Asian Buddhist Media Conclave – Mindful Communication for Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development

Tuesday - 14 August 2018 11:53 AM

Mindfulness Journalism and need for an Asian Buddhist Social Media Network

Many of today’s conflicts around the world are centered around cultural identity and the need to protect and preserve one’s cultural heritage from threats from both within and outside a nation or community. These conflicts, especially in Asia, often have socio-economic roots that go back to the colonial occupation era. Thus, there is a need to understand the socio-economics of “religious conflicts and to be factored while planning protection of cultural heritage. The Bodh Gaya Declaration, adopted in September 2015 by Buddhist leaders in the presence of Hon Prime Minister, acknowledged that in the past 15 years religious conflicts have trebled and killings in the name of religion have gone up by two-thirds.

The structural violence of the global economic system which is further being compounded by the effects of climatic change are at the root of the socio-economic problems that is leading to conflict in Asia and across the world as well. If we look at climatic change, we can see that its peoples’ greed to destroy the environment in the name of economic growth with a delusion that it provides us development and better standard of living. But when the climate hits back, that creates hatred among people who are affected – normally among poor vulnerable communities. These reflect the three poisons described in Buddhist teachings - greed (lobha), that could lead to hatred (dosa) and to delusion (moha).

We need to focus upon developing a mindful communication strategy, to avoid conflict and promote sustainable development in accordance with the 1948 UN Human Rights Declaration on individual freedoms including freedom of speech and dissent, the 1976 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, focus on ‘Development Rights’. One of the key principles of Buddhist teaching pratitya samutpada or ‘dependent origination’ which sees all things and phenomena as interdependent is clearly consistent with these and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) adopted on 25 September 2015 embedded in complex relationship of cause and effect. We need to revisit these Buddhist ideas on economics, interdependent nature, mutual understanding, and middle path and promote it in journalism practices and development policies.

Media in the modern era has assumed far greater significance than ever before and is now within reach of every individual on this planet. The advent of social media platforms has now evolved media from a medium of providing information and news to shaping and influencing global opinion and perspective. Thus, media today has a very effective role to play in promoting conflict avoidance, environment consciousness and mutual understanding between cultures, faith and ideologies. However, there are no Buddhist media network that interprets news from a Buddhist perspective and reflecting Buddhist interests.

A Buddhist media network and communication strategy should also distinguish itself from the regular commercial, ideology and hype driven crowded media space. We must look at journalism not as an adversarial model that focus on conflicts, but a communication model that helps people to achieve harmony and happiness in life.

Mindfulness in Journalism can be a way forward. It is at the very heart of Buddhist teachings known as ‘Vipassana Bhavana’, which means to see things as they really are, it is one of India's most ancient techniques of meditation. Mindfulness is a global movement today and the practice could be cultivated to train to practice Mindful Journalism in a secular setting. Mindfulness training for journalists should be seen in the context of training oneself to gather knowledge and wisdom to gain a deeper understanding of the issues being reported about and how to communicate with the society/community to improve their lives.

A Buddhist social media network will also look at the practice of Buddhism in Asia critically and apply the teachings mindfully to analyze, expose and provide solutions to address the socio-economic problems of grassroots besides reporting and providing a philosophical approach to the ‘Structural Violence” of globalised society today. Through this the spirit of “free thinking” can also be inculcated among the current generation with practical application of the dharma teachings to enrich individual lives and the society. There is a need to bring Buddhist and other philosophies of Indic heritage into the popular culture of the young people and use of modern communication tools to bring it to them in easy to understand manner.

Some work on this has already been initiated. A UNESCO funded program at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand called “Mindful Communication for ASEAN Integration” developed curriculum to train Asian journalists in a human-centric journalism paradigm. This could be adopted in a secular manner by anyone irrespective of your religious or ideological/ political affiliations.

We must look at journalism not as an adversarial model that focus on conflicts, but a communication model that helps people to achieve harmony and happiness in life.

