Review of Activities of the Institute of Gandhian Studies Wardha
The year 2007-08 marked the completion of two decades of activities since its inception in 1987. The Institute has successfully organised a number of courses/programmes in the last two decades. These courses were oriented towards the academic community including the Departments of Gandhian Studies in universities, thinkers, religious groups, activists, trade unionists, panchayat leaders, workers among unorganized labour, workers of voluntary/grass root organisations, women, youth, students and similar other groups. The following is a brief review of the important activities undertaken by the Institute in its campus or in the different states of the country.
Post Graduate Diploma Course in Gandhian Thought
As early as 1988, within less than one year of its coming into existence, the Institute started a long term residential course in Gandhian Thought, of eight/nine months’ duration. In 1992, the course was upgraded as a Post Graduate Diploma Course. In the year 2005-06, the course was recognized by Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University, Nashik. The course is designed to provide students an intensive acquaintance with Gandhi’s life, thought and methodology. It consists of academic sessions of classes, a study of prescribed books, written dissertations, presentation of seminar papers, day-to-day maintenance of a diary and so on. Besides academic pursuits, it provides an opportunity to experience a disciplined way of life with prayer, yoga, devotional music, basics of computer and internet applications, manual work including agriculture and spinning, sanitation and other work related to the management of the community. It also includes visits to Gandhian and constructive organisations. In addition to it, the Institute also provides an optional programme of internship of two or three months for the students with national level Gandhian organisations and institutions. The Institute admits ten to fifteen students for this course every year. The course is limited to graduates, preferably persons with post-graduate degrees and field experience. The course is conducted in English and Hindi. Besides students from different parts of India, the course has attracted the participation of students from other countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Mexcio. More than 200 students attended the Diploma Course during the period under review. It is gratifying to note that more than 90 per cent of students who graduated from this course are working in voluntary/grass root organisations or have set up organisations of their own, and are working in different areas.
The Institute organized an Alumni Meet in December, 2000. Many of the former students from the first year onwards attended the meeting and made their contribution to assessing the effectiveness and benefit of the course. The ?sharing? of the students clearly indicated how the course has changed their lives and the contribution that the Institute has made in training the younger generation. It should be noted that every one of the participants spoke very highly of what they had gained from the course and how it had helped them to be effective in the field including voluntary constructive work. The following are some of the excerpts from the sharing.
” I have done M.A. in Gandhian Thought from a university. But I could not get the opportunity to understand the teachings of Gandhiji in the proper perspective during the two year course in the university. It was only through this course I got a clear idea about Gandhiji?s teachings? I got the inspiration to do positive and constructive work from this course.”
Staff Reporter, ” Jansatta “, Chandigarh
” In the course, we tried to study Gandhian thought, to explore Gandhi’s philosophy, its various aspects and not just the bookish philosophy like a bookworm but analytical study of Gandhian thought. It provided a great vision for me, it opened my eyes and totally reconstructed my life ” In nine months we learned, we tried to live according to Gandhian philosophy. We never tried to follow Gandhiji blindly. This is what Varmaji taught us.”
Sanjay K. Matey,
District Co-ordinator, Nehru Yuva Kendra, Wardha
” My present achievements and failures are the result of the training in the Gandhi Vichar Parishad and whole credit goes to Shri Ravindra Varma. We got intellectual and philosophical understanding of Gandhiji mainly through Varmaji. I learned more from this course than from the University.”
Dr. Clymes Augstine,
Lecutrer, Christ Church College, Kanpur ” The Course helped me to frame my own life.”
Social Worker, Asha Gram Trust, Barwani. ” At the end of the course, when I was leaving the Institute, perhaps I was the happiest person ” I got more exposure from the Institute ” I came to know about many principles which are applicable in our daily life.”
National Commission on Labour, Government of India,
“This training has great significance in social life.”
President, Gram Vikas Parishad, Sawangi (Juni), Yeotmal
” The most important thing which I learned from the Institute is discipline which I failed to get from other educational institutions.”
Sharda W. Katare,
Social Worker, Indian Institute of Youth Welfare, Nagpur
” This course helped me to identify the goal of my life and how to achieve that goal.”
Shyampada Mukhopadhay, Burdwan
” The course increased my interest in social service. ”
Sadhana Vihar Sevashram, Dhenkanal
There are more of such excerpts that can be taken from the observations and the views/opinions expressed by the participants.
