The three-day National Peace Convention 2016 got off to a start on the first day at Hotel Acacia, Dimapur where parliamentary secretary tourism C. Apok Jamir was the chief guest at the inaugural programme.
In his address, Apok Jamir hoped that the convention would provide an opportune time to discuss issues “very, very minutely” and would also generate hope, create inspiration and especially touch the hearts and minds of the youths of Nagaland.
Citing economic disparities, change in demography due to influx of illegal immigrants and bloodshed and hardships, Apok said that the onus of peace became challenging in the north eastern states, especially Nagaland where peace had been elusive for a long time.
He highlighted the Centre’s acknowledgement of the uniqueness of Naga history and how it had bridged the gap towards ushering peace through significant political changes like the signing of the Peace Accord between the NSCN (I-M) and Government of India (GoI).
Apok also stressed on the need for peace and development, especially infrastructure development, and a mechanism of economic growth based on “utilizing our own resources for the growth of our state”. He said there should be “peace with development” and concluded by expressing the hope that the initiative on peace would reach out to every section of society.
In his welcome speech, President of the local organizing committee & Vice President, National Peace Movement (NPM), Dr.CP Anto extended a hearty welcome to the distinguished guests, and also emphasized on the need of an “inclusive approach” for peace.
The delegates were also presented with scarf and convention memento during the inaugural programme.
Keynote Speaker, Tushar Gandhi gave an emotional and rousing speech while recollecting memories of his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi as passed on to him by his grand mother and father.
Tushar said he was grateful to his father and grandmother for giving an insight about Mahatma through which he could understand the relevance of his philosophies.
He said that “Bapu” (Mahatma Gandhi) educated his father on two acts of violence- “acts of active violence” and “acts of passive violence”.
Tushar also spoke on peace and violence as not only in relation to conflicts, but also the hurtful ways that cause frictions as well. “We are taught tolerance, but this tolerance will one day reach its limit, and we blame such “irritation”. “Humanity has always needed sacrifice to snap out of such irritation, and Bapu’s death is one such example”, he said. Tushar asked if “sacrifice for our conscience to awaken, is a sign of humanity?”
He said acts against the environment was a concern as being desensitized to terrorism. He said that “peace means all this and not just resolving conflicts”.
Greeting were extended by DG RI District 3240, Rt. Chandu Kumar Agarwal who also highlighted the various activities by the rotary club, and how the 3240 which covers the whole north eastern region boasts of the highest number of scholars since the rotary foundation began. Bishop of Kohima, Rt.Rev.Dr.James Thoppil said that he was humbled and privileged to have the 2nd NPC at Nagaland, and called to “reinvent Indian ethos of peace”.
Highlights of the opening the programme included song presentation, “Heal the World” by the students of North East Institute of Social Science Research (NEISSR), Dimapur, students from St.Mary’s Higher Secondary School (SMHSS), Padumpukri performed a captivating cultural dance, and a short music video clip on the north eastern states of India.General Secretary, Sangeeta Jain, (NPC) said that she was impressed by the people of Nagaland and its diversity, and expressed delight in holding the 2nd NPC in Nagaland.
After the ceremonial lighting of lamp by a collective represented by individuals of the different religions, one minute silence was observed by all present in the programme.
Delivering the Vote of Thanks, Chairman, National Peace Movement (NPM), he addressed the delegates as “seekers of peace”, and floated the idea of renaming the convention as “ National Peace Pilgrimage”.
He acknowledged the enthusiasm of the local organizing committee led by Chairman, CP Anto. he also highlighted that proposals from 5 people will be selected, wherein the proposals will be discussed, and a “peace declaration” will be made. He made an appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism to take up the matter and show the way for the establishment of a “Ministry of Peace”.
There were altogether 212 delegates (60 from Nagaland alone) which include participants from 16 states of the country, international participants, Prof Paul B. Mesquita, University of Rhode Island, USA and Social activist in Asia and Africa, Dr.Jill Carr- Harris.
The NPC is held every year starting January 30, the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and ending on February 1.