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Mahatma Gandhi Community Forum

INVITATION TO NATIONAL CONFERENCE & STUDENTS’ CONVENTION ON PEACE & HARMONY

Dear Friends,

It is our pleasure to inform you that “National conference & convention on Peace & Social Harmony” is being organized by GANDHI SHANTI SADBHABANA MANCHA on 30 & 31 January 2010 at Bhubaneswar. This conference will address fundamental issues on social harmony, secular education for peace, Gandhian values, multiculturalism, environment, and conflict, role of media, civil society, role of religious, and political leaders in promoting communal and social harmony, perspectives in human rights, women, dalit, minority and indigenous people in conflicting situations etc.

In this context, we solicit your kind participation and support to make this event a great success. An early confirmation in this regard will be highly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,
Akshaya Kumar
Convener
Gandhi Shanti Sadbhabana Mancha
Ph.: +91 9937427611, +91 674-3206874

NB: Please send your contribution in Cheque/Draft by registered post in the name of “Gandhi Shanti Sadbhabana Mancha” payable at Bhubaneswar to Convener, Gandhi Shanti Sadbhabana Mancha, HIG-68, Kanan Vihar, Phase-1, Bhubaneswar-31, OR deposit in the name of “Gandhi Shanti Sadbhabana Mancha” AC. No-30977593007 (SBI)


NATIONAL CONFERENCE AND STUDENT’S CONVENTION
ON
PEACE AND SOCIAL HARMONY
Dear Friends,
In certain sense, the Kandhamal violence has been a revelation for all of us who are working for the cause of an inclusive society with space for dissent, dignity, and appreciation for different faiths and beliefs. In this context, we face a grave challenge to realize the fact that communalization and polarization has gone beyond the political realm and has penetrated to our very psyche where it is increasingly becoming difficult to think about social harmony in a multicultural, multiethnic and multi-religious society like ours. Terrorism in this concern has stereotyped certain community and the role of media and the political leadership has not been very much encouraging. Furthermore emerging paradigms in development process induced by liberalization & globalization has made this process more complex making the oppressed & depressed most vulnerable invading their most intimate spaces. This has not only threatened the very existence of certain communities but also gradually mainstreaming Naxalite and Maoist violence. The saddest part is that our children are growing up in an atmosphere of increasing violence and intolerance, which will be seriously impeding the prospect of social harmony in future.
Keeping all this in perspective and from the revealing experience in the process of peace and reconciliation in the riot affected Kandhamal we decided to make peace & social harmony a long term pursuit among teacher & student community in particular, and civil society groups in general. The idea of “National Conference & Students’ Convention on Peace and Social Harmony” in this concern is to create a vibrating force in Odisha context to carry forward the cause of peace, non-violence & social harmony.

The two-day conference will have the following central theme:
Day – 1 (30th Jan 2010) From 8.30am to 9pm
1. The Implementation of Peace & secular education in School Curriculum.
2. The Role of Media in Promotion of non-violence. Peace & Social Harmony.
3. Religious & Political Leaders in Promoting Peace and Social Harmony.

All these themes mentioned above will be touching upon all the major perspectives including Dalit, Minority groups, Tribal communities, Women, Environmental, Gandhian, National, Human right, Developmental paradigm etc. that decides the nature of peace & social harmony in our society.

Day – 2 (31st Jan 2010) From 8am. to 1pm.
1. Mobilizing the students for Peace (Peace Programme)
2. Inculcating Peace Values among students (Address by eminent speakers)

The details of the conference as follows:
The Conference shall be held at Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneswar (adjacent to State Museum) on 30th Jan. 2009
On day - 2 the youth & students convention will be at Utkal Mandap (Inside Rabindra Mandap / Utkal Sangeeta Mahavidyalaya campus) on 31st Jan. 2010.
Registration fees –
Rs 100 per participant for the conference. No fees for the youth and student participants for the convention.
Total participant –
Approximately 500 for the conference & Participants from 100 schools and colleges in the convention.
This is not a sponsored effort therefore, we request the delegates to bear the cost of travel themselves. However, the organizers will provide local hospitality. Please get yourselves registered early in the morning to avoid difficulties. Registration is pre-requisite for participation. Last date for participation confirmation is 15th Jan 2010. Please ensure to reach at Bhubaneswar by 29th Jan 2010 evening or early morning of 30th Jan. 2010 directly at the venue. The detail schedule of the programme will be communicated soon.

