The Peace Gong
Preparing children to contribute towards a culture of peace and nonviolence through media literacy
Philosophy of the Peace Gong: “To ensure a global non-violent future, children should be encouraged to volunteer to build bridges of friendship amongst young people. Promoting children’s participation in community building will not only contribute towards trans-generational progress of the society but also lay the foundation of an active young citizenry who are aware of their rights and duties.”
Guiding Principles: Senior Gandhian Mr Natwar Thakkar emphasizes that the communication praxis should encompass not only deep understanding of each other’s culture and tradition but also do the work of emotional bridge building thereby connecting people of diverse cultures. This is essential to make the phenomenon of violence outdated and further mutual understanding. The Peace Gong by connecting children from myriad backgrounds tries to encourage them to do the work of emotional bridge building and thereby contributing to a culture of peace and nonviolence.
Iflah Javed Qureshi, Class XII, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir and Editor: “Our newspaper, The Peace Gong promotes diversity and helps in facilitating dialogues amongst young people from different cultures and communities. We extensively use the social media, email communications and mobiles to connect with other student reporters from different background across the country and abroad. Using new forms of available communication, The Peace Gong can be a powerful vehicle to help young people to come together and work for global peace.”
Novel laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore believed that it was not enough to pass on information, what was important was the ability to put to use what one has learnt and to develop curiosity and alertness of mind. In the contemporary knowledge society this perspective of Tagore is of great importance as there are deluge of information. For a strong foundation of an active citizenry it is a challenge on how the citizens make use of this information for the benefit of the society. In this backdrop, media and information literacy programmes especially for young people becomes significant as it develops their capacities and enhances their skills to not only use information but also use the media to take up social concerns.
It is with this goal in mind that the Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore Foundation, New Delhi, a think tank of academicians, communication specialists, social workers and researchers has initiated The Peace Gong, a global children’s newspaper.
Aim of The Peace Gong: Develop communicative, semiotic and cultural skills along with critical thinking abilities amongst children so that they can negotiate the increasing complexities of today’s world.
Spandana Bhattacharya, 1st Editor of The Peace Gong on how the newspaper tries to inculcate a spirit of volunteerism amongst young people: “All of us have the light in us, a light powerful enough to purge the darkness around. We all have the spark in us, just waiting to be kindled! We are all peace warriors trying to work day and night for a better tomorrow. And that’s exactly what our newspaper “The Peace Gong” advocates – humanity.”
The universal approach of the Peace Gong reporters to work for global peace is reflected by this evocative poem of its reporter in Pakistan, Syeda Rumana Mehdi:
Make a difference!
Bones are scattered everywhere,
The shrill wail of death echoes in my ear,
I stand in a developed world in the 21st century,
Then why does the Earth look like one big mortuary?
Why do mighty oceans look like pools of blood and mountains a heap of bodies?
Why are innocent children smuggled across borders like commodities?
I watched silently as yet more tubes were inserted into that baby,
I watched silently as the nurse roughly pushed the weeping lady,
I never spoke a word as the shroud covered that angelic face,
I tried not to think that I could have saved that child in many ways,
I ignore the wetness of my eyes and the sorrow in my heart,
After all, that country and my country are miles apart,
I walk on,
I see children, whose clothes are torn,
Can I still turn a blind eye to all this mess?
For how long shall we be under duress?
Everyone says that things will improve,
The boulder of violence is too big for one to move,
So let’s break this boulder piece by piece,
Only then shall the havoc in our lives cease,
Only then shall the roses bloom,
Only then there will be less misery and gloom,
Let my song of love echo over Tahrir Square in Cairo, the landmines in Vietnam and the deserts in Africa,
Let my hand of love spread far and wide, from America to Australia,
United we stand and divided we fall,
In order to make giant leaps, we first need to learn to crawl,
Together, we will make the world a better abode,
Together, we will take care of this beautiful gift of God