Short Term Courses on Gandhian Thought
In 1992, a short term course in Hindi was organized by the Institute for trainees from Rajasthan selected by the Jamnalal Kaniram Bajaj Trust. Similar types of courses of three months duration were organized by the Institute from 1993-1999 for young constructive workers and students deputed mainly by the Laxmi Ashram, Kausani, Almora (Uttaranchal). They found this course extremely useful in the formation of trainees. The students admitted to the course were mainly women. In 2001, the Institute organized a similar short term course on Gandhian Thought mainly for rural activists deputed by the Jharkhand Sarvodaya Mandal. The course was attended by 22 men and women activists. The daily schedule of the students was similar to that of the Diploma Course. From 2005-06 onwards, the Institute has been organising similar short term courses for the young constructive workers/students of the Lakshmi Ashram, Kausani. We have made reference to the short term courses run by the Institute in paragraphs that appear later.
All India University Student’s Camp
Since its inception, an annual feature of the Institute has been the short term camp that it runs for graduates and post graduate students drawn from the different universities in India, on Gandhi’s philosophy and method and their relevance in humanity’s current predicament. The course is conducted in English and usually it is of ten days’ duration. The faculty for the course includes some of the most outstanding academicians, activists, freedom fighters and leaders of constructive work. These camps are generally attended by 40 to 60 students from different universities in India. Although the course is meant for students of universities of India, we have also had participants from the USA, Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Thailand. Prayer, yoga classes, community work, spinning practice, visit to Ashrams and constructive organisations in Wardha, library work, cultural events are the unique features of the camp. Participants in the camp travel at their own expense. Drawing inspirations from the camp, many students have organised Gandhi Study Circle in their colleges.
Regional Camps for University Students
The Institute has also been running regional camps in the different states for University students. These are conducted in the language of the region for university and college students who can not travel to attend programmes at the all India level. In many cases they are conducted in collaboration with regional institutions. Thus, every year since 1990 the Institute has been running a short camp for university students in Maharashtra. The schedule of the camp is similar to that of the All India University Camp. It is usually of six days duration. Forty five to fifty students generally attend these camps.
Similar short term regional camps for university students and grass root voluntary oganisations have been conducted in regional languages in Manipur (1989); Rajasthan (1991,1992); Uttar Pradesh (1993, 1999); West Bengal (1993, 1997, 2001); Orissa (1989, March 1993, May 1993, 1995, May 1996, June 1996, 1997, 1999, January 2001, March 2001); Tamil Nadu (1991, 1992); Andhra Pradesh (1989); and Kerala (1990, 1992, 1994, September-October 1998, November 1998, January 1999, August 1999, November 2000), Maharashtra (January, 2006, January, 2007)
Inter University Seminar and other Courses
In collaboration with the Gujarat Vidyapith, the Institute organised an Inter-University Seminar to study and review the syllabus that Departments of Gandhian Studies are following in different universities and to make suggestions about a model syllabus, text books, study materials and methods of study. The seminar was held in August 1990. Representatives from most of the universities with Departments of Gandhian Studies participated in the Seminar.
On the request of the Gandhigram University, a special short term course was organised for students deputed by the University. This course was conducted in February 1992.
A special short term course of study was organised for women in 1990. This course covered not only the basic thoughts and methods of Gandhi, but also dealt with issues that were of particular interest to women.
Along with the Academy of Gandhian Studies, Hyderabad, the Institute organised a short term course for High School teachers from Andhra Pradesh in the month of July 1991.
A weekend camp of High School students in Wardha was organised by the Institute in 1995.
The Institute of Gandhian Studies in collaboration with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Rourkela and the Gandhi Labour Foundation, Puri organised Youth Camps for students and social activists on Gandhian Values in the districts of Jagatsingpur and Cuttack in 2004 and 2008.
On a request from Akanksha, Mumbai, an organisation that works with less privileged children in Mumbai and Pune, the Institute organised a three days retreat at the campus of the Institute for children of 16 years and above in the month of November 2007. The programme was organised under the social leadership programme of the Akanksha. The retreat included lectures, project work, group discussions and field visit.
Orientation Camp for Medical College Students
From 1996 onwards every year, the Institute has been organising classes on Gandhian Thought for fifteen days. This Orientation Camp is held at the Ashram, Sevagram for the newly admitted students of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Sevagram.
Conference of the Indian Society of Gandhian Studies
The Institute in co-operation with the Nai Talim Samiti, undertook the responsibility for organising the XIIth Conference of the Indian Society of Gandhian Studies in December 1990 – January 1991. Almost all delegates of the conference were professors and academicians of the different universities. The plenary sessions of the conference focused attention on, (a) scientific imperatives: Gandhi’s development model; (b) Trusteeship, ownership, growth and the resolution of the conflict between labour and capital; and, (c) the world scenario of the twenty-first century, disarmament, decentralisation and environmental challenges.
Camp for Trade Union Workers and Rural Activists
In July 1990, with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Institute organised a camp for trade union workers dealing with the theme, like the Gandhian approach to labour and capital, the state of the trade union movement, industrial policy, rights and duties of workers, Gandhian techniques of conflict resolution and other subjects.
