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Enrolling 100,000 Families
Pledged to Nonviolence
on August 09, 2004 (Quit India Day)




Dr. N. Radhakrishnan

Hon. Ambassador, Soka University of America
Chairman, Indian Council for Gandhian Studies

TFF Associate


March 26, 2004

A multi-tier people's programme commences the First Phase with 'Enrolling 100,000 Families Pledged to Nonviolence on August 09, 2004(Quit India Day)' - an initiative of Indian Council of Gandhian Studies, New Delhi in association with institutions and organisations promoting peace.




The manner in which violence is spreading in the emerging global context should cause concern in every peace-loving individual. While it would be naïve to believe that violence could be totally eliminated, it would be suicidal to accept it as a fact of life and not to respond with creative initiatives to contain this monster so that he will not be allowed to destroy all what humanity has achieved hither to.

The emerging scenario is not conducive to nonviolence. Glorification of violence in media, particularly in television and films, is disturbing. The nexus between money and muscle power and the way women are depicted in media also create concern.

The type of education that exists in most of the countries also is not conducive to accepting nonviolence as a way of life or a philosophy of life either in private or public life. The most disturbing trend in recent times is the acceptance of violence as reliable method of conflict management.

Utter disregard to values, ethics and adoption of violent methods to get grievances redressed also create great concern.

More disturbing is what the corporate houses and multinational corporations seek to propagate with highly damaging advertisement campaigns and slogans such as "When the going is tough only the toughest get going".

Not that nothing is being done at present to educate people against the growing cult of violence. Unfortunately in the din of the corporate values that are aggressively being promoted, values and attitudes associated with nonviolence get drowned.

Terror and violence are spreading like cancer threatening the very existence of the nations. The State, despite all the measures it has been taking seems to be under heavy pressure. The varied and very often conflicting interest of the different segment of people in most of the countries and the deep penetration the forces of violence and terror have also sent shock waves all around. Innocent citizens are blown up and the heartless perpetrators of violence are rejoicing. While all this is happening, the citizens who are caught up in the cross fires remain fear-struck and helpless expressing just indignation.

In such a situation, can the citizens remain unconcerned, leaving protection of civilians and their properties to law-enforcing authorities of the State? Should not the citizens also join the efforts of law-enforcing authorities and help protection of lives of innocent citizens? The public also has a big role to play in an emergency. We are in an emergency that terror and violence have assumed such shape that national, massive and well-orchestrated initiatives need to be undertaken in the wake of the emerging and frightening situation in the country.

What we hear from different parts of India is the deliberate manipulation of religious, communal, ethnic and political feelings to rouse tension from which a very few who promote violence openly and those who lurk behind the curtain make gains. These forces pose severe threats to systems, in a hitherto unknown dimension

The Indian nation today, contrary to the expectation of the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, is not a peaceful country and despite the tremendous improvements it registered in the various human development aspects, violence seems to be spreading like cancer. Violence of different sorts dominate the general scenario sending shock waves all around. Mass killings, rioting and destruction of other's property at the slightest provocation seems to have become the order of the day. No part of India can claim to be free from this scourge.

This is certainly not the India Gandhi and thousands of martyrs who laid down their lives to free this country from foreign yoke dreamt of.

A three day national convention arranged by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti at Sevagram Ashram at Wardha from 13th to 15th September 2001 and attended by 185 delegates representing the various Gandhian organisations in the country debated this issue under five concurrent workshops:

1. Nonviolent Strategies in the Context of Globalisation

2. Nonviolence to Meet the Growing Violence Against Women

3. Gandhi and Decentralised Democracy

4. Gandhi, Youth and Nonviolence

5. Gandhi and Voluntary Organisations for a Nonviolent Future

The convention held under the shadow of threatening war clouds following terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre as well as the Pentagon which led to the loss of lives of thousands of innocent people from several parts of the world, focused its concern to the relevance of developing nonviolent capability to tackle the menace of terrorism and other forms of violence and injustice. The convention was guided by such senior luminaries as Sri. Sundarlal Bahuguna, Kumary Nirmala Deshpande, Justice Dharmadhikari, Dr. B.R. Nanda, Sri. Dharampal, Dr. Y.P. Anand, Prof. K.D. Gangrade, Prof. R.P. Mishra, Dr. Vijayam, Prof. Pandavanayak, Govindrao Deshpande, Dr. Vibha Gupta, Radhakrishna Bajaj, Sri. T.R.K. Somayya, Sri. Narendra Dube, Prof. Lallan Prasad, Dr. Kamal Taroi, Dr. Mandira Dutt, Sri. Kanakmal Gandhi. Dr. Savita Singh was the co-ordinator of the conference while Prof. N. Radhakrishnan was the Director.

