Category Archives: South Asia

India strides towards clean energy leadership


An article by L. Michael Buchsbaum in Energy Transition: the Global Energiewende

It looked as if India’s plan to power up the country using coal would be a disaster for the environment. But renewables changed the game: they currently make up 20% of the energy mix and are growing fast. L. Michael Buchsbaum explains.

New solar and wind in India are now 20% cheaper to build than coal (Photo by Raj, edited,CC BY 2.0)

Illustrative of India’s economic miracle, just this spring, its last village without access to electricity was finally connected to the energy grid. But to fuel this growth, beginning in 2010 India rapidly initiated development of almost 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of new coal-fired energy. With the fifth largest domestic coal reserves worldwide, and Australian and Chinese mines eager to supply immediate demand, India’s economic miracle seemed like game over for the health of planet Earth.

But nearly simultaneous to their swift coal build up, India also began developing green energy. Though only 20% of the current energy mix, roughly 70 GW of renewable capacity has been installed and at least another 40 GW is under construction according to the latest government data.

With around 11,788 megawatts (MW) more being added between April 2017 and March 2018, India is now positioned 4th globally in wind, and 6thin solar. Additionally, last year the renewable energy sector created 47,000 new jobs while sustaining almost 400,000 more positions, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The sheer pace of India’s adoption of renewables has reduced aggregate installation and production costs by 50% over the last two years according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), flipping earlier economic projections and torpedoing plans for hundreds of megawatts of new coal power. Though coal still supplied 80% of the economy last year, new wind and solar is now 20% cheaper than existing coal-fired generation’s average wholesale power price. Moreover, rising domestic production costs, the doubling of imported coal prices and a crippling delivery shortage continues to plague the industry. Currently new renewable energy is less expensive to build than it costs to run most of the existing coal fired power in the nation—let alone construct new plants.

Case in point: in June the state owned utility, NTPC, the largest owner and developer of coal plants in India, cancelled its planned 4 GW Pudimadaka “Ultra Mega” Power Plant project in the state of Andhra Pradesh. No longer economical, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), since the 2010 build out announcement, India’s coal plant pipeline has shrunk by 547 GW.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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To put that into perspective, that figure amounts to almost three times Germany’s total installed capacity. And while 80 GW of new coal-fired capacity is still technically “progressing” through myriad approval processes, IEEFA estimates that no more than 10-20 GW might actually see the light of day. “That means more than 84% of India’s 2010 coal pipeline will have been cancelled when all is said and done,” said Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia.

Moreover, under the nation’s 2018 National Energy Plan (NEP), India’s Central Electricity Authority (CEA) has recently proposed closing nearly 50 GW of inefficient and heavily polluting coal capacity by 2027. Retrofitting those that remain open to achieve new compliance standards will cost millions more, forcing operators to reconsider future investments as renewables elbow them out.

So how will India keep both the existing lights on and enable millions more citizens to power up? The new NEP calls for an incredible 275 GW of total renewable energy capacity by 2027. In June the trajectory for the build-out was increased to no less than 227 GW by 2022. At these rates, clean energy is projected by BNEF to constitute 75% of total capacity by 2050, essentially inverting the status quo.

Illustrative of this leap forward, on June 21, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) R.K. Singh announced a 100GW solar tender, with an emphasis on battery storage and domestic solar manufacturing. This announcement follows on the heels of plans for 8-10GW of annual onshore wind installations, plus an ambitious 30GW of offshore wind by 2030. Under the Paris Climate agreement, India had already committed to produce 40% of its installed electricity capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. Singh has since vowed to have over 55% installed by then.

While an enormous task, a large portion of the support and financing for this is coming from Japan’s richest man, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son, who has reportedly told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he will underwrite most of the 100GW of new solar with a US$60-100 billion investment.

But can this and the overall 275 GW target realistically be met on time? While not sure if the giant solar tender “makes a lot of sense”, IEEF director Buckley, offered instead that the plan is indeed a “brilliant statement of intent.” Certainly, by setting the aspirational goal, India has attracted investors and further spurred the development of their domestic manufacturing industry. Tulsi Tanti, chairman and managing director of the Suzlon Group, one of the nation’s leading wind energy suppliers, expects that there will be at least two million workers employed in the wind energy manufacturing industries by 2022. Suzlon currently commands a 35% share of the market since over 8,500 of their turbines with a cumulative generation capacity of 11,919 MW power it. “In the next financial year, a minimum of 1 GW more [of wind energy] installation will happen every month,” Tanti said as the nation ramps towards 50-60MW of total wind capacity.

