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Towards Building Peace

Jacob Peenikaparambil Jacob Peenikaparambil
03 Oct 2022
Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.

The war between Ukraine and Russia has shown unambiguously to the world that the impact of a war in any part of the world is not limited to the countries involved, but it affects all countries in one way or the other. All have to pay a price for war in any part of the globe.

Rising energy prices due to the Ukraine war have accelerated the cost of living in many countries. According to the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 1.2 billion people have become vulnerable to crises in food, energy and finance as a result of the Ukraine war.  

Although there were some security concerns for Russia due to the decision of Ukraine to join NATO, the imperial ambitions of Vladmir Putin seem to be responsible for the attack on Ukraine and starting a war that could have been avoided. Hence, the opening statement of the preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO is very much applicable to the Ukraine war. “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”.

In 1945, UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity. The very purpose of organizing a Peace Convention at the national level every year by the National Peace Movement is to create moral and intellectual solidarity in favour of peace.

Vested interests in many parts of the world, including India, create conflicts and divisions on the basis of religion, caste, race, language etc., to polarize people to achieve their nefarious goals. If peace-loving people remain inactive and indifferent to the divisive and hateful forces in society, conflicts and violence are bound to increase. Believing in the dictum, “it is better to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness”, a small group of Rotarians in Indore resolved to organize a National Peace Convention in Indore in 2015. They decided to hold this unique event on 30th January, the day Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, in order to keep up the legacy of the great champion of peace.

After evaluating the impact of the first peace convention, it was decided to form a body, National Peace Movement, in view of organizing the National Peace Convention every year. Since 2015 annual National Peace Conventions have been organized in Dimapur, Goa, Kochi, Gurugram, and Bangalore.  Due to the pandemic Covid 19, Peace Conventions were organized online in 2021 and 2022. In these two conventions, people from other countries also participated. Thus, the National Peace Convention became also global.

The 9th National/3rd Global Peace Convention will be held in Porbandar, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi in whose honour the Peace Convention is organized. 400 to 500 people from different parts of India are expected to take part in the forthcoming Peace Convention. The 9th National Peace Convention will be organized by National Peace Movement in collaboration with Rotary International Districts 3040 & 3060, Nishiindo Foods Pvt. Ltd., Globethics.net, Indian Currents and Universal Solidarity Movement.

The very fact that people belonging to different religions, castes, languages and working in different professions coming together and interacting with each other in itself is a process of peace building. In the context of India being increasingly divided on the basis of religion, coming together of people belonging to different religions, castes and regions contributes to mutual understanding and bridge-building. 

As many as 470 participants from 18 states of India took part in the 6th National Peace Convention held in Christ University Bangalore in 2020. The participants consisted of professionals from various fields, Rotarians, educationists, social activists, teachers and students. The 6th National Peace Convention 2020 had the highest number of participants and about 40% of them were young people, especially students from different parts of India.

The process of the Peace Convention consists of talks by experienced persons from different areas of social involvement, sharing by persons who have made a difference in the society, sharing ideas on peace by students, and group discussion for preparing action plans. Value-based cultural programmes also constitute a part of the Peace Convention.

Some of the topics on which the participants will be listening to and discussing among themselves during the 2023 Peace Convention are the following.

Relevance of Gandhian Economy Today by Dr. Sudharshan Iyengar

Working for Peace in an Atmosphere of Hate by Mr. Thushar Gandhi

Peace Ethics by Dr. Jose Nandikkara

Gandhi, Science and Education by Prof. Anamik Shah

Global Peace Foundation by Dr. Markandey Rai

Peace through Service by Rtn. Dharmendra Joshi Inclusion of Differently Abled for a Peaceful Society by Rtn. Advocate Gyanendra Purohit.

Gandhi as a Leader for Peace by Prof. Mathai M.P.

How to Reduce Road Accident Fatalities by Rtn. Dr. K. A. Kuriachan

Peace through Enterprise Education by Rtn. Dr. Pradeep Wagh

Media Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Sri Shravan Garg, former group editor of Dainik Bhaskar

Gandhi: What Next? By Dr. Sugan Baranth

Role of Kasturba in the Independence of India by Dr. Bharat Chhaparwal

In the light of the input sessions and interactions with the speakers, the participants hold discussion in groups. An action plan to be implemented at the personal level and institution/organization level is prepared on the basis of the proposals emerged from the group discussion. The participants go back to their respective places with the action plan to be implemented in their respective areas.

It has been a practice that the participants pay towards the expenses of the convention in the form of registration fee, besides meeting the cost of their travel and accommodation. No fund is solicited either from the government or donor agencies for meeting the expenses of the Peace Convention. All expenses of the convention are met from the registration fee paid by the participants. Some individuals or organizations or groups volunteer to sponsor certain items of the convention. For example, the cost of hiring a hall for the Peace Convention at Porbandar is sponsored by the Local Organizing Committee. The balance of fee collected from the participants is used for the publication of a souvenir of the convention. This, indeed, is an expression of commitment of the participants to peace building. 

The National Peace Movement is an inspirational body. Its purpose is to motivate and inspire people belonging to different age groups and professions to work for peace. It is the task of the individuals and the institutions or organizations they represent to plan and implement various activities to promote peace. The action plans prepared at the end of the Peace Convention are only some guidelines or suggestions to the participating individuals and organizations.  

Taking inspiration from the National Peace Convention, seminars or conventions are organized at the regional and local levels. For example, Rotary Club Sonkach in Madhya Pradesh organizes a programme every year on October 2. This year also Rotary Club Sonkach is organizing a programme on October 2. Adarsh Rotary Club Indore is planning a peace conference on 5th November 2022 in Indore. Peace Clubs are formed in schools from which students participate in the Peace Convention. The Peace Clubs of students plan and implement various activities in their respective schools for promoting peace.

The Ukraine war with its negative impact at the global level reminds people of all countries to make efforts to prevent wars in future. National/Global Peace Convention organized by National Peace Movement is a humble attempt to motivate people to create an atmosphere of peace, understanding and harmony in their respective areas by reducing/preventing discriminations, prejudices, exclusion, hatred and enmity.  Peace-building is a continuous process, as John F Kennedy said. “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures.”

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