In our context the Bodh Gaya Declaration also called for setting up a Buddhist Spiritual and Civilization Institute in Bodh Gaya. This institute can include a Department of Mindful Communication for Sustainable Development in collaboration with Nava Nalanda Mahavihara deemed University under Ministry of Culture, Shantiniketan University (SU) and other institutions.

Conference: It is thus proposed to organize a two-day conclave to be held in New Delhi under the theme - Mindful Communication for Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development -through the development of Buddhist social media networking in Asia as a joint collaboration between International Buddhists Confederation (IBC) along with other partners in Asia such as Lotus Communication Network (LCN), TPBS (Thailand), Buddhist Channel (Malaysia), The Buddhist TV Network (Sri Lanka), Bhutan Media Foundation, BTN (S. Korea), Life TV (Taiwan) and those from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Vietnam, Korea, Nepal etc.

The conference would aim to launch a “Mindful” news network under the banner of IBC. It also aims to initiate a regional Buddhist social media training program in partnership with various universities and media organizations and set up standardize curriculum and certification programs across Asia.

The conference will include keynote addresses, panel sessions, workshops, film screenings and cultural presentations. The program will be jointly developed by IBC, LCN and SU, and other partners in Asia.  On the first day, a keynote address will be given by an Indian expert on “Indic Buddhist Heritage and Ancient Cultural Networks in Asia”.

The speakers will be mainly Asian scholars, media practitioners and other communicators. Preference will be given to those of Asian origin who live and work in Asia.

Asian Buddhist Media Conclave – Mindful Communication for Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development

Venue: Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi, India

Dates: 27 and 28 August 2018

SESSIONS:

DAY 1: Plenary Sessions

9.30 – 10.30 am -OPENING SESSION

  • Welcome Address - Ven. Dr. Dhammapiya, Secretary General, IBC
  • Inaugural address by - Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathor, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Govt of India (proposed)
  • Speech by Guest of Honour- Dr Sarath Ammunugama, Minister of Science Technology, research, skills development and vocational training and Kandyan heritage(proposed)
  • Keynote Address – Shri S Gurumurthy, Vice Chairman, Vivekananda International Foundation, Senior Columnist and Political & Economics Analyst

10.30 – 11.00 am – TEA

 

Session 1: 11.00 am to 01.30 pm (Plenary Session in two parts)

Theme: Part- I (11.00 am to 12.30), Mindful Communication for Conflict Avoidance and Sustainable Development- an Indic-Buddhist Approach

Chair / Moderator: Prof Nitinant Wisaweisuan, Thammasat University, Thailand

Speakers

  1. Dr Kalinga Seneviratne, Lotus Communication Network, Singapore
  2. Dr Biplap Lolo Chaoudhury, Shanti Niketan University, India
  3. Ms Supaporn Phokaew, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  4. Dharmacharya Shantum Seth, India
  5. Mr Dorjie Wangchuck, Phd Scholar, Bhutan
  6. Dr Sugath Senarat, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Each speaker to do a 10-15-minute presentation

Part – II (12:30 -01.30 pm), Mapping the Path 1 - Launching a Mindful Communication for Sustainable Development Training Network

Facilitators: Dr Kalinga Seneviratne and Dr Biplab Lolo Choudhury Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, ShantiNiketan University, India

This session will discuss the modalities of launching a pan-Asian Buddhist communicators’ training program in ‘Mindful Communication for Sustainable Development’. The facilitators will present a number of proposals. It will be discussed in roundtable format. A timeline and a program of action may be agreed upon by the end of the session.