In the month of July 1991, the Institute organised a course of study on the problems of unorganised labour. The Central Board of Workers’ Education was also associated with the course.
From 1997 onwards every year, the Institute has been organising a short term course on Gandhian thought for workers from trade unions and unorganised labour. This course is conducted in Hindi and organised in collaboration with the Institute of Miners and Metal Workers Education/Gandhi Labour Foundation, Puri and the Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi.
Consultations and Campaigns
In response to the request of senior Sarvodaya leaders and activists, the Institute organised a week’s Consultation meeting at Simultala, Bihar.
In the month of April 1991, the Institute organised another high level Consultation meeting in Kothagiri (Tamil Nadu) to review the developments that have taken place in the last five decades and the new trends that have emerged in the field of ideologies including Marxism, Gandhian thought and Western liberal tradition. Among those who attended were: Shri Siddharaj Dhadda, Prof. Thakurdas Bang, Shri Govindrao Deshpande, Shri Gopinathan Nair, Shri Amarnath Bhai, Shri N. Krishnaswamy, Shri S. K. De, Shri Gangaprasad Agrawal, Shri Kanagasabhapathy and others. The meeting was chaired by Shri Ravindra Varma.
In 1992, the major Gandhian institutions such as Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Sarva Seva Sangh, Gandhi Peace Foundation, Kasturba Memorial Trust and others launched the “Gandhi’s Challenge” campaign to take Gandhi’s message and its relevance to the people. The Institute co-operated in the campaign and the Chairman traveled to many States including tribal areas of North-Eastern States to present the message of Gandhi and the superiority of non-violence to methods of violence that were being resorted to in many parts of the country.
In 1998 the Institute in association with Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi and other sister organizations launched a campaign against growing nuclear weaponry in the sub-continent in the wake of Pokharan-II.
The Institute has been cooperating with the Wahrdha District prohibition council in its work. On the 30th January 2007 the Institute collaborated with the District Prohibition Council in the organisation of a public rally from Gandhi Chowk in support of prohibition.
On 27th June 2007 the General Assembly of the UN passed a resolution declaring October 2nd the birth day of Mahatma Gandhi as the International Non-violence Day. The General Assembly invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, regional and non-governmental organizations and individuals to commemorate the International Day of Non-Violence in an appropriate manner and to disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness. The Institute in collaboration with Laxminarayan Mandir Trust, Shiksha Mandal and other organisations organised a number of programmes in connection with International Non-violence Day. It included spinning programe of six days from 28th of September to 2nd of October, 2007 lectures, Cycle Rally and Padyatra. The route of the Padyatra was from Laxminarayan Mandir (Gandhi Chowk) to Gandhi?s Ashram at Sevagram. The public programme at the end of the Padyatra was attended by more than 2,000 people. Many public personalities including Shri Shekhar Bajaj, trustee of the Institute, the District Collector and Heads of different departments, representatives of different organisations and institutions participated in the programmes. In the valedictory programme organised at the Sevagram Ashram after the Padyatra was addressed by Shri Ganga Prasad Agrawal, President of the Ashram, Shri Vasantrao Purke, Minister of Education of Maharashtra State and others.
Programmes for Panchyat Workers and Grass-root Organisations
In co-operation with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, the Institute organised two seminars in New Delhi, – one on Electoral Reforms and the other on the transfer of power to the Panchayats- in the month of August 1990. A seminar on New Industrial Policy with particular reference to Employment was held in August 1991 in New Delhi, and another on Muslims in Independent India was held in New Delhi in October 1992.
The Institute organised a special course on non-violent methods for workers of grass root organisations of Madhya Pradesh in August-September 1994.
The Institute co-operated in conducting a four day workshop on “Sangarsh, Sangathan and Samadhan” for grass root workers in tribal belt of MP which was co-sponsored by the Gandhi Peace Foundation and the India Peace Centre. The course was held at Delhi in February 1996. A similar programme was conducted for workers from Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra in July 1996.
In co-operation with the Gandhi Peace Foundation the Institute organised a National Consultative Meeting of senior persons who are active in the field of panchayat workers’ training in Delhi in September, 1994.
A training course for panchayat workers particularly to present Gandhi’s thoughts on Panchayat Raj and Decentralisation was organised in February 1995 at Bankura in West Bengal in association with the Gandhi Vichar Parishad of West Bengal.
In March 1995, the Institute organised a training course for trainers of panchayat workers. Participants representing eight voluntary organisations, from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Maharashtra attended the course.
Two orientation camps for newly elected women members of panchayat in and around Wardha were organised by the Institute in July and August 1995.
From 1996-1999 the Institute co-operated in the conduct of the camps for Vidharbha Gram Swaraj Workers.
The Institute organised a two days Panchayat Raj Training Camp for the members of Self Help Groups working in collaboration the Gram Vikas Tantra Niketan, Pipri in March, 2005.
