On Saturday 24th October, the Institute of Jainology (IoJ), held its 18th Jain All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Ahimsa Day meeting online. The international Jain Institute that represents the 32 UK Jain organisations in government and inter-religious affairs virtually hosted the first of its kind Ahimsa Day attended by Parliamentarians, community leaders and experts. The event is hosted in October annually to coincide with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
“Ahimsa is the key Jain tenet of non-violence/compassion and the event is usually celebrated at the Palace of Westminster. However, with Covid-19 we have had to hold it online for the first time.
“We consider it an opportunity to broadcast the event to a global audience,” said Dr Mehool Sanghrajka, Managing Trustee of the Institute.
Harrow West MP, Gareth Thomas, Chair of the Jain APPG welcomed everyone with a video message and noted how the Jain community had quickly adapted to organising daily zoom events and celebrating festivals online. Bob Blackman, MP for Harrow East, also noted the work of Jain community in supporting the NHS, key frontline workers and the elderly in Harrow besides other boroughs.
Lord Stephen Greenhalgh, Minister for Faith, added his welcome and noted how important the annual Ahimsa Award had become in promoting selfless action and compassion. The 2020 Ahimsa Award was presented by the Trustees of the Institute to Brother Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan science teacher and Franciscan friar. He teaches at a school in a semi-arid village in the Rift Valley Province, a region impacted by famine and drought and donates 80% of his salary to supporting pupils in the local village.
Peter has dramatically improved attendance, reduced local violence and has even taught local communities how to grow crops that can resist famine.
Peter’s students have reached the finals of the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. In only a couple of years, Peter has doubled the number of students attending university.
Dr Mehool Sanghrajka commented, “We congratulate Brother Peter for winning the 2020 Ahimsa Award. He personifies peace, love and compassion in his work with both his students and his community, and truly represents the message of Ahimsa. We look forward to seeing his ongoing success as well as being a beacon for teachers and community leaders everywhere.”