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Leonie Kuehl

“Sustainable Tourism”- a peace education program in Goa Leonie Kuehl

“Sustainable Tourism”- a peace education program in Goa

Goa: blue water, golden beaches and a fresh sea breeze is what most people think about, when India’s most famous state is being mentioned. Some people might also think of beach parties, cheap drinks and good food. All in all: Goa is a place to relax, to let loose from family pressure and give in on one’s desires. 

Sadly, when coming to Goa these days, the harmonious picture has been changed to a frightening one: litter, water shortage and the loss of local culture are threatening the indian paradise. 

As ecology is one of India Peace Centre’s main concerns, is has been decided to organise a peace education program on “responsible tourism” in the capital of Goa, Panjim, that took place from 18th to the 20th of February. With the purpose of gaining a diversified view on the problems Goan’s and the nature are facing, the participants were a group of 5 Indians as well as five Germans: including Leonie Kühl and Leona Moldenhauer, the India Peace Centre volunteers, Paula Haerle and Felicitas Stiegler, two volunteers from the Centre for Sustainable Development Nagpur and Fee Kristin Pottharst.  From the Indian side, Kasta Dip, the director of IPC, Angelious Michael from JELC Orissa, Mona- Lisa Suna, Yugal Rayalu, retired professor of Nagpur university and Samarpita Kar have taken part. 

The aim of the program has been to gain a deep understanding of how the development of tourism effects nature and what the problems are that Goan’s are facing after the tourist boom of the last years. All of this knowledge is going to be retained in a movie in form of a peace curriculum. 

In order to gain an overview, the program started with the presentation of Goa field study by Ranjan Solomon and Anabel da Gama, human rights activists, who have been working on the topic of responsible tourism for a long time. 

Both of them gave an insight on the problems that years of intensifying tourism have transformed Goa from a hippie destination for peace loving people, to a place of 5- star resorts and overcrowded beaches full of rubbish. 

They were also focussing on the problems that one might not see as a direct consequence of mass tourism, such as the falloff of Goans occupied in agriculture, because locals have been shifting to the tourist industry. 

After that, the participants met students of history, anthropology and science at the Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science in Madgaon. The German students and the Indian students had the possibility to exchange experience and opinions on tourism in Goa. The Indian students told the group, how they see a big problem in the way Goa is being marketed: “It’s boobs and booze. That is what the indian tourist expects from their stay in Goa. Neither the culture nor the relaxed laid back atmosphere is in the centre of attention anymore.”

The second day was well spent in North Goa, as the group had the possibility to meet Dona Sienna Fernandez in Baga, who gave the group an insight on the noise pollution she is facing every day caused by the beach parties. She told the group, that government regulations are not being followed and that loud music is playing the whole night through. She could also describe the change Goa made over the past years, as the tourist cottages were allowed to come closer to the beach every single year, displacing the Goans homes. Dona had been facing threats as well, as she is fighting the misbehaviour of local club owners, who mostly came from out of Goa. 

After that, the group split and interviewed several people on Baga Beach, Morjim and Ashvem after having recorded the portrait of Dona for the peace curriculum. 

In Morjim and Ashvem, the group was able to observe a lot of Russian tourists all over the place: signs were not written in Hindi or English, but in Kyrill, the Russian script. There was less crowd and there were a lot less indian tourists. 

In the evening, the group went to Calangute beach and was confronted with a massively overcrowded beach. There were mostly Indian tourists. One was barely able to walk on the beachside, because of the massive amount of people. Relaxation- as it would normally be part of a beach holiday- was hardly possible, as there was loud music playing all over the place. 

The next day, the group went to South Goa, as it is popular for the less crowded, pristine beaches of goa. In Cavelossim, the participamns got to meet Serafino Cota, who owns an eco friendly hotel. The group gained a lot of really helpful insight on water recycling, waste- management and a sustainable lifestyle. The whole place had been transformed into a  little ecosystem, as the hotel staff are growing their own food, recycling their own water and reusing all kind of waste, that is being produced by the guests as well as produced by the hotel and it’s staff members. Serafino shared his story and explained to the group, that sustainable tourism is more likely to not be practiced, because it does not get any subventions from the government. Hotels engaged in eco- friendly methods are even more likely to pay more. 

After that, the last stop was Palolem- beach, where the group was supposed to gain knowledge about less crowded beaches. But as soon as they arrived, they had to realize, that the overcrowd already began to start on that particular beach as well. Speedboats, a lot of stalls and of course- a lot of tourists. 

