Dr. A.T. Aryaratne

Sri Lankabhimanya Ahangamage Tudor Ariyaratne is the founder and president of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka. He was nominated to the Constitutional Council (Sri Lanka) as a civil representative on 10 September 2015.[1] He received the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 1991.

He received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 1969, the Gandhi Peace Prize from the government of India in 1996, the Niwano Peace Prize in 1992, the King Beaudoin Award and other international honours for his work in peace making and village development. In 2006, he received the Acharya Sushil Kumar International Peace Award for the year 2005. Other recipients of this award include John Polanyi and then in 2004, the 14th Dalai Lama. In 2007 Ariyaratne received the Sri Lankabhimanya, the highest National Honour of Sri Lanka.[3]

Ariyaratne, a strong believer in Gandhian principles of non-violence, rural development and self-sacrifice, has shaped the Sarvodaya Movement in ways that forged a significant link between secular principles of development and Buddhist ideals of selflessness and compassion. As a devout Buddhist, he has led tens of thousands of “family gatherings” and meditations with millions of people throughout Sri Lanka and other parts of the world. When he received the Hubert H. Humphrey International Humanitarian Award from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs in 1994, Dr. Patrick Mendis described his former mentor as the “Gandhi of Sri Lanka.”[4]

Member of Earth Charter Commission.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Ms. Mary E. King

Dr. Mary E. King “is Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, University for Peace, affiliated with the UN, whose main campus is in Costa Rica. She is Distinguished Scholar with The American University Center for Global Peace, Washington, D.C. Having been Senior Fellow, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, during 2004 and 2005, she retains a visiting research fellowship at the institute.

“Professor King has been scholar-practitioner of international relations for 30 years, requiring personal contact with heads of state and government ministers of more than 120 developing countries. As a presidential appointee in the Carter Administration, she had worldwide oversight for the Peace Corps (60 countries), VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), Retired Senior Volunteer Program (R.S.V.P.), Foster Grandparents, and other national volunteer service corps programs. Since 1984, she has served as a special adviser to former president Jimmy Carter, often acting as his emissary.

“As a young student, she worked alongside the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (no relation) in the U.S. civil rights movement. The New York Times described her as one of a “tiny handful” of white, female “heroic, unsung organizers of the Southern civil rights movement.” Her book on that four-year experience, Freedom Song: A Personal Story of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, won her a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award in 1988.

“In 2002, the second edition of her book, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr: The Power of Nonviolent Action—chronicling nine contemporary nonviolent struggles and originally published by UNESCO in Paris in 1999—was brought out in New Delhi by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Mehta Publishers.

“In November 2003, she was given the Jamnalal Bajaj International Award, which recognizes the promotion of Gandhian values outside India. In receiving this prize in Mumbai (Bombay), India, she joined the ranks of such previous winners as Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat of the United Kingdom, and Professor Johan Galtung of Norway.

“Her doctorate in international politics is from the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. In 1989, her alma mater Ohio Wesleyan University bestowed on her its highest award for distinguished achievement.

“King was co-author, with Casey Hayden, of “Sex and Caste,” a 1966 article that, according to American historian Ruth Rosen in The World Split Open: How the Women’s Movement Changed America, made her a central figure in starting the contemporary women’s movement in the United States, or so-called second-wave feminism.

“She is at work on two books about popular movements of nonviolent action, one in the Middle East in the late 1980s, and the other in India in the 1920s.” [1]

“Dr. King’s leadership has extended to a number of boards of private voluntary agencies and nongovernmental organisations concerned with international development, peace, and conflict resolution, including the International Advisory Council, Auroville Foundation, Tamil Nadu, India, appointed by the Government of India in 1998; the International Commission on Peace and Food, Chennai, India (successor to the Brandt, Palme and Brundtland Commissions), 1989-1994; officer of the Arca Foundation, Washington DC, a private philanthropy funding international human rights and pro-democracy initiatives, from 1980 through the present; board of the American Institute for Public Service, which bestows annually the Jefferson Awards, from 1993 through the present; member, board of directors, Save the Children Community Development Federation, Westport, Connecticut, from 1980 to 1991.”

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Prof. Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy is co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Esalen Institute and author of four novels: Golf in the Kingdom, The Kingdom of Shivas Irons, Jacob Atabet, and An End to Ordinary History. His nonfiction works, in addition to The Life We Are Given, include In the Zone, an anthology of extraordinary sports experience, co-authored with Rhea White, and The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature. Golf in the Kingdom, still a bestseller 32 years after it was published, has spawned the Shivas Irons Society, a nonprofit organization with members in the 50 states and in 20 countries as well.

