The Jai Jagat padyatris were scheduled for a training program in the Timarni of Harda district in M.P. The one day event held on the 13th of December 2019 was organized around an interactive session with jai Jagat team and the young attendees on nonviolence and the core values and mission of the year long walk. The event saw overwhelming participation with nearly 350 young people present during the cultural events and training program.
The event was organized by Social Health and Education Development Organization (SHEDO), an NGO that works in the Timarini block of Harda district, Madhya Pradesh. SHEDO are working with Youth for their development through influencing transformation in the self to bring about social changes that could build a better future for the well-being of all. It is this commitment to change that inspired their interest in the Jai Jagat movement. They wanted to learn how to bring this change through the Gandhian message of Ahimsa which shows their commitment to bring about profound and truly transformative change in and around them. Synergy and Tinka were other local organizations that co-organized the event.
Completely led by the youth, the event managed to create a vibrant democratic space, decorated by sustainable material and art work by the organizers. The program was anchored by youth of the organisations and the event layout was designed in a way to touch upon various aspect of the Yatra.
The event began with a performance by ‘Folk Studio’, a musical band that sings traditional Bhujaria songs with its message of peace. It was followed by a Kathak performance, a classical dance form originating in Kerala, presented by a young girl from the Timarini city. Members of the Jai Jagat team spoke of the vision and objectives of Jai Jagat yatra and shared their own experience of being on the road for last 73 days.
The main theoretical understanding of the principles of the Jai Jagat movement were introduced in an interactive session with Rajagopal P.V., the eminent Gandhian under whose leadership this movement has been organized, and Jill Carr-Harris, the international coordinator of the journey. Rajagopal P.V. addressed the youth delineating the history of violence that unfolded in the wake of the Second World War followed by the arms race of a bipolar world during the cold war. He drew the young minds towards the violence rooted in the socio-political and economic world we live in and how every small step we take, potentially can be a point of departure from this violent standpoint.
In an insightful session, Jill Carr-Harris spoke on the need to evolve a worm’s viewpoint as opposed to a bird’s eye view in order to suggest how one can include the last person. Looking from a worm’s standpoint implies looking at things that are near to the sight. This viewpoint enables looking for the last person and also counters the top-down policy model as it is through bottom-up process that true village level changes can be introduced and those left behind in the discourse and practice of development included. Our education system speaks of theory and things that do not matter or affect our daily life and surroundings. Gandhi had suggested a near-far approach as an alternative to the modern system of education. Jill spoke of issues that the young could connect with drawing on the nonviolence framework in each instance.
The training reached its highpoint in the dialogue session as students raised some pertinent questions. These were taken by Rajagopal and Jill who ended the sessions with an appealing speech that also tackled all the four questions posed. The issues of nonviolence in modern education was the first up raised by a post-doctoral student. The second question revolved around the responsible use of social media while another question touched upon inter-generational gap. Lastly, a young rapper questioned the practice of nonviolence in the face of rampant and violent caste-based discrimination and repression that has been on the rise in the country.
In response to the first question, Rajagopal said that the issue of education was primarily that of the issue of how we understand modernity. Modernity must come internally instead of being an external manifestation alone. Jill in an emotional speech addressed the questions and suggested the need to change the lens of violence through which we look at the world and even our social relations. She suggested the space for constructive dialogues to address inter-generational gap while for social media she asked the young people to act responsibly and use the virtual space constructively.
The program ended with bravery awards to the young people of Timarini followed by solidarity speeches by the local dignitaries. The following day some fifty young people accompanied the padyatris to Harda where another training program was conducted.