National Consultation

CONSULTATION ON

PEACEFUL SOCIETY AND NEXT 20 YEARS

22nd and 23rd Oct. 2003

VENUE: Peaceful Society

KUNDAI 403 115 GOA

NATIONAL CONSULTATION

A Critical Review And Moving Forward

(22nd Oct. 2003 / 9.30 a.m.)

 

 

T

o begin with, Shri Ulhas Arolkar welcomed the august gathering and requested Shri Damodar Prabhu Desai, one of the senior most colleagues and founder member of Peaceful Society to inaugurate the photo-exhibition. The exhibition depicted an illustrious journey of Peaceful Society’s 20 years in service. Shri Manoj Tiwari ushered Shri Damodar P. Desai to the exhibition spot for inauguration. Immediately after inauguration, Shri Manoj Tiwari explained about some of the significant exhibits. It was a neatly planned and beautifully placed exhibition of edited photos and newspaper clippings highlighting the remarkable achievements and activities of Peaceful Society since its inception. The audience and participants praised and congratulated the painstaking efforts of Shri Manoj Tiwari who was an architect behind compiling and presenting the exhibits in an aesthetic sense.

Shri K. K. Mani introduced the dignitaries on the dais viz. all Shri Ramchandra P. Desai, Damodar P. Desai, Greig D’Costa, Soter D’Souza and Ulhas Arolkar. He also introduced esteemed participants gathered for the function.

Shri Soter D’Souza, in his welcome address explained about the two days function and heartily welcomed one and all. He further appealed the participants to make the function a success. A memento was presented to Shri Manoj Tiwari as a token of love and appreciation towards pains he took during preparation of exhibition.

Shri Greig D’Costa took the reign as moderator of the consultations for the two days.

Following were the participants from different states who shared their experiences in social works in their respective fields. In the light of their experiences, they also guided PS how to march more meaningfully and constructively in the next 20 years.

Ajit Panchawadkar, Bageshwar Bagi, L. Pankajakshan, Manoj Tiwari, Mansoor Alam, Maqbool Ahamed, Miss Dharati, Miss Priti, Naseem Ansari, P. J. Sebastian, Pradip Das, Prasad Dhakanakar, Raju Bhaiyya, Ramesh Sharma, Ramnarayan, Shantaram Pandere, Smt. Mangal, Subhash Nimbalkar, Sudha Sharma, C. Paulraj, V. T. John.

Shri Kumar Kalanand Mani began the day’s session with his deep reflections on

“PEACEFUL SOCIETY: 20 Years of National Interventions

MAIN ISSUES, INTERVENTIONS, METHODOLOGY & LEARNING”

In his stimulating and emotionally charged presentation, Shri Mani explained the journey of Peaceful Society right from its inception till date. He explained all the ups and downs he and his team members had to face while nurturing this organisation. He began by paying rich tribute to three stalwarts who played significant role in the formation and growth of the Peaceful Society. Among others, he acknowledged immense influence of these three personalities upon him in getting the organisation to the height it has reached today. These three persons are viz. late Radhakrishnaji, late Madhav Bir and late Krishna Putu Goankar. He briefed the audience about their contribution in the growth of PS. Then, he highlighted various activities undertaken in the fields of development, environment, and people’s movement. Explaining how ‘Save Western Ghats’ Movement was launched and emerged as a pioneering movement in the field of conservation and preservation of Western Ghats environment, he further acknowledged that the said movement gave PS recognition and acceptability not only at local level but also prominently at the National level. Besides other programmes, he concentrated more upon the works and achievements PS had in the fields like Panchayati Raj, Koshi Consortium, formation of WIFPR, formation of Swaraj forum and its units in 72 districts of 7 states. He also highlighted upon the importance of societal peace and the role of PS in today’s strife-torn society. While introspecting on PS as an institution, he emphasised on the importance of democratic set-up in its committee. He earnestly appealed the participants to guide on various facets and requirements of any committee in order to make it more vibrant and dynamic. He sought advice from the participants about how to share functional responsibilities and also bring true democracy in the committee. He further appealed to share experiences and knowledge participants have in their respective social fields He appealed for guidance to resolve the dilemma of synchronising between local as well as national issues by providing valuable inputs and suggestions.

