Asambleas Ciudadanos


 

the Citizens' Assembly in Asia

 

 

Fourth International Student’s Peace Festival in India

Translations : English . Español . français


Global Citizens for a Sustainable Development co-organized 4th International Student’s Peace Festival held at Chandigarh - India from 27th September – 1st October 2009.


Organizers

YUVSATTA, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, NSS-DAV College, Chandigarh, KB DAV Sr. Sec. Public School, LIC Cricket Club, The Gurukul Schools: Chandigarh-Panchkula, Panjab University, Dev Samaj College of Education-Chandigarh & Divya Shiksha Gurukul College of Education, Derrabssi, Punjab.


Co-Organizers

COVA-Hyderabad, Harijan Sewak Sangh-Tamilnadu Branch, ARUSHI-Bhopal, BIRDS-Karnatka, Sawera Sansthan-Rajasthan, Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal-Maharastra, Global Citizens for Sustainable Development-Bangalore, DAV Public School-Amritsar, Dev Samaj High School-Ferozpur & Rabbani School-Gwalior .


International Partners

Institute for Peace and Secular studies, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, Dept. of Peace & Conflict Studies, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, Commonwealth Youth Asia Centre, Chandigarh & SUNFO, Sri Lanka.


The five day long International Peace Festival concluded on 1st October 2009 with Funeral of atom bombs, with young students and professionals from India & Pakistan carrying replicas of Atom bombs, IN A PEACE PARADE WITH MORE THAN 1000 YOUNG PEACE LOVERS FROM 10 COUNTRIES, DIFFERENT STATES OF INDIA & Schools-Colleges of Chandigarh WALKING WITH BANNER FOR DISARMAMENT, Slogans like ‘BREAD NOT BOMBS & PEACE NOT WAR’, We Want Peace’, ‘Youth of the World-UNITE’ and so on… The parade was in response to a call given by United Nations to observe twelve days from September 21 ‘09 i.e. International Day of Peace to October 2, 2009 i.e. International Day of Non violence for raising awareness for Disarmament around the World.


titulo Peace Parade for Disarmament was led by Dr S N Subba Rao known as living Gandhi, founder of NSS in India and Director of the National Youth Project. American Gandhi Bernie Meyer and Donald Macvinchey also walked along with thousands young students. It started from Parade Ground Sector 17 and students marched to DAV College Sector 10. In heart rending scenes of separation amid friends who were strangers till a few days back. About 1000 young participants flocked to this city from diverse countries and cultures like Philippines, USA, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka etc. to find a unifying ground for peace. In their Indian hosts, they discovered an extension of their own family. Today, they separated with a pledge to extend the peace family by involving more people in the peace process for global harmony. Before leaving to their respective countries, the participants pledged that in next three years, ten thousand peace activists shall meet in the city of Chandigarh, rechristened City of Peace by them for hosting peace initiatives. Registrations for Peace Fest 2010 began, with a decision by participants from Pakistan to bring about 500 peace activists next year with a message of brotherhood. To further intensify peace efforts, a Face book account of ‘Peace Warriors’ was also launched. Saeeda Diep from Institute for Peace & Secular Studies, Lahore, Pakistan informed that overwhelmed by local hospitality now they have invited 100 young students from India to Lahore for a similar initiative to carry Indo-Pak peace process forward. This will be called the Lahore Peace Festival to be held tentatively from 29th December 2009– 1st January 2010.


S. HS Mattewal, Advocate General of Punjab was Chief Guest on the occasion. The valedictory function held at DAV College Sector 10, once again brought to fore talent of young participants who had composed poems, songs and dances as a parting gift for their hosts, who will long cherish the memories of friends from across border.


Day 1, September 27th started with an inauguration ceremony at The Gurukul School in Panchkula. For some time before the chief guest, and Don McAvinchey spoke, in honour of the Gandhi, the famous movie starring Ben Kingsley was showed. Gearing up the crowd to the activism that was to come, about half way through the chief guest arrived, and the official ceremony could begin. Don McAvinchey, the American Gandhi got up first and spoke about love, harmony and the importance of Gandhi’s teachings.