Seminars, Workshops and Camps
A three-day seminar on the theme of Gandhi and Contemporary World was organised by the Institute at Calcutta in May 1996.
A seminar on “Gandhian Way: Alternative to Violence, Eco-degradation and Industrialism” was organised by the Institute in July 1997 at Jadavpur University, Calcutta.
A workshop on Essence of Gandhi and the Gandhian Programme was also organised jointly by the Institute and the Gandhi Vichar Parishad, Bankura, at Diamond Harbour, West Bengal.
A seminar on Gandhi and the twenty-first century was organised by the Institute at Arambag, West Bengal in April 1998. In May 1998, a study camp on Education was organised at Dhupgiri Vidhyashram in North Bengal.
Under the joint auspices of the Maharashtra Balashikshan Parishad, the Mahila Seva Mandal, the Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation and the Gandhi Vichar Parishad a three day state level seminar on children’s education was organised in November 1999.
Under the joint auspices of the Institute and the Gandhi Peace Foundation Centre, Ahmedabad, a one day Seminar on Democracy and Satyagraha was organized at Ahmedabad on the 4th of December, 1999.
In co-operation with the All India Students Forum for Free Tibet, the Institute organised an Indo-Tibet Youth Friendship Camp in December 1999.
The Institute sponsored the Yuva Sanskar Shibir held at the Sevagram Ashram organized by the Rashtriya Yuva Sanghatan in February 2000.
A short term study camp on Village Development organized at Naigaon, Yeotmal in March, 2000. It was a joint venture of the Institute and the Gram Vikas Parishad.
A Workshop on the Twenty-first Century and the Gandhian Challenge was organized at Ghugudipada, Orissa in May 2000. It was organized in collaboration with the SEVA.
The Institute organized a two-day workshop on Village Development in Sawangi, Yeotmal in collaboration with the Gram Vikas Parishad and other local NGOs in December, 2001.
A short term study course on Gandhian Philosophy was organised at Gandhi Labour Foundation, Puri In the month of July, 2004. The programme was jointly organised by the Gandhi Labour Foundation, Baliapanda, Puri and Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha.
To observe the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Satyagraya in South Africa, the Institute organised a programme on the 11th of September, 2006 at Gandhi Gyan Mandir, Wardha. Shri Ravindra Varma, founder Chairman of the Institute delivered the keynote address and Shri C.S.Dharmadhikari presided over the programme.
The Institute in collaboration with Gandhi Smarak Nidhi and Mani Bhavan Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Mumbai organised a one day conference on Satyagraha at Mani Bhavan Mumbai on October 28, 2007. The conference was organised on the basis of the request made by Traits d?Unions, France. The programme was attended by fifteen top executives from Europe mainly from France.
The Visit of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Religious Study Camps and Other Courses
A one-day study session was organised in July 1990 by the Institute for Christian Pastors (parish priests) selected by the National Council of Churches in India and the India Peace Centre, Nagpur, on the subject of Gandhi’s religious and spiritual thought.
Similar one-day seminars devoted to peace and disarmament were organised in January 1991 and November 1992 respectively.
A three-day camp for young activist pastors on Gandhi’s religious and spiritual percepts was held in Tiruchirapally in September 1993. The camp was organised in collaboration with the Gita Pratishthan, Wardha.
Jointly with the India Peace Centre, Nagpur and the Friends Rural Centre, Rasulia, the Institute held study conferences of two weeks duration on the themes like the future of mankind – disarmament, development and peace, in January 1991 and November 1992.
A similar study conference on Minorities in India and the National Mainstream was held in November 1993 in collaboration with the India Peace Centre and the Gandhi Peace Foundation at Nagpur.
On the suggestion of Christian Missionaries who were interested in Gandhian spiritual sadhana and social activism, the Institute in collaboration with the National Council of Churches in India, organised a course on Gandhian Thought and Liberation Theology in December 1994.
From 1995 onwards, the Institute has been organising a short term course on the spiritual practices and beliefs of different religions. In September 1995, the Institute conducted a unique ten-day residential course on the five main religions of India viz. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Jainism. The course focused on five basic questions of crucial importance.
A similar course was conducted in September 1996. The course was devoted to the study of the concept of Ahimsa in the four main religions and meditational practices of Mahayana Buddhism.
In November 1996, on a request from Claretian Ashram (Christian School of Philosophy and Theology), Wardha, the Institute conducted a course on Gandhian thought for the clergy and laity from all over India.
The visit of His Holiness The Dalai Lama in November 1996 was a memorable event in the history of the Institute. His Holiness addressed the meeting of practitioners of different religions and workers of constructive organisations. In March 1997, as a follow up of His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s visit to Wardha, a special course on practices of Mahayana Buddhism was organised in collaboration with the Tibet House, Cultural Centre of His Holiness The Dalai Lama at Delhi.
