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World Food Day: A Renewal of Collective Action

In Being a World Citizen, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, International Justice, Social Rights, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Uncategorized, United Nations, World Law on October 16, 2015 at 8:30 AM

WORLD FOOD DAY: A RENEWAL OF COLLECTIVE ACTION

By René Wadlow

 

[…] determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action for the purpose of raising levels of nutrition and standards of living […]” 

-Preamble of the Food and Agriculture Organization Constitution.

 

October 16 is the UN-designated World Food Day, the date chosen being the anniversary of the creation of the FAO in 1945 with the aim, as stated in its Constitution of “contributing towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanity’s freedom from hunger.” Freedom from hunger is not simply a technical matter to be solved with better seeds, fertilizers, cultivation practices and marketing. To achieve freedom from hunger for mankind, there is a need to eliminate poverty. The elimination of poverty must draw upon the ideas, skills and energies of whole societies and requires the cooperation of all countries. 

World Citizens have played an important role in efforts to improve agricultural production worldwide and especially to better the conditions of life of rural workers. Lord Boyd-Orr was the first director of the FAO; Josue de Castro was the independent President of the FAO Council in the 1950s when the FAO had an independent Council President. (The independent presidents have now been replaced by a national diplomat, rotating each year. Governments are never happy with independent experts who are often too independent.) The World Citizen, René Dumont, an agricultural specialist, is largely the “father” of political ecology in France, having been the first Green Party candidate for the French Presidency in 1974.

As Lester Brown, the American agricultural specialist says “We are cutting trees faster than they can be regenerated, overgrazing rangelands and converting them into deserts, overpumping aquifers, and draining rivers dry. On our croplands, soil erosion exceeds new soil formation, slowly depriving the soil of its inherent fertility. We are taking fish from the ocean faster than they can reproduce.”

To counter these trends, we need awareness and vision, an ethical standard which has the preservation of nature at its heart, and the political leadership to bring about the socio-economic changes needed. For the moment, awareness and vision are unequally spread. In some countries, ecological awareness has led to beneficial changes and innovative technologies. In others, the governmental and social structures are disintegrating due to disease, population pressure upon limited resources, and a lack of social leadership. Worldwide, military spending, led by the USA, dwarfs spending on ecologically-sound development and the necessary expansion of education and health services.

World Food Day

Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth. (World Food Program)

As Lester Brown has written “The sector of the economy that seems likely to unravel first is food. Eroding soils, deteriorating rangelands, collapsing fisheries, falling water tables, and rising temperatures are converging to make it more difficult to expand food production fast enough to keep up with demand…food is fast becoming a national security issue as growth in the world harvest slows and falling water tables and rising temperatures hint at future shortages.”

Yet there are agricultural techniques which can raise protein efficiency, raise land productivity, improve livestock use and produce second harvests on the same land. However, unless we quickly reverse the damaging trends that we have set in motion, we will see vast numbers of environmental refugees — people abandoning depleted aquifers and exhausted soils and those fleeing advancing deserts and rising seas.

David Seckler of the International Water Management Institute writes “Many of the most populous countries of the world — China, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and nearly all the countries of the Middle East and North Africa — have literally been having a free ride over the past two or three decades by depleting their groundwater resources. The penalty of mismanagement of this valuable resource is now coming due, and it is no exaggeration to say that the results could be catastrophic for these countries, and given their importance, for the world as a whole.” Unfortunately, the International Water Management Institute does not manage the world’s use of water but can only study water use. While there are some planners who would like to be able to tax or make people pay for water, most water use is uncontrolled. Payment for water is a way that governments or private companies have to get more revenue, but the welfare of farmers is usually not a very high priority for them.

Yet as Citizens of the World have stressed, ecologically-sound development cannot be the result only of a plan, but rather of millions of individual actions to protect soil, conserve water, plant trees, use locally grown crops, reduce meat from our diets, protect biological diversity in forest areas, cut down the use of cars by increasing public transportation and living closer to one’s work. We need to stabilize and then reduce world population and to encourage better distribution of the world’s population through planned migration and the creation of secondary cities to reduce the current growth of megacities. We need to encourage wise use of rural areas by diversifying employment in rural areas. We also need to develop ecological awareness through education so that these millions of wise individual decisions can be taken.

