2 CONCEPT PAPER- CONCERNED CITIZENS FORUM-SEEKING SOLUTIONS
23rd August 2023
THE WISDOM FOUNDATION WISHES ONE AND ALLA VERY HAPPY 77TH INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ONE AND ALL
The Wisdom Foundation is a secular, democratic Indian Global Initiative enshrining the principles of Non-Violence, Peace-Building, Communal Harmony, Conflict Transformation and Humanitarian Service. It believes in Gandhian norms non violence and peaceful coexistence. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “ A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.” It assists and collaborates with the like minded organisations in national and international areas of mutual interest.
The aim of the Wisdom Foundation is to direct its energies in fostering peaceful engagement at various levels, designing programmes and creating and executing strategies for peace and justice in civil society. It engages in strengthening positive resources in precluding conflict by facilitating dialogue, deepening understanding and building co-operation and collaboration, irrespective of belief or culture. It works on the social fabric of raising awareness, mobilising resources for change, promoting education for peaceful co-existence, empowering people through knowledge, helping the under privileged and promoting gender justice.
Over centuries, India’s unique composite heritage of Unity in diversity surrounded by its rich multi-cultural, religious traditions successfully managing its many diversities and multiple identities have defined India globally.For millennia such unity in diversity, pluralism, inclusiveness , admired transnationally and hailed internationally, entails our heartfelt celebration. At a time when India faces complex and ominous challenges of cultural divides and alienation,it is time for citizens to rise and shine holding our flag of fraternity high, advocating unity, harmony , solidarity and cultural affinity.
The remarkable enrichment of the heritage of India’s inimitablereciprocity, accommodation and dialogue are rational ways of ensuing communal amity. The values of a composite cultural religious harmony and synchronization were not gifted to India. On the contrary they have been ingrained in India’s composite culture.
The time is ripe for citizens to seek concrete solutions rather than lament. The time is also ripe to reinforce engagement through our legacy of humanitarian values , respect forall humanity and human dignity for all. It is our collective duty to seek peaceful solutions for solidarity to preserve India’s age old phenomenal legacy of Unity in Diversity, honouring its Constitution,observance and adherence to the implementation of the democratic norm of the Rule of Law, Tolerance and Peaceful co-existence.
The vital cohesive force that binds us together,the all embracing Indian concept of the human family conveyed in the ethos of Vasudhaiva Kutaumbakum ( the whole world is one family) . This laudable norm hung outside our Parliament House, promotes the idea that all human beings are interconnected and interdependent. It encourages compassion, empathy, engagement towards closeness to look beyond differences and recognize that humanity promotesunity and harmony among individuals, communities and nations. It encourages people to work together towards common goals, reduce conflict and promote peace.
The sentiment of religious harmony, likewise originating in the ancient Indian scripture of the Rigveda admirably displays plurality of religious thought with its mention “ Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”(wise people explain the same truth in different manners.) It also literally means "Truth is one, the wise perceive it differently".
In Swami Vivekananda's final address at the Parliament of World's religion address at the Final Session (27 September 1893)in his last speech, he told that the Parliament what has become an accomplished fact. He thanked the "noble souls" for organizing the Parliament which he felt "proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character". He finished his speech with appeal "Help and not Fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."
Like every member of society, the role of Religious leaders presently takes Center Stage. Religion represents a unique transformant, transcendent power. Captivating the world with a glorious vision it is the spiritual pathway reflected in the heritage of dwelling around perfection of the human soul and shared humanitarian values.Like a rainbow with different exotic, standing together, connecting the magical dots in our infinite Universe,we look towards distinguished Religious Leaders present here building partnerships of friendship of solidarity and mutual respect.
As individuals our efforts towards harnessing the core values of good thoughts of good words and of good deeds that are the core basis of all religions, we need to unleash the power of the human spirit to change hearts and minds for inclusion, for mutual well being and honor our common humanity.
As Alama Mohammad Iqbal succuiently stated “Khudhi ko kar buland ithna ke har taqdeerse pahle, khuda khud pooche bande se, bata teri razakya hai”
A world where there is room safety and goodwill for one and all - to come together, holding hands to meet challenges and problems that beleaguer and threaten humanity and our nation. Like a bouquet of beauteous splendidflowersappreciating our differences yet standing together fostering harmony and peaceful coexistence.As Sant Kabir has stated Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye and again Alama Iqbal has stated
Standing together as concerned citizens, we strongly need to condemn the savage horrifyingly increasing acts of brutality of rape, molestation , kidnapping against fifty percent of humanity- women. The recent outrageous act of disrobing women, parading them through the streets of Manipur, indignifying their modesty is akin to the barbarous, heinous acts of the Dark Ages. We the people must hang our heads in shame and mortification for the acts also committed in Bengal, Rajishthan, Haryana, UP and elsewhere. Can we claim to be called civilized ? Protection and safety of our women is a priority and it is our bounden duty as citizens to pledge for that fortification.