As a follow-up of the recommendations, a sub-committee consisting of Prof. K.D. Gangrade, Dr. Y.P. Anand, Prof. N. Radhakrishnan apprised Hon'ble Sri. R. Venkataraman (Former President of India) of the outcome of the National meet at Sevagram and sought his guidance on the next step. The consensus at this meeting was to launch a national initiative to combat violence of various types by involving as many institutions, organisations and individuals working in different parts of India. This was the beginning of the Himsamukth Samaj Violence-free Society National Campaign.

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Preliminary Phase

The Violence-free Society (Himsamukth Samaj) campaign was launched on 30 January 2002 from Delhi (the national capital) Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh in Punjab and Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala, the southernmost state in India. It was a multi-tier people's awareness creation campaign initiated by the Indian Council for Gandhian Studies, New Delhi in association with several Gandhian organizations to educate and encourage people to search for nonviolent alternatives.

Curtain Raiser of the Campaign

It was resolved that in the first phase the campaign should be limited to one state in order to watch and learn people's response to the contemplated step, and Kerala was selected to begin this campaign.

About a million people, majority of whom were children and youth in over 20000 schools and other institutions in Kerala, took the following pledge at 11a.m. on 30th January, 2002.

Violence increasingly confronts us everywhere. Fifty-four years ago it killed the Father of the Indian Nation, today it threatens to destroy the nation itself.

I believe that violence is the way of the coward. I believe nonviolence calls for self-discipline and courage; it is the most powerful answer to violence. In Gandhiji's words, "violence is the law of the brute"

Therefore, I declare-

That I shall shun violence whatever be the provocation

That I shall shun violence whether through words or deeds

That I shall resolve all disputes through dialogue and not through confrontation

That I shall practice and encourage tolerance of dissenting views and differing faiths.

That I shall to the best of my ability resist violence with nonviolence.

The focus of the preliminary phase of the programme, which involved various activities was on the following activities:

• Document the various tensions prevalent in different parts of the state

• Identify the causes of tension and their nature, whether they are communal, religious, ethnic _ political, economic, personal, trade union rivalry, gender related etc. The cause of the tension may be investigated and properly assessed. A proper analysis of the causes will be a significant part of the work

• In every conflict there are minimum two parties, very often more and, the enmity among them leads to untoward incidents. These groups may be regional, political, commercial sections or religious sects. There may be other reasons lurking behind. The real cause behind them may not come to the surface.

• These participants of clashes and conflicts, are to be identified

• Possibility of employment of dialogues.

• Ever since the emergence of tension and conflict, there have been methods to resolve them. Some of them have been found very effective. A proper study of such measures to choose from among them, that suits the present needs, will also form a significant part of our endeavour.

• All through the history of man, we see philanthropists and social activists who were eager and enthusiastic to prevent/control violence. They range from individuals approved by all sections of people, a section of political leadership, people's representatives at various levels, religious institutions and organisations, such as "Ayalkoottam" and "Grama Samba". These models are to be examined and activities of such organizations and individuals are to be co-ordinated.

Thus the Himsamukth Samaj(Violence-free Society) initiative seeks to encourage discussions:

• to bring about a thorough social change for the establishment of a nonviolent social order as Gandhi dreamt.

• expose the evil intentions of the anti-social elements that prosper very often on violence, death and destruction.

• co-ordinate the activities of the youth, who are involved in various social works for the establishment of an ideal social order.

• to be vigilant against narrow communal/political/ regional interests.

• organize awareness-creation campaigns against anti-social elements.

• every time, everywhere, there have been appropriate and motivated agencies, individuals and social groups working against violence and promoting goodwill among people.

• on the basis of the information gathered and insights received from various quarters, it is intended to prepare comprehensive work reports to which the attention of the authorities is to be drawn.

• ensure the co-operation of various organizations, Government machinery to ensure a tension-free society which will be possible only if social justice is ensured, and discrimination of all sorts and exploitation ended.