While coal will continue to constitute India’s baseload energy backbone for the next few decades as a hedge against intermittency, its role will diminish as the grid becomes better integrated, more decentralized and additional battery power comes on line. “We have missed the first and second industrial revolutions,” Minister Singh said recently. “We caught up with the digital revolution, but we need to lead this revolution towards clean energy and renewable energy.”

‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ transforms arid Pakistan region into green gold


An article from The Hindu (Copyright THG Publishing Private Limited, reprinted as non-commercial use)

Around the region of Heroshah, previously arid hills are now covered with forest as far as the horizon. In northwestern Pakistan, hundreds of millions of trees have been planted to fight deforestation.

In 2015 and 2016, some 16,000 labourers planted more than 9,00,000 fast-growing eucalyptus trees at regular, geometric intervals in Heroshah — and the titanic task is just a fraction of the effort across the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Greenery all around: Pervaiz Manan, head of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa forest department, who oversaw the re-vegetation of Heroshah district.   Photo Credit: AFP

Control against erosion

“Before it was completely burnt land. Now they have green gold in their hands,” commented forest manager Pervaiz Manan as he displayed pictures of the site previously, when only sparse blades of tall grass interrupted the monotonous landscape.

The new trees will reinvigorate the area’s scenic beauty, act as a control against erosion, help mitigate climate change, decrease the chances of floods and increase the chances of precipitation, says Mr. Manan, who oversaw the re-vegetation of Heroshah.

Residents also see them as an economic boost — which, officials hope, will deter them from cutting the new growth down to use as firewood in a region where electricity can be sparse.

“Now our hills are useful, our fields became useful,” says driver Ajbir Shah. “It is a huge benefit for us.”

Further north, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat, many of the high valleys were denuded by the Pakistan Taliban during their reign from 2006 to 2009.

Now they are covered in pine saplings. “You can’t walk without stepping on a seedling,” smiles Yusufa Khan, another forest department worker.

The Heroshah and Swat plantations are part of the “Billion Tree Tsunami”, a provincial government programme that has seen a total of 300 million trees of 42 different species planted across the province.

A further 150 million plants were given to landowners, while strict forest regeneration measures have allowed the regrowth of 730 million trees — roughly 1.2 billion new trees in total, says the programme’s management.

Kamran Hussain, a manager of the Pakistani branch of the World Wildlife Fund, who conducted an independent audit of the project, says their figures showed slightly less — but still above target at 1.06 billion trees.

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Question for this article:

When you cultivate plants, do you cultivate peace?

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“We are 100% confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” he said, highlighting the transparency of the process. “Everything is online. Everyone has access to this information.”

The programme has been praised by the head of the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a green NGO, which called it a “true conservation success story”.

Initially mocked for what critics said were unrealistic objectives, it is a welcome change to the situation elsewhere in the country.

Pakistani authorities say just 5.2% of the country is covered by forest, against the 12% recommended by the United Nations.

Just one big tree remains in the poverty-stricken village of Garhi Bit in the southern province of Sindh, shading its small mosque.

It has stood there for a century, locals say.

“Before, there were big trees, many kinds of them,” says Dad Mohammad, a 43-year-old farmer.

“But they started to dry because of the lack of water, so we cut them,” he says, pointing to hundreds of metres of cultivated land where previously there stood a forest. More than 60% of the forests lining Sindh’s riverbanks have disappeared in the last 60 years, mainly due to river depletion and massive logging during the 1980s, says Riaz Ahmed Wagan, of the provincial forest department. “It is a disaster,” he says, adding that forestry remains the lowest priority on the agenda of the provincial governments.

The “Billion Tree Tsunami”, which cost the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government $169 million, started in November 2014. Officials say they are still implementing maintenance safeguards such as fire protection, with the project due to be completed in June 2020.