In collaboration with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi, the Institute organised a special study course on cognate perceptions in four of the main religions in November 1998. The study course included the following subjects: the perception of the Bodhisatva in Buddhism, the Arihant in Jainism, the Sthitaprajna in Hinduism and mystic traditions in Christianity.
In February 2000, the Institute in collaboration with the Gandhi Peace Foundation organized a similar study course on the place of prayer in the five main religions viz. Hinduism, Jainism, Islam, Buddhism and Christianity.
The Institute organized a short-term study course on perception of ethics in the main religions in November, 2000.
In January 2002, the Institute organized a special study course on the theme Religious Values for the Modern World. The theme of the study course on religions in November 2003 was Religion, Fundamentalism and Peaceful Society.
The Institute organised a special study course on the theme Humanism and Religion, in November, 2004.
In January, 2006, a similar study course on Spirituality was organised by the Institute. The course discussed some basic questions viz. The perception of spirituality, the way to realize that goal, day to day life and the path to the goal. The theme of the course on religions in January, 2007 was Nature of Salvation/Liberation.
In November, 2007, the Institute organised another special study course on Perception of Reality. Widely recognized scholars and practitioners of different religious faiths delivered the discourses for these courses.
Ravindra Varma Memorial Lecture
On the occasion of first Anniversary of the demise of Late Shri Ravindra Varma, the Institute has commenced a Memorial Lecture Programme every year to pay homage to the founder Chairman of the Institute. The first Ravindra Varma Memorial lecture was held at Institute on 9th October, 2007. Prof. M. P. Mathai, former Director of the School of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam and Governing Body member of the Gandhi Peace Foundation delivered the first memorial lecture. The topic of the memorial lecture was Gandhi and Civilizational encounter.
The Institute organised a week long workshop for a group of post graduate students, men and women, from Germany in collaboration with Dr. Walter Molt, Vice Chancellor and Adviser to the Ministry of Education and Youth in West Germany in January 1991. The workshop focused on the relevance and ramification of Gandhian Thought, contemporary issues of peace, human rights and justice etc.
A special study course on Gandhian methods of conflict reconciliation was organised by the Institute in co-operation with the Mennonite Central Committee, Calcutta, in January-February 1995. This course was meant for an international group with participants from Canada, United States, Indonesia and India.
In collaboration with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, the Institute organised a special study course on Gandhian thought and contemporary issues for teachers and students from American universities in July 1995 at Delhi. The group consisted of two teams, – one from the Brethren Colleges abroad (of the Manchester College) and the other from the Lisle group in the USA.
The Institute organized a special orientation programme for students from Juniata College, Pennsylvania and Manchester College, Indiana, USA in the month of January, 2003. Seventeen students as well as two Directors, Mr. Daniel Cook Huffman, Asst. Dean of Students, Juniata College and Dr. Ken Brown, Director of Peace Studies, Manchester College attended the course. The orientation programme aimed at familiarizing students about the Gandhian Philosophy and its relevance in the modern world.
The Institute organised a special programme for a group of 20 Europeans including the members of community of Ark, France in February-March, 2006. The programme included study visits, lectures on Gandhian thought, Peace Studies and interaction with Gandhian scholars and activists. A similar study programme was organised for the Europeans team in January, 2007.
International Seminar on Gandhi and The Twenty-first Century
As part of the activities of the Institute in the 50th year of Gandhi’s martyrdom and the 50th year of India’s independence, the Institute organised an International Seminar on ” Gandhi and The Twenty-first Century ” in January-February 1998. The Gujarat Vidyapith and the Gandhi Peace Foundation co-operated with the Institute in the organisation of the seminar. His Holiness The Dalai Lama inaugurated the Seminar at Delhi on the 30th of January 1998. Plenary sessions were held in Wardha. The theme of the seminar was divided into four sections viz. (a) Political philosophy – people, freedom and power in the twenty-first century; (b) Economic freedom, technology and eco-system; (c) Sociological problems of the world today; (d) Science, religion and spiritualism. More than hundred and fifty participants including eminent academicians, activists and thinkers from India, Russia, Finland, the United States, Germany, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand took part in the seminar. Fifty-four papers were circulated in advance to facilitate serious discussion on the theme. The following are observations of a few participants on the International Seminar:
” I learned a lot from this visit, indeed. Mainly about Gandhi and Gandhian thought, which, as I mentioned at the Seminar,s last session, I understood in rather narrow context. Gandhi is certainly one of the greatest nonviolentists. However, his significance as a thinker and as a perfectionist in thought and way of living is much – much broader. And this is what opened me during the Seminar and non-formal talks with various Seminar participants. During the last days in Delhi with Professor Stepaniants we visited Gandhi Museum and saw a new exhibition there, what became an additional touch in my re-discovery of Gandhi.”