Having analysed the case study of Goa, the participants are now occupied with the peace curriculum. The movie will be shared on India Peace Centre’s social media channels. 

All in all the program was a huge success and gave India Peace Centre the opportunity to gain knowledge on a topic, that had not been addressed before. Therefore there will be the possibility to host such programs at India Peace Centre in the near future. 

India Peace Centre Organises Various Programmes to mark the Death Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi 150 150 Leonie Kuehl

India Peace Centre Organises Various Programmes to mark the Death Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi

India Peace Centre organised various programmes to mark the death anniversary of the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The function was chaired by the well-known Chartered Accountant Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal. Dr. Yugal Rayulu and Adv. Prakash Meghe were the main speakers.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Tejinder Singh Rawal elaborated on the relevance of Gandhi in the present times. He said, “Mahatma Gandhi is revered the world over as one of history’s most transformative and inspirational figures. Throughout his life in South Africa and India, Gandhi was a fearless campaigner for the rights and dignity of all people, whose constant and unwavering promotion of non-violence as a tool to win over hearts and minds has forever left its mark on the world. Mahatma Gandhi inspired the world with his faith in truth and justice for all Mankind. He was a great soul who loved even those who fought against his ideals to bring about peace with non-violence.”

Dr Yugal Rayulu said, “The force of power never wins against the power of love. At this hour of greatest unrest and turmoil in our world, the greatest force to be reckoned with lies within our hearts — a force of love and tolerance for all. Throughout his life, Mahatma Gandhi fought against the power of force during the heyday of British reign over the world. He transformed the minds of millions to fight against injustice with peaceful means and non-violence.”

Adv. Prakash Meghe said, “Gandhi is relevant today. No matter where we live, what religion we practice or what culture we cultivate, at the heart of everything, we are all humans. We all have the same ambitions and aspirations to raise our family and to live life to its fullest. Our cultural, religious and political differences should not provide the backbone to invoke conflicts that can only bring sorrow and destruction to our world.”

Priti Sarvey, Abhishek Yadav, Dr Rajendra Patoria, S A Wahid, Mohd Rafiq and  Panchsheel Ingle also spoke on the occasion. Leonie Kuhl proposed a vote of thanks.

The speeches were followed by a Peace Vigil by lighting the candles where many peace-loving citizens participated. 

Workshop on Gender Justice and Peace Leonie Kuehl

Workshop on Gender Justice and Peace

Women empowerment and gender justice would have remained a concept for a long time if Savitribai Phule had not intervened and challenged patriarchal oppression of girls and women in Indian society.  She reformed the society and championed the cause of gender justice and women empowerment by educating girls and providing shelters to single mothers and widows. As a tribute to her on her 189th birth anniversary India Peace Centre organised a workshop on “Gender Justice and Peace” inviting students and youth from various colleges and universities at Nagpur on 11th January 2020.

The workshop was facilitated by Leona Moldenhauer and Leonie Kuehl from India Peace Centre, who conducted it in various ways, aiming to give the participants knowledge and a critical view on the topic. Opening the workshop Dr. Yugal Rayalu enlightened the participants on the achievements of Savìtrbaii Phule.  As the workshop progressed on, the audience had been animated through educational games, a quiz and critical questioning, in order to build an opinion on the topic and express it. 

Ms Piyali Kanabar highlighted issues focussing on the term Gender Equality itself, expressing it’s meaning, need and the necessity of men stepping up for gender issues influencing their lives too. Throughout the workshop, facilitators emphasized the importance for the participants to come to the conclusion by themselves. 

Towards the end of the program,  Kasta Dip, the Director of India Peace Centre oriented us on how our preamble takes us to peace and gender equality even without the mention of the words “gender” and “peace” in it because peace or equality is not a commodity but a sense , a feeling which happens when justice, liberty, fraternity cumulatively work together. 

All in all, the program was an educative evening spent, a beautiful “take away”, that was carried along and reinforced by reading out the preamble and pledging for a better tomorrow. The presence of more than 60 students, lawyers, psychologists and people from major walks of life made the workshop a humongous success.

Cultivating Culture of Peace in Diversity Leonie Kuehl

Cultivating Culture of Peace in Diversity

“A non- violent system of government is clearly an impossibility as long as the wide gulf between the rich and the hungry million persist… A violent and bloody revolution is a certainty one day unless there is voluntary abdication of riches and power that riches give and sharing them for the common good”- 

This excerpt from Dr. Anand Kumar’s speech,President of Society of Communal Harmony in Delhi,  allows a glimpse into his oration given in context of the 7th annual Mathai Zachariah Memorial lecture on 7th of December at India Peace Centre.  The topic given was “Cultivating Culture of Peace in Diversity”. Kumar focussed the increasing Relevance of Gandhian Way of Nation Building in the 21st Century in particular. The program was attended by member of civil society, thinkers as well as educationalists. 

