expressed as war and conflict outside. We need to educate our people how to handle one’s own mind; that mental and spiritual education is so essential, and so much needed in today’s society. Right from school to the administrative setup, even to the ministerial and parliament levels, I think if we can train people from all these countries to help people manage their minds. As Dr. Deepak Chopra rightly said, peace begins from within. So that peace, if we can provide to these people who are decision-makers, policy-makers or politicians, and the general public, then we can reduce this conflict to a great extent. I have a small experience of this in Ivory Coast, for which the Ivory Coast government has recognized and awarded the Art of Living. One of our Art of Living volunteers went to two different villages, ethically different, religiously different, diverse villages; and went and taught them and brought them together; they were able to recognize the humanness in each other. So instead of getting into conflict, they started cooperating with each other, getting out of their old habit of insecurity and mistrust; coming to a new plane of cooperation, and consideration of each other’s value. This is what is needed. I think we can do it through education and creating awareness; peace is the most desired thing of every individual.
DR. SANJAY PRADHAN: Very nice Guruji. I just wanted to say that this dimension has been missing in international efforts, and the more we can do this, this will really make a difference. Thank you so much.
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