Chandigarh, Sept 28; Carrying the message of ‘One world, One Family-Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’  and asserting that they would have nothing to with war in any part of the globe, young leaders and peace activists from over 25 countries across the world converged at the city beautiful Chandigarh today for the 12th Global Youth Peace Festival that kicked off in royal style at theChandigarh Institute of Hotel Management (CIHM), Sector 42, Chandigarh.  

Major partners of Global Youth Peace Fest with Yuvsatta are Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (CIHM), Sector 42, Indian School of Business (ISB), Chitkara University, Department of Environment, Forest & Tourism of Chandigarh Administration, CREST, Peoples Convention Centre, RGNIYD & YMCA.

This time round, major participation of Peace Activists is from war-torn countries of Syria, Liberia & Afghanistan. Carrying the message of peace on their lips, they defied in every conventional sense of the term the description of their country or community in the mainstream media. They were joined by young people from South Africa, Mongolia, Thailand, Palestine, Philippines and Uganda.

With civil conflicts and war looming in large parts of the globe including the cross-border tensions across Indian borders that has put mobility restrictions on the right of citizens to move freely and lobby for peace, the young people braved all odds to be in Chandigarh this time what with their visa clearance by the Home Ministry arriving at the last minute!   

The morning started for the International delegates with a visit to the Rock Garden. Many of them expressed surprise at the ways by which wealth has been created out of waste by its founder, Nek Chand, and hoped that the spirit of conservation and resource efficiency would pervade across the globe. Carrying this feeling was especially pertinent as the next session was a Global Youth forum on Climate Change Action with panellists from 15 countries of the world.

Young people noted how the world was increasingly being polluted and global warming was only adding to the woes of living with agriculture and economy getting affected. Many of them exhorted the return to the small is beautiful principle and wished that we followed Gandhi’s maxim: “There is enough for everybody’s need not for everyone’s need”.   This session was supported by Department of Environment, Forest and CREST of Chandigarh Administration.

The highlight of the inaugural function was the presentation of ‘Global Youth ICON Awards’ to exemplary role models by Mr. Justice Surya Kant, Judge, Punjab & Haryana High Court. This included Ms. Bayartsetseg Altangerel, Miss World finalist 2016, Miss Mongolia and Project Manager, My Club, Mongolia who was awarded for promoting sustainability thinking and action, Mr. Mohamed Maliki, Director, International Youth Centre, Malaysia, for Promoting YoutLeadership & Volunteering and Mr. Maan Abboud, Head of Revolution Youth Union, Syria for promoting peace & exemplary youth activism.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Suryakant said that he was delighted to see young ambassadors of peace clamouring for a world free from violence and conflict. He felt that the aspirations of the young people in allowing the spirit of peace prevail must be respected by all concerned especially people who are in important stations in life and heading important institutions. The judiciary, for one, he said, stands by the young people. Mr. Santosh Kumar, Director, Department of Environment and Forest, Chandigarh Administration was also present on the occasion along with Prof. Sangeeta Pant, Dean of Chitkara College of Education.   

 Earlier in the day. Mr. Mohammad Maliki, Director, International Youth Centre, Malaysia, and his team was given a standing reception at Carmel Convent. Earlier this year, a delegation of school children from Carmel Convent had gone to Malaysia and were given a standing ovation at schools in Malaysia. This kind of school to school exchange is important in fostering peace, said Mr. Maliki      

In the evening, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat International to host a Peace Symposium  and dinner, in honour of all GYPF 2017 international delegates at Hotel Mountview, Sector 10, Chandigarh.

 The peace festival which began in a small manner 12 years back with 14 youth participants from Pakistan has now grown to include many young people from almost all continents making Chandigarh a global venue for peace dialogue every October.  With the support of everyone gathered here, this initiative, we hope, will inspire more youth leadership and transformative change.