Day of Peace Observed in 4 Cities of India

UPF-India held four events commemorating the International Day of Peace 2013, starting in Malda in the state of West Bengal on Sept. 17 and ending in the capital city of New Delhi on Sept. 27.

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West Bengal (September 16-18)

Twenty-five international participants representing UPF members and Ambassadors for Peace from 17 nations were invited to attend the commemoration of the International Day of Peace in Malda district, West Bengal, organized by the West Bengal Department of Tourism in collaboration with UPF-India and United Nations Information Center for India and Bhutan.

Soon after their arrival in Kolkata, the international delegates visited the Mother House where Mother Teresa had lived for many decades. The tearful prayer led by Dr. Chung Sik Yong, Chairman of UPF-Asia, at her tomb was a befitting start for our interfaith pilgrimage. After an overnight train journey, the reception by students at the train station and traditional welcome at the hotel proved to be signs of the hospitality received throughout the day.

Hon. Krishnendu Chaudhury, Minister of Tourism Department, Government of West Bengal, delivered the Keynote Address at the main conference on the theme of “Revival of Tourism for Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development” at Golden Park Hotel. Addressing over 100 participants, top-level officials from government, police, United Nations Population Fund, and UPF discussed the importance of tourism in bringing about sustainable development, peace, and international understanding. The documentaries and presentation by Mrs. Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, Anti-trafficking Task Force, Government of India, left a deep impression in the minds of the audience of Malda’s great potential for village tourism.

In the afternoon program at Jagjjibanpur High School Ground, only 4 kms from the Indo-Bangladesh border, Mr. Mizan, UPF Ambassador for Peace from Bangladesh, shared his feelings with a crowd of over 4,000 villagers with tears in his eyes that he does not feel any border in his heart. This feeling was shared among all international participants after spending a day together visiting various historical sites representing different religions and cultures, offering interfaith prayers in each place, and singing and dancing together with the villagers.

The traditional Indian hospitality shown by the honorable Minister, members of the Legislative Assembly, and the district police chief who stayed with the visitors throughout the day, guiding them to each site, looking after their welfare and security, deeply touched each participant’s heart. They expressed their deep gratitude to Mrs. Chaudhury for inviting them to her hometown and giving them a first-hand experience of Indian heart and culture. The cooperation they witnessed among government, police, UN, and civil society for the sake of peace and development was a great inspiration for all and a model for other countries to follow.

New Delhi (September 27)

The concluding program of all UN IDP commemorations in India was held in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) for India and Bhutan. On September 27, almost 100 participants gathered at the UN Hall in New Delhi to listen to eminent speakers give their views on this year’s theme: "Education for Peace." After Mr. Krishna Adhikari, Secretary General of UPF-India, welcomed the guests, Ms. Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, Director of UNIC for India and Bhutan, presented the UN Secretary General’s message, and Dr. S.A. Jafri, Principal of Ram Lal Anand Evening College, University of Delhi, read the UPF Statement on this year’s International Day of Peace. Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Secretary General of UPF-Asia, drew parallels between the UNESCO Peace Education Curriculum and UPF Character Education Programs that focus on three goals:

  1. Inner peace to be attained by persons of individual maturity
  2. Peace with others to be experienced in loving and peaceful families, societies, nations, and the world
  3. Peace with nature by exercising dominion of love over the created world

Dr. Sunil Sondhi, Principal of Maharaja Agrasen College, thanked UPF for appointing him an Ambassador for Peace and expressed his commitment to work with UPF for the sake of peace.

Mrs. Chaudhury emphasized the role of women in peace-building.

Prof. Mahendra P. Lama, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and Founding Vice Chancellor of Sikkim Central University, explained the unique contribution towards peace and human security made by the School of Peace, Conflict and Human Security Studies that he established at Sikkim University. Prof. Lama’s Keynote Address was followed by lively interaction with the audience.

In his Closing Remarks, Rev. Dr. R. Clement Rajakumar, Vice Principal of St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, reminded everyone with an anecdote that even in times of struggle and conflict, we should always take time to sit down with someone over a cup of tea. IGNOU assistant professor Dr. Parmod Mehra’s Vote of Thanks brought the program to a befitting end.

Sikkim (September 21)

UPF-Sikkim celebrated the International Day of Peace in the Conference Hall of Sikkim Central University in the picturesque state capital of Gangtok. The program on the theme "Education for Peace" was organized in collaboration with the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Sikkim University. The Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University, Prof. T. B. Subba was present as the chief guest along with the Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) University, S.G. Tashi and Chairman of UPF-Sikkim, G.M. Gurung as guests of honor. In a joyful atmosphere, professors and students gave talks, read poems, and sang songs of peace. According to the UN Secretary General’s recommendation, everyone observed a minute of silence at 12:00 noon.

Lucknow (September 21)

The UPF-Uttar Pradesh Coordinating Committee organized their International Day of Peace celebration at the UP Press Club in the state capital of Lucknow. Dr. Praveen Singh Jadoun, Convener of UPF-Uttar Pradesh, welcomed the guests and Dr. Ripu Sudan Singh, Former Department Head and Associate Professor of Political Science at Ambedkar University, delivered the keynote address.

See photos of observances in other nations of the International Day of Peace 2013.

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