Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
    Volume 9 Issue 13| March 26, 2010|

  Cover Story
  One Off
  Current Affairs
  Photo Feature
  A Roman Column
  Writing the Wrong
  Star Diary
  Write to Mita
  Post Script

   SWM Home


Youth Camp to Promote Peace, Non-Violence and Tolerance

Tamanna Khan

Youth Camp participants were taken to the Gujrat Vidyapith prayer hall where students practice "Bread Labour" by spinning of the "charka" for half an hour each day.

On the eve of 25th March thousands of candles lit all over Bangladesh in memory and in protest of one of the heinous genocides the world has ever witnessed. On this very night in 1971, a state endorsed mass killing, rape and torture was launched against the Bengali population to silence their voice for rights once and for all. The Pakistani generals and their Bengali collaborators carried out their atrocities throughout the nine long months of war until the Bengalis won their freedom on December 16, 1971. The Liberation War Museum (LWM) in Dhaka, brings to the new generation the glorious history of our nation, at the same time, it strives to promote one of the main themes of our struggle for freedom resisting violation of human rights. In doing so, LWM works with the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience that aims to address social issues by remembering struggles of the past for justice. The Coalition is currently made up of 17 accredited sites of conscience and 100 individuals and institutional members from around the world. Members of the Coalition are organisations and institutions working to promote humanitarian and democratic values either by creating awareness, policy advocacy or educating the new generation on past struggles for justice.

Every year, as a part of its programme to promote human rights and the Liberation War Museum, a founder member and regional head of the Asiatic region of the Coalition, organises a youth camp on Peace, Non-Violence and Tolerance in alliance with another member Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust, India. Usually the youth camp starts on January 30, to commemorate the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the icon of non-violence and peace. This year the youth camp started on March 1, 2010 and continued till March 6, 2010 at the premises of the Gandhi Ashram at Ahmedabad, Gujrat. Thirteen participants from eight different countries in Asia joined the camp including representatives from the Nanjing Museum, 518 Memorial in South Korea, Nonviolence International Southeast Asia, Thailand, the Tuol Sieng Museum, Cambodia, Dilli, East Timor as well as participants from Nepal and Myanmar. From Bangladesh a five-member team joined the camp. The team included LWM staff as well as representatives from two Gandhi Ashrams of Bangladesh.

Shri Prakashbhai N. Shah, social activist and editor of Nireekshak, Gujrat, explaining the eleven vows of the Gandhi Ashram at the Youth Camp.

The six-day long camp was divided into eleven lecture sessions whereby different prominent speakers delivered speeches on various social issues in the light of Gandhian thoughts and philosophies. At the end of each session, participants were encouraged to engage in further discussion on the topic. The first session started with religious songs by a reputed singer of Gujrat including the famous prayer song by Mahatma Gandhi where he incorporated the divinity of all religions “Raghupati raghav…”. After that, the speaker Dr. Sudarshanbhai Iyengar, Vice Chancellor of Gujrat Vidyapith, discussed how development, economic exploitation and displacement instigate violence and Gandhi's view on the prevention of such occurrences. He cited examples from Gandhi's concept of Swaraj and letters from Yeravada jail. After lunch, the second session was presided over by Shri Prakashbhai N. Shah, social activist and editor of Nireekshak. He explained the eleven vows recommended by the Mahatma to achieve Satyagraha, namely Truth, Non-violence, Chastity, Control of Palate, Non-Stealing, Non-Possession, Fearlessness, Removal of the stigma of being untouchable, Bread Labour, Equality of religion and Swadeshi. He also explained why the vows are still relevant in today's world. On the second day, the speaker of the third session was Sri Rajendra Khimani, registrar, Gujrat Vidyapith. His main focus was Vinobah, the initiator of the famous land gift movement of India. Citing Gandhi, he also explained that our feeling of nonchalance to other's misery in today's world is a result of the “faceless society” we have created through mass production and commercialisation. Sri P.K. Laheri, Former Chief Secretary Gujrat was the speaker of the fourth session. He discussed three main characteristics that humans should possess in order to establish peace in the society. Being one with God and His creations, ability to take up a challenge and win over it through love and lastly, accepting the fact that life is ultimately perishable, thus decorating it with too much pleasure is pointless. Sri Ila Pathak was the only woman speaker in the five-day-long camp and she conducted the fifth session on the third day. She made the session participatory and asked each participant about the condition of women in their respective countries, incidents of violence against women. She focused on Gandhi's concept of women's freedom and thanked the great philosopher for making way for the Indian subcontinent's women to participate in the society by taking an active part in the liberation movement. The seventh and the ninth sessions were presided over by the ever-green Sri SN Subba Rao, Sarvodaya scholar, Peace and Youth trainer. He not only noted instances from Gandhi and Vinobah's life on how they dealt with violence and reestablished peace in the minds and community of people as dangerous as dacoits, but also made the sessions lively through games and spontaneous interactions. At the end of the sessions participants were asked to read their experience and thoughts on non-violence, peace and tolerance. At the sixth and eighth sessions academician Dr. Tridip Suhrud, gave assignments to the participants urging them to understand violence from the point of view of the perpetrator. He then discussed that violence needs to be understood and the peacemakers need to have strategy like the state to handle violent situation. He also talked about a legal structure that should ensure justice and reconciliation. The concluding session was presided over by Dr. Tridip Suhrud and Tariq Ali from the Liberation War Museum, whereby participants read out their expectation and learning from the camp. With thanks to all and promises to make a better world, the last session ended.

During the six-day long camp participants were also taken to different institutions and factories of the ashram and shown the social activities carried out by ashram volunteers. One entire day was assigned to site seeing which was equally interesting. The youth camp was a well organised initiative taken by Sabarmati Gandhi Ashram and Liberation War Museum Dhaka, allowing participants from different races, religion, and ethnicity to interact and share their thoughts on non-violence, peace and tolerance and also to learn about the basic idea of non-violence from the teaching of its practitioner, Mahatma Gandhi.


Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2009