Peace Alliance Partners (PAP) Program
Initiated by COVA (a national network of over 800 voluntary organizations working in India to promote communal harmony, peace and social justice), the Peace Alliance Partners (or the PAP) Program aims to bring together community based groups, development organizations, academic institutions and professional bodies into a nationwide network to secure communal harmony and social integration through the involvement of all sections of society.
Unlike most programs of NGOs that target only the poor and deprived sections of society, PAP Program seeks to also involve the middle classes and the rich, including the educated and professionals -as our present education system does not have the provision to sensitise people to social issues, especially those of communal harmony and national integration- even if it turns out world class technocrats and professionals. This is leading to a paradoxical situation where our ever growing educated and professional classes are becoming more and more sectarian leading to increasing communalisation of society that could soon degenerate into perpetual conflicts amongst different sections and social groups if not checked in time and effectively.
The PAP program consists of quarterly Learning Sessions and a variety of field activities that enable members of the partner organisations to understand the nuances of communal conflict and the necessity of social integration. Further, PAP program equips the participants to secure community harmony and social integration through their ongoing activities and programs in their areas of operations by inculcating new attitudes and skills and without the need for starting any new programs.
Biases and Prejudices:
No individual could claim to be totally free of all biases and prejudices. All of us are plagued by biases and prejudices formed on grounds of religion, caste, race, gender, language, region and other such differences. These hidden biases and prejudices influence our behaviour and lead to discriminatory practices, social conflict, violence and even genocides.
Development: The Double Edged Sword
Development interventions could be used to integrate and also to alienate different communities or social groups living in the same area or locality.
Of late, many development interventions are becoming exclusive and seek to target only one specific community. While such targeted interventions may indeed help in addressing the issues and problems specific to the community and accelerate its development, they also result in alienating other communities in the vicinity. Such alienations could lead to mistrust and hatred eventually resulting in violence that may destroy in two days all the achievements of decades of development interventions.
A number of trainings, drills and elaborate manuals are available to equip individuals and organizations to deal with natural disasters like floods, cyclones, typhoons, earthquakes etc. However, very few such trainings or manuals seem to be available to deal with man made disasters like social conflicts, riots and genocides.
Deconstructing and Setting Political Agendas:
It is found that all social conflicts arise due to some political issues that are exploited by politicians to divide people for electoral gains. Even though India is proclaimed a democracy, it is the politicians and not the people who are setting the political agendas in our country. And when politicians set the agendas, it is not for the development of the people but rather for their division or exploitation (through offers of freebees like colour televisions, subsidised rice etc.) for quick and easy electoral gains even if this leads to social disintegration and generates sectarian conflicts. There are many instances both at the regional and national levels where some political parties have deliberately engaged in divisive politics and instigated violence for electoral gains- and have also gained remarkable successes through these devious designs to repeat such stratagems again and again.
The PAP program also aims to equip people to deconstruct and expose the political agendas underlying any social conflict and enable people themselves to set the political agenda through the Citizen’s Assertion Campaign. (Note on the Concept and Practice of Citizen’s Assertion Campaign is available). With people- instead of politicians- setting the agenda, it is expected that divisive and identity politics (that invariably leads to social tensions and violence for electoral gains) will give way to politics of ideology and integration that alone can provide peace and development – the desire of all sections of society.
The PAP Program
PAP Members and Sessions:
Development organizations, academic institutions, mass movements, professional bodies etc. could enlist in the Peace Alliance Partners network. Each group would be offered 8 one-day Perspective Building and skill development programs, once every three months- 4 Sessions in a year for 3 years. Organisations can also take one session every month and complete the program in a year. Citizen’s Assertion Campaign is a separate program that could run concurrently and requires two days of orientation and training.
Each program would be a day long occasion that aspires to broaden the perspective and develop skills of the participants on issues of communal harmony, social integration, conflict management and gaining control over political processes in an atmosphere of celebration and participative learning.
Who could be the learners?
Any person or group of any background interested in fostering human values, promoting national integration and practicing social harmony could participate in the program. It is suggested that the group size for each program should be 25 to 30 members.
What would you learn?
The Modules are designed to address the four issues listed above viz. biases, prejudices and how to over come them; using development interventions as a strategy for social integration; acquire the necessary skills and capability required for conflict management and riot control and finally enable people to set political agendas to take governance to the grassroots to ensure inclusive development and social integration..
Under riot control measures the participants would learn to recognize the signs that precede any social conflicts or violence, action to be taken to prevent the eruption and spread of violence, measures for relief, rehabilitation and trauma counseling and finally, dealing with the police and preparing proper legal ground for the conviction of the perpetrators.
How do you learn?
