28 September, 2020

International Peace Day Celebration

SCI India West Bengal Group

SCI India West Bengal group observed World Peace Day 2020 earnestly like every year for the last 15 years. Our members enjoy a sense of togetherness with the global community with a single thought of the UN for peace, this year, SHAPING PEACE TOGETHER.

The group secretary welcomes the guests and audience. He said while we are looking for promotion of peace we cannot ignore that we are passing through a grave situation due to the pandemic of Covid-19. Normally we look at war zones and look out for peace but the whole world is feeling insecure because of COVID 19. To date, over 30.6 million COVID-19 cases and 950 000 deaths have been reported to WHO. From 14 through 20 September, there were almost 2 million new cases of COVID-19, which represents a 6% increase compared to the previous week which is quite serious. The ray of hope is the growing herd immunity.

The program started with a condolence message for the victims of COVID 19 and observed 2 minutes silence. The function was inaugurated by a devotional song sung by our members. We also staged two dances.

The president of the group Bikash Chal elaborately narrated the history of World Peace Day. He shared the story of the Peace Bell that rings in UN headquarters in New York and how the bell is cast from coins donated by the children from all over the world except Africa. The United Nations Association of Japan gifted it as a reminder of the human cost of war, the inscription on its side reads,” Long live absolute peace” which is still beyond our reach. He mentioned that originally UNGA declared, in a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, the International Day of Peace, to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace. The third Tuesday of September was initially fixed which was altered in 2001 to the current annual celebration on 21 September each year. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire. He concluded echoing the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres saying that the 2020 theme for the International Day of Peace is “Shaping Peace Together.” Celebrate the day by spreading compassion, kindness, and hope in the face of the pandemic.

The group secretary Tapas Kumar Sur spoke briefly about the history and aims and activities of SCI. Throwing some light on the practical scenario, he explained how the youth of Europe and America are coming and joining humanitarian work here in India, how the teenagers of 13 or 14 years are dreaming to work in an unknown third world country like India or Africa, etc. whereas, we do not find our youths for social work. He explained the cost of the nation in producing a doctor, an engineer, an IT professional who leaves the country after completing education and their family become proud of them without understanding their social responsibilities for the weak mass of the country. It is interesting and important to employ life for some humanitarian causes. Then he narrated his own experience of involvement with SCI and how voluntarism is the best gateway for self-development. He said goodwill is the ultimate resource for a meaningful life and voluntary work will offer you the know-how.

In this context, he narrated the life of Pierre Ceresole who refused a lucrative career as an engineer but invested his life in pursuit of promotion of peace in the Globe. He did not accept the money he inherited from his father. He built a mighty movement against the misery and madness created by the war. He joined the Christian Conscientious Objectors, who opposed all forms of service in the army. In 1917 he refused to pay defense tax and made his decision public.  Pierre knew that this would ruin his career and send him to prison. In 1919 he left his career as an engineer and devoted his life to establishing peace in the world. He took part in the peace conference in 1920 in Bilthoven and initiated Service Civil International and organized an international work camp as a post-war reconciliation method with volunteers from countries that had just fought in the war against each other as well as an alternative to military service. It was in on the former battlefield of Verdun in France in to reconstruct the war-damaged village Esnes-en-Argonne.   In 1924, Cérésole organised the second international work camp in Les Ormonts, Switzerland.

The largest disaster relief camp took place in 1928 in Liechtenstein with more than 700 volunteers from 28 countries.

Pierre Ceresole met Gandhi in 1931 in Geneva and was quite impressed by Gandhi’s philosophy. He came to India in 1934 and stayed 3 years doing relief work in earthquake-affected areas of Bihar to Nepal region. SCI did great relief work for Bangladeshi refugees in India in 1971.

Tapas further said we see many youths in the clubs, in two-storied buildings with wall-mounted T.V. and different amusement facilities or at the corner of the streets. When there is an accident, these youths rush to help but they are not available to address a social issue. For the marriage of a girl, they raise fund but when the same girl comes back to her father after being tortured nobody protest against this injustice. Why is it like this?  Many of us are busy with fun and relaxing but there are so much suffering and injustice around us. We cannot fight them alone so we tolerate them. We need to be organized and raise our voices. The grandparents and the parents should introduce their children to social occasions and associations.

If you ask a person in our society what is their social budget, he or she will try to count the festival donations, neighbours wedding gift cost or death ritual flower or gift cost to attend an invitation of the neighbours. As a matter of fact, these are areas of personal relations but real social issues like poverty, education, malnutrition, violation of human rights, atrocities against women, environmental issues, etc. remain unattended and ignored by us. An organization like SCI can sensitize the youths and can act endlessly.

He announced that we are going to introduce a brief course on Human Rights and creating awareness regarding different Govt. bodies that exist to offer help to the people. Some young members showed interest to take part in it.

The website of SCI and the Wikipedia page of SCI was shown through an overhead projector to the audience.

The secretary thanked the members, executive committee members of our group for their support to organize the events and the local youths for their participation in the occasion and it was an enjoyable and highly informative session of 2 hours. As we had to obey the Government directives for COVID 19, we kept gathering within the limit of 65 all COVID 19 restrictions.

-SCI India

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