In 1989 The Christians sang, “When will there be a harvest for the world?” Well … We wish we knew.

Lester Brown underlines the necessary link between knowledge and action. “Environmentally responsible behaviour also depends to a great extent on a capacity to understand basic scientific issues, such as the greenhouse effect or the ecological role of forests. Lacking this, it is harder to grasp the link between fossil fuel burning and climate change or between tree cutting and the incidence of flooding or the loss of biological diversity…The deteriorating relationship between the global economy and the earth’s ecosystem requires an all-out effort to bring literacy to all adults in order to break the poverty cycle and stabilize population.”

Education and vision require leadership, and it is ecologically-sound political leadership that is badly lacking today. Thus Citizens of the World and all of good will are called upon to provide wise leadership to work for a redirection of financial resources to protect the planet, and to encourage ecologically-sound individual and collective action. 

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

International Day of Friendship

In Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, United Nations on July 30, 2015 at 7:23 PM

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FRIENDSHIP

By Rene Wadlow

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly established in 2011 July 30 as the International Day of Friendship. The Day was to be a continuation of the themes of dialogue and mutual understanding proposed in the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World (2001-2010). I had been active in getting the General Assembly resolution voted, building on the earlier Year of the Culture of Peace. My effort, backed by UNESCO which had been at the start of the concept of a “culture of peace”, was to add the word “nonviolence” to make the concept still clearer. Then, some of us wanted a focus on children because who can be against doing things for the benefit of children. It turned out during the negotiations prior to the introduction of the resolution that the UK and the USA were against the whole concept but were pushing the idea that “we are already doing enough for children by supporting UNICEF”.

Finally, in light of wide support for having such a Decade, the UK and the USA backed off although they had made a strong try to get “nonviolence” out of the title. There was still some debate as to the wording of the Decade. A colleague in New York called me in Geneva about the debate over the title. I replied that “the title was too long for public relations reasons, but it was not up to NGO representatives to suggest cuts. Let the governments do as they want for the title as long as they vote the resolution by consensus.” The governments kept all the words, voted the resolution by consensus and then did very little else. Both peace and nonviolence did not standout strongly during the 2001-2010 decade.

At the end of the Decade, there was a need to continue the spirit, and “friendship” could be seen to combine peace and nonviolence. Thus we now have a yearly International Day of Friendship.

The idea of an International Day of Friendship had been first developed in the 1930s in the USA by the president of a well-known company which made Christmas cards, Birthday cards, and cards to send on Mother’s Day. He suggested that everyone send cards to their friends and even people they did not know indicating the joys of friendship and the need to keep ties active and strong.

For a few years, there was a certain active interest, but then it looked too much like a commercial venture for his company to sell cards. In the middle of the summer, there were no other Days to celebrate, so a Day of Friendship could be a form of sales promotion. By the end of the 1930s and the start of the Second World War, the idea of an International Day of Friendship celebrated by sending cards had disappeared.

Now, however, we live in a different period of time than in the 1930s. Although there are still many world tensions and local wars as in the Middle East, the idea of friendship among all the peoples of the world could become a real force for cooperation.

Emails and the Internet can spread the idea that friendship is the basis of freedom in the world as it elevates the spirit. Friendship is as a ray of light coming from the burning core of the soul. Friendship can be a kind of love, a happy feeling when sharing a secret.

Paper still has its uses, and one can write a short text on the importance of friendship within the family, the school, neighborhood, nation and the world and send it to friends known and not yet known. 30 July, a day to renew and deepen friendships.

Prof. René Wadlow is President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

July 4, 2015: World Citizen Declaration of Inter-Dependence

In Being a World Citizen, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, World Law on July 4, 2015 at 8:20 PM

JULY 4, 2015: WORLD CITIZEN DECLARATION OF INTER-DEPENDENCE

By René Wadlow

In 1776, progress for humanity required the first act of decolonization as leaders in the English colonies of North America consciously broke the bonds with the colonial English government. In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was a positive act to affirm human dignity in opposition to an English government dominated by a small aristocratic class and a King who represented these narrow economic and class interests.

In 2015, as Citizens of the World, we affirm the unity of humanity, the impossibility of cutting bonds with others.  Thus we re-affirm the inter-dependence of humanity.

Today, world progress moves from affirming U. S. citizenship as separate from England in 1776 to affirming world citizenship in 2015.