Green Pakistan Project

In early 2017, the federal government announced its own Green Pakistan Project, which aims to plant 100 million trees in five years across the country.

It ranges from “legislative reforms” to “wildlife protection”, according to its leader Ibrahim Khan, who works under the authority of the Ministry for Climate Change. More than a quarter of the work was done by the end of April 2018, he says.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is ruled by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the political party headed by former cricketer Imran Khan, which is the main challenger to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the country heads into a general election in July 2018.

Mr. Imran Khan has vowed to make the environment an election issue, and to plant a total of 10 billion trees across the country. “Every child in Pakistan should be aware of the environmental issue which, until now, has been a non-issue,” he told AFP.

But it is yet to be seen whether his ambitions will translate into votes.

Pakistani environmental lawyer and activist Ahmad Rafay Allam says that in a country where the electorate is often swayed by infrastructure projects rather than the environment, he has doubts.

“It would be a first,” he told AFP.

Nobel Women’s Initiative: Standing with Rohingya Women, Spotlighting Survivors for World Refugee Day


A press release received by email from

This World Refugee Day, we are spotlighting the plight of the Rohingya people with the ONLINE PREMIERE of our Standing with Rohingya Women short film. This five minute film follows our February delegation to Bangladesh with Nobel Peace laureates Tawakkol Karman, Shirin Ebadi, and Mairead Maguire, in partnership with Bangladeshi women’s right organization Naripokkho.

Video of the film

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Question for this article

The refugee crisis, Who is responsible?

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Our delegation visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar to investigate the situation of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, particularly the violence against Rohingya women— including high levels of sexual violence.

Upon meeting with brave Rohingya women survivors of sexual violence at the hands of the Burmese military, it became clear that the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people were part of a larger campaign of state-sanctioned genocide. Over 700,000 Rohingya people were forced to flee their ancestral land in the Rakhine State in August 2017 after a crusade of violence committed against them by the Burmese forces. The laureates are calling that the Burmese government be held accountable for these atrocities at the International Criminal Court. With the devastating effects of the monsoon season in Bangladesh, the Rohingya people are in critical need of international aid and justice.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

India: Peace Channel promotes peace education in schools of Kohima


An article from Morung Express

Peace Channel conducted peace celebration and capacity building programmes in five schools of Kohima district – Little Flower Hr. Sec School, Kohima, Sacred Heart School, Khuzama, St. Paul School, Phesama, Don Bosco Hr. Sec. School, Kohima, and St. Andrews School, Jotsoma village – on the theme ‘Concept of peace and peace building’ in the months of March and April.

Participants of the programme organised by Peace Channel at Little Flower Hr. Sec School, Kohima.

Addressing the Peace Club members in the respective schools, Susan Kulnu, Peace Channel Kohima district coordinator emphasised on the main objective of peace and peace building

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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She motivated the students to understand the concept of peace, to think of peace, love peace and make peace so as to take up initiatives in one’s own home and locality, to transform a culture of violence into a culture of peace, stated a press release from Peace Channel.
Susan further spoke about human rights, which she said, are the vital assets for everyone. “These rights are interrelated, interdependent and indivisible,” she asserted. The speaker also emphasized on the principle of “Do No Harm” which is a holistic perspective that is focussed on mutual benefits and not win-lose situation. The students were also motivated on leadership and life skills.
Sedekieno Rino, a peace activist, also spoke on anti-war toys “as children are also seen to be manipulated into replicating the violent content they see on television, videos, video games or violent cartoons,” the release stated. She urged the students to dream of a peaceful society and put efforts of changing oneself towards promoting peace so that one day that dream will turn to a reality.
Altogether, 227 quality Peace Club members along with 10 teacher animators of different schools participated in the sessions, informed the release.
The participants have been encouraged to take initiatives in bringing peace wherever they are and “they are now to bring peoples together, striving for peace, justice, equality and fraternity.”
It was informed that Peace Channel is also undertaking similar programmes in other districts like Dimapur, Wokha, Mon, and Peren.