Murphy was born in Salinas, California, graduated from Stanford University, and lived for a year at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. In 1980, he helped initiate Esalen’s Soviet-American Exchange Program, which was a premiere diplomacy vehicle for citizen-to-citizen relations. In 1990, Boris Yeltsin’s first visit to the U.S. was initiated by the Institute. Shortly after this visit, Yeltsin catalyzed the end of communism in Russia. Esalen is also a ground-breaking research site. Preparatory work for The Future of the Body began in 1977 with the building of an archive of more than 10,000 studies of exceptional human functioning. The archive is now located at the University of California in Santa Barbara. During his long involvement in the human potential movement, Murphy and his work have been profiled in the New Yorker and featured in many magazines and journals worldwide.

Courtesy: Youtube

Dr. Marc Luyckx Ghisi

Marc Luyckx Ghisi was born 20 April 1942 in Louvain, Belgium. Initially, he studied mathematics, philosophy and theology (Ph.D.) and became a Catholic priest. He presented a doctorate in Rome (Pontifical Oriental Institute), in Russian and Greek theology, on Nikolai Berdyaev’s early writings in Russian, since his discovery of Marxism until his conversion to orthodoxy” (Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome). After his marriage, he was for ten years (1990-1999), member of the Forward Studies Unit of the European Commission, created by Jacques Delors, where he focused on the meaning of European integration and created the programme The soul of Europe.[1][2] He had the opportunity to travel a lot and meet worldwide government officials and advisors in Europe, the U.S., China, Japan, or in India. Some were aware of the shift of civilization in which we are engaged globally, but these visionaries were a minority.

In the Forward Studies Unit he invited many thinkers such as US sociologist Paul H. Ray (cultural creatives), Edgar Morin (a leading French philosopher of the paradigm shift), Hazel Henderson (author of numerous books on the win-win economy and the new green sustainable economy), Rinaldo Brutoco (CEO of World Business Academy), Avon Mattison[3] (founder of Pathways to Peace), Harlan Cleveland, (President of the World Academy of Art and Science), Prof. Ziauddin Sardar.

He was Dean of the Cotrugli Business School[4] in Zagreb and Belgrade (2005-2009). For 8 years he has also been a member of the Auroville International Advisory Council[5] in South India. He is a Fellow of the World Business Academy,[6] a member of the Club of Rome-EU, [7] a member of the World Futures Studies Federation and is Honorary President of Eurotas, European Transpersonal Association. [8]

In May 1998, the “Forward Studies Unit” organized with the World Academy of Art and Science [9] a Congres on “Civilizations and Governance”, in the Brussels headquarters of the European Commission. We were presenting the hypothesis of a worldwide shift to a transmodern world. This hypothesis has been published in “World Affairs”,[10] in the “Integral Review”[11] and in “Futures”.[12] And this seems to be worldwide. There are indications that the same shift to a transmodern vision of religion and culture is happening around the world: inside the Muslim world (Ziauddin Sardar), in China (Nicanor Perlas), and in South America (Leonardo Boff). And in this transmodern vision, a new type of dialogue between religions and civilizations is increasingly coming up, from the bottom of our societies. The minutes of this International Congress can be found on “The Future of Religions”

As a member of the Forward Studies Unit, I had the great honour to meet with a genius thinker in the Silicon Valley: Willis Harman. According to Willis Harman[14] in the late Middle Ages, the civilization shifted to the Renaissance because Copernicus proposed a new way of conceiving the Earth and the sky. Similarly today, the culture shift is happening around a new definition of consciousness and matter. We are leaving metaphysics “M1”, which says that matter exists and that consciousness emanates from matter and some quantic scientists are already in a new metaphysics “M3” who discovers that consciousness is first and allows the emergence of matter. According to Harman, this conceptual earthquake, transforms the scientific method itself. And the “new science” is increasingly similar to the latest developments in quantum physics. Harman considers that this transmodern science resembles the vision of Humanity’s Perennial Wisdom and that opposition between science and philosophy will disappear slowly.

In 1993, The European Commission published a White Paper on « Growth, Competitiveness, employment: The challenges of the 21st century». The Forward Studies Unit coordinated this study. It was announcing a shift to a post-industrial information society and was proposing very daring reforms in taxation, education, and of the European development model itself. This new vision proposed by Jacques Delors himself, has been politely refused by the EU Head of State, in the European Council of December 1993.

In 2000, seven years later, the Portuguese government proposed the EU leaders to launch the “Lisbon Strategy” aimed at bringing the EU in the new “knowledge society”. Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres, and Prof Maria Joao Rodrigues warned the EU Heads of State that this new strategy was a new economic paradigm. This “paradigm shift” concept has been politely refused.

