Contact person: Reva Joshee. email@example.com
October 2nd 2019 : Gandhi 150th and the Jai Jagat Campaign
Written by Jill Carr-Harris
What is the Jai Jagat?
Jai Jagat means: Victory to All. No one is a winner and no one is a loser. It refers to a common human destiny. For that, people have to peacefully coexist with themselves and other living beings on this planet, recognizing that co-existence is the very condition for human survival “The planet for all people and All people for the planet”gives meaning to the ‘what is Jai Jagat’.
These were words spoken in the 1950s by a sage called Vinoba Bhave, one of the followers of Mahatma Gandhi in India. These words have gotten lost in India, in the din of today’s competative race for material well-being. But think of two neighbours that are in a quarrel. If something happens where both are being threatened by an outside force, like a hurricane and they are unable to come together because of differences, and thus they both become losers.. It is a metaphore of what is happening today. Our divisions are blinding us. As Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye, leaves the whole world blind”.
How did the Jai Jagat evolve…?
The Jai Jagat evolved in the past seven years. Partly it was the success of the nonviolent marches in India (such as the Jan Satyagraha march of landless poor in 2012) and also it was many people and groups in a different countries seeing the importance of Gandhi’s nonviolence as a vision and a set of tools for making social change.
One such initiative began in 2013 when the Gandhi Foundation was set up Georgia, one of the states of the former Soviet Union. They saw that their success as a country and economy was linked to the non-Alignment that has been modeled by India. They also saw Gandhi as a force with which to find neutral space in a region dominated by cold war relations. The Gandhi Foundation Georgia went on to set a unit in the Russian occupied areas of Abhazia, as one of the few NGOs that could communicate between Georgia and Abhazia.
Shortly thereafter in 2015 the Armenian Gandhi Foundation was set up. This was to train people in nonviolence. Ironically enough one of the trainees was a then opposition leader, Nicol Pashiyan who used nonviolent marches to rally the country to throw out the old guard in favour a new government that advocated nonviolence. Called “Little Gandhi” Nicol Pashiyan continues to build a more nonaligned position.
In 2018 a group in Geneva took the bold step of getting the Municipality of Geneva to sign a resolution in support for Jai Jagat. This was followed by a resolution by the Canton (state) of Geneva. Both Governments said that they would look for ways to sponsor the marchers coming to Geneva from India and 7 other countries. Many of the forty-four communes around Geneva said they would help. With this there was a sense of the Jai Jagat is being welcomed into Geneva, as a City of Peace.
With different interest expressed for Gandhi and a Gandhi march into Geneva, greater engagement and involvement came from civil society in Asia, Africa and Latin America. An international committee was formed in Brussels and held its first meeting in mid-2019. In India a National Committee was set up. Over the past six months people started to contribute resources to the food and accommodation of the 50 core marchers.
As this is a volunteer based effort, it required a lot more time for organizing and getting people convinced to join the effort. One of the main draws has been that this is a “training on the road”, that people can join the march anywhere along the route (providing one signs up online in advance) and the idea is to learn nonviolence. Also it is encouraged that school children around in many countries take this global peace march as a learning tool. Some children in the Bhumi School in Bangalore in India, or in 15 schools in Edmonton Canada, or in several schools in Geneva canton, are beginning to take up local school projects to further develop peace learning and peace action.
What is notable about these efforts is that they are not based on money because ultimately ‘one cannot buy peace’ so people come together with their own motivation. There is not a large number yet engaged in the campaign, but it is hoped that will also occur over the course of the year long Global Peace March, especially among young people.
What has been unique about the Jai Jagat, is that it did not start in western Europe, but came from India, or the developing part of the world. Also it did not start from the middle-class groups in India but it has come from the marginalized sections of the population that are concerned about their land and livelihood resources. They need change. Moreover people at the grassroots are not looking for hand-outs but the space to carry out their lives. If they can come together with these everyday acts of change that are making their lives better, then larger scale change is possible.
What is the shape of the campaign?
There are two parts to the campaign: a global peace march from Rajghat to Geneva and a Global Forum in Geneva for one week in September 2020. The idea is to have a group of fifty core walkers, joined by many, march through ten countries to Geneva from India, and then to have many millions more participate in the virtual march as a way to do peacemaking. (See www.jaijagat2020.org .)
As there are 7 other marches planned from Sweden, Germany, Spain, West Africa, United Kingdom, France, Belgium and from India. These are all planned to converge in Geneva on 25th September 2020. These various marches collectively, as well as people who come to Geneva directly, will constitute the beginning of a social movement focused on new development strategies specially to reduce poverty, eliminate social exclusion, halt climate change and promote peace.
The Geneva Forum consists of dialogue with different UN and other Financial institutions as well as an event to support the spirit of dialogue around climate change, reducing poverty and conflict and eliminating social exclusion.
You speak of a Jai Jagat perspective, what do you mean by that…?