“LEARNING From The Past With A View To The Future Response”- A Panel Discussion

Immediately after the reflections by K. K. Mani, the panel discussion and open house session began on the theme of “Learning from the past with a view to the future response” (Highlighting contextual relevance of and lessons from interventions, strategy and methodology). All Shri Shantaram Pandere, Pankajakshan L. and Ramesh Sharma took part in the panel discussion. Shri Greg D’ Costa moderated the session.

Shantaram Pandere:

He began his views by greeting PS family for completing 20 years successfully. He emphasised upon resolving the differences of opinions and confusions among members of the core group of PS, particularly, with reference to undertaking works at the National level. He said “We have to think at global level and work at local level”. Reminding about the role of any secular NGO, he said, “By birth, we are against divisive forces and not merely because of the Godhra incident. This is a global view. There cannot be two opinions about that. Now, taking this in mind we have to act locally. For example, salt satyagraha of M K. Gandhi, Kala Rama Mandir satyagraha of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Here, the action is local but the theme is global”. He further rightly opined, “The defeat of Gandhi is done by his followers themselves”.  With this, he appealed to face the challenge of restoring true Gandhian philosophy relevant in the present context. He emphasised upon disseminating the ideas of Gandhi, Vinoba and JP among the masses. finding relation of Gandhi, Vinoba and JP’s thoughts and ideology at academic level by organising seminars and debates is not enough but their thoughts have to reach to common man was the view put up by Shri Pandere. He further appealed PS to search for its identity, a worldwide identity that could be true to its values and principles. He set a task before PS to evolve such identity. He emphasised upon the right criticism from our neighbours, which could prove as helpful and constructive in our growth. Therefore, he said, “We should welcome any positive criticism and should do its objective analysis to learn from it”. “There should not be feeling of enmity about such criticisms. Instead, we should always have sincere debate in our mind about our weaknesses and achievements” he further clarified. While stressing the importance of Satyagraha, he said, “it is a continuous journey towards absolute truth”. He reminded the gathering “the concept of Satyagraha is deeply rooted in Indian culture descending from the Buddha to Gandhi to Vinoba and JP”.

Ramesh Sharma:

Peaceful society dreamt, aspired and worked for ‘peaceful’ society. However, PS could not achieve this goal despite its efforts for last 20 years. The goals are unachievable. Like absolute truth is always revealed to us in parts and never as a whole. To have peaceful society is indeed a difficult task. Therefore, the path before PS is challenging and full of difficulties and it has to pass through it with determination and courage… We have to always stand with and fight for the cause of the defeated, the oppressed and the weakest; it could be a caste, a religion, a community or a region in the society. We have to think always above the petty interests of mankind alone. We have to think of the nature as a whole with its rich flora and fauna, which are also equally important. We should believe and nurture the spirit of humanity in society but not limit ourselves only to the narrow interests of man. Humanity and human being are two different concepts. There are like communalism and true religion. Shri panderji has already pointed towards global conception i.e. “Vasuddhaiwa Kutumbakam” and advised us to look at the entire world as a family. If PS family is experiencing frustration, dejection or is tired, then it is certainly a question of concern. It is o.k., if PS family feels that they have not achieved to the expectation, they have not reached to the mark. This is a sign of healthy growth. There is rise in the number of non-concerned citizens in India. PS should evolve a strategy to generate awareness among such citizens and make them responsible citizens. The incident of establishing harmony between two riot-torn communities at Marad in Kerala shows us a way. We, the followers of Gandhi, Vinoba and JP have failed to play substantial role in Gujarat during recent communal violence. We all should feel ashamed about this inactive gesture. I congratulate our Kerala fellows who have shown us way and inspired us to work courageously under such eventualities…” To above inspiring speech, Shri Sharma added one story as concluding part. The story was about a bear in a circus who heard secret talk of the manager of circus about eating money. The poor bear felt that eating money must be a good thing and ate the money. This resulted in deterioration of the health of that bear. The lesson from the story was about the greedy nature of man. He explained how today’s society has turned corrupt amassing huge wealth by immoral and illegal means. And, at the end, he urged that the PS shall look towards money as only means and not the end in itself…”

L. Pankajakshan:

He highlighted upon some of the very pertinent points in relation to 20 years of PS in service. The points are put here in brief, first about Swaraj and then followed by views on PS based on his personal observation. He urged the participants to further elaborate upon these points.

