India-Pakistan relations and the challenges largely dependent on foreign policy factors and military strategic issues but the peacebuilding initiatives can start at the country level to reduce the strife between the inland community at the border areas. An appropriate rapport-building can be the entry point for a long-term developmental activity through systematic community mobilization.
Peace and security are indispensable pillars for social development and one of the thematic focus of Caritas India, a new program is envisaged which can build rapport and relationship with the communities. It will help the community to identify their overall developmental needs, bringing the villagers (irrespective of their social/religious background) under community-based organizations, and involve them in their community development activities in a positive and collective manner to gradually reduce the hatred, tension and resulting impacts on the children. This will unite the villagers belonging to different social and religious groups for solving various problems of the villages, which indirectly, will bring all the people under one umbrella, contributing to increased trust and religious tolerance.
Caritas India believes that Peace is Possible with cooperation and coherence among different actors especially religious leaders and the government officials at the block and district level to promote peace and harmony. The project will reach out to the villages and communities located very close to the border where hatred, indifference, insecurity, and ongoing tension are very high. It will work with already existing CBOs in the communities like Self Help Groups (SHG), Mahila Mandal, Youth Groups etc. in the previous project to engage them in building peace and harmony in different social and religious groups by involving Youth, Children and Women in the communities (and where possible, prospective men also) and form different groups like Village Task Forces, Children’s Peace Committees and Youth Peace Committees. The agenda of inter-social, inter-religious and inter-cultural harmony will be integrated within the already existing CBOs.
Caritas India has initiated the peacebuilding project in the year 2013-2014 titled ‘Cross Border Peace Building Initiative among the young Citizens of India and Pakistan’ through children to bring peace and harmony which ended in 2018. The project has created school-based peace clubs and engaged different stakeholders to minimize the violence, hatred, stress, and indifference among the community and people. Along with it, the programme also focused on strengthening of local administration at the village level and towards its people.
The Project was implemented by Catholic Social Service Society (CSSS), J&K and Navjeevan Charitable Society (NCS), Jalandhar Punjab. The aimed to “Enhanced understanding and openness of cross border issues affecting young youth, individuals and communities in the border areas and break indifference to become more inclusive and transparent in their relation”. It has inspired and able to reach nearly 10000 population by forming 22 peace club with approximate 700 members and 22 school point person who played a vital role to roll out the program in 22 schools in the border area of Jammu and Punjab. The peace project transformed hundreds of school students to understand the indifference, hatred, insecurity, stress, and uncertainty during the cross-border military action.
The new project will be implemented with the same partners in 40 villages and 20 schools of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir to get sustained results at the larger community level.
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