Next stop: Inter-dependence!

A milestone in world history. Next stop: Inter-dependence!

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Tribal Societies: Survival and Transformations

In Being a World Citizen, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Environmental protection, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Development, Human Rights, International Justice, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, United Nations, World Law on August 9, 2014 at 10:46 AM

TRIBAL SOCIETIES: SURVIVAL AND TRANSFORMATIONS

by René Wadlow

 

August 9 has been chosen by the UN General Assembly as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

As Paulo Freire has written, “While both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only the first is man’s vocation. This vocation is constantly negated. It is hindered by injustice, exploitation, oppression, and the violence of the oppressors; it is affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity.

The world society is filled with many different types of collective actors: clans, tribes, castes, ethnic groups, cities, races, social classes, religious organizations, nation-states, multi-state alliances for military or economic goals, transnational corporations and associations. Each is the creation of individuals who have grouped together − or have been grouped together − to achieve goals considered common to the group’s members. All such collective groups have techniques to socialize new members to share the common values, to accept the ideology and beliefs of the tribe, the nation-state or the association. This socialization process goes so deeply that a person’s sense of identity becomes associated with these collective identity, the school, the army, the church, the political process and institutions − each propose a sense of group purpose.

Yet none of these groups is static and unchanging. Even clans and tribes whose members often consider that they have a common ancestor do, in fact, change. Tribes merge and divide; new identities are formed; new ancestors are created to justify the new groupings.

Some types of collective belonging are more easily left than others. One can move relatively easily from a city and take on the character, the values and the goals of a new city. Social mobility can produce changes in social class, and even caste lines become blurred. Persons change nationality or acquire new nationalities as frontiers are modified. Race is less easily changed but definitions of what constitutes a race do change. Ethnic identity is often associated with birth, but parents can belong to different ethnic communities, although the child is usually raised as belonging to the more dominant group. However the socialization process of group identity goes to the level of sub-conscious behavior and is not easily set aside.

In Peru, some tribes remain uncontacted. Some live no more than 100 kms from the legendary mountain site of Machu Picchu. Today, however, the future of these tribes who live in the heartland of the ancient Inca Empire is threatened by a gas project. (C) Survival International

In Peru, some tribes remain uncontacted. Some live no more than 100 kms from the legendary mountain site of Machu Picchu. Today, however, the future of these tribes who live in the heartland of the ancient Inca Empire is threatened by a gas project. (C) Survival International

Today the nation-state claims to be the dominant collective association − setting the boundaries of loyalty and identity. The State claims the right to set out the major collective goals and values. Through laws, the State claims the right to set out the rules by which other collective entities may pursue their goals; through taxation the State draws the resources to further the goals it has set, and the State claims to have the only legitimate use of violence to punish those who break the laws and rules it has set.

There have always been tensions between these collective groups for their spheres of goal-setting and value-setting have overlapped. Thus there have been tensions between religious organizations and the State as to who should set what goals and the means to achieve these goals. There have also been tensions between economic classes and the State when it was felt that the State was dominated by another economic class who used its power within State institutions not for the good of all but only to advance class interests. The same is true of other collective units − races or ethnic groups − excluded from power within State institutions.

Today in many parts of the world those most excluded from power within State institutions are people living in alternative structures of authority, goal-setting and rule-making: persons living in tribal societies.

Tribal societies predated most of today’s nation-state. A tribal society usually has all the same functions as the nation-state: it sets out membership, loyalties, common goals and rules of behavior. It has sanctions against those breaking the laws of the tribe and has − or had − the monopoly of the legitimacy of using violence against those breaking the laws. Tribes are, in fact, more realistically “nation-states” if one defines nation as a common language, a common history and a common will to act together.

Thus because the tribal society is the closest in function to that of the nation-state, it is also the most feared. Tribes are institutions with whom it is difficult to compromise because they have the same pretensions as the State. It is relatively easy for a government to offer higher wages to the industrial worker or higher prices to the farmer as these social classes do not claim to carry out an alternative way the functions of the State. It is more of a challenge to the State’s image of its role to allow tribal societies to set out a land policy or fishing rights or trans-frontier trading rights because these activities conflict directly with the functions that the government has set for itself.