International Solar Alliance – A Symbol of Hope and Cooperation


An article by Dr Ravi P Bhatia from Transcend Media Service

Renewable energy is being tapped and promoted in many parts of the world to meet the challenges of environmental pollution, global warming and climate change. One of the main factors behind the environmental challenge is the factor of our dependence on coal powered energy production that is highly polluting and is causing various types of adverse effects including on the health of human beings.

These issues were discussed in great detail in the UN Convention of Climate Change held in Paris in December 2014 and commitments made by several countries including the major ones – USA, China, India, France Germany, Japan and others about taking measures to not increase the global warming beyond 1.5 degree Celsius by the end of the century. This would necessitate both financial commitments as well as by adopting technological measures such as stressing increased production and utilization of renewable energy.

As is well known by now, renewable energy does not have these adverse effects and hence it is being promoted worldwide. Of course tapping the renewable sources and putting them in practice have their own distinct difficulties but they do not cause the pollution that is so damaging. Renewable energy is produced mainly from the sun (solar energy), wind power, tidal waves. Great emphasis is being laid on harnessing the sun’s energy through the use of solar cells that convert sun’s rays into electricity.

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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Unfortunately, USA appears to be backing out from its commitments on climate change made in Paris as well as the following year in Marrakesh. The responsibility of mitigating the effects of climate change is falling primarily on India, France and China. In order to meet the challenges of global warming and climate change, India had proposed an alliance of countries called the International Solar Alliance (ISA) two years back, with support of France and several countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The first meeting of ISA is being held in New Delhi from 11 March with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the French President Emmanuel Macron co-chairing the inaugural meeting. Speaking on the occasion Mr. Modi referred to the wisdom of India’s ancient Vedas that had clearly stressed the importance of our Sun for sustaining life – human, animal and plant, on the Earth. This was manifested in India’s respect for the Sun in various epics and its Mantras. He stressed that “We have to look at the balanced and all-encompassing philosophy of the Vedas to meet the challenge of climate change. We have to take urgent steps towards this objective.” The French President also spoke about the significance of solar power and renewable energy to meet the global challenge and committed both financial and technological support for this noble venture.

It was stressed by both the leaders that with these commitments and the active support of the 32 countries that have ratified the framework agreement of the Alliance, the target of about 175 GW of energy from renewable sources could be met by the end of 2022. Of this, solar and wind energies would contribute 100 and 60 GW respectively.

Many participating countries also spoke in favor of renewable energy and promised that they would also take appropriate steps, however small they may be to promote renewable energy in their countries. They also sought financial and technological support which France and India agreed to provide.

The inaugural meeting of the Solar Alliance gives us hope that the challenges of environmental pollution, global warming and climate change are being recognized and addressed by many countries. This meeting also encourages the coming together of different nations — developed and developing, to meet common challenges through goodwill and cooperation.

Nobel Women Peace Laureates Call for an End to Rohingya Genocide


A press release from the Nobel Women’s Initiative

As three Nobel peace laureates—Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, Shirin Ebadi of Iran, and Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland – conclude their visit to Bangladesh on the six-month anniversary of the current Rohingya crisis, the three women are calling for an immediate end to the “genocide” of the Rohingya people.

Mairead Maguire meets with Rohingya survivors of gender based violence in Kutupalong Rohingya refugee camp February 25, 2018 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo by Allison Joyce

This week, the three women Laureates ­––in partnership with Bangladesh women’s organization Naripokkho­­––spent time listening to stories, meeting over 100 women refugees in the Cox’s Bazar area, and travelling to “no man’s land”, where thousands of Rohingya have been stranded between Myanmar and Bangladesh.

After hearing testimonies describing how security forces burned villages, tortured, killed and systematically raped women and girls—as well as reports from humanitarian organizations and UN officials—the Laureates concluded that the on-going attacks on the Rohingya of Rakhine State amount to crimes against humanity and genocide.

The Laureates are calling on Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar military to put an end to the killings and the persecution of the Rohingya people.

“She must stop turning a deaf ear to the persecution of the Rohingya or risk being complicit in the crimes,” said Tawakkol Karman. “Wake up or face prosecution.”

As women committed to peace, the Laureates are urging Aung San Suu Kyi to exercise her personal and moral responsibility stop the genocide. “If she fails to do so, her choice is clear: resign or be held accountable, along with the army commanders, for the crimes committed” added Karman.

