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Program
Welcome Address
Inaugural Address
Anju Bhargava
Speeches
Summing Up
Photo Gallery

Interfaith Foundation, India

Falicitates

Ms Anju Bhargava

 

Member, President Barak Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
at
Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, New Delhi, 13 NOV 2010

 

Interfaith Foundation, India
Felicitates Ms Anju Bhargava
at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, New Delhi, 13 Nov 2010

Program

   
Welcome & Introduction  Dr M M Verma
President, Interfaith Foundation, India
   
Speeches  Leaders of different faiths
   
Felicitation Ceremony Conducted by Ms Subha Rajan, Director, CII
   
Address       Ms Anju Bhargava
   
Presidential Remarks

S. P S Sarna
President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Magn. Committee

   
Summing up Dr M M Verma
   
Vote of Thanks Subha Rajan

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Welcome & Introduction

On behalf of Interfaith Foundation, India and on my own behalf, I deem it to be a privilege and honor to welcome Ms Anju Bhargava, a versatile genius, who is the first Indian American to have become a Member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Faith-based and Neighbourhood Partnerships.  Madam, we are grateful to you for having accepted our invitation.  I am happy to welcome the distinguished Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Senior Diplomats from Foreign Missions.  I also welcome the presence of the distinguished leaders of different faiths. I welcome you all Ladies and Gentlemen. 
Madam Bhargava, I feel that the present world is witnessing a fast deterioration in human values and fellow feelings.  The materialist theories espoused by formidable trends of consumerism have created scenario of inhuman competition.  They have totally failed to address the vital concerns of mankind. 
In this scenario of turbulence, world’s major religions have the potential to counteract the negative forces and usher in an era of fellowship.  It is possible to share a pragmatic system of universal ethics, in spite of diverse socio-religious background.
Hence, we should aim at positive dialogues at all levels in order to appreciate each other’s point of view, while upholding the spirit of oneness.  It is obvious, the individual efforts will not go a long way. Therefore, only united efforts can mould the media and impact the authorities that be.  Let all Interfaith organizations, the world over, unite for a common cause and reject the theories of Huntington’s conflicts of civilizations.
Our two great nations have much in common with each other and can work together for peace, equality and brotherhood.  Madam, I am convinced that your great country has the potential to remove poverty and illiteracy from the world. 
Interfaith Foundation, India is making humble but consistent efforts to assist the global movement of Interfaith for peace and harmony among people of different faiths and cultures.
With these words, I welcome you all, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Religion is not a pastime , nor a subject for intellectual debates. In fact, the people of the world are divided more on the basis of economic and political interests than on religious basis. True, there are different languages, cultures and religious rituals, but religion should not be made a scapegoat. Vested interests, unnecessarily overplay the religious factor to project their hidden agenda. History of the world bears a testimony to this fact. Huntington’s theory of clash of civilizations is a grotesque, a deeply motivated game plan. Dr Verma extensively referred to the teachings of Guru Nanak- his love for humanity, gender equality, Unity in Diversity, purity, dignity, self-respect, community living, Kirat ki Kamai, wand chahko, langar, sangat, righteous deeds, religious tolerance and broadmindedness. Nanak name charhdi kala, tere bhane sarbat ka bhala. Guru Nanak did not make any distinction between the Hindus and the Muslims. His mission was reconciliation and transformation. Guru Nanak insisted: “Religion must join the life current of humanity and should be socially and spiritually consistent.” The essence of all religions is the same (Sukhmani Saheb and Asht.24). Mandir, Masjid, Church and Gurdwara are the same. Prayer, Namaz, Mass and Ardas are the same, said Guru Gobind Singh. Dr Verma referred to the message of the Holy Quran and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad. Dr Verma said: Islam is a religion of peace. Islam believes in religious tolerance, brotherhood and nonviolence. Dr Verma referred to the Vedas and the Bhagavad-Gita. He said: the concepts of Truth, one God, one world family (Vasudhevam Kudumakam) were the central themes of Hindu philosophy. Dr Verma urged: As religious people we should understand our responsibility towards mankind. Let all Interfaith NGOs collectively work for world peace, harmony and brotherhood. In fact, the original text of the Holy Scriptures and the intention of the Prophets were not aimed at creating rigidified communities, encountering each other with distrust. Let Interfaith NGOs disseminate the right message of the Holy Scriptures and help create positive atmosphere for Unity in Diversity.
                                           - Dr M M Verma
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Anju Bhargava

Anju Bhargava is currently a member on President Obama’s Council on Faith Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships and is the founder of Hindu American Seva Charities.
Anu Bhargava has worked to build healthy American communities.  Her distinctive research based approach leverages best practices from many spheres – education, government/politics, civil/social, religious/faith based, corporate/business.  Anju was the only Indian-American to serve in the Community Building  Fellowship, President Clinton’s White House Initiative. Currently she is working with the Livingstone Township and Board of Education to create cross-cultural inclusion infrastructure and integrate diverse residents, New Americans and Visible Minorities.
Over the last tree decades as a change catalyst pioneer and social entrepreneur she has worked to “make a difference” on many fronts.
Anju has worked extensively promoting multiculturalism and diversity in many arenas including the Conference Board, AAHOA (Asian American Hotel Owners Association, City of New York, State of New Jersey.  She is a pioneer in bridging and creating greater cross-cultural understanding and dialogues within the Asian American, South Asian and mainstream communities.
In 2006, she initiated Utsava, the 1st Festival of India in Winston Salem, NC. She has organized community based affinity groups and created a language and cultural education infrastructure to facilitate adaptation and integration.  First and the only Indian-American elected to Livingston Township’s Democratic Council Committee (1996-2000)