Focussing on humanity , cutting across caste, class, gender, religion, ethnicity, the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi taught us ahimsa, reverence for life, inclusiveness, human rights, ensuring equality of the life and liberty of all Indian citizens alikenotwithstanding differences. He taught us the way forward was that the life and liberty of every Indian and mattered and counted. And every Indian voice counts.
In essence, we must revive the Mahtma Gandhi’s concept of National Integration and oneness of humanity. Hateful acts towards religious groups propagated by those who perceive a profound ignorance in the other, and are caught in cycles of mutual blame need nullification. Ourcomposite civilisation defines our 'Indianness' and our worldview”. Like Dharma or Din we embrace civilization not by muscular- cajoling , or capriciousness but embracing, comradie and harvesting.
The moot question is what kind of a world do we wish to leave for our children ?Unfortunately, challenges remain greater than ever. As an Indian it is crucial to reiterate that presently the whole world, on several fronts, faces an existentialist crisis - an ongoing battle for “the soul of humanity”.Instead of moving forward with our agenda of coexistence, the global rhetoric of “us” versus “them” has intensified, narrowing the already limited space of understanding that exists.
As partners in humanity the task currently is to tutor the outlook on xenophobia, a circumscribed nationalism and a proscriptive democracy.
Conclusion - India as Homeland – The Road Ahead
On Dec 13, 1946, the Constituent Assembly when outlining the objectives of the Constitution that later grew into the Preamble, assured the people of the core democratic values of Justice, Liberty equality Equality and Fraternity.These preambular values are unexceptionable and non negotiable. Promotion of Fraternity is the pillar in strengthening unity , integrity and social ties assuring that the dignity of the individual citizen is non negotiable.
This fundamental duty is defined in Article 51A(e): “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women”.
The notion championed by the leaders of the Indian Independence movement on freedom by the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabbhai Patel, Jawarlal Nehru, Dr Ambedkar, Maulana Azad, and numerous others from both communities, adhered to the notion of composite Nationalism and communal harmony- a people cantered approach.
Muslims in India must be part of the process of India’s advancement as a Global power and not mere spectators or beneficiaries. In the past and present they have produced some distinguished social reformers, scientists, educationalists, attorneys, artists nurturing India’s splendorous progression. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Begum Aijaz Rasul, Abadi Babo Begum, Bi Amma, Begum Hasrat Mahal, Maulana Mumtaz Ali Khan, Maulvi Chirag Ali, Justice Ameer Ali, Saif Tyabji, Dr Zakir Hussain, Dr. APJ Abul Kalam, Salim Ali , Azim Premji, Ustad Vilyat Khan and many others have contributed to India’s magnificence and accomplishment.
Currently, centrality of civil society to enable a composite Communal a dialogue based on communal harmony conceptualized in interpersonal relationship as a process of dynamic engagement is quintessential.Silence is not an option. Emerging trends imbued with greater realism can discard inherited ideological inertia to realize greater possibilities.
A leap of faith moving towards an aspirational civilization, intersecting, firming the thread for a dialogue among citizens would be motivating. A civil society outreach strategy focussing on strengthening National integration, promoting composite religious dialogue, fostering diversity through collaborate action programs, greater Interfaith interchange with religious leaders. Cultural, social organizations representing key sections of society could open fresh vistas for alliances. Sports, Art, Music can be mediums of harmony. The requisite conversation among the people of India solicits commencement. As the venerable Buddha said, it is time to turn the poison into medicine.
“Chaman mein ikhtelate rango buh se baat banti hain,
Hum hi hum to kya hum hain, Tumhi tum ho to kya tum ho”Sarshar Sailani
( In the garden there an integration of color and aroma, togetherness is when we integrate )
Zeenat Shaukat Ali,
Director General, Wisdom Foundation
( World Institute of Islamic Studies for Dialogue, Non violence, Gender Justice and Peace )
23rd August 2023