Thus there has been a long history of the State destroying alternative institutions of governance on its territory. The nation-states of Europe were built upon the ruins of feudal institutions; much of Asia on the destruction of local rulers. We see the pattern today as we watch traditional chiefs in Africa lose their authority to the heads of State and the military. In the Americas, many of the indigenous tribal societies were destroyed. Others were pushed into areas that those who controlled the government did not want − the “reservations” of the USA and Canada.

In Latin America and Asia, there is still active struggle going on between those trying to preserve their tribal institutions and homelands and the State which claims complete authority over all its territory and who often wished to put new settlers on tribal lands.

A Koma tribe woman at her farm. Alantika Mountain, Cameroon. (C) Middle Africa The Koma people are indigenous hill-dwelling people occupying the Alantika Mountains in northern Adamawa State, Nigeria and in Northern Cameroon (Faro National Park), near the border with Adamawa State.

A Koma tribe woman at her farm. Alantika Mountain, Cameroon. (C) Middle Africa
The Koma people are indigenous hill-dwelling people living in the Alantika Mountains in northern Adamawa State, Nigeria and in Northern Cameroon (Faro National Park), near the border with Adamawa State.

The amount of violence and suffering is considerable. Slowly, the fate of tribal societies has come to the attention of the United Nations (UN). The UN was set up to facilitate relations among nation-states. However, because wide-spread violations of individual rights had been one of the consequences of the Second World War, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted and proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1948. The aim of the Declaration is to stress the rights of the individual − a natural consequence of the philosophy of the drafters. The rights of collective bodies which the drafters knew were also protected: trade unions, churches, professional associations. However tribal societies were not particularly thought of as one sees by reading the drafting negotiations. Thus, the Universal Declaration protects the rights of all individuals − including, of course, individuals living in tribal societies − but there is no direct recognition of the functions of tribal societies.

Thus for many years, indigenous and tribal peoples were the forgotten stepchildren of the UN system dealing with human rights. Yet they needed protection at least as much as those on whom the political limelight had focused. The situation began to change with the publication by the International Labor Organization’s study Indigenous Peoples: Living and working conditions of aboriginal populations in independent countries (1953). This was followed by the study by Jose Martinez Cobo Study of the Problem of Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations of the UN Commission on Human Rights (1986). While the Cobo study was being written, a Working Group on Indigenous Populations was set up under the then-existing Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities under the dynamic leadership of Erica-Irene Daes.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document that was long awaited by indigenous peoples and their defenders throughout the world.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document that was long awaited by indigenous peoples and their defenders throughout the world.

From the Working Group, with a good deal of interaction with the representatives of Nongovernmental Organizations and tribal groups came a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A61/295) in 2007 after some 20 years of efforts. The Declaration sets out a useful framework for action. A UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has been created and meets once a year in New York. Conditions “on the ground” change slowly but there is now a UN institutions where issues can be raised. It is still the task of non-government organizations and tribal groups to continue to draw attention and to seek cooperation with governments.

See the useful Making the Declaration Work published by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (Copenhagen) available on their website: www.iwgia.org.

 

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Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Liberating the Young Women Kidnapped by Boko Haram

In Africa, Being a World Citizen, Children's Rights, Conflict Resolution, Current Events, Foundations for the New Humanism, Human Rights, Solidarity, War Crimes, Women's Rights, World Law on May 12, 2014 at 1:53 PM

LIBERATING THE YOUNG WOMEN KIDNAPPED BY BOKO HARAM

By René Wadlow

 

Citizens of the World, motivated by the spirit of compassion symbolized by Kuan Yin appeal to the members of Boko Haram to return the young women taken from the girls’ school in Chibok, northeastern Nigeria.

The actions of Boko Haram undermine the efforts of local and national educational services in Nigeria to overcome the persistent poverty and lack of development in northern Nigeria.

Although the name of the armed group which carried out the kidnapping can be roughly translated as “Western Education is Unlawful” of forbidden, its members know full well that education is neither “Western” or “Southern” but is an effort to train individuals to meet the challenges of life and to develop their full potential as persons. The members of Boko Haram know that education is a crucial need for the development of northern Nigeria and that the education of women is necessary for progress.