Anju recently co-founded Hindu American Seva Charities, which is a progressive organization. Its mission is to advance seva (community service) and promote pluralism, tolerance, social justice, civic engagement, and interfaith dialogues to build healthy communities.  To that end, HASC seeks to mobilize community resources in the United States to connect with America and bridge the gap between the US agencies and Hindu people and institutions.  Seva is an integral part of Hindu Dharmic traditions and sadhana.  It is transforming in nature.  HASC is a non-religious NGO, formed in 2009 under the guidance of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and is a service partner with the Corporation for National and Community Service. Anju Bhargava is working to bring awareness of Community Building in a Dharmic Environment.                                                                                                                                                     

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Speeches

Shankaracharya Onkaranand - We want to serve the bounteous One.  The purpose of studying interfaith is to know God.  The sages gave names to the nameless.  To Him, all the pathways turn.  May good thoughts come to us from all sides.   May all quarters be my friends.  We pray for harmony in the society.  Let our minds be united through mutual knowledge.  Let’s worship Him with hearts united.  Let’s not fight against the divine spirit within us.  Let’s have friendship with all living beings and look at each other with friendly eyes.  It is not by our human nature that we know Him.  Love and devotion is the only marg.  Only bhakti ensures Mukti.  With commitment we meet the Kamadhenu i.e., the heavenly cow of plenty.

Principal Dr Jaswinder Singh lauded the basic tenets of Sikhism and the plurist vision of Guru Granth Sahib.  He said: the focus of the Bani is on the unity of God and brotherhood of man.  Guru Nanak has not only touched spiritual problems but also social and human relationships.  The Sikh Gurus preached their principles in the language of the masses. Guru Granth Sahib is a treasure of divine knowledge and mysticism.  Guru Granth Sahib is both metaphysics and ethics; the scene of reality and the art of union with Reality. Principal J S Ghuman drew attention to the uniqueness of the composition of Guru Granth Sahib. S. Harvinder Singh Sarna said that our places of worship are open to all, irrespective of religion, caste or nationality.  Our langar is also served to everybody without any reservation.  Education and medical centres are our priority, said S.H S Sarna.

Dr A K Merchant - a member of the Baha’i community, said: we are living in the most tumultuous period in human history.  However, the period into which the humanity is moving will open to every individual, institution and community, unprecedented opportunities to participate in the writing of this planet’s future.  “Soon”, is the confident promise of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of Baha’i Faith.  The present-day order will be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its place.  For, the purpose of religion as a system of knowledge, working in tandem with another system of knowledge called “science”, will help humankind to solve the grave problems that beset every department of the present-day society.  I am confident, Madam Anju Bhargava shall make sterling contributions in the deliberations of President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships and draw plentifully from India’s civilizational heritage for the betterment of mankind and peaceful coexistence.  The road is stony but the journey is infinitely rewarding.  The Interfaith Foundation, India has done well to honour Anju Bhargava and bring us all together.

Fr. Dr M D Thomas (National Director CBCI) - Religious difference is a positive phenomenon. The diverse religious traditions have evolved from the unique experiences of great sages and saints.  They have their roots in multifarious geographical, historical and cultural settings.  They are different perspectives towards the divine, the human and the natural dimensions of the same eternal reality.  Affiliations to these traditions are a great opportunity to one another for enriching the human lives as well as for clarifying the basic concept of life.  Diversity of religious persuasions is, in fact, the source of human betterment and spiritual enlightment.

Prof. Z M Khan highlighted the basic message of the Holy Quran and the pieces of advice given by Prophet Muhammad.  He said: one who correctly understands Islam will not take to violent methods.  Islam clearly forbids violence on the part of a Muslim, and even a state can take up arms only in self-defence.  Islam believes in the unity of God and brotherhood of man.  Islam rejects division of the society on the basis of caste and colour.  Prof. Khan laid emphasis on sura 2:213, and 2:285 which teach respect to all prophets and all Holy Scriptures of other faiths.
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Summing Up
-Dr M M Verma

Interfaith Foundation, India, organized a grand function to felicitate Ms Anju Bhargava, a member of President Barack Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighbourhood Partnerships at the Conference Hall, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, New Delhi, on Saturday, the 13th November 2010.  Sardar Parmjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, chaired the Event.  Dr M M Verma introduced the "Theme”, conducted the proceedings of the whole program and made relevant and interesting observations.  

The Event turned out to be a useful meeting of spiritual leaders of different faiths, including, Shankaracharya Onkaranand Sararaswati, Swami Arvind Guruji, Dr A K Merchant, Prof. Z M Khan, Ish Narang, Fr (Dr) M D Thomas, Dr Jaswinder Singh (Principal, Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa College) S. J S Ghuman, (Principal, Guru Har Krishan Public School, India Gate), S Harvinder Singh Sarna (former President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara, Mgn. Committee.

Anju Bhargava, along with other spiritual leaders, was awarded Saropa.  Dr M M Verma was also awarded saropa. Dr Verma presented a souvenir to Anju Bhargava.

In his presidential remarkes, S. Parmjit Singh Sarna lauded the event by saying that it was the best function ever organized in this Conference Hall.  He assured full support to Interfaith Foundation to organise similar functions in future, at Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib or any other Gurdwara in Delhi.  He believed that such meetings would serve the cause of communal harmony, peace and brotherhood.  Mr Sarna lauded Dr Verma’s erudition and profound scholarship which contributed to the resounding success of the whole event.  Mr K L Malhotra, in his vote of thanks said: “Dr Verma is interfaith personified.  Dr Verma is in the vanguard of interfaith movement in India ".

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