At Swaraj (National) Level

1.       It is commendable to see freedom of expression and transparency in the Swaraj.

2.       In Swaraj, at National level, we are transparent.

3.       At state or at consortium level, it is not fully transparent.

4.       Most of the fellows do not understand the importance of five-village concept.

5.       There are many limitations in the five village works we are experiencing in Kerala.

6.       In Kerala context, area elaboration is needed in five-village concept.

7.       One full time fellow could concentrate more upon a single Panchayat to make it a role model.

8.       Internalisation of PSP is needed among fellows.

9.       We have to develop cadre of fellows in Swaraj.

10.    Fellowship is an encouraging concept and we have to work upon it.

11.    Fellowship training at National, regional and also at language level should be provided.

12.    Identification of dedicated and committed persons to work as fellows is needed.

13.    Women and youth training are also needed.

14.    We need good understanding and relation with other like-minded organisations.

At PS Level:

1.       20 years period is not a long period. We are still in a learning process as if in a laboratory.

2.       Our achievements are remarkable and we should feel proud about it.

3.       Our immediate need is to have sufficient qualified staff.

4.       Due to lack of sufficient staff in PS office, right now, the executive staff, more prominently, the executive secretary is mentally and physically over-burdened. So, they require some relief and rest by lessening their workload.

5.       We have to think urgently how to mobilise financial resources to accommodate more staff.

6.       We have to strengthen Karyakarta Parivar Kosha, in order to help any Gandhian activist at local as well as state level during emergency

7.       PS has now grown as a national organisation. Therefore, the need has now arisen to mobilise resources in that direction.

8.       PS has to think now to realise its Gandhian vision at global level also.

9.       PS has to continue work in the direction of promoting and strengthening people’s organisations and cadre building.

Then, time of ten minutes was allotted to audience to raise questions / doubts to the panellists. To a very pertinent question by Shri Soter D’Souza about the impression of panellists on PS completing its 20 years in service, Shri Pandere reacted as follows.

REFLECTIONS

By Shri Pandere:     

1.       The 3 to 4 prominent issues taken up by PS is just a beginning.

2.       By this, PS is trying to find out ways and means and is evolving out methodology to go ahead.

3.       Though, PS has its own identity in society, it still has to go a long way to establish it.

4.       I do not want to belittle PS works. But, PS members have to review the kind of identity organisation has established in the society.

5.       And, this exercise of studying and reviewing its identity should be for this entire year.

6.       The study and the review of PS should be on the basis of ideology, strategy and methodology PS upholds at state as well as at national level.

7.       We have always to remember that in Gandhian ideology there should not be contradiction between the goal and the ways and means adopted to achieve the same.

8.       We should always remember to keep our body and mind in healthy state

9.       As the age grows, so the mental strength and the enthusiasm should also grow.

10.    Where is our garage for physical and mental make-up, wear and tear?

By Shri Sharma:

1.       Those who are actively involved in PS works could do the proper analysis and evaluation of the last 20 years.

2.       The actual impact of PS is felt upon society through its lasting efforts like “Save Western Ghat” movement.

3.       The new people associated with PS for the first time had separate view-points. However, now, they have changed to PS ideology.

GENERAL REACTIONS

Following were the General Reactions during open house session:

Subhash Nimbalkar :

1.       Peace workshop resolutions are not yet implemented.

2.       No satisfactory work on the front of ‘Swaraj’ in Maharashtra.

Bhagwanji Pathak:

1.       We are experimenting for last ten years in the form of Swaraj. This has all been possible for us due to the help of PS.

2.       We have been trying our best to evolve a traditional village into ideal one with the help of five-village concept adopted by Swaraj programme. This has been perennially an experimenting ground for us.

Ramnarayan Kumar:

PS has always been a source of learning and inspiration to us.

The way we have exhibited photos of our achievements, similarly, we should have also displayed our failures to learn from them.

