The Institute of Jainology’s nineth annual Ahimsa Day commemoration at the House of Commons, held on 12th October 2011 was a tremendous success. This annual event, sponsored by the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative ‘Friends of India’ groups, was attended by MPs, Ministers, Lords and the Jain community amongst others.
Ahimsa Day celebrates the central Jain tenet of ‘non-violence’ as a means to peace, positivity and prosperity, encouraging MPs, Lords and Ministers to discuss how current world issues can be considered from an alternative ‘compassionate’ perspective.
The focus of this year’s Ahimsa Day was Climate Change and the Contemporary World, a theme on the minds of many people around the world who are seeing first-hand the catastrophic effects of global warming.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Mr Phil Wynn Owen, the Director General for International Climate Change & Energy Efficiency in the Department of Energy & Climate Change [DECC]. He reminded us that even though we in the United Kingdom, contribute to less than 2% of the world’s carbon dioxide omissions, it is our duty to set an example and find ways of helping other countries, within the EU and elsewhere, to reduce their emissions and take active measures to slow down the pace of Climate Change.
The inspiring speech about what we could do to make positive changes for the world of our children was followed by Dr Mehool Sanghrajka, Director of Education at the Institute of Jainology, who responded with the Jain view on Climate Change and the Contemporary World. He reminded us of two basic premises of Lord Mahavira’s 2500 year old philosophy, perhaps the greatest environmentalist theory in our history:
- The earth is a living entity and we are interdependent. We should respect the right of all life to exist, and learn to live in harmony with it rather than exploiting it.
- The earth has enough resources for all. It is accumulation by the few that is the cause of the scarcity. We should learn to live within what we need.
He explained that these two principles offer us all the solutions that we need to solve the problems that the world is facing, if we based our actions and thoughts on science rather than politics!
The evening’s programme ended with the presentation of the Ahimsa Award for 2011 to Mr Nitin Mehta of Croydon UK, for his selfless contribution to the causes of vegetarianism and compassion for animal life. As the founder of the Young Indian Vegetarians Society and an active resident of the Croydon Council, the Board of the Institute of Jainology were unanimous in their decision of awarding Nitin Mehta’s efforts in promoting Ahimsa in this way. The award was presented by Lady Dholakia on behalf of the Institute.
The celebrations of this year’s Ahimsa was another great success, and with an open invitation to hold a future Ahimsa Day at the House of Lords, we hope that we can continue to spread the message of Ahimsa even further!