• to make effective propaganda to recognize violence and tension dangerous to progress and well being of the society.

• to ensure a violence-free society, ensure co-operation of young men and women who will be prepared to join any initiative, provided they are properly motivated.

The occasion of a three-day international conference on the theme a 'Gandhian alternative to terrorism and war' initiated by Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi and G. Ramachandran Institute of Nonviolence and held at Thiruvananthapuram from 7th to 9th February 2002, was the first major initiative taken by the International Community since the outbreak of hostilities between the US and International Terrorist Groups operating in different parts of the world. The attacks on Indian Parliament, Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly and the Red Fort in Delhi have also raised very serious doubts in the minds of peace-loving citizens all over the world about the motives of the terrorists.

The Thiruvananthapuram Conference was the realisation on the part of some of the most eminent peace activists, researchers, nonviolence experts, civil liberty activists, leaders of the nonviolent struggle for justice and freedom all over the world, that serious efforts are to be made to look for a Gandhian Alternative to this serious problem humanity faces at the moment from terrorists, extremists, religious fundamentalists and proponents of war who have no concern for the suffering humanity on account of poverty, malnutrition, ignorance etc.

Over one hundred delegates from different parts of the world attended the conference, which was inaugurated by Feodore Starcevic, Director of UN Information Centre New Delhi. The most prominent among those attended were Prof. Glenn D. Paige (President, Centre for Global Nonviolence, Hawaii), Lou Ann Ha'aheo Guanson(President, Hawaii Edumenical Coalition, Honolulu), Mr. Vance Engleman (Gandhi Ashram, USA), Dr. Chaiwat Satha- Anand (Director, Peace Information Centre, Thailand), Prof. Howard Hunter (Prof. Emeritus, Tufts University, Cambridge), David Hartsough (Chief Coordinator, Global Nonviolent Peace Force, USA), Prof. K.D. Gangrade (Vice Chairman, Gandhi Smriti & Darshan Samiti, New Delhi), Dr. Y.P. Anand (Director, National Gandhi Museum, New Delhi), Prof. S. Jayapragasam (Prof. & Head, Dept. of Gandhian Studies, Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamilnadu), Prof. R.P. Mishra, Dr. B.R. Nanda, Kumari Nirmala Deshpande, Avadesh Kumar and Dr. Savita Singh.


Campaign on foot (Padayatra) to prepare a Gandhian Agenda for the eradication of violence

In continuation of the modest beginning of the campaign on 30th January 2002 and on the basis of inputs received from various sources, a 27 day Padayatra (campaign on foot) from Neyyatinkara (Trivandrum District) to Kasargode in the extreme north of Kerala by Gandhian Constructive Workers was flagged off on 7th of May 2002 to take the message of the initiative to the people seeking their valuable inputs and support.

Highlights of the Padayatra

This Padayatra(March by foot) was a preliminary exercise, which would facilitate the preparation of a composite programme of Gandhian Agenda for holistic development. This was an ambitious task, which involved serious discussions, debates, and awareness creation on the various aspects of the present models of development, socio-political order, economic system, erosion of values, declining morality, environmental crisis, directionless education system, growing intolerance and spread of violence, unhealthy growth fundamentalist forces, problems of farmers and labourers, frightening unemployment and dwindling natural resources on one side while consumerism reigns supreme. While absolute poverty has loosened its grip, more people have become poorer after globalization has set in. It is pointed out that to stem this rot, a Gandhian Agenda, outlining an alternative development model and political order is the need of the hour.

Through people to people contact during the 27 day - trekking along the 700 kilometer distance, the Padayatra sought to draw people's attention through Discussions, House visits, Exhibition and sales of Gandhian literature and pictures, Exhibition and sales of Khadi and Village Industries products and Manufacturing of soaps.

This was certainly an ambitious task but the organisers were confident that even a small candle lit in the dark would have its relevance.

It was hoped that the lessons learnt from this campaign and its impact, however limited it might be, would be useful for preparing a Gandhian Manifesto for Holistic Development which might help in taming the monster of violence effectively. This exercise might also help the rest of India.

The Padayatra was guided by Prof. N. Radhakrishnan as the Chairman of the Organising Committee. Sri. K. Parameshwara Sharma (Secretary, Poornodaya Book Trust) and Advocate Soman P. Paul besides participating full-time in the Padayatra, looked after the organisational aspects and financial side respectively.

