American Friends Service Committee
Sara Burke, Managing Editor
Sam Diener, Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
Peace, Conflict, and Nonviolence Studies in India
Michael True, Fulbright lecturer in India in 1997-98 and again this year, is a member of the New England Peace Studies Association and lives in Worcester.
The stunning victory of the Congress party over the Hindu nationalist BJP in the national election in India focuses renewed attention on South Asia. Although during my ten weeks in India earlier this year to visit universities interested in or committed to peace, conflict, and nonviolence studies, citizens often voiced their discouragement with wide-spread corruption in both parties, voters' success in "throwing the rascals out" surprised almost everyone.
As a Fulbright lecturer, I interviewed and spoke with a wide range of people, particularly faculty, administrators, students, and community organizers committed to peacemaking, in Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi, Calcutta, Chennai, and other cities. Although peace research as it emerged in the West forty years ago is relatively new to most universities, in light of the Gandhian tradition, Indian institutions of learning have a unique contribution to make to peace education. I was happy to discover that peace studies has continued to develop at several levels since the publication of the Global Directory of Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution Programs (COPRED, 2000) and my stint teaching in Jaipur and Bhubaneswar six years ago.
Several factors have contributed to a new interest in peace studies, not least the on-going conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir, and the clashes between Hindu and Muslim residents in Gujarat and throughout the country. Although relations between the two nuclear powers have improved in recent months, the BJP's exploitation of communal conflicts was probably a factor in their unpopularity, especially among villagers.
Improved relations between the US and India since President Clinton visited there during the last year of his administration, as well as cooperation from the United States Educational Foundation of India (USEFI), have enabled closer contact with peace research centers in the US. Amitab Mattoo, Vice Chancellor of Jammu University, a frequent commentator on the Kashmiri conflict, for example, lectures periodically at the Joan Kroc Peace Institute, University of Notre Dame. Wellesley College students and faculty in peace studies maintain an association with their counterparts at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, which is also exploring future collaboration with Ohio State University. A January conference on "Peace Education and Contemporary Concerns" at the University of Rajasthan, involving two hundred participants from eight countries, indicated increasing cooperation between peace studies faculty in South Asia and other regions of the world. At the University of Calcutta, the Pro-Vice Chancellor and the Peace Studies Group coordinate a well-established program of graduate courses and research involving members from various departments and Jadavpur University. Their hope is to extend that effort to other scholars similarly involved in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
An interdisciplinary program in peace and conflict studies is underway at the University of Madras. Jamia Millia Islamia, a major university in Delhi, recently advertised three new openings in conflict resolution. Under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, the university has initiated a certificate program, and recently announced a national conference on peace and conflict studies. WISCOMP (Women in Security Conflict Management and Peace) continues to expand its program for nonviolent engagement and conflict negotiation for Asian women, particularly in Kashmir.
Each year, Fulbright scholars from India study conflict transformation at Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA, and Fulbrighters from the US teach or do research among peace educators and academics in South Asia and the Middle East. WISCOMP utilizes gender-sensitive approaches to multi-track diplomacy in conflict areas such as Kashmir. Similarly, Derek Mitchell, a recent Columbia College graduate, pursues a Fulbright research project on community organizing with the Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi.
Well-established programs in Gandhian Studies include Gujarat Vidyapith University, Jain Vishva Bharati, near Calcutta, and Mahatma Gandhi University, in Kottayam. Although Gandhi Bhavans (Houses) are common on many campuses, even devoted Gandhians complain that their focus is likely to be more ceremonial than academic, and focus little on the successful nonviolent movements around the world since 1980. Younger scholars in peace studies, who work to correct that inadequacy, welcomed news of major publications from the Albert Einstein Institution, Boston, and similar work from England and Australia.
Peace education programs in schools and non-academic settings are also expanding throughout India. Rajiv Vorah, a member of the international board of the Nonviolent Peaceforce, is involved in community organizing in Bihar. Elementary and secondary teachers and students at schools in Banglore and Nagarcoil, on the southernmost coast of the sub-continent, are creating new programs. At the Gandhi Peace Foundation in Chennai, young students teach conflict resolution through improvisational drama, in a manner resembling similar programs in London and Boston.
Describing the latter program, S. Kulandhaisamy spoke in a manner that describes peace education in India or the US: "Forgetting the magnitude but considering only the depth and intensity of the activities," it is "the modest work of a few friends who have absolutely based their faith on soul force, dedication and persistence." In an era of reduced funding for most university programs, global cooperation among peace educators promises benefits for developing programs around the globe.
A detailed account of developments in peace
studies in India is "Seeking Peace on Earth: Conflict Transformation
Curricula the US and India" University News: A Weekly
Journal of Higher Education (India), March 2004. Other reports
on peace -studies programs in India are available from firstname.lastname@example.org,