Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
While I was packing for Bangkok my thirteen year old daughter told me: `Baba, when you return home, you have to explain to me what Peace is’. In all these days at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University I am searching for the answer.
Probably peace theories and concepts are developed considering more on war/armed conflict scenarios. But I am also concerned to learn more about those micro-level situations when a poor tribal woman spends sleepless nights because of the emotional trauma in coping with her hungry children. I really feel connected with Aung San Suu Kyi when she said “My attitude to peace is rather based on the Burmese definition of peace – it really means removing all the negative factors that destroy peace in this world. So peace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality, poverty.”
When I look back on the poor community in India with and for whom I work I could understand that creating a peaceful society for them remains an enduring challenge for India from times of immemorial past. These poor communities are disconnected from the mainstream due to social exclusion and (often also occupational) segregation, resource appropriation and cultural incursions by more powerful groups, and structural changes in the economy that leave them stranded. Exclusion and isolation are structural phenomena bearing the imprint of generations of social and economic evolution that incapacitate by affecting one’s sense of being. The challenge is how does one stimulate change in a community of people who individually feel powerless, each with a deeply limiting sense of self-efficacy? How do people who have not experienced a fair world create such a world for themselves?
My interactions with my extremely learned co-fellows have helped me to understand that this is not just a problem in India. Whether it is Sudan or Nigeria or Pakistan or Guatemala or any other place, we are placed with a formidable challenge in working toward a long-term vision of peaceful, just, and equitable society. This demands that we be bolder, more innovative, and more responsive to our vision. Given the daunting magnitude and the inherent complexities of the task, it is my deep belief that this is not a vision that can be achieved alone. We need to recognize that our destiny is a shared destiny. We must pull together to survive; we must work together to thrive. We need to be ready for a different, more mutual relationship with others, where we proactively collaborate for complementary inputs and jointly developing and influencing the global developmental scenario in various ways.
Our biggest challenge would be to keep people who would be hugely different from each other together. How do we create an inclusive society, how do we create a society where its citizen can feel that she/he counts, that she/he can influence, that she/he has a voice?
Arnab Chakraborty, India
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2014 Session