The Laureates heard how Rohingya women have been twice victimized: for being Rohingyas and for being women. They described stories of horrific violence and systematic mass rape.

“My 18-year old daughter had her breasts cut off and she died,” a Rohingya woman in the Thyankhali camp told the Nobel peace laureates.

“My baby was only 1-year and 6-months old. The military tore her from my arms and slaughtered her in front of me,” said a Rohingya survivor of rape. She then passed around a photo she had of her child. She wanted everyone to see her little girl.

The laureates heard stories of children being thrown into fires and drowned in rivers. They heard stories of houses and complete villages being burned to the ground and children being shot while running to the forest to seek shelter and safety.

“The torture, rape and killing of any one member of our human family must be challenged, as in the case of the Rohingya genocide,” said Mairead Maguire. “Silence is complicity.”

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Questions for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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The Nobel peace laureates were impressed by the strength and resilience of the women who had survived such horrific crimes. One woman at the Thyankhali camp told them, “Why should we feel shame? We were tortured. We don’t need to feel shame about that.”

Another woman at Camp Kutupalong said, “We are not afraid of anything. We want our stories to be told.”

The Laureates are calling for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to be brought to justice before the International Criminal Court.

“With over a million Rohingya displaced, countless dead or missing, and rape and sexual violence being used as a weapon of war, it is well past the time for the international community to act,” said Shirin Ebadi.

The Laureates met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, government officials, human rights organizations and humanitarian agencies. They extended their thanks to Prime Minister Hasina and to both the Government and the people of Bangladesh for their exemplary acts of compassion for the Rohingya refugees.

The Laureates also expressed deep appreciation to the Bangladeshi government and to the various humanitarian agencies that have met the extraordinary challenge of setting up the Refugee and Relocation Camps for over one million Rohingya refugees.

As a result of their visit to Bangladesh, the Nobel Laureates are calling for:

* An immediate end to the genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine, and an order to the Myanmar military to immediately stop all acts of sexual violence.

* Justice for Rohingya victims: perpetrators of crimes must be brought to justice through the International Criminal Court (ICC).

* Bangladesh, as the only country in South Asia to have ratified the Rome Statute, should, along with other states parties, the UN Security Council and the Human Rights Council, refer the case to the ICC.

* Alternatively, the ICC Prosecutor should open an independent investigation into crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated in Rakhine State.

* A voluntary, safe and dignified return. There should be no forced repatriation. When Rohingya do return to Rakhine State, they should be offered security and be granted full citizenship.

* The government of Myanmar to take immediate action to address the systematic discrimination of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, and ensure the Rohyinga’s right to nationality, land ownership, freedom of movement and other fundamental rights.

* A comprehensive arms embargo on Myanmar to ensure that there are no sales of weapons or other military equipment.

* The international community to increase its support to Bangladesh’s humanitarian response.

* Bangladesh to ratify the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, as a major step to give protection to refugees and set an example in South Asia.

For more information, please contact:
Ketty Nivyabandi, Media Associate: + 1 613 691 1419
Katia Gianneschi, Media Outreach: +1 613 614 9740

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

India: ’Life: A Mystical Journey’- A Gathering of 500 Women Leaders To Explore Spirituality as Tool For Peace And Empowerment


An article from India Education Diary

Over 500 accomplished women achievers, artists, policymakers, sportswomen among others will participate in the 8th International Women’s Conference (IWC). Titled, ‘Life: A Mystical Journey,’ the conference will be held at The Art of Living International Center, Bengaluru between February 23 and 25.

IWC has unique twin goals- individual development and collective action. It facilitates partnership-building and leadership development among women leaders globally.

Some of the speakers for this year’s conference include Arundhati Bhattacharya, former chairman, State Bank of India; Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder-Chairperson Mann Deshi Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation, Rani Mukherji , Indian Actress,  Vandana Shiva, environmentalist, and ecologist; Madhoo Shah, actress, MridulaSinha, Governor, Goa,  Adriana Marais, theoretical physicist, head of innovation at SAP Africa; Professor MaithreeWickramasinghe, founder director of Center for Gender Studies at the University of Kelaniya.