With Warmest regards,
AKSHAYA KUMAR
Convener
Gandhi Shanti Sadbhabana Mancha
C/O Navnirman Samiti / International Gandhian University Trust
Plot No - 68, Kanan Bihar
Phase-1, Patia
Bhubaneswar – 31
Phone: 0 9937427611, 0674-3206874
Email: navnirmansamiti@rediffmail.com / gandhisadbhabana@gmail.com

Initiative taken by:
Navnirman Samiti (Interfaith Coalition for Peace) & International Gandhian University
Co-organized by:
Odisha Shanti Sa), dbhabana Abhiyan (OSSA), National Alliance of Peoples Movement (NAPM), Bajirout
Chhatrabas, Yuvadb Bharat, Sarva Dharma Sadbhabana Mahasabha, India Peace Centre, Ayodhya ki Awaz, Asha Parivar, Gitai Mission, Kran Cnti Manch, Utkal Christian Council, GLF, International Sarvodaya Trust, Antyodaya Chetana Mandal, SEVAK, Yusuf Meharalli Center, AORVA, Utkal Sarvodaya Mandal, and various Sarvodaya Groups and other Progressive & Secular Organizations.



Search for Peace and Social Harmony:
National Conference & Student Convention
30th & 31st January, 2010.Bhubaneswar

A Country, which is one-fourth rich and three-forth poor, cannot be at peace with itself. In addition, a state where 48 percent of population is below poverty line would continue to remain a turbulent territory. When poor people are denied access to resources and opportunities or when they are robbed off their livelihood sources they cannot be suppressed by force of power and authority. The areas in which they live will remain conflict/prone. Now there are more conflicts within the states than between them. Millions of innocent people around the world have already fallen victim to mindless violence.
Similarly, a country with diverse culture and sub-cultures has to come to terms with this reality and educate the people to live in harmony with different faith based groups and belief systems. A civilized country must create a supportive and understanding environment in which the majority and minority groups do not feel discriminated, feel secure, live with self-respect and practice their faiths and belief without fear. A major challenge in 21st country will be how to find out ways and means of eliminating such fear and suspicion.
The idea of human security actually means that a child born today is not allowed to die tomorrow, a disease is not allowed to spread, a person is not detached or separated from his/her source of living, an ethnic and/or religious tension is not allowed to explode into violence or riot and a dissident is not silenced into submission.
Essentially and rationally, there should not be any conflict among various faith groups as all of them believe in humanism and the Divine. In fact, all of us jointly inherit Prophets of different faiths, political philosophers like Gandhi and Marx, Sciences of Newton, Einstein and the like, Sociologists and thinkers like Chanakya & Tolstoy, literary giants like Kalidas, Shakespeare & religious texts like the Bible, Koran, Geeta, Gurugranth Sahib, Zend Avesta and the Jatakas and Tripitaka as much as we all inherit all the rivers and mountains of the world.
The 2nd millennium was a sad witness to senseless racial and religious conflicts and wars caused by illogical interpretations of beliefs by their irresponsible followers and their opponents - Arnold Toynbee, well-known and widely read historian, a visionary of 20th Century, after studying the genesis and fall of 21 great civilisations of the world spanning over 9000 years, found out that 19 of them declined and disappeared when moral and spiritual foundations that sustained them became weak and distorted. Often, religious practices, packaged as spiritual needs, move far away from their ethical fountain head and the real needs of the humanity.
Conflicts and disharmony between castes, sects, ethnic and religious groups continue to dominate the socio-political scenarios today in different parts of the Country to generate hatred, violence, social tension and dislocation all around. we have witnessed horrible tragedies in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechniya, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Indian sub-continent is also turning into a strife-torn area with no hope at sight.
Therefore, time has come to heal the bruised hearts and minds of the people and break the dividing walls between them. People have already started talking about a compositive global faith that unites everybody and all faiths. To start with we have to find out ways and means of eliminating mutual fear and suspicion, defuse potential conflict situations and launch a massive sensitization programme for inculcating the positive values of social unity and national integration. The lessons learnt from the past is that conflict and violence is always counterproductive and helps only the vested political & communal interest.
Being close to, the people at the grassroots level Volunteers and Community based organizations and the larger civil society have now a major role to play in this exercise, as they are very good in sensitizing the people and building a consensus on how to combat divisive forces. Further, Peace activists in Civil Society have a special role in raising mutual understanding. During Noakhali riots, Gandhiji was being referred to as a one-individual army against such violence. When Bertrand Russell was raising his voice against nuclear Weapon, he was being referred as a one-man brigade for peace. It is mostly the people outside power structure and persons with strong conscience who are imaginative, creative, innovative, and have the capacity of thinking outside the box. Their views were heard with more respect and attention. Every day we face provocative situation, disagreeable behavior, hate filled words and loveless immoral and deplorable action. These are to be faced and fought at grass roots level.