The Padayatra during its 27-day mass contact programme from the extreme South (Trivandrum) to the Northern most district (Kasargode) of Kerala generated appreciable response among the Gandhian constructive workers, social activists and those who have been worried about fall in standards, crumbling of values and the growing violence.

All along the route of the Padayatra, the members of the team highlighted the importance of people's initiative to contain the monster of violence. The Padayatra also offered very valuable insights to the members of the team among whom were University teachers, leading lawyers, teachers, youth activists, Gandhian constructive workers and student representatives. The 27-day programme of walking which invariably commenced at 5.30 in the morning, covering an average 35 kilometers of distance by foot every day, turned out to be a noble mission for peace and harmony through constructive work as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi. The group received from modest to exciting reception enroot and when the programme concluded at Nileswaram on 3rd June, 2002, the seed for an honest thinking on the part of the public on a Gandhian agenda for a holistic change had been sown.

Adv. Soman P. Paul, on behalf of the group, presented at the concluding function at Nileswaram, the salient features of the discussions that were held with the public during the march, and the suggestions, views and opinions received from the public in response to the call given by the Padayatra team. The sentiments expressed by the people and the suggestions made by the Gandhian constructive workers and others, have been, by and large, similar to the call given by the National Convention of Gandhian constructive workers, Peace activists, intellectuals and youths from different parts of India from 13th to 15th October 2001 at Sevagram.

(b) Special Lecture Series on Nonviolence

As part of a programme to generate a public debate on the efficacy of nonviolence in the contemporary society a nine day each special lecture series on contemporary relevance of nonviolence was held at Thiruvananthapuram from 16th to 24th October at which Prof. N. Radhakrishnan discussed the contemporary relevance of nonviolence on the basis of ten recently published books on Gandhi, religion and politics:

The following was the schedule

First Session 16th Oct 2.30 to 6.30

• Gandhi and Godse A review and a Critique - by Koenraad Elst

Second Session : 17th Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Gandhiji's Lost Jewel: Harilal Gandhi - by Nilam Parikh

Third Session : 18th Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Dalit Emancipation-by N.Radhakrishnan

Fourth Session : 19th Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Gandhi: A Sublime Failure - by S. S. Gill

Fifth Session : 20th Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Nonkilling Global Political Science - by Glenn D. Paige.

Sixth Session : 21st Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• The Great Indian Way: A life of Mahatma Gandhi - by Raja Rao

Seventh Session : 22nd Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Gandhi's Passion: The life and legacy of Mahatma Gandhi - by Stanley Wolpert.

Eighth Session : 23rd Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• For the sake of Peace: Seven paths to global harmony - by Daisaku Ikeda

Ninth Session : 24th Oct 2002 - 2.30 to 6.30

• Is there no other way?: The search for a nonviolent future - by Michael. N. Nagler

• In Search of Gandhi by B.R. Nanda.

Over 80 participants from different walks of life participated in this special programme of interaction.

This programme was a joint venture of Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies, Thiruvananthapuram; Madhavi Mandiram Loka Seva Trust, Neyyattinkara; G.R. Institute of Nonviolence and Ikeda Centre for Value Creation and was co-ordinated by Dr. S. Sivakumar.

These lecture series were held later on different dates in Madurai, Chennai, Coimbatore, Pune, Bangalore, Baroda, and Nagarcoil. In these eight series of discussions and lectures around three thousand individuals from different segments of society attended and they were hailed as important initiatives towards encouraging people to realise the nonviolent capabilities in each of them.


Strategies of Nonviolent Conflict Management

As part of the campaign on 2nd October 2003, a year-long certificate course on 'Strategies of Nonviolent Conflict Management' was also commenced. Over a hundred young men and women have enrolled for the first batch of this course and it turned out to be a significant programme. This is the first time in India that a programme dealing with Conflict Management in personal life is being offered in a non-academic setting. The focus of the course is on encouraging those who attend the programme to look within for courses of conflicts as well as searching for alternatives instead of waiting for others to solve one's problems. The idea of introducing this program in a phased manner in other parts of India with the help of institutions and individuals who share our concerns on the menace of growing violence.