As one who has some experience in holding conferences, I can imagine how much energy you personally contributed to the success of the Seminar, including the coordination of so many visible and invisible people.”
Prof. Ruben Apressyan
Institute of Philosophy, Moscow, Russia
I have told many people that in terms of my research on Gandhi,s philosophy, our visit to Wardha was the most beneficial part of our trip to India.
Prof. Douglas Allen
Orono, Maine, USA
In my opinion this Seminar was a hundred per cent success. The fact that it was held in two venues, made it possible for us to see at least a good portion of ?our mother India.
Our first session at the ?Shanti Shala? at Sevagram is an immortal incident for me. The inaugural song (of unusual devotion and incomparable sweetness) and your opening speech invoked in me some sense of wonder as well as a deep sense of responsibility. I have made a tape recording of this event, and my family members and my friends who listened to it, expressed their pleasure at the timeliness of the Seminar.
The break down of the Seminar topics into four sub-sections was very logical and it made possible some vigorous discussions.”
Shri P. Disanayaka
Vimukti, Kuliyapitiya, SRI LANKA
” How would you feel about our including the two publications of yours in the lesson materials we send for the course? If you permit us to do so, then we would like to place an order for 200 copies of each. We will, of course, send a check to cover costs of purchase and mailing.
I think of you with treasured memories of my time spent in India for the Seminar six weeks ago. The next several issues of our ?Gandhi Message? will contain reports from that experience.
I confess that my initial enthusiasm for the trip and the conference was mild-anticipating, as I was, the arduous travel and strenuous schedule of the preparation and the time away. I was always grateful for the opportunity and committed to the purpose, but I did not foresee that the time and meetings and entire experience would become so important, inspiring and rewarding to me.
I gained form less tangible or describable things, but very affecting and memorable ones. From the inspiring setting itself, from the guiding influence of such experienced and creatively dedicated persons as yourself, and from the challenge of sharing ideas with persons from many and diverse areas.
Director, Gandhi Memorial Centre,
” I had the good fortune to learn a great deal, meet many old friends whom I have not met in the least 30 years and had the impetus to reshape some of my own thinking. The most beneficial to me was the knowledge that so many selfless and devoted activists are working all over India towards the same end. ”
Prof. Tarun Mitra,
Academy of Comparative Religions
“e It was an indeed a most beneficial exercise to me. I am really impressed by the Institute and its very pious environment required for Gandhian studies. If you will give me any opportunity to visit the Institute again I will be at your service with great pleasure.
Prof. Dilip R. Shah
Head, Dept. of Rural Studies,
South Gujarat University, Surat
International Workshop on Non-violent Struggles in the Twentieth Century and Their Lessons for the Twenty-first
In October 1999, the Institute in co-operation with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi, organised an International Workshop on “Non-violent Struggles in the Twentieth Century and Their Lessons for the Twenty-first” in Delhi. The workshop was of seven days’ duration. The first four days were devoted to a critical and analytical discussion of the struggles, and the remaining days were spent on identifying the lessons and means of increasing efficiency of non-violent methods. The Workshop was inaugurated by Shri Arjan Sulak Sivaraksa (winner of Right Livelihood Award) of Thailand on the 6th of October. The Workshop concluded on the 12th of October with a statement expressing alarm at the scale of violence that prevails in society and the threat it poses to civil society, humanity and the environment. An appeal was also made to all nations and groups to respect human rights in every area of the world, including Tibet, Burma and East Timor. Ninety participants including scholars and activists from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Sweden and the United States attended the workshop.
The workshop had added significance in the context of the UN Declaration of the decade 2001 – 2010 as the International Decade for Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the children of the world. This was the only attempt made in the country in recent decades to discuss threadbare the different aspects of non-violence from an international perspective by bringing together outstanding scholars and practitioners from India and abroad.
International Seminar on Conflict Resolution
The Institute in collaboration with the Fujii Guruji Memorial Trust organized an International Seminar on the role of Nonviolence in resolving conflict and building up a culture of enduring peace in February 2003. The Seminar was organized on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Vishwa Shanti Stupa as well as the 70th anniversary of Fujii Guruji?s meeting with Gandhiji at the Satyagraha Ashram in Wardha. It was inaugurated by Acharya Rammurti, Chairman, Gandhian Institute of Studies, Varanasi on the 15th February. The delegates discussed the theme of the Seminar in three sections: I) Theory Concept and Approach to Conflict Resolution , II) Gandhian and Buddhist Approach to Conflict Resolution, III) Role of UNO and NGOs in Conflict Resolution. The Seminar was attended by ninety-seven delegates of whom twelve were from foreign countries. The foreign participants included academicians, activists and thinkers from Sri Lanka, Japan, Israel, Denmark, Lithuania and USA.