Bageshwar Bagi:

1.       PS has taken up its agitation with the help of Swaraj.

2.       Swaraj has also taken up the cause of women by advocating and implementing 50% representation to women community.

Maqbool Ahamed:

1.       In particular, the activities under head of Swaraj and Panchaayti Raj awareness in the five villages are a commendable work by PS.

2.       It may be more result-oriented for a fellow to concentrate on a single issue. Thus, a village could evolve, as a role model as far as a particular issue is concerned.

Mansoor Alam:

Swaraj has created waves in the dormant soul of village life. It has tried to generate unity among various communities in society, which earlier was fragmented in castes and religions.

Naseem Ansari:

Since we all talk on youth power; we have also to think of empowering youth.

There is also need of empowering PS family / team.

Manoj Tiwari:

PS, being a Gandhian organisation, we observe host of activities, though very much social in nature, are deviating from the main objectives.

For good results, we have to concentrate more upon one or two main issues.

Soter D’Souza:

Today, it is difficult to find young leaders with values in society. Shri Mani can use his own experiences to build ‘Young India Groups’.

Greg D’Costa:

We should take one-year time as stated by Pandereji to understand and assess the identity of PS. We have also to focus upon youth leadership and empowerment besides one or two main issues as suggested by many participants.

Then, the participants were grouped subject-wise for further deliberations. Their detailed report is given below.

 

DEVELOPMENT

Understanding About The Concept

GROUP NO. 1 : Team Members: Smt. Mangal, Shantaram Pandere, Maqbool Ahamed, Mansoor Alam and Bageshwar Bagi.

The present concept of alternative development needs to be based upon the welfare of village, in particular, the women, dalits and poor labourers and farmers. The new / second line leadership should be encouraged in all fronts like socio-economic, cultural etc. for the development of village. The all round development of the village be sought by ensuring the ownership of the natural resources in the hands of its respective villagers.

Objectives:

1.      To establish models of alternative development for self-reliance of the villages

2.      To map out local resources for the self-sustaining development of the villages

3.      To develop 2nd line leadership for village development

4.      To form a team of experts for alternative development

5.      To promote people’s oriented Panchayati Raj based on Gandhiji’s ideology

Strategies:

1.      To intervene in the politics at grass root level and encourage the like-minded parties and people.

2.      To form a team of experts particularly at central and state levels

3.      To generate meaning of the term development in its real term

4.      To encourage developmental works on the basis of Panchayati Raj where participation and consensus of the masses will be ensured

5.      Provision of special training to women and youths at various levels

6.      To form pressure groups to agitate against anti-people development models

7.      To inform people about holistic model of sustainable development

8.      To involve youths in various programmes in order to inculcate right thinking about development

Programmes:

1.      Mass-education and general awareness at every level

2.      Programmes to explore proper perspective about sustainable development 

3.      Exchange and sharing of knowledge and experiences among social activists

4.      Establishing information centres

5.      Encouraging the best from traditional wisdom and time-tested concepts of welfare development

6.      Training and technical education for social activists

7.      To gather study material on the concept of alternative sustainable development

8.      To guide and explain various means and ways to mobilise resources

Resources:

Team of like-minded experts, trained social activists and resource persons at the National and state level

Mobilisation of resources from GO / NGO

ECOLOGY

GROUP NO. 2 : Team members: R.V. P. Desai, Ram Narayan, Ulhas Arolkar, Prasad Dhakankar, L. Pankajakshan, Mrs. Sudha Sharma and Ms. Preeti.

Objectives:

1.       Pollution free environment for sustainable development

2.       Conservation and preservation of natural resources like air, water, land and forest

3.       Promotion of eco-friendly development models or experiments

Strategies:

1.       Promotion and strengthening of people’s organisations

2.       Training and research on alternative, eco-friendly and affordable sources of energy

3.       Net working and solidarity among like-minded groups / organisations

Programmes:

1.       Data Collection e.g. A – Integral relationship between man and nature B – Causes of various pollutions

2.       Mass awareness through workshops, rallies, street plays, posters, school competitions, debates, cultural activities etc.