The birth anniversary of Gandhi in 2003 also witnessed hundred thousands of school children in Kerala taking pledge against violence at special functions held in their school premises. We have been able to persuade the Directorate of School Education to co-operate with us in this very ambitious program.

Workshops on nonviolence:

With a view to initiate children and youth, regular two-day workshops on nonviolence have been designed and held regularly on every Saturday and Sunday at G. Ramachandran Institute of Nonviolence and Shanti Sena at the Rangaprabhat campus. Thirty six batches of children and youth were held during the last 20 months. Over four thousand children youth attend these programmes.

Discussions on Strategies to be adopted in the next phase of the campaign:

In order to seek guidance and support to the campaign at the national level several rounds of discussions were held in different parts of India such as Delhi, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Mumai, Ahmedabad, Wardha, Bhuvaneshwar, Bangalore, Chennai and Madurai. Senior Gandhian leaders and several national leaders were also consulted on the campaign to be launched in the first phase.



What is the present phase of the campaign?

Family as the basis:

As a creative response on the basis of inputs received in the Preliminary Phase, a national initiative of identifying and enrolling 100.000 families pledged to nonviolence is proposed now.

The highlights of this phase will be to recognize the importance of families and encourage them to embrace nonviolence as the guiding principle in their life. This is felt so on the basis of the disturbing manner in which family as an institution is disintegrating and dialogue as a sustaining force is also becoming scarce.


The focus of the campaign is as follows:

To foster

1. Value creation

2. Social Justice

3. Human rights

4. Gender equity

5. Women Empowerment

6. Biodiversity


• Encourage members of the family to experience in their daily life the creative aspects of nonviolence

• Promote interpersonal dialogue and human warmth

• Encourage members of the family to be tolerant and respectful to each other.

• Highlight the importance of sorting out in the nonviolent tradition any difference of opinion among the members of the family or with the neighbors or colleagues.

• Promote nonviolent dispute settling methods with the neighbors.

• Encourage members of the family to explore and study the experiences , experiments and legacy of great souls like Jesus, Mohamed , Buddha, Mahaveer, Gandhi, Martin Luther King , Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and others.



Phase I

a. Identification of one lakh families and

b. Designating them as families pledged to nonviolence

Phase II

1. Encouraging them to form Local affinity groups with the help of NGOs, Gandhian organizations and other service groups.

2. educate people on the positive and creative aspect of nonviolence through discussions interactions and dialogues

3. to seek to encourage people to adopt nonviolence as a way of life and explore suitable methods to realise it.

Phase III

1. Opening of Shanti Kendras (Peace Centres in educational Institutions)

2. Encouraging institutions and groups to organise short-term and long-term training programmes in nonviolence.

3. Extend help to the historic campaign of spreading the brilliance of Ahimsa launched by His Holiness Acharya Mahapragya who is on Ahimsa Yatra.


Calendar of Activities


January 30th 2004 to March 30th 2004

• General discussions on the initiative at various levels and identifying partners in the project.

April 1st Week

• Announcement of the programme

May and June

Formation of State committees


• Planning strategies

August 9, Quit India Day

• Commencement of the enrolment campaign ( Simultaneously in all states )

• National commencement at Gwalior tank at Bombay and other important centers and places

September, October, November, December

• Campaign continues

31st January 2005

• Conclusion of the first phase of the campaign at Rajghat New Delhi and in other places

February and March

• Commencement of the second phase with the formation of affinity groups

April 2005

• Formation of a central body to coordinate the future activities


Partners to implement this project and possible sources of financial support

No doubt, this is a very ambitious project. However, difficult it might be, the large number of individuals, institutions and agencies with which those of us who have visualized the project and begun working in the preliminary phase, give us the confidence that this might turn out to be a massive and timely people's awareness creation programme.

Advisory Committee

This National Campaign, an initiative of the Indian Council of Gandhian Studies (Registered Office at New Delhi), is being guided by a National Advisory Committee headed by Hon'ble Sri. Venkataraman, former President of India.

Organising Committee

An organizing Committee guided by some of the senior most national leaders, social activists, Gandhian activists monitor the initiative.


State Level Committees

State level committees are being formed in all the States of India.


Address of the National Convener:

Prof. N. Radhakrishnan,

'Neelakantom', Marappalam Gardens,

D Lane, Pattom Post,

Thiruvananthapuram 495004






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