The Seminar concluded on the 17th February with the Wardha Declaration. The delegates participated in the Seminar made a Declaration that: Efforts should be made at all levels for the resolution of all conflicts through nonviolent means; Early efforts should be made to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations between India and Pakistan over the issue of Kashmir; The current levels of armament pose a great threat to peace and constitute a source of conflict; Efforts should be made by nations to concentrate on providing human security, and resources should be channeled for development rather than armament; and, Nonviolence and conflict resolution techniques should be taught from the school level onwards so that children are brought up in a culture of peace.
International Seminar on Culture of Peace and Non-violence
The Institute organised an International Seminar on Culture of Peace and Non-violence in October, 2005. The seminar was organised in the context of UN declaration proclaiming the third millennium as the decade of culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the World. The objective of the seminar was to take stock of nearly half a decade of efforts in this direction and to evolve strategies for realising the goals of this declaration. The seminar was of three days? duration. The inaugural session was held at the Sewagram Ashram on the 7th October, 2005. Shri Ravindra Varma, Chancellor of the Gujarat Vidyapith and the National Chairman of Gandhi Peace Foundation presided over the inaugural function and addressed the gathering. Shri Chandrashekar Dharmadhikari, Chairman of the Institute delivered the keynote address. Shri Rahul Bajaj trustee of the Institute also spoke on the occasion. The rest of the deliberations were held at the campus of the Institute. The Seminar discussed on a number of themes having a direct bearing on the subject of Culture of Peace and Non-violence. The seminar was attended by over 80 participants of whom over 25 were from Foreign Countries. The Foreign participants included scholars and activists from USA, UK, Scotland, Ireland, France Germany, Canada, Japan and Myanmar. Over 30 papers were circulated on the theme and related subjects.
International Congress on Peace and Non-violence
On the occasion of 60th anniversary of the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi, the Institute of Gandhian Studies in collaboration with National and International organisations organised the International Congress on Peace and non-violence at Sewagram/ Wardha from 29-31 January 2008. The aim of the Congress was to bring together scholars and activists from different parts of the world to examine a number of key questions relating to the past, present and future of non-violent action. The Congress was a joint venture of Gandhi 2008 International, a forum created in France in August 2006, especially to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Gandhi?s martyrdom all over the globe, and the Indian Coordination Committee of Gandhi 2008. International organisations and NGOs of repute were part of this Gandhi 2008 International. Organisations like the Communities of Ark founded by Lanza del Vasto (who is popularly known as the Gandhi of France); University of Terre du Ciel; the Institute for the Non-violent Resolution of Conflicts (IRNC); Pax Christi International; Shanti Association and others were partners of this venture. The Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha, took the initiative to form the Indian coordination committee of Gandhi 2008. The organisations involved in this committee were Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, New Delhi; Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi; the Global Studies Programme of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Ekta Parishad, Bhopal; Gandhi Labour Foundation, Puri; and many others. The Institute of Gandhian Studies was instrumental in coordinating the international Congress and hosting the Congress at Wardha.About 70 delegates from abroad representing 15 countries viz. U.S.A., France, Italy, Austria, Spain, Israel, Mexico, Uruguay, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Japan, Belgium and Bangladesh and 55 delegates from different parts of India attended the Congress.
Prior to the Congress, the Institute organised visits, lectures, interaction and discussions on various themes for the delegates from abroad from 23rd to 28th of January, 2008 . They visited the Sevagram Ashram, Paunar Ashram and Eco villages of Centre of Science for Villages, Magan Sangrahalalya, Darsana Institute of Philosophy and Anandwan at Warora
The Inaugural session of the International Congress was held at Sevagrm Ashram on the 29th of January, 2008. Shri Chandrasekhar Dharmadhikari, Chairman, Institute of Gandhian Studies, presided over the Inaugural function, Shri Narayan Desai, Chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith delivered the Key Note address.
Louis Campana, President of Gandhi 2008 International, Shri Bharat Mahodaya, Director of the Institute and Dr. Siby K. Joseph, Dean of the Institute, also spoke on the occasion.
The rest of the sessions were held at the premises of the Institute at Gopuri. The delegates discussed the theme of the Congress in three concurrent sessions viz. 1) Community Control over Livelihood Resources, Sustainable Living, Non-violent Action/Resistance 2) Violence, Non-violence, Peace, Harmony, Human Rights, Peace Education and Conflict Resolution, 3) Gandhian Insights for the Modern World
Over 40 papers were circulated on the theme of the Congress and related subjects. The electronic and print media gave wide coverage for the Congress. The success of the Congress was evident from the letters we received from delegates of the Congress. The following are some of the excerpts from the letters of the delegates.
