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Indian Minister promoting peace, nonviolence

Press Alert:
14 March

Nuclear Abolition and Nonviolence the antidote to the 'Clash of Civilisations.'

Indian Cabinet Minister Sri Mani Shankar Aiyar to visit NZ to promote peace and nonviolence

Sri Mani Shankar Aiyar - a member of the current Indian Cabinet, a secretary for former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and founder of the Indian Society for Secularism - will be in New Zealand from 26-29 March to attend a number of events to promote nonviolence, cross-cultural understanding, peace and disarmament.

These include a Commonwealth Local Government Forum meeting and a public lecture in Auckland on Nuclear Abolition and Nonviolence - the antidote to the 'Clash of Civilisations.'

Sri Mani Shankar Aiyar was the key drafter of the historic Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan for a nuclear weapons free and nonviolent world which was submitted to the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in 1988. Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh recommitted India to the Rajiv Gandhi Plan in his speeches to the Parliament in July 2005 and August 2006. Sri Mani believes that the plan was unable to be implemented in 1988 due to the Cold War and other factors, but that political conditions make it ripe
for achievement now.

"There is little logic to the argument that as nuclear weapons have been invented, they therefore, cannot be eliminated," says Sri Mani. "There are several conventions already in operation relating to biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction. The Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan combines a practical roadmap towards universal, non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament (leading to general disarmament) and sustaining this by basing the world order on the principles of non-violence."

Sri Mani Shankar Aiyar has written a number of books including Pakistan Papers which discusses how India should deal with Pakistan to ensure peace, and most recently Confessions of a Secular Fundamentalist which argues for secularism as a political path for bridging ethnic and religious conflicts.

His presentations on nonviolence and ethnic relations are optimistic and colourfully illustrated with interesting historical and contemporary examples. His many stories of interactions between Hindu and Muslim throughout India's history and his knowledge and oratory, provide an inspirational counter to the perspective that there will continue to be a "Clash of Civilisations."


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