Delhi to Geneva, a march for peace
Bharat Dogra, New Delhi
Shradha works as an activist of Ekta Parishad in the interior villages of Madhya Pradesh. She has a lot of community work on her hands, apart from family responsibilities. But recently she decided to put her work on the backburner for the rather long period of a year.
The reason is that she decided to join the Jai Jagat Global Peace March. This Peace March started on October 2 from Rajghat, Delhi, and will end in Geneva next year on September 26, which is World Peace Day.
Benjamin Chapple is a child welfare advocate based in Australia. His work is very important to him but, like Shradha, he too decided to join the Jai Jagat Peace March for a year.
Like Chapple and Shradha there are 50 men and women, including many young people, who have started the march which will take them to 10 countries to spread a message of peace and justice with a Gandhian perspective. From October to January the march is in India. Then it will be followed by a march for peace in several other countries including Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Switzerland. Apart from the main march there will be supporting marches, meetings and efforts in other countries and regions, leading to the involvement of a much larger number of people.
While many organisations have been involved in this effort the overall coordination is by P.V. Rajagopal who heads the Ekta Parishad, an umbrella body of several grassroots organisations involved in land and justice struggles, particularly struggles of landless people and tribal communities. The Ekta Parishad has close relations with other organisations involved in land struggles in various parts of the world. In fact, representatives of such organisations from nearly a dozen countries, ranging from Cambodia to Ecuador, Nepal to Kenya were present at the Delhi events to inaugurate and flag off this march.
Michael Taylor is director of the International Land Coalition. Speaking on behalf of several organisations engaged in struggles to defend or demand land rights, he said that this was an important moment for land struggles, coming together to support a major initiative for peace and justice.
Chapple said that while only “a few of us” had been able to keep aside other responsibilities of family and work to join this important initiative for a year, there are so many others who believe fully in the objectives of the march and it should strengthen the voice of these people.
This march, also briefly called Jai Jagat 2020, is taking place at a time when the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is being celebrated and there is a lot of interest worldwide in understanding the message of the Mahatma in the context of serious present-day survival problems such as climate change and weapons of mass destruction. The march can be an opportune occasion to look for solutions to these major, life-threatening problems from a Gandhian perspective.
Jill Carr-Harris, the marcher who has played perhaps the most important role in the detailed planning of the initiative, said that such important concerns will definitely be on the minds of the marchers and their supporters.
Rajagopal asserted that this march also provides an opportunity for many diverse movements with a shared commitment to peace, justice and environment protection to draw closer together, bolstering the efforts of all.