Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Bento D'Souza
NEVASA, FEBRUARY 28, 2012: Day two saw three hundred participants from various states of India move to sleepy Nevasa, on the Aurangabad highway by a fleet of State Transport Buses. The sedated inhabitants of Nevasa got an earthquaky shock when a troop of 300 vibrant youth shouting slogans and crying "Jodo, Jodo, Bharat jodo" invaded the bye-roads of the crowded town of Nevasa.

Near the bus stop, the welcome was done with children from different schools. They were dressed in fancy and colorful costumes; from Swords and spears, leisims and thermocol pots strapped on their heads, phetta and orange cloth bands wrapped around waists, they looked like a scene from any Hindi Bollywood film.
A colourful stage was put up and the citizens of Nevasa some in coloured sarees, while others in white salvar khamezes, with phethas welcomed the star of the procession, the 'Singham' of Ahmednagar,  Mr. Krushna Prakash, SP. Together with other religious leaders onto an open vehicle  they began their long march into Nevasa town. True to his status, 'Singham' did not refuse the excited youth an autograph of himself. All along the path, Celebrity Singham with a microphone in hand, raised slogans for the people to unite for Peace, Justice and Equality. 
"Kon Jodenga, kon Jodenga?" he shouted, "Ham jodenge" all responded. It reminded me of the prophet Nehemiah building together the scattered house of Israel, by inviting all to the table of a commitment to Peace and Consensus in nation building.  People lined the streets and crowds followed imitating the famous 'Dandi March' of Gandhiji. Youth joined, dancing behind the vehicle carrying the dignitaries. Garlands and shawls were given to those on the vehicles. Some paths raised dust, others were watered and all looked in suspended silence at the boisterous youth trying to shout their loudest yell.
In some Muslim quarters, roses were distributed to the passing dignitaries of the Peace March. People distributed water to pilgrims for peace. After the procession, a Sarva Dharma Prathna was held. Mr. Subbarao animated the meditative service with talk and bhajan, communicating the fight that exists within religions, between Protestant and Catholic, between Sunni and Shiite Muslim and in other major world religions. "In the name of religion people have fought wars, but check the blood of all religious persons and their blood is pure Indian," he exhorted. "There is no blood that separates those from different religions, not even blood groups, but there is only one blood that flows in the veins of the people of India, that is called Indianness," he forcefully concluded.  Those from different states made their presence tangible with a yell.
After the prayer, a tableau of the role of languages as bridge builders not bridge breakers was held. Mr. Subbarao sang the songs, in all languages, for the dances of the respective states. It was an exultant feeling to be present, the glimpse of a new India being born out of the ashes of a dead and corrupt establishment. It all begins with the young.  Every one knows that the youth are the driving force behind every revolution but most don't know how to partner with the young in their endeavour for our common future, be it in church or society.
"You need to be part of it all to feel its impact," I whispered.  Vegetarian supper was hosted by Mr. Ghadge Patil in his new sprawling campus and college, five kms away. The next places the fire surfaces is in Sangamner on February 27, Jamkhed, Hiware Bazar, Ahmednagar city, Mukundnagar, places where Muslims and Hindus stay providing an uneven and volatile peace situation.  The National Youth Project camp ends on March 2. The seven day camp training for young people moves onto its third day. Gandhiji reminds you and me today: "Why do you think that the last chapter of history has already been written?" 
"Fire burns everything that comes in its path, but when fire buries itself under the ground, no one knows where it will surface next… but surely it will," is my firm conviction.

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