THE Indian wing of New Acropolis Cultural Organization, an international organisation with nearly 500 centres in over 60 countries, has been nurturing the aspiration to share India’s rich artistic, philosophical and scientific heritage worldwide. The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was a perfect occasion to showcase this as well as share the Indian leader’s philosophical legacy with a global audience through a series of curated events.
Guided by Gandhi’s life and actions that exemplified the principle that sustainable change is possible only when we are able to become the change we wish to see, Yaron Barzilay, director of New Acropolis India, curated a special programme, ‘Empowering Real Change: Leadership for a Better World’. “Our endeavour is to revive this spirit of daring to be the change, and share the philosophical legacy and example of Gandhi with a global audience,” Barzilay said.
Talking about the impact of the Mumbai programme, which was held over a year ago, Trishya Screwvala of New Acropolis, says, “It brought together a forum of distinguished changemakers and leaders, who in the spirit of Gandhi, demonstrated the ability to lead by example.” In the year that followed, approximately 200 international events explored themes that were established in the Mumbai event such as ‘the pursuit of truth as an essential foundation for leadership’, ‘the need to change ourselves in order to forge sustainable change in our surroundings’ and ‘the inspiration of Gandhi as a peaceful warrior’.
The special full-day conference held in Mumbai, which had 260 attendees from various fields including corporates, NGOs, government institutions and students, received messages of support from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the 14th Dalai Lama, Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus and Ratan Tata among others. “I appreciate the efforts of the New Acropolis Cultural Organization in providing a platform to develop leadership for a better world, inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. I am positive that the conference will be instrumental in leveraging the strength of quintessential Indian ideals that Bapu symbolised,” said Modi in his letter of support towards this initiative.
Speaking at the Mumbai event, Sunil Mehta, founding trustee of Muktangan, said, “We tend to be reflective, we tend to think about how we can be the change, and we try to live our lives according to that. But periodically, the other side of us, the not so good side of us, takes over with the day to day pressures and so on. And today has been a refresher course, shall I say, to remind me of these things, and to know that a lot of change is possible.” Classical Indian dancer, designer and educator Miti Desai had said, “When we say empowering real change, I really see that empowering change in the team of Acropolis and the way they put this event together and hold on to their vision. Every time I come to a New Acropolis event there is a certain sense of positivity, of somewhere living the philosophy that they are learning, and I think that is empowering real change.”
So far, nearly 200 events in 37 countries have been organised in 22 collaborations with Indian embassies and ambassadors. Prominent among those are the events titled ‘Gandhi and the Philosophy of Peace’ in partnership with Embassy of India, Brasilia, Brazil, and ‘Gandhi, the Strength of the Roots’ with the Embassy of India, Oeiras, Portugal. New Acropolis France spearheaded a national festival with 17 events across nine cities with the patronage of Embassy of India while New Acropolis Ukraine celebrates Gandhi with over 30 events across 10 cities.
This year, New Acropolis India will curate its fourth event in the ‘Empowering Real Change’ series titled ‘Empowering Real Change: Spirit of Volunteering’. “On the occasion of International Volunteering Day 2020, the event will celebrate the power of the everyday hero and explore how each of us can live our daily lives with the spirit of service,” Screwvala says. New Acropolis in India is a school of practical philosophy, which conducts activities across the verticals of philosophy, culture and volunteering. Through the year, New Acropolis India offers approximately 70 free lectures in Mumbai and Pune, exploring how we can live with more meaning, and with a philosophical attitude. The school also offers regular courses at different levels for its members.