“Women are leading peacemakers. They work together towards creating a stress-free, violence-free society. The conference is a message in peace and unity,” shares BhanumathiNarasimhan, Chairperson, IWC.

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Questions for this article

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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Increasing number of women are leading from the front in multiple fields. The IWC builds on this trend. It works with women leaders to enhance their impact and gives an impetus to the global advancement of women from all backgrounds.

The 2018 conference will explore ways to amplify the message of peace and empowerment, including spiritual tools.

“The role of women in the development of a society is of utmost importance. It is the only criterion that determines whether a society is strong and harmonious,” says Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, The Art of Living, which is one of the conference partners.

Since its inception in 2005, the conference has focused on diversity and inclusiveness. Over 375 eminent speakers and 5500 delegates from over 100 countries have participated in the conference. The IWC focuses on advancing the status of women in fragile and post-conflict states. It also worked with the World Bank Institute to develop empowerment schemes for women in vulnerable nations and expanded vocational training for widows in Iraq.

The IWC also supports The Art of Living’s Gift A Smile project. Over 58,000 students study in 435 free schools across 20 Indian states. Encouragingly, girl children comprise 48% while 90% are first-generation learners. Promoting girl child education is the underlined focus area for IWC.

This year the focus will also be to create open defecation free districts in India. In phase 1, the organization will work towards sensitization and awareness about use of toilets and increasing health and hygiene in these areas. In Phase II, 4000 toilets will be built.

IWC in the past has been associated with pivotal social initiatives like constructing homes for the under privileged, creating awareness about environment and environmental care, movement to stop violence against women, and child and women empowerment through skills training.

Pakistan: Asma Jahangir, Champion Of Human Rights, Critic Of Pak Army, Dies At 66


An article from New Delhi Television Limited

Leading Pakistani human rights advocate Asma Jahangir has died, her family said Sunday, in a major blow to the country’s embattled rights community. She was 66.

The lawyer and former UN special rapporteur died of cardiac arrest, according to her sister. “Unfortunately we have lost her,” Hina Jilani, also a prominent rights activist and lawyer, told AFP.

Pakistan’s top rights advocate Asma Jahangir braved death threats in her long career (AFP)

The lawyer and former UN special rapporteur died of cardiac arrest, according to her sister. “Unfortunately we have lost her,” Hina Jilani, also a prominent rights activist and lawyer, told AFP.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced, according to a statement by her daughter Munizae Jahangir, as the family waited for relatives to return to their hometown of Lahore.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi expressed grief at Asma Jahangir’s death, praising her contribution to upholding the rule of law and safeguarding human rights.

Ms Jahangir’s supporters and former opponents alike took to social media to offer their condolences and express shock at news of her death.

“Asma Jahangir was the bravest human being I ever knew. Without her the world is less,” wrote prominent Pakistani lawyer Salman Akram Raja.

“I and many others didn’t agree with some of her views. But she was a titan. And one of the brightest and bravest ever produced by this country,” wrote journalist Wajahat Khan on Twitter.

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Question for this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

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In 2014 Asma Jahangir received France’s highest civilian award and Sweden’s Right Livelihood Award, for her decades of rights work.

Few Pakistani rights activists have achieved the credibility of Ms Jahangir.She braved death threats, beatings and imprisonment to win landmark human rights cases while standing up to dictators.

Ms Jahangir also helped establish the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The organisation made its name defending religious minorities and taking on highly charged blasphemy accusations along with “honour” killings — in which the victims, normally women, are murdered by a relative for bringing shame on the family.
There is still terrible violence against women, discrimination against minorities and near-slavery for bonded labourers, Ms Jahangir told AFP during an interview in 2014, but human rights have made greater strides in Pakistan than may be apparent.

“There was a time that human rights was not even an issue in this country. Then prisoners’ rights became an issue,” she said.

“Women’s rights was thought of as a Western concept. Now people do talk about women’s rights — political parties talk about it, even religious parties talk about it.”

Asma Jahangir secured a number of victories during her life, from winning freedom for bonded labourers from their “owners” through pioneering litigation, to a landmark court case that allowed women to marry of their own volition.

She was also an outspoken critic of the powerful military establishment, including during her stint as the first-ever female leader of Pakistan’s top bar association.