3.       Study Programmes / Exposure visits

4.       Promotion and strengthening of Eco-Clubs in schools and colleges

5.       Promotion of natural farming

6.       Reforestation by keeping in mind the bio-diversity of the region

7.       Media and advocacy

8.       Promotion of time-tested naturopathy / alternative health practices with specific reference to medicinal herbs profusely available in our forests

9.       Documentation and publication

10.    Awareness about personal and social hygiene

11.    Awareness about ill-effects of cosmetics and electrical gadgets

Resources Required: 

1.       Research officer

2.       Documentation Centre

3.       Seed Bank

4.       Honorarium for full and part time workers

5.       Availability of green house

6.       Human, logistics and financial resources

 

PEOPLE’S ORGANISATION

GROUP – 3

Objectives:

People’s Organisations should seek Society free from exploitation

1.       A society with economic freedom

2.       A society with social equality

3.       A society with communal harmony

Strategy and Approach:

1.       Attain right to work

2.       Organise unorganised Mazdoors (labourers)

3.       Organise nominal and marginal kisans (farmers)

4.       Youths and women should be encouraged to involve in constructive works

5.       Proper guidance should be provided to youths and children

6.       To endeavour to abolish caste system from all religions in order to seek social equality

7.       Resist cruel criminal economy

8.       Empowerment of women

9.       Employment generation

10.    Intervention in the media for protecting whatever is the noble and best from our culture, traditions and heritage

Programmes:

1.       Implementation of minimum wages for unorganised workers

2.       Declaration of cost related price for farm products

3.       Attain social equality by launching struggle against caste system in the society

4.       Educate and organise different sections of the society to agitate against globalisation and communal fascism

5.       Formation of youth clubs, student’s forum, and women’s organisations for self reliance and employment generation programmes

6.       Fight against cultural fascism by highlighting our value system, music and art forms with the help of media

7.       Promoting / lobbying / advocacy to support local / small struggles ( e.g. Anti-coca cola struggle at Plachimada, Kerala)

8.       Boycott MNCs and TNCs products (like Nestle Coffee) and promote local / indigenous products

9.       Avoid middlemen and develop fair trade practices / networks or barter system

Resources:

{Organisation, Workers, Volunteers}

Needed money and manpower for the movement could be mobilised through the subscriptions by unorganised labourers and marginal farmers.

 

LIMITATIONS & OPPORTUNITIES

 

Institutional limitations & opportunities for Peaceful Society:

GROUP NO. 4: The Team: K. K. Mani, Greg D’Costa, Bhagavan Pathak, Ajit Panchawadkar and Soter D’Souza.

1.       There already exists a network in seven states, which can be further developed upon.

2.       To further build upon the existing PSP process and the trainers involved in this process.

3.       K. K. Mani’s vast experiences in mass-movement could be utilised to attract youngsters.

4.       Lectures could be organised for students of schools and colleges.

5.       Youth movements on national level, personality development and self-reliance programmes for youth could be organised.

6.       Model of organic farming in Peaceful Society could be further developed upon.

7.       PS campus could be transformed into a full-fledged Social Centre with accommodation facilities for 75 to 100 persons

8.       PS could become a pioneering organisation to propagate Gandhian ideals and principles, which are relevant today among the masses.

9.       PS Campus has got potential to evolve into a Retreat Centre for social activists.

10.    To reflect deeply upon the role of PS played during these years based upon its experiences of last 20 years.

LIMITATIONS:

Over dependence on one person

Legal hurdles-create networking development

After report presentation, there was summing up by K. K. Mani. The main points of his reflections are highlighted here under.

1.       The technology has not helped poor.

2.       Henceforth, man has to live as an unavoidable part of market economy without using ones own wisdom.

3.       The market needs consumer and not man. Toady, the major victim of this market economy is youth.

4.       The youth is targeted by market and allured to buy consumer goods, many times unnecessarily due to peer pressures and media influence.

5.       Today’s youth does not know who is Ram Manohar Lohia but is fully acquainted with models like Aishwarya Rai.

6.       The educators and planners of today need proper motivation.

7.       Despite noble values adopted by Swaraj forum, in practicality, the fellows and other Swaraj activists do not put any conscious efforts to break the barriers of caste, creed and religion.

8.       We have to adopt positive approach in our social action and should not work against any ideology or community.

The day’s last session concluded with vote of thanks by Shri R. P. Desai.