DMU honours man who has dedicated his life to peace activism


A man who has dedicated his life to spreading Mahatma Gandhi’s message of peace around the world has been honoured by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Padmashri SP Varma, vice-president of the Gandhi Global Family (GGF) was made an Honorary Doctor of Letters today.

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His work with the GGF has taken him around the world and the organisation has been affiliated with the United Nations, with whom it works closely on social awareness programmes.

He pledged to dedicate the honour to all those working across the world to further peace, saying: “To honour a humble peace activist is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and it has given me strength to work more in the field of peace.

“I dedicate my doctorate to all those peace activists who are working around the world. This is for all those who follow the principles of truth and non-violence.”

Mr SP Varma was a social worker in Kashmir before joining the GGF more than 25 years ago. Over the years he has engaged communities, worked with schools, colleges and universities, met with senior politicians and even Bollywood actors to get across the Gandhi philosophy.
This morning’s Class of 2017 heard about his remarkable dedication to the cause in a citation read to the audience. Part of it said: “We honour a man whose boundless efforts in the name of community and understanding are humbling. For more than half his life he has been dauntless in waging active peace.”

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In his address to students, Mr SP Varma said he was especially impressed with the students working with DMU Square Mile, helping improve lives and work in communities across Leicester. He met many of them this week during DMU’s day-long peace festival.

Last year, its work became global through the creation of DMU Square Mile India, who works within the slum area of Ramapir No Tekro in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and in particular a children’s home within the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, where Mahatma Gandhi lived for 12 years.

DMU students and staff travel there regularly all year round to work in the ashram, helping share their skills with children. A special fund has been created to support the children’s ashram to provide essentials such as books, medical care and access to education.

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Students from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences joined Mr SP Varma on the stage to receive their degrees.

Michael Turner, who is a nurse practitioner from Skegness, collected his BSc in Health and Professional Practice combining a job and family life with his studies. He said: “The support here has been fantastic. The resources are there and you can get help whenever you needed it.”

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Nurse Jodie Wright collected a PG Cert in Practice Nursing. She said: “It’s been hard work, but I have enjoyed it. It has given me the extra skills I need to develop my career.”

Josephine Chapweteka, who works in Derby as an orthopaedic nurse, graduated in Adult Nursing. She has been working since March and says it is such a rewarding job. She said: “DMU has been a good experience, I miss it already!”

Posted on Thursday 20th July 2017

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