Kuan Yin is the bodhisattva (the "compassionate one") associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World." (Source: Wikipedia)

Kuan Yin (or Guanyin) is the bodhisattva (the “compassionate one”) associated with compassion as venerated by East Asian Buddhists, usually as a female. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World.” ((c) Wikipedia)

We are sure that many members of the Boko Haram group understand that their actions are morally wrong as well as unlawful under Nigerian law and in violation of the universally-recognized standards of human rights. Thus they will act to return the young women to their home area.

Armed violence will destroy the efforts being made to meet basic needs and to improve the standard of living of all in northern Nigeria. A spirit of compassion should motivate members of Boko Haram to return the young women to their families and to find nonviolent ways to better the lives of all in northern Nigeria.

 

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

Foundations for the New Humanism – 1

In Foundations for the New Humanism on October 8, 2013 at 9:58 AM

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the Decade 2013-2022 as the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures building on the efforts of the UNESCO General Conference which had called for « the development of a universal global consciousness » based on « dialogue and cooperation in a climate of trust and mutual understanding » and for a « new humanism for the twenty-first century. »

Thus we look at the creative efforts of individuals who built bridges of understanding over the divides of cultures, social classes and ethnicity to create a foundation for the New Humanism.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888—1975)

By René Wadlow

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If we claim to be civilized, if we love justice, if we cherish mercy, if we are not ashamed to own the reality of the inward light, we must affirm that we are first and foremost Citizens of the World … Our planet has grown too small for parochial patriotism.

S. Radhakrishnan, Philosopher and President of India (1962-1967)

The present crisis in human affairs is due to a profound crisis in human consciousness, a lapse from the organic wholeness of life. Today, there is a crisis of perception, a widespread sense of unease concerning old forms of thinking which require that we must recreate and re-enact a vision of the world based on the elements of reverence, order, and human dignity, without which no society can be held together.”

As Radhakrishnan pointed out, the next stage of human evolution is in the human psyche “in his mind and spirit, in the emergencies of a larger understanding and awareness, in the development of a new integration of character adequate to the new age. When he gains a philosophic consciousness and an intensity of understanding, a profound apprehension of the meaning of the whole, there will result a more adequate social order which will influence not only individuals but peoples and nations. We have to fight for this order first in our souls, then in the world outside.”

Radhakrishnan repeatedly stressed the close interdependence between the need to recover the visions of the Higher Self in each person and the need to move beyond a narrow, nationalistic view of the world. “If we are to help the present society to grow organically into a world order, we must make it depend on the universal and enduring values which are implanted in the human heart that each individual is sacred, that we are born for love and not hate…We have learned to live peacefully in larger and larger units. The concept of a community has grown from a narrow tribal basis to the Nation State. There is no stopping short of a world community…Thus we rejoice that there is an institution like the United Nations, for it is the symbol and hope of the new world, of the light dawning beyond the clouds, clouds piled up by our past patterns of behaviour, past ways of speaking, judging and acting, which do not answer to the deep desire of the peoples of the world for peace and progress. We owe it to ourselves to find out why the light does not spread and disperse the darkness, why the sky is still clouded by fear and suspicion, hate and bitterness.”

It is rare for a world citizen to become president of a State and even rarer to find a professional philosopher as head of State outside Plato’s Republic. Radhakrishnan was a rare individual who played an important intellectual role in three crucial periods:

1) The revival of Indian thought in the 1920s—1930s after a long period of marginalization;

2) The Second World War period when a new world society was being planned and when India was on the eve of becoming a fully independent State;

3) The first years of Indian independence and the start of the Cold War, the Korean conflict and the need to help reduce Soviet-American Cold War tensions.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was born into a middle class Brahman family in south India near Madras. His family valued education, and he attended Christian-sponsored secondary schools and did his higher education at Madras Christian College. During his education he came to study classical Greek and Western thought, especially Plato, Aristotle and came to know Christian religious views. He was confronted with Western teachers who held a low opinion of the Hinduism they saw around them but who were active in promoting Christian social action, especially in the fields of health, education and poverty reduction. Madras was also the headquarters of the world-wide Theosophical Society which agreed with the Christians that Hinduism was asleep but who felt that it could be awakened from within by its deeper values and did not have to copy the West. This was the avenue which Radhakrishnan followed, a recognition of the stagnant state of much of Indian religious thought and practice but a confidence that the answer lay in a revitalization of the best of Indian thought such as the Upanisads and the Bhagavad Gita.