Ms Jahangir was arrested in 2007 by the government of then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf. In 2012 she claimed her life was in danger  from the feared Inter Services Intelligence spy agency.

Peace is not just a two-period a week subject – Prajnya Teachers for Peace Training (India)


An article from the Global Campaign for Peace Education

CHENNAI: In the wake of alarming incidents that have threatened the holistic peace in the country and across the world, Prajnya, a Chennai-based NGO has flagged a two-day workshop — ‘Prajnya Teachers for Peace Training’. “In 2005, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) came up with a National Curriculum Framework (NCF) which says that peace education is a ‘concern cutting across the curriculum and is the concern of all teachers’,” says Swarna Rajagopalan, MD, Prajnya Trust.

Training during a January 2016 peace training session (Photo: The New Indian Express)

Accordingly, schools and teachers are required to integrate peace education across the curriculum and extracurricular activities. “No matter what the teacher has taught, the value of peace education — be it acceptance, inclusivity and sensitivity should be integrated into curricula everywhere. For instance, if you have a math problem, instead of Raja and Jhony, it can be Raja and Lilly. So, inclusivity in everything — modeling and language, gender inclusivity and communal inclusivity are to be a part of the curriculum,” she shares.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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The idea is not just to teach peace as a ‘two-period a week’ subject. It’s to include the values in everything a teacher shares. But sadly, this practice hasn’t taken off. “It has been hard to implement it in schools. With a minimum classroom strength of 35 and a maximum of 70, multiple divisions and exam pressure, the focus has not fallen on peace education,” elucidates Swarna.

With these short training workshops, Prajnya is trying to give teachers a broad idea of how peace education can be integrated. The two-day training will introduce participants to peace education and the NCF recommendations, facilitate an introspective exploration of what teachers bring into classroom, their communication practices, and values for an inclusive classroom and society; provide the opportunity to identify and design class plans with peace education principles and include a practice and peer mentoring component. “We will have Priyadarshini Rajagopalan, a peace educator-come-teacher and Chintan Girish Modi, another renowned peace activist to facilitate the workshop,” she says.

While the workshop is being conducted in Chennai, it’s not confined to the city. “If anyone from Sriperumbudur, Pondicherry or Kanchipuram want to enroll for the workshop, they are welcome as well. We are looking for teachers from different spectra to join us. Even if one person from a school joins us, it goes back to the school in some way,” she shares.

The workshop will take place once in three months and will be scheduled after assessing  the optimal time for the participants. “As adults, we are losing perspective on how we perceive the world and about asking the right questions.

So, what are we teaching our children? This has to be addressed,” she adds.
(Reposted from: The New Indian Express.  December 30, 2017, by Roshne Balasubramanian)

India: Peace fiesta underway at Wokha


An article from Eastern Mirror Nagaland

Peace Counts Wokha launched the third peace programme (Peace fiesta) a two day event on promoting peace at Don Bosco Higher Secondary School Wokha, ground under the theme Peace within, peace outside on Friday.

Peace Counts Wokha, as seen on their Facebook page
(click on photo to enlarge)

Ashanthung Humtsoe, General Secretary, Lotha Students’ Union exhorting and declaring the event open thanked the organisation for promoting peace through sports and encouraging the youths to come together, stating that the youths are the future of tomorrow in building the nation.

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Questions for this article:

Can festivals help create peace at the community level?

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Where he also informed that the world is today passing through an environment full of tension, violence, declining values, injustices, reduced tolerance and respect for human rights due to modernisation making smaller chance for peaceful coexistence with the gun culture taking a dominant position in most of the developing countries, threatening the future of the youths who deserve a peaceful and better quality of life.

He also highlighted the need to create a culture of peace and conflict free environment with youth’s involvement stating that the youths need to start thinking different and “be the change” where youth’s should learn to combine their enthusiasm with patience, realizing the importance of living together and should be responsible to defend the frontiers of peace and non-violence.

The two day event will feature painting, essay writing and poetry competition with poster expiation from peace builders around the world and hand prints of peace camping will also be organised for all the participants.

Sixteen (16) teams from various schools, colony and organisations from Wokha registered for participation in the event.