According to Kumar, Gandhi’s way aims at building a humane society based on truth and non- violence. Furthermore, he addressed the urgent need for India to get out of post- colonial- cause  illusions of competitive politics, therefore going back to the roots and aiming for promoting a peaceful co- existence for people from diverse castes, classes, genders, languages, religions and regions. The orator introduces seven deficits and seven sins, that are causing a growing anxiety in Indians. (e.g. wealth without work, pleasure without conscience etc.) Following Kumar’s opinion, those seven sins are contributing towards dilution of ‘we- feeling’ and promotion of ‘othering’ and are finally leading to a road of nowhere.  He takes an excursion into history, resuming the damages caused by british colonisation, as well as damages that still could not have been cured until now. Criticizing structural deficits in infrastructure, the increasing chasm between rich and poor, lacking of sanitary public spaces etc.,which is making Indians unsatisfied according to the HDI. He emphasises that the current political system declines representation and that this way of leading a country does not show a future that would seemingly improve those issues, therefore Indians personal satisfaction.  

He offers solutions, e.g. the decentralization of production, referring to Gandhi, in order to improve village sanitation and general poorness. An important point in his speech, is also education, especially adult education, that he undlines with “adult education means true education”.   Following Anand Kumar, Women’s issues should also be granted special attention, 

He summarizes that finding a way of cultivating peace in a enormous diversity is not easy to meet. But the Gandhian approach offers a relatively sustainable approach in the Gandhian legacy. It deserves an updated engagement as it may take us beyond the limits of state-centric and market mediated processes of building peace in an egalitarian democratic setting. 

Other than Anand Kumar, Supantha Bhattacharya, an educationist and Apneet Bedi, could enlighten the audience with their views and ideas. 

The function was conducted by well known thinker Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal and Kasta Dip, Director of India Peace Centre.

All in all, the audience profited enormously by the various ideas of how to enable a peaceful society in diversity. 

31 years of Peace and Harmony Leonie Kuehl

31 years of Peace and Harmony

Everyone who visited Civil Lines last Saturday, might have seen colorful balloons emblazing the sky. And they may have wondered for what occasion- it was India Peace Centre’s 31 anniversary celebrated with a lot of zeal and effort. 

India Peace Centre- a place that always showed how to live peace in diversity celebrated 31 years of programs starting from peace education trainings over human rights  issues to environmental concerns. These achievements towards a peaceful society, were jointly celebrated with more than 160 people on 7th of December. 

The program was accompanied by a various entertainment program that included poems, gazal  singing and interesting stories and experiences connected to India Peace Centre, shared by the core group members.  The audience participated lively by clapping, laughing and enjoying a peaceful get together. 

The beauty of the evening was underlined by everyone sharing their ideas of peace with each other. No matter of their personal background, every person could experience a peaceful and safe environment regarding their personal religion, beliefs and values. 

Seperate from the celebrations, it was also important to address current political issues and to remind of events that are disturbing the idea of peace. Such as the cruel crimes that women are facing all over the country. India Peace Centre and the whole present community lit candles together and stood in a minute of silence, apologizing for men’s behaviour and praying for justice with a simple “Amen” that could be shared by every religion. 

The evening was rounded down by a delicious meal, that gave room for discussions, laughter and also laid back conversations. All in all it was a great party, that really embraced the idea of living a culture of peace in diversity. 

India Peace Centre celebrates 70 years of Indian Constitution Leonie Kuehl

India Peace Centre celebrates 70 years of Indian Constitution

Constitution Day was celebrated with immense fervor and zeal at India Peace Centre, Nagpur. Renowned orators from central India enlightened the audience with their insights.

On the 26th of November, Constitution Day has been celebrated at India Peace Centre. Four horators enlightened the audience observing our constitution from different perspectives, regarding the current political situation and the importance of  Dr. Ambedkar. The program was moderated by Leona Moldenhauer and Leonie Kuehl.

At first, Yeshwant Telang, who is a social worker and the national president of Sugat Jaycees,  elaborated on the pivotal role of Babasaheb Ambedkar as the chairmen of the drafting committee. Telang underlined that every citizen should continue his legacy by working for social causes.

As a renowned lawyer, Prakash Meghe spoke at length about the timeline of the constitution and the amendments it went through. He underlined that the amendments ought to be for the public and not for ruling class alone. The lawyer brought to notice the recent abrogation of article 370 and spoke about the importance of fundamental rights. He very elaborately spoke about the challenges the constitution faces from the Executive.