The Role of the Political & Religious Leaders in Promotion of Peace and Social Harmony:
Today, Political Leaders & faith-based organizations and their leaders having moral and conscience can also play a critical role in restoring and building peace and harmony. Being religious and spiritual leaders, their voice and views carry a lot of weight. In the past, they have willingly come forward to promote the peace process. There are recognized and respected religious heads who could help and guide their followers in understanding the unifying message of all prophets and religions. Like the world Parliament of Religions sitting and discussing issues every year, there is a need to replicate this practice in every district and block. Different faith leaders as well as political leaders need to think and reflect about how to prevent misuse of religious freedom, how to promote interfaith understanding.

The Implementation of the Peace Education in School Curriculum:
Our textbooks in the school should include moral and peace education as a part of the curriculum. Conflict resolution skills like negotiation, mediation, facilitation to manage tensions between individuals, groups and communities should be imparted to the young people who are often used by others for their own purpose.

The Role of the Media in Promotion of Peace, Non-Violence & Social Harmony:
The role of Media is equally important in promoting social harmony. The content of their news and views can make or mar a conflict situation. Many of them work as conscience keepers and watchdog of the Nation. In the past, they used to be fired by the spirit of patriotic and social reform idealism. Even today, many of them fiercely fight to preserve our national values like national unity and secularism. There are quite a few who are now preoccupied with reporting of sex, crime and violence. Over killing sensitive issues often, add to the problems. Communal violence affects the security of ordinary people and their livelihood. Since Media has a social responsibility, it has an obligation to report conflicts with utmost caution, provide factual information, make careful analysis and avoid opinionated coverage. In the past, there are several instances of some sections of Mass media playing into the hands of communal forces and sensationalizing emotive issues. A responsible media is a great friend and ally of constructive social forces.

The challenge before all of us is how to promote a spirit of living and working together in peace and harmony to bring prosperity and happiness to the people who need it the most and how to neutralise the negative and destructive impacts of Socio-ethnic unrest, greed and violence. Without social harmony and peace, no group of society can live with dignity and in security.

(This concept paper has been written by Dr. Bhagbanprakash for the “National Conference & Students’ Convention on peace and Social Harmony”)

Contact Details:
Akshaya Kumar
Convener
Gandhi Santi Sadbhabana Mancha
C/O Navnirman Samiti
Plot No-68, Kanan Bihar
Phase-1, Patia
Bhubaneswar-31
Ph: 09937427611, 0674-3206874
Email: navnirmansamiti@rediffmail.com, gandhisadbhabana@gmail.com

Views: 205

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