01.30 – 02.30 pm – LUNCH

Session 2:  - 02.30 – 4.00pm (Plenary Session)

Need for a Buddhist Voice in Asia - Developing a Buddhist Media Networkacross platforms

Chair / Moderator: Mr Rajiv Mehrotra, Director, PSBT, Director, Foundation for Universal Responsibility, eminent Filmmaker and Author, India

Speakers

  1. Mr Pipope Panitchpakdi, Deputy Director, Thai PBS, Thailand
  2. Mr Ravi Jayawardena, Chairman, Rupavahini, Sri Lanka
  3. Mr Lim Kooi Fong, Buddhist Channel, Malaysia

Each speaker to do a 10-12 minute presentation (Brief Q and A)

Session 3:  04.00 – 05.00 pm

Buddhism in the Media – Country Perspectives (Plenary)

Chair / Moderator:Prof Biplap Lolo Chaudhury, Shantiniketan University

Speakers

  1. Mr Karma Paljor, TV and media personality, India
  2. Mr Bradman Jayaweera, Rangiri Media Network, Sri Lanka
  3. Mr Toung Eh Synuanchanh, Media Scholar, Laos
  4. Ms Nayheak Khun, Journalist, Cambodia
  5. Mr Needrup Zangpo, Journalists Association of Bhutan

Each speaker to do a 5-10 minute presentation

05.00 pm TEA and day concludes

DAY 2: 9.30 am – 06.30 pmPlenary and Roundtable Sessions, Valedictory

Session 4: 9.30 am– 10.30 am

Theme- Bringing Buddha Dhamma to Popular Culture (Plenary)

Chair / Moderator:Dr Kalinga Seneviratne, Lotus Communication Network

Keynote Speaker: Bhikkuni Ani Choying Drolma, Global Buddhist Music Ambassador, Nepal

Other speakers:

  1. Ms Sonam Yangchen Rana, Community Communication Specialist, Nepal

After the Plenary and TEA, the session will be divided in three parts (held parallel)

10.30 am – 11.00 am – T E A

11.00 amd to 1.30 pm (Parallel Sessions)

Mapping the Path – 1: Mobilising Asian Buddhist Film Makers

Chair / Moderator:

Speakers

  1. Ms. Aruna Vasudev, Film Maker, India
  2. Mr Pauy Kim Teo, Founder Buddhist Film Festival, Singapore
  3. Mr Jayantha Chandrasiri, Soyanno Films, Sri Lanka
  4. Ven. Thich Nhat Tu, Eminent Film Maker, Vietnam
  5. Ms Ritu Sareen, Dharmasala International Film Festival, India

Each speaker to do a 5- 10-minute presentation  followed by a roundtable type discussion on mapping a plan of action to make Asian Buddhist film makers more visible in the region’s media, film circuits and film festivals.

Mapping the Path2 -Developing a pan-Asian Buddhist TV, Print and Social Media Network

Chair / Moderators:Dr Kalinga Seneviratne and Mr Rajiv Mehrotra

Discussed on a roundtable format, this session will consider proposals presented by the two moderators such as Mr Mehrotra’s Buddhist documentary series ‘The ways of the Buddha” and Dr Seneviratne’ regional Buddhist channel via iptv technology. Any other proposals for social media networking could also be considered.

Mapping the Path 3 - Developing Buddhist Cultural Festivals

Chair / Moderator:Ms Sonam Yangchen Rana

Discussion on a roundtable format, on how to bring Buddhism to popular culture via song, dance, film and music, as well as developing Buddhist cultural community based festivals in Asia to promote sustainable development and cultural sharing. A proposal to launch an annual Nalanda Buddhist Community Arts festival may be considered.

01.30 – 2.30 pm - Lunch Break

The parallel sessions to continue

03.30 pm – 04.30 pm - Adoption of action plan based on discussions from the 3 sessions (in the main auditorium)

04.00 pm – 04.30 pm TEA           

Valedictory (5.00 pm – 6.00 pm) –

Chief Guest: Sh. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home, Govt of India (proposed)

A statement of support from UNESCO’s Regional Communication Advisor.

Reading of the report on the proceedings and Action Plan adopted by the delegates

Vote of thanks by Dr Arvind Gupta, Director, Vivekananda International Foundation, New Delhi

7.00 – 9.30 pm - Evening program at Hotel: Music performancefollowed by Dinner

 

 

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