Jai Jagat is looking at the good of the planet and not just as myself, my family, my community and my country. It turns things around: my concern is your well-being, your family, your community and your country and our planet. It acts at a higher level of human consciousness to bring all people together. “The planet for all people and All people for the planet”. This gives people human security to be inventive for advancing civilization.
Also it reflects the interrelationship that has occurred because human evolution has come to a stage where populations can no longer afford the luxery of “remote” separateness and unlimited consumption without great cost and injury to the planet and other people. The manifest destiny of American immigrants of settling in the wide-open and wild West, an idea that has shaped the American dream, and later the dream of post-war Europe and beyond to the whole world, no longer fits with the much-needed rebalancing that is needed in our relationship with the earth, an imperative that compels people to consider for the first time – “rights to nature”. That for the regneration of our earth’s resources, inanimate and animate beings need to be safeguarded with Rights, similar to the Rights that humans avail under the Declaration of Human Rights. This is seen as necessary to secure an environment for human survival. Reducing global warming is no longer a scientific study, it is a strategy for human survival.
These imperatives for change is making us think of new ways of producing and consumming and thus we have to rethink the way we manage our economies and interface with international development and trade. The premonition for this came sometime back. In 2015 the World Community passed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were to be achieved by 2030. These were meant to change the international development paradigm.
The kind of international development we have today, began when Robert McNamara became President of the World Bank in 1968 and he built off the notions of: individual self-interest as the base of economic development, backed by a democratic polity. This was meant to expand US capitalism and also democracy. As early as 1973 there was a clarion call that the world had limited resources, and nonrenewables would eventually run out. Canadians like Maurice Strong with doggid foresight catalyzed the UN to hold international meetings on environment to bring in new policies. By the time the Bruntland Commission published its report in 1987, it was calling for an international devleopment that took environment and development as twin partners. In spite of all of this right knowledge, the large petroleum interests continue to dominate many of the decisions key to trade and development.
The petroleum interests also are linked with the military establishments that are behind a growing arms race. The military expansion of nuclear arms that was supposedly curbed in the 1990s has again begun. Arms production conventional and nuclear are the creation of economies that dependent on selling arms, and it is believed they are crucial for contributing to the country’s economic growth. But this requires a step back to look at whether economic growth should be produced at the cost of peace. Selling of armaments is bound to lead to more wars.
The social exclusion is particularly pernicious when it becomes a solution for governments wanting to give one group of people benefits at the cost of another group. We saw this in Nazi Germany when the wealth of the Jewish people was captured in the name of the presitge of the German race. In Canada, we continue to recall how First Nations communities lost their land, culture and identity by Settler populations. We have seen it time and time again in majoritarian politics where it is seen as a zero sum game: One group wins, the other loses. This social exclusion is being seen in country after country around the world.
This Global peace march emphasized that in the name of Mahatma Gandhi we can still find answers to deeper problems. The march will offer a yearlong period to discuss these issues and move global public opinion into seeing how to move forward.
Box Insert: One of the Mini-Forums in Geneva During September 26th to October 2nd, 2020
It is proposed that a 2-day conference be held at ILO Headquarters during the Jai Jagat 2020 Geneva Forum (possibly September 29th and 30th) in collaboration with the UN Task Force on Social Solidarity Economy. This Nonviolent Economy Forum would have the two-fold aim of: (i) bringing cases forward that are local, innovative from people of the unorganized sectors of the economy; and (ii) based on these cases to create a dialogue with a diverse group of stakeholders.
Bringing cases forward that are local, innovative from people of the unorganized sectors of the economy: This could occur on Day one. The people from the Jai Jagat have just completed a cross continental march and arrived at the UN after one year. They have collected innovative and interesting experiments from local people particularly those that are marginalized and less influenced by the formal economy, and written them down as micro-cases and stories. Marchers could retell these cases/stories to those in the NV Forum. This could also be aired through social media. Then these cases could be discussed among the participants in terms of their significance in creating: more people-friendly markets, or livelihoods that are nature-friendly with the potential of expansion, or as in preserving the commons. These could be complemented by other cases from participants that did not march but have come from movement backgrounds. A good facilitation could draw out key points.
Creating dialogue with a diverse group of stakeholders: This could occur on Day two. This dialogue would be with those (marchers) that have brought forward innovative cases meeting with those corporate leaders, select state actors (that have successfully pursued economic growth models in their communities), civil society leaders (that have demonstrated sustainable economic growth), economists, representatives from the UN Task Force on SSE and others promoting SDGs.
This dialogue would be geared to letting actors see themselves as the protagonists of a violent economy and how this violence is affecting planet and people. The Jai Jagat marchers are putting forward the proposition that it is time to take corrective action. Corrective action requires a paradigm shift and not simply more of the same. This shift has to be nonviolent: it has to take place in the whole economy (also in the non-solidarity economy); it has to provide space for dynamic forces from the unorganized sector at the grassroots; and finally it has to dialogue with all sectors, including oppressive and violence creating institutions. Ultimately, it will give some meaning to Nonviolent Economy.
Here are links to a few other like-minded projects:
Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – Campaign