Volunteers for Peace and Harmony
In June 2011 the National Foundation for Communal Harmony (NFCH) launched the programme Volunteers for Peace & Harmony (V for Peace-n-Harmony) to create a network of volunteers.
NFCH was set up in 1992 as an autonomous body with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. Its main objective is to provide assistance for the physical and psychological rehabilitation of the child victims of communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence, with special reference to their care, education and training besides promoting communal harmony, fraternity and national integration.
The Home Minister is ex-officio chairman of the Governing Council of the Foundation. The Governing Council decides broad policies, suggests measures for achieving its objectives and exercises overall supervision over the Foundation.
The Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs is the ex-officio chairman of the Executive Council of the Foundation is the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs. The management and administration of the Foundation rests with the Executive Council. The Secretary of the Foundation is its principal executive officer.
Origin of the concept
Inspiration to set up a network of Volunteers emanated mainly from the Gandhian concept of ‘Shanti Sena’ – peace brigade - that played a significant role in creating the atmosphere of peace and harmony. Gandhi first used the term Shanti Sena in 1922, during the first large-scale riots between Hindus and Muslims after his return to India. But it was only in 1947, that Gandhi considered organizing a nationwide Shanti Sena in response to the large scale partition related rioting. The conference for organising the Sena was scheduled for February 1948, but Gandhiji was assassinated on 30 Jan 1948 and the Shanti Sena could not become a reality.
Shri Vinobha Bhave, later revived the idea and founded the Shanti Sena to deal with riots in 1957. In 1962, Narayan Desai son of Gandhian Mahadev Desai became Shanti Sena’s director, a position he held until 1978. Under his leadership, membership reached a high of about 6,000, in the mid-1960s.
The launch of V for Peace-n-Harmony in 2011 coincides with the 10th anniversary of International Year of Volunteers (IYV) being celebrated by the United Nations
Objectives of the Programme:
- to create a network of volunteers to act as facilitators / change agents for promoting social harmony, when peace and social cohesion between communities is disturbed as well as during peaceful times for inclusive development
- to spread awareness on peace and harmony in their respective communities and neighbourhoods
- to strengthen the sense of unity in diversity amongst citizens of the country and to take active participation in the Communal Harmony Campaign Week from 19th-25th of November observed by NFCH every year in the country.
Eligibility to enrol as a volunteer
Any citizen of India who believes in peace, non-violence and in the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (whole world is one single family) is welcome. However, In the first phase, volunteers associated with NSS, NYKS, NYC, NCC, Civil Defence and students in schools/colleges/universities and corporate would be enrolled and those working with CSOs, Mohalla committees, RWAs, Sadbhavana clubs, Cordiality committees, District peace committees, etc. would be enrolled in the second phase. The minimum age to be a Volunteer is 15 years and minimum educational qualification is class 10th.
Qualities of a volunteer
- love for people of the country
- positive attitude
- aptitude for knowledge / skill sharing and mentorship skills
To mark entry as a volunteer a person is expected to coin a slogan or provide a constructive / creative idea for peace and harmony. A certificate or a volunteer card would be issued to the volunteers after an annual review of their work by NFCH.