Nonviolence, Sarvodaya and the Migration Crisis – 18 Dec

The Jai Jagat team started the day with a program at Gandhi chowk. The padyatris presented the values and mission of Jai Jagat to the people of this town in Harda district. Gandhi had visited Harda when he was on a campaign for Bahujan (schedule caste) welfare. The team also performed an interactive skit to demonstrate the physical language of violence and how it affects the social fabric of our society negatively. The session emphasized the need for dialogues to reach solutions in following the nonviolence approach which can potentially bring a win win situation for all parties concerned.

Two guest padyatris, Brandon from US, who has been living in India for the last three years and speaks fluent Hindi, and Damien from Switzerland, an activist and member of The Green Party, joined the yatra in solidarity for a week’s time. They shared their respective journeys and the inspiration behind joining the yatra in the first tree shade meeting of the day.
Brandon, a Harvard graduate in social sciences is a keen student of social movements. Intrigued by the Jai Jagat call for peace and justice and for adopting the nonviolence framework, he came down to Harda to participate in the padyatra.

Damien works in a bank in Switzerland and is also associated with Benjamin Joyeux, who encouraged him to join this walk. He is also a founding member of a ‘democratic’ grassroots initiative, Gallery D’art that helps organize community kitchen on a daily basis. They cook lunch and also coffee to feed the hungry and provide a space for people in need to sit, eat and spend some time together. Most of these people, her said, were refugees and asylum seekers. Like minded residents also give their time on a rotational basis for cooking food.

As Rajagopal mentioned after their introduction, this is an initiative in a European country that is in keeping with the Gandhian concept of Sarvodaya, the well being of all, and follows his call for looking after the last person. He added that the homeless and hungry are everywhere and often these are victims of a violent economy and results of geo-political, ethnic, war afflicted, economically exploited, fleeing from persecution and violence at home.

The European refugee crisis is well known. These people are considered as outsiders, as those who don’t belong. They consequently suffer discrimination and exclusion in these countries. In such a context, Rajagopal lauded Damien’s initiative for introducing something that followed the Mahatma’s message of caring for the most deprived section of the society. He said that the two were live examples of belief in ahimsa while sarvodya can be seen in the actions and initiatives by Damien’s local grassroots association, Gallery D’art.
Rajagopal has talked about the need for commission and the necessity for dialogues to for amicable resolution to differences. In that he is calling for nonviolence which is to say a humanistic approach to issues that plague the world; migration being one of the most problematic.

The issue of migration is symptomatic of the deep rooted violence in Geo-political and economic structures that had succeeded in making underdeveloped countries , especially from the African continent and more recently the Arab States.

There are an estimated 70 million refugees according to the UN Refugee Agency, half of them being children. An average of nearly 40,000 people were forced to flee every day in 2018. It is interesting to note, given the huge political issue, with nearly one third of the Europeans who vote on the basis of this issue of migration, that only 16 percent of the migrants are accounted for by the European countries. And yet more people lose their lives crossing the Mediterranean or trying to enter undetected through snowy mountains or inside oil tankers each day. An average of 5000 people die every year as per official figures in the sea alone. Strict policies against refugees trying to enter the countries account for this deplorable and inhuman situation and indeed, exposes the diabolical nature of their political standpoint which speaks highly of human rights on one hand and yet seems to grossly violate it on the other.

From the Jai Jagat context, a nonviolent approach would mean a sense of caring for the other, opening dialogues between receiving countries to come to a common solution but mostly the need for governments to become more humane in their attitude and in policies. A corollary, again from the Jai Jagat context, is the logical call for thinking of one world that seeks well being of all. This necessarily envisages a border less world, beginning with erasing boundaries in the mind, primarily the constructed polarities of us and them, and one of the calls of the Jai Jagat movement. This would automatically facilitate a much easier transition to the next step of eradicating artificial political boundaries. A seamless euros ensuring free November of people would automatically erase the issue of migration. Admittedly, this will not be without a great deal of confusion and resistance at first and will probably raise a lot of issues when it actually happens and hence, requires a thorough thinking. An approach of compassion, cooperation, sharing, innovative exchange programs, emergence of global nomadism, to stretch the imagination, may be some ways to cope with a border less world.

Peace is not easy in a conflict ridden world, and a society that is defined by superstructure of violence, bent upon destroying itself and it’s habitat, the earth. And yet it is not unachievable even in the most hopeless of situations. However, all difficult tasks that seeks to introduce an altogether different paradigm as a way of living, of transformation inside to achieve transformation without, and of thinking – nonviolence; begin with small steps. Siding Gandhian b framework of ‘Ahimsa’ and ‘Sarvodaya’, the well being of all and his talisman of thinking for the last person first, the Jai Jagat movement has taken this first small step.
The team hopes that the issue of migration, and for that matter, of all aggrieved, exploited, excluded, marginalised, and persecuted peoples of the world will be able to get united find their voice under the umbrella of nonviolence, to achieve their right to equal status and opportunities in a notification non-discriminatory world.

However, much thinking is required particularly with respect to the issue of migration and the way it is dealt. How the issue of the safety of the refugees, the rights of the migrants, the issue of alum seekers and the rejected applications, the nowhere people and the issue of citizenship, all these need some radical thinking particularly from the nonviolence framework to bring about a peaceful and lasting solution.