Namaste everyone_/\_ and thank you for following the 2017 GW UNESCO Fellows blog. We are all delighted to share with you what UNESCO is doing in various countries of the world and this time, it is India’s turn to show you what’s going on in this land of colors and culture.
Being born and raised here, coming back to India after nine months of staying in Washington DC was not marked by any kind of anxiety or nervousness. Rather, I was filled with the feelings of excitement and joy. Stepping out of the airport and seeing my family waiting, gave me the best feeling in the world.
As said by famous French dramatist and novelist, Romain Rolland, “if there is one place on the face of this Earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India.” The country, for long, has been ruled by various empires: Mughals and British, who found a home here and a plethora of resources that satisfied their needs. They not only ruled India for centuries but also, left their legacy in the form of the world’s most astounding architecture. A symbol of country’s rich past and thriving future, New Delhi is the city where ancient and modern blend together. More than 3000 monuments and remains of both Mughal and British Raj tell the stories that are still largely untold.
“In religion, India is the only millionaire…the one land that all men desire to see and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for all the shows of the rest of the globe combined” are the words of Mark Twain that still hold true. With around 1,600 local languages, 22 official languages, all kinds of landforms, and one of the few lands where eight major religions of the world are practiced and over 100 festivals are celebrated, the country is rich in diversity and outstanding in establishing the sense of ‘unity in diversity’.
Despite having such a rich heritage and culture, India, like many other countries, is affected by various forms of violent and non-violent extremism. Here, at UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP), I am working on a project called LIBRE which stands for Liberation through Education. This project aims at framing a curriculum which develops mindfulness, empathy, critical thinking, and compassion to prevent violent extremism. Currently, we are planning for the workshop which will be held in August and analyzing different forms of extremism that are present in the countries that are going to participate.
UNESCO MGIEP is a Category I Institute that was established in 2012 and was named after Mahatma Gandhi as a tribute to his lessons of ahimsa (non-violence) and satyagraha (the struggle for truth). MGIEP recognizes that all the issues of the world are interconnected and to resolve them we need to work at all levels- from government policies to classroom teaching methods and informal learning. Hence, it works on three pillars: Education Systems Transformed, Learning and Pedagogies for 21st Centuries and Youth as Agents of Change. Around these pillars, MGIEP is conducting various research programs in the Institute and has placed high importance on raising awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using digital technology and an online game called ‘World Rescue’.
‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a Sanskrit verse which means the guest is equivalent to God. This value-laden statement is drawn from Hindu scriptures and has been the ethos of Indian culture. Since I have started working at the Institute, I have been considered as one of them and everyone has accepted me with warmth and affection. I am enjoying every moment here.
As the workshop is inching closer, the things are picking up the speed. I look forward to sharing with you all more details of what we are doing to bring a little change. Namaste!