Indeed knowledge is different from industrial objects, the more you share it, the more you receive back. The knowledge economy is an economy of sharing that modifies the basic axioms of the industrial logic. It is post-capitalist[19] (Peter Drucker), because the means of production are no longer the factory, but the humans who create knowledge. The analysis of this shift to the knowledge economy is also analyzed by Jeremy Rifkin in one of his latest books.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Doudou Diène

Doudou Diène (born 1941) of Senegal was United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in 2002 -2008.

Diène holds a law degree from the University of Caen (France), a doctorate in public law from the University of Paris, a diploma in political science from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris, and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws degree from the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill, Barbados)

Between 1972 and 1977 he served as Senegal’s deputy representative to UNESCO. In 1977, he joined the UNESCO secretariat, where he held several positions including Director of the Division of Inter-cultural Projects. He was appointed Special Rapporteur for racism-related topics by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in August 2002, replacing Maurice Glele-Ahanhanzo of Benin and serving until July 2008 when he was succeeded by Githu Muigai (Kenya).

In 2011, he was appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Côte d’Ivoire.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Dr. Kabir Shaikh

Since 1 September 2017 until 31 January 2018, Mr Kabir Shaikh has been Director ad interim of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), Hamburg, Germany.

In 2013, he set up UNESCO’s first Category 1 Institute for Asia and Pacific region in New Delhi, India – the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

Mr Shaikh was until 2009 Director of Education for UNESCO/UNRWA, responsible for half a million Palestine refugee children. Before that, he held various other education posts in England including Chief Inspector and Director of Education.

He served on several national and international committees and was the Chair of the Partnership Board for Leicester City Education. He was a member of the Advisory Forum to the Royal Naval School of Educational Training and Technology and chaired the steering group of local education authorities for the provision of science services.

Mr Shaikh has extensive international experience and was Vice-President of the Commonwealth Association of Science, Technology and Mathematics Educators. He has contributed to a number of international events on education.

In 2003, he was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for services to education. In 2010, he received an honorary doctorate from the Open University, UK.

Dr Shaunaka Rishi Das

Shaunaka Rishi Das (born 18 February 1961 as Timothy Kiernan) is the Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies (OCHS), a position he has held since the Centre’s foundation in 1997. He is a Hindu cleric, a lecturer, a broadcaster, and Hindu Chaplain to Oxford University. His interests include education, comparative theology, communication, and leadership. He is a member of The Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, convened in 2013 by the Woolf Institute, Cambridge. In 2013 the Indian government appointed him to sit on the International Advisory Council of the Auroville Foundation. Keshava, Rishi Das’s wife of 27 years, died in December 2013.

As Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies he maintains the vision and ethos of the OCHS and encourages the Centre’s continued growth and development in all spheres. In this role he oversaw the formal recognition of the OCHS by Oxford University in 2006, and developed the Centre’s publishing partnerships with Oxford University Press, Journal of Hindu Studies, and with the Routledge Hindu Studies Series. He has also been responsible for forging formal relationships between the OCHS and Universities in the USA, Europe, India, and China. He is the first Hindu Chaplain to Oxford University in its 800-year history.

He is a regular broadcaster, making the Hindu contribution to ‘Prayer for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4 since 2007. He was also a participant in the popular History of the World in 100 Objects series broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and published by Allen Lane. He has acted as a consultant for a number of documentaries on Hindu culture and traditions. He has written articles for The Guardian and The Independent newspapers, Business India, and has written the Hindu entry for the Annual Register since 2004.


Julian Lines

Julian Lines spent the summer of ’72 in upstate New York with Bob and Deborah Lawlor, Marjorie Spalding, Robert McDermott, Adm. Rutledge Tompkins, Prof. Jehangir Chubb and others learning about Auroville and Integral Yoga. He has been involved in helping Auroville ever since. He currently also serves as a Executive Director of Auroville International and President of Matagiri Sri Aurobindo Center. In 2009 he was appointed to the Auroville International Advisory Council by the Government of India. He and his wife, Wendy own a retail shop called Pondicherry in Woodstock, NY which features many Auroville handicrafts. He is also part of the team dealing with daily operations of AVIUSA, focusing on the eVolve newsletter and other work related to Auroville.