Meghes speech has been followed by the horator Vira Sathidar who is editor of the Maharathi Magazine “Vidrohi”. He brought to  notice that the nation is still in the making and B.R. Ambedkar’s dream has not been realized yet. He explained the Preamble of the constitution in brief which is said to be the essence of the Constitution. Babasaheb dreamt of Justice- social, economic,  and political and this, according to the speaker, could only be realized by a socialist economy. Sathidar took the audience to time travel at the debated and deliberations of the constituent assembly. His vision and efforts to emancipate the downtrodden were an inspiration for everyone. 

“However good a Constitution may be, it is sure to turn out bad because those who are called to work it, happen to be a bad lot. However bad a Constitution may be, it may turn out to be good if those who are called to work it, happen to be a good lot.” Dr B R Ambedkar

Finally, Dr, Teijinder Singh Rawal, known C.A. and close associate to India Peace centre drew a parallel between the contemporary political political happenings in Maharashtra State and Mr. Ambedkars speech at the constituent assembly in 1950. The speaker emphasized that the constitution needs to be adhered, not only in words but by the spirit which will result in a welfare state.

“You gave us a lot of hope Today” Leonie Kuehl

“You gave us a lot of hope Today”

“After the presentation and the panel discussion, I am glad that we named today’s program climate crisis, because there would not be any name more suitable to describe the current situation Nagpur is facing”.

That is how the “Global Shapers” closed the program “Climate Crisis in Nagpur and India”, which was jointly organised by India Peace Centre and the Global Shapers, Nagpur hub.

In the first part, Varun Agrawal, gave insight on the scientific factors promoting climate change, such as Co2, which is trapped in the stratosphere, causing the earth to heat up. Sadly, India is on the Top 3 countries ejecting most Co2, therefore takes a huge part in promoting climate change. It could also be proven, that human made climate change is real and can not be ignored anymore:

COPD cases are on the rise in Nagpur, natural catastrophes have been recognised all over India and the temperatures are rising all over the world in a speed that has never been seen before.

In the following part, experts and people who have been trying to fight climate change for a long time, shared their opinions and experiences on the topics: Jayshree Bahre Madame, director of Raisoni School stated, that children should already be trained on how to protect the environment and what effects their personal behaviour has on the planet, in a young age. She is trying to make school education more eco- friendly and is addressing climate change in her school.

Sharhad Paliwal Sir, founder of Vidarbha chapter of Paryavaran Prena, explained organic farming and the importance of learning how to grow your own food, as it contains no poisonous fertiliser, which is responsible for major heath issues, Indian society is facing. He shared his experience in agriculture.

Kasta Dip Sir, director of India Peace Centre, put the topic in another context: He shared how the environment changed, since he was a child and explained that ” climate change will mostly be affecting the poor”. Climate change can be beared much more effortlessly by the rich, because they are able to afford AC’s etc. But climate change will be carried by the poor people. Therefore, climate change is also a major issue in the challenge to live peacefully.

All in all the program was a great success, as the audience and the panellists both agreed, that the evening gave everyone a lot of hope in order to save the planet.

Celebration of Gandhi Jayanti Leonie Kuehl

Celebration of Gandhi Jayanti

In observance of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary on 2nd. of October, India Peace Centre organised a panel discussion on “Gandhi and India Today”.

Ms Pratishruti Singh Agrawal, who did her masters in “Gandhian Thoughts” shared her views on Gandhi: Gandhi is a mentality and his values and beliefs are still living on today. Especially his Eco- Criticism and his regards on peace and non- violent protest are still important and current.

Having read all holy books of not only Hindu religion, but also muslim and christian community etc. it was one of Gandhis passions to unite Hinduism and Islam, according to Mrs. Pratishruti.

Modern India is still influenced by Bapu’s works and will always be, because even though, Gandhi has passed away, his works are living on.

After Mrs. Pratishruti, Dr. Suresh Khainar shared his thoughts on the topic.

Dr. Yugal flagged, that society can, most importantly, learn from Gandhi that everybody’s life is a meaning. We should try to give it a good meaning by believing in secularism, trying to understand each others pain and connecting to each other.

“Gandhi started with 27 people, and in the end he was followed by thousands”, Dr. Yugal stated.

In the end, the discussion was opened for the audience as well.

All in all, the programme ended successfully and India Peace Centre could give tribute to Gandhi by actualising Gandhiji’s thoughts.