About Swaraj Peeth

Swaraj Peeth Trust, a Gandhian center for nonviolence and peace, works for Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of Swaraj – Home-Rule or Self Rule based on culture of nonviolence or cultural democracy- through building a community based nonviolent social force called Gandhi Shanti Sena; organising public dialogues, training in nonviolence and education programmes for creating swaraj awareness in various areas of life.

Swaraj Peeth is dedicated to advocating, promoting and applying Gandhian vision and methods of nonviolence, satyagraha, peace with justice and human dignity. Based on the vision of his root text, Hind Swaraj, Swaraj Peeth is engaged not only in bringing Hind Swaraj in the center of discourse on nonviolence, freedom and justice, but it has been able to translate it into an action programme through developing a four stage process of building Gandhi Shanti Sena or a community based nonviolent voluntary social force. Four stages are:

  • Public meetings and public Swaraj-dialogues
  • Hind Swaraj study sessions emphasising on culture of nonviolence;
  • Formation of Gandhi Shanti Sena and oath taking on the day of the birth of Satyagraha, Eleven September; and,
  • Training in nonviolence for violence prevention, conflict resolution and humanitarian service.

Swaraj Peeth is also engaged internationally in dialogue on nonviolence and actively supports nonviolent movements for democracy, freedom and justice. Swaraj Peeth supports morally and actively those who are struggling nonviolently for human dignity, preservation of culture, environment and Life on the earth. Swaraj Peeth believes that nonviolence as a Law of Being and as a principle of life must be coextensive with economic, political, social and cultural domains of life.

Swaraj Peeth Trust in its Third Phase (2010 on wards) is –

  • Engaged In experiment in nonviolence in conflict area of Jammu & Kashmir, and, tribal insurgency area of Bihar and Jharkhand through engagement and dialogue with multiple parties, groups and communities in conflict;
  • Building, in conflict areas, nonpartisan peace-infrastructure of civil society forums and teams of trained community based Gandhi Peace- volunteers – Gandhi Shanti Mitra and Gandhi Shanti Sainiks – nonviolent peace-keepers and peace-builders for social/communal harmony; nonviolent conflict resolution, and nonviolent transformation of violence;
  • Conducting study and discourses, based on Gandhi’s root text Hind Swaraj, at grass roots,  national, and international levels on present predicaments  and  Gandhi’s vision of a nonviolent social order  by organizing
  1. Hind Swaraj and Nonviolence study camps and Nonviolence Training;
  2. Hind Swaraj Conclave for senior scholars and activists;
  • International Workshops, Conferences, Training in Nonviolence, and net-working among experimenters in nonviolence, scholars, intellectuals and academicians, on the vision of Hind Swaraj.

A brief about the main ongoing experiment in nonviolence

Jammu&Kashmir: Through sustained intra and inter-region youth dialogues on radicalization, violence and nonviolence; Kashmiri-Muslim-Pandit dialogues for rapprochement; building nonviolent peace-keeping cadres for communal/social harmony and defense of plural culture (Valley, 2 Districts; Jammu, 4); inter-region and inter-community peace dialogues and CBMs; dialogue on violence and women: widows and half-widows; Peace intervention in conflicts; and, flood-relief  2014,  we have created  cross-group networks and alliances, including chapters in Srinagar, Jammu and Chenab region of bright, active youth leaders capable of surviving intermittent conflicts, created a much demanded nonpartisan civil society platform and forums for sustainable process of nonviolent transformation of violence, communal harmony; inter-region, inter-community CBMs, peace-keeping and security.

Insurgency hit tribal Bihar & Jharkhand: Radicalized tribal youth in Banka district (Notified Moist area) converted to Gandhi Shanti Mitra (GSM) have taken to resolving disputes, conflicts, rivalries that invariably turn violent, through nonviolent methods of dialogue, mediation, intervention.  Environment of fear receding in 5 blocks covered by Hind Swaraj-GSM campaign domino effect has officials, teachers, gramsevaks, visiting destitute but feared villages;  GSMs connecting with local administration for welfare/development schemes – livelihood, health, education, water, sanitation. Moral-cultural-social empowering experience brings-forth right leadership.  In 8 districts 60+ trained GSMs; prevented caste/ communal/land clashes turning riots; successful girls’, SC/ST education campaign. People’s nonviolent awareness makes administration and community mutually responsive and accountable.

Challange We Face

There are identifiable and worrisome aspects to the present situation:

  • Failure of ideological, institutional and technological correctives;
  • General environment of economic instability, insecurity and fear;
  • Clear public sentiment about the need to do something – something that every citizen can do and,
  • All pervasive sense of helplessness compounds the challenge.

People want to do ‘something’ at their own level. This ‘need to do something’, something that individual can do, gets expressed at every time when the forces of various forms of violence make attempts to assume greater power and legitimacy. A continuous and collective search for constructive and nonviolent remedies in the light of experiences and attempts is required in order to provide anchor to people’s faith in nonviolence at this difficult time.

This compelling situation demands answers. It calls for exploration of nonviolence in a manner that individual, family, community and nation can do something that can help dispel the environment of fear, insecurity and violence, and show some way to the people fatigued with violence and to the believers in nonviolence. The present situation, locally and globally, has posed a serious challenge to the advocates of nonviolence. It is easy to narrate the vices of violence and virtues of nonviolence, but the deeper and practical question before us is about how to face these various forms of direct, structural, environmental and civilisational violence through forms and methods of nonviolence.

What is our duty at a time like this, and what are the possibilities?