A series of important performances followed. Children of the Gurukul School, in skit form, full of costumes depicted the Hindu story of Lord Hanuman saving Lord Rama’s wife, Sita. In Hindi, several students narrated the story on the side, while the actors lip-synced and acted out the ferocious battle. Their beautiful performance was greeted with loud claps and praise from the crowds. Following their wonderful performance, a group of girls danced a traditional Punjabi dance, and with bangles on their wrists, and bells on their ankles, their graceful footsteps left the crowd in awe.


After thanking everyone and introducing the organizers and co-organizers, everyone was ushered to the cafeteria for lunch. Stuffed, full of rice, vegetables and gulab jamun, the rest of the day was left for sight seeing around Chandigarh.


Day 2 began with opening ceremonies welcoming the newly arrived students and delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Indian states. Everyone got up and waved their peace signs in the air, and chants in Hindi saying “We are all one” or “Hum Sab Ek Hai”. Thanks to Kristeen Singh, Yuvsatta volunteer and MC during the festival, that effective saying brought everyone together and seemed to set the familiar tone for the rest of the festival. Right after lunch people split off into two groups for two different workshops.


One workshop run by Kristeen Singh called “Just Do Something” highlighted the importance of our everyday actions, and that peace has to start on a local level. The other workshop, titled “Peace Talks” was run by Pakistani delegate Saeeda Diep, Anugraha John and Don McAvinchey. That group split again into smaller groups to discuss problems and the possible solutions for creating a better peace in our world. The afternoon everyone was brought to the local fair grounds to relax, talk amongst friends, but most importantly witness the grand Dussera festival going on at the time. The Dussera festival concluded with the burning of the effigy Ravan, an effigy filled with fireworks and small fire crackers. It was quite a site to see.


Global Citizens for Sustainable Development took the reins on Tuesday, September 29th, or Water Conservation Day which was an exclusive programme to discuss on the theme of Water and Peace which exclusively supported by the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India. Anugraha John in his role of the Moderator set the tone of the day, making sure water was on everybody’s minds and is everybody’s business. He opened the floor and invited volunteers from the audience to stand up and make a case of their own water issues back home and their weakness and strength to deal with the situation. And also reflect on how the growing importance of the water crisis has affected their home, their community and their nation.


Following the small activities, GCSD aired the film ARVARI, an important film of just how critical the water problem is. Tugging at everyone’s heart strings, the movie created an atmosphere of sympathy and weariness about the water crises but also brought into light that the zeal of the young can make a difference.


It was then the panel Speakers were invited up to speak on the theme of Water. First up was a power point presentation by Patna PhD student and expert, in the Department of Environmental and Water management, Mr. Sushant Singh who spoke with the focus on the river Ganga. Next to present was Ms. Saeeda Diep from the Institute of Secular Studies in Lahore, Pakistan. Presenting the point of view of water from a Pakistani perspective was an important addition to a largely Indian crowd. The growing importance of brotherhood and how India and Pakistan face similar problems was prominent at this stage.


Noted environmentalist of international repute Padma Vibhushan, Mr. Sunder Lal Bahuguna, the chief guest and Speaker also made his way up to the stage to speak about the importance of water. The youth were encouraged to hear his wise words of wisdom who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise as an activist on this issue. Another important speaker, Mr. Bernie Meyer, another American Gandhi also joined him on stage to speak.


Following all the speaking, the 4th International Peace Festival kicked it up a notch with some exciting activities for everyone. Split into groups of three contestants each, people painted pots and made posters to show how important water and peace is to them. The event concluded with everyone showing off their work of art to the cameras and fellow contestants. Spirits were in the air, and ready for day 4.


Day 4 began with Life Skills training in the mini-auditorium at DAV College. Moderated by Faculty members from the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development in Tamil Nadu, the program taught volunteers the importance of “soft skills” that permeate through all other working skills. Confidence, self-awareness and worth and many more were given more importance and value than the media or educational institutions give credit to.


After the invigorating session, giving people confidence to stand up for themselves, the action began! The rest of the day was spent playing cricket, flying your very own homemade kite, or just relaxing conversing with all the international friends. A wonderful feeling of brotherhood and oneness blanketed the whole festival. People were exchanging e-mails, snapping pictures, and promising to stay friends and stay in touch with others for years to come.


And so we’ve come full circle. As the beginning of the article described, the last day concluded with a Peace march around Chandigarh. Stand up for the peace that we deserve, talk to national officials about nuclear disarmament. These weren’t sayings of just the peace festival, but phrases that need to be said and exemplified everyday.





 

 

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