Dr. Vishakha N. Desai

Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is an Asia scholar with a focus on art, culture, policy, and women’s rights. She currently serves as Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and Senior Research Scholar at its School of International and Public Affairs. She also serves as Senior Advisor for Global Programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and is President Emerita of the Asia Society (2004 – 2012). In recognition of her leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Commission on Museums and Libraries in 2012. Dr. Desai has been recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in New York by Crains and for her Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts by ArtTable. She is a recipient of five honorary degrees from Centre College, Pace University, the College of Staten Island, Susquehanna University, and Williams College.

Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University and Senior Research Scholar at the School of International and Public Affairs. She also serves as Senior Advisor for Global Programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships among peoples of Asia and the U.S. from 2004 through 2012. As President, she set the direction for the Society’s diverse sets of programs ranging from policy initiatives and national educational programs to ground breaking exhibitions and performing arts programs throughout its network of eleven offices in the U.S. and Asia. Under her leadership the society expanded the scope and scale of its activities with the opening of new offices in India and Korea, a new center of U.S.–China Relations, various leadership initiatives, and inauguration of two new architecturally distinguished facilities in Hong Kong and Houston. Prior to becoming President, Dr. Desai held various senior positions at the Asia Society from 1990 to 2004.

Before joining the Asia Society in 1990, Dr. Desai was at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston as a Curator and the Head of Public Programs and Academic Affairs. She has taught at Columbia University, Boston University, and the University of Massachusetts where she was given a tenured appointment. A Scholar of Asian Art and a public intellectual, Dr. Desai is a frequent speaker at international forums on subjects focusing on cultural roots of Asia’s economic and political transformation and challenges. She has authored opinion pieces on political, cultural, and women’s development in Asia that have appeared in more than fifty publications around the world. Author of major exhibition catalogues and editor of a major scholarly publication on Asian Art History for the 21st Century, Dr. Desai is internationally recognized for her leadership in presenting contemporary Asian Art to western audiences.

Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in political Science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan.

The recipient of numerous international and national grants and fellowships, Dr. Desai has received four honorary degrees from American Universities. For her work on Asian American issues, she has received awards from the University of Massachusetts, City University of New York, Asian Americans for Equality, and Leadership Education for Asian Pacific Americans (LEAP). For her leadership in the arts, she has been honored by ArtTable, a national organization of women leaders in the arts, and has received a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Social Sciences. Dr. Desai was selected by Crain’s New York as one of the “100 most powerful women leaders” in New York, by India Abroad, the leading national weekly for Indian Americans, as one the “50 most distinguished Indian Americans,” and was honored by Zee T.V. (India) as the outstanding International Woman of the Year.

In 2012, in recognition of Dr. Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Commission on Museums and Libraries – she also serves as a member of the Mayor’s Commission for Cultural Affairs in New York City and on the International Advisory Committee for the House of World Cultures, Berlin, and for the Auroville Foundation, Berlin. She is also an Advisory Trustee of the Brookings Institution, and a Trustee of the Bertelsmann Foundation USA and Citizen’s Committee for New York. She served as President of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) from 1998 to 1999 and on the board from 1995 to 2000. She has served on the board of the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts, College Art Association, ArtTable, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Sir Mark Tully

Sir William Mark Tully, KBE (born 24 October 1935) is the former Bureau Chief of the BBC, New Delhi. He worked with the BBC for a period of 30 years before resigning in July 1994. He held the position of Chief of Bureau, BBC, Delhi, for 20 years.

Tully joined the BBC in 1964 and moved back to India in 1965 to work as the India Correspondent. He covered all major incidents in South Asia during his tenure, ranging from Indo-Pakistan conflicts, Bhopal gas tragedy, Operation Blue Star (and the subsequent assassination of Indira Gandhi, anti-Sikh riots), Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to the Demolition of Babri Masjid. He was barred from entering India during Emergency in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Mrs Gandhi had imposed censorship curbs on the media.

Tully resigned from BBC in July 1994, after an argument with John Birt, the then Director General. He accused Birt of “running the corporation by fear” and “turning the BBC into a secretive monolith with poor ratings and a demoralised staff”. In 1994 he presented an episode of BBCs Great Railway Journeys “Karachi to The Khyber Pass” travelling by train across Pakistan. Since 1994 he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi. He is currently the regular presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 programme Something Understood.

As a guest of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue on 7 October 2010 he spoke on How certain should we be? The problem of religious pluralism. He described his experiences and the fact that India had historically been home to all the world’s major religions. He said that had taught him that there are many ways to God. Tully is patron of the British branch of Child in Need India (CINI UK). Tully is equally well versed in English and Hindi.


His latest book Upcountry Tales: Once Upon A Time In The Heart Of India (2017) is a collection of short stories set in rural north India.

Courtesy : Wikipedia