You gave new and complete meaning to “ubiquitous” and “indefatigable”! Frankly, I’ve been to a lot of conferences, conventions, and congresses in most parts of the U.S.A. and in many parts of the globe over the past 50 years, but I’ve never seen any planner-organizer- guiding intelligence do so much so well for so many people for so long. So thanks!
And thanks too for the sensitive consideration you showed Kay and me in so many ways – from the guest housing to the logistical and transportation favours to, especially, introducing us to your wife and daughter.
Again, our thanks and congratulations to you and everyone connected with IGS. Nothing would give us greater pleasure than to see you again – here in the U.S. and/or Wardha.
M. J. Lunine
Professor Emeritus of Humanities and
Global Peace Studies, San Francisco State University, USA
I ensure you that I am available to continue with all the members of the group, to promote peace and non-violence in Cameroon and in Africa. I would equally like to express to you my gratitude for all what you have done for a good organisation of the Congress.
Claude Njuwu Chupenga,
Sociologist, Bangoua, Cameroon
I cannot describe to you the joy of your lines kindled in my heart. I arrived home on February 3rd in perfect time to begin Great Lent in silence and let India settle in my being.
Time and space appear illusionary ? for physically I,m here in Nazareth and Wardha, your faces, the whole event is one of intensive presence.
I came back with a confirmed heart that each one of us can make the change. Several groups already are organizing themselves to listen. I,ll share my heart in all simplicity.
All the staff and students of IGS had done wonderful work in the Congress. They deserve a pat on their back.
Atheist Centre, Vijayawada
It was indeed a privilege for me to be with you people for almost three days. And it added all the times your love and affection for all most all times with dignity. I was there to learn. And I did so as much as I can. My thanks to you all for mailing me email address of all participants.
Journalist, Accredited with Govt. of Maharashtra
Thank you once again for this very nice stay at the Institute of Gandhian Studies and for all the opportunities we had to meet a number non-violent people.
Many many thanks for having invited me to attend The Congress, at IGS Gopuri, Wardha. Believe me I have found you warm-hearted & painstaking too. Hope you may be relieved now . It was an enriching experience for me as before.
I had to leave the Congress two days early to participate in the 2008 World Peace Congress in Pune. I did not want to miss the discussions and hope to receive the results later. I enjoyed meeting the delegates from so many places. Thank you and all for your hard work making this event happen.
The world is in an urgent position due to global climate change and resource depletion due to our life style.
Gandhian Activist, Olympia, WA, USA
I just wanted to thank you for all your work and commitment during the congress. Also, I wanted to let you know that I will send tomorrow the cd with the pictures that I took in the different events.
Thank you for opening your space and share with us a little bit of your beautiful country.
Masters Student, Department of Conflict Analysis and
Resolution, Nova Southeastern University, Florida
It was indeed wonderful, inspiring and educative for all. Let us hope such wonderful people in the conference will be doing quite a number of follow-up things in their respective places. The world will have some hope, indeed. Many thanks for the excellent hospitality and everything.
India Development Foundation, Bangalore
What a pleasure to receive your message! Thank you a lot about all things-you-together- give us I am working to realise a movie…. I am often thinking about you and your family;….
It was a great experience for me and I love India. I hope to come back soon. People spoke about making an internet site with all of them, but I don’t know if somebody is working it out or not.
Thank your again for your kindness during all the time in your place. Best greetings to all staff and students.
Thank you very much for your welcome in your Institute. We appreciated a lot, also, the pre-Congress programmes. We also hope further collaboration between your Institute, other Indian organizations, and ours.
Simone and Bernard Dangeard
Community of Ark, France
In addition to these programmes, the Chairman and faculty of the Institute have addressed gathering in a number of conferences, seminars and universities and colleges in India and abroad on various aspects of Gandhiji’s life, thought and their relevance to present day problems. The Chairman and the members of the faculty have published books and contributed a number of articles in reputed journals, newspapers, magazines and books. Some lengthy research papers of Chairman and faculty of the Institute have been published in the form of books and tracts. The Institute also published selected seminar papers on Gandhian thought and Peace Studies as separate volumes.
The activities of the Institute which commenced originally, two decades ago, in a few rooms within the campus of Mahatma Gandhi, s Ashram at Sevagrm/Wardha have acquired in the course of time an international dimension, providing intellectual and institutional training required for Non-violent action and peace for the people from all over the globe. Besides the academic pursuits, the Institute was always instrumental in providing consultancy and counseling services for the benefit of individuals and institutions engaged in Gandhian Studies and Constructive Programme. It is now recognized by the academic community as well as the activists as a unique and an outstanding centre for Gandhian Studies.
Complied by – Dr. Siby K. Joseph, Dean, Institute of Gandhian Studies, Wardha; March 2008