IISD anniversary celebrated

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(By Shomik Chaudhuri) United Nations-  Institute of International Social Development, an international NGO based in India in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the United Nations, celebrated its 20th anniversary by honoring two leaders from the United Nations and Spiritual backgrounds. The event was held on November 17, 2016, at the Tillman Hall in the Church Center of the United Nations, in New York. The 2016 Institute of International Social Development Honorees were Dr. Hanifa Mezoui, Senior Advisor, Humanitarian Affairs and Civil Society, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations; and H.H. Bhakti Charu Swami, Gaudiya Vaishnava swami and a religious leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Dr. Mezoui accepted the award saying civil society engagement and dialogue is at the heart of UNAOC’s work. The foundation of the Alliance is based on the recognition that religious differences have a crucial role in shaping the humanitarian and socio-economic policies of the Member States. The UNAOC has become a leading United Nations platform for interfaith and intercultural dialogue and will continue to work through the four pillars of youth, education, media and migration.  Srila Bhakti Charu Swami also accepted the award saying that the problems in the world arise from the desire to want more than our needs. It is greed that is filling the world with haves and have-nots. If we can cut down this greed, there will be no hunger, poverty and deprivation. Shomik Chaudhuri, President, Institute of International Social Development, New York, said in his welcome address that the two leaders, Dr. Hanifa Mezoui and Srila Bhakti Charu Swami, were greatly responsible for the success of the Institute. He said that the foundation of the Institute was based on values and every program and project had values intertwined in them. He said that all the programs and projects of the Institute were based on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.  Sharon Hamilton-Getz, Vice President, IISD, NY, presented the background of IISD, India, and the New York branch. A book authored by Srila Bhakti Charu Swami entitled ‘Ocean of Mercy’ was also launched at the event. The book traces the relationship and life of Srila Bhakti Charu Swami with his Spiritual Master Srila Prabhupada.  Sri Chinmoy Bhajan Singers presented numerous songs written by Sri Chinmoy.