Radhakrishnan cited the status of Indian thought described by the religious reformer Sri Aurobindo; “If an ancient Indian of the time of the Upanisads, of the Buddha, or the later classical age were to be set down in modern India, he would see his race clinging to forms and shells and rags of the past and missing nine-tenths of its nobler meaning…he would be amazed by the extent of the mental poverty, the immobility, the static repetition, the cessation of science, the long sterility of art, the comparative feebleness of the creative intuition.”

Radhakrishnan was aware of the then status quo. As he wrote “Stagnant systems, like pools, breed obnoxious growths, while flowing rivers constantly renew their waters from fresh springs of inspiration. There is nothing wrong in absorbing the culture of other peoples; only we must enhance, raise and purify the elements we take over, fuse them with the best in our own. Indian philosophy acquires a meaning and a justification for the present only if it advances and ennobles life.”

For Radhakrishnan, it was Rabindranath Tagore who best represented this new, flowing river, and his first book was The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918). Tagore remained his ideal. While teaching philosophy at the University of Calcutta, he saw the impact of Tagore’s thought in the cultural revival of Bengal.

Radhakrishnan’s reputation for his analysis and presentation of Indian philosophy grew, especially that many of his essays were published in Western journals. Thus in 1929, he was called to teach in one of the colleges of Oxford University and in 1936 he was appointed to a newly created chair of Indian thought at Oxford University.

Thus it was in England that the second phase of his intellectual contribution began. As the clouds of the Second World War were gathering in the late 1930s, he stressed the need for a world vision, freed from the aggressive nationalism of the times. He joined the English branch of the recently formed Association of World Citizens and started meeting with thinkers who would be the creators of UNESCO such as Julian Huxley. Radhakrishnan was to play an important role as the 1948 chairman of the Executive Council of UNESCO and in developing the UNESCO emphasis on the study of Asian culture.

As he said “If we are to shape a community of spirit among the people of the world which is essential for a truly human society and lasting peace, we must forge bonds of international understanding. This can be achieved by an acquaintance with the masterpieces of literature, art and science produced in different countries. When we are in contact with them, we are lifted from the present and immediate passions and interests and move on the mountain tops where we breath a larger air…For out of the anguish of our times is being born a new unity of all mankind in which the free spirit of man can find peace and safety. It is in our power to end the fears which afflict humanity, and save the world from the disaster that impends. Only we should be men of a universal cast of mind, capable of interpreting peoples to one another and developing faith that is the only antidote to fear. The threat to our civilization can be met only on the deeper levels of consciousness. If we fail to overcome the discord between power and spirit, we will be destroyed by the forces which we had the knowledge to create but not the wisdom to control.”

With the independence of India came the third and most public of Radhakrishnan’s roles. In 1948, he was named as the first Ambassador of India to the Soviet Union then headed by Stalin (1948-1952). While he had little personal sympathy for Marxist thought, he realized that he was in a key post at a crucial time, as the Cold War was turning hot with the outbreak of war in Korea and the possibility of war spreading to other parts of Asia. He had written a book on the relations between India and Chinese philosophy and so had a particular interest in events in China.

Radhakrishnan was among the few in India who studied deeply Buddhist philosophy and tried to place the Buddha in the context of Indian thought. Thus events of Southeast Asia and the French war in Indochina were of particular concern.

In 1952, he returned to India to become Vice-President and in 1962 became the President of India for a five-year term. In the Indian political system, executive power is in the office of the Prime Minister rather than the President. During Radhakrishnan’s political life the Prime Minister was Jawaharlal Nehru who shared many common interests but who kept a close hold on political decision making.

Radhakrishnan put his political energy into the area he knew best, the improvement of university education and the development of culture. As a man of south India in a government dominated by people of the north, he was a symbol of national unity. As a person with deep knowledge of both Indian and Western philosophical thought, he was the model of the “meeting of East and West.” A true world citizen.

* * *

For a useful overview of his philosophical thinking see Paul A. Schilpp (Ed). The Philosophy of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1952)

For a good picture of his bridge-building role, see S. J. Samartha, Introduction to Radakrishnan: The Man and His Thought. Dr. Samartha was Director of the program Dialogue among Living Faiths at the World Council of Churches in Geneva.

Prof. René Wadlow is President and Chief Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva of the Association of World Citizens.

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