A variety of tools and techniques would be used to enable participants to acquire fresh perspectives and new skills in a participatory manner. PAU (Participatory Analytical Understanding) is a new method developed by COVA to deconstruct the apparently irreconcilable ideological conflicts and generate an understanding of the bases and causes of social differences. This would enable participants to overcome biases, obtain an objective understanding of contentious issues and work towards substantive and productive community integration.
It is proposed to start a quarterly e-newsletter for the PAP network to enable members to share experiences and ideas regarding communal harmony and social integration through development interventions. The newsgroup would also facilitate the national network to initiate collaborative interventions in times of emergencies and conflicts.
The Learning Celebrations at a Glance
Program Designation: Perspective Building on Communal Harmony and Conflict Resolution
(Focus of this Module is on addressing conflict between different religious communities- adaptable to caste, regional. linguistic or any other conflict).
Learning Plan for the First Year:
How biased are you?
The first Module will help participants to identify and understand their sub conscious communal and social biases and enable them to establish the link between their personal biases, social conflict and communal / caste violence. The Session will also enable participants to acquire a graphic understanding of the hardships and destruction caused by communal riots and caste conflicts.
Redesigning Organisations and Reading Conflicts
The second Module will help in recognizing the communal/ sectarian biases inherent in organizations. It will equip participants to redesign organisations so that they become vehicles to secure social integration through their ongoing development interventions. Secondly, participants will also learn to read the onset of any sectarian conflict and learn about measures that could reduce tensions and prevent the outbreak of violence.
Guarding Against Myths and Mischief
This Module will enable participants to understand the dynamics of stereotyping and myth creation regarding different communities. The participants will also learn the techniques to contain riots and prevent the spread of violence.
Cleansing Within and Without
The last Module of the first series will assist participants to overcome biases and stereotypes. It would also help them in understanding the politics of social conflicts and enable them to center stage development agendas as a strategy to secure communal harmony and community integration.
After each Session the participants pledge to undertake one action commitment of their choice in the three months before the next session. Some of the Action Commitments undertaken by some participants of the program on promoting communal harmony included reading the scriptures / sacred texts of another religion; visiting places of worship of other religions to understand their rituals and practices; making friends with followers of other religions; engaging with members of other communities to understand contentious issues from their perspective etc. Appropriate Action Commitments can be devised for Modules dealing with other forms of conflicts like caste, race, ethnic, language etc. also.
Two years. Four sessions per year – one session in three months. Each session to be of one day duration – from 10 am to 5.30 pm.
For programs outside India, two sessions can be organised together to save costs. In all 4 sessions will be conducted in two years once every six months.
Location and Arrangements:
The sessions will be conducted at the office or the field area of the host organisation requesting the course, according to the convenience of the organisation concerned. The host organisation should make all arrangements for conducting the sessions.
Pot Luck Lunch: It is requested that all participants of the sessions bring their own lunch packs and share it together. This promotes fellowship and bonding.
Discourse by Religious Leaders: The host organisations are requested to invite one religious leader to speak about a religious festival celebrated / to be celebrated around the time of the program. The religious leader should be requested to speak about the history and reasons behind celebrating the particular festival and also the activities and functions involved. Representatives of different religions should be invited for each of the sessions to enable participants to know about the festivals and traditions of different religions.
Festival Sweet: All festivals have some sweet dish associated with them. The host organisation is requested to arrange for the preparation of a sweet dish associated with the festival about which the discourse is being arranged for a particular session. The sweet is to be served to the participants during lunch.
Participation Certificates: All the participants who attend at least three of the four programs offered in a year would be given a Participation Certificate detailing the courses attended.
Feedback from Participants of Earlier Programs:
“Training on communal harmony is necessary for NGOs and their staff. The tools used in PAP training viz. group discussion, role play and charts, are very useful, as is the assessment mode of self on communalism. The role plays and other methods helped to elicit information and draw out biases.” – E. V. S. Naidu, DRUSS, Nellore
“Very interesting and innovative. This program enhanced my perspectives with regard to communal harmony and peace. The tools used are very interesting and revealed how much secular / biased I was.” – Ch.Yekambaram, MARI, Warangal
“The program used various methods to drive home the point on secularism and communal harmony effectively. Verbal narrations and visuals enhanced our learning.” – P.Jyothi, Good Shepherd Convent, Mangalagiri, Guntur dist.
“The methodology was effective. Quiz competitions and group discussions enhanced our knowledge, which we will pass on to the grassroots.” – Mahesh, CRSD, Madakasira, Anantapur dist.
Professional Fees: A fee for a set of four sessions spread over a year would be charges depending on the resources available with the organisation:
For organisations with a budget up to 50 Lakhs: Rs. 20,000
For organisations with a budget above 50 Lakhs: Rs 40,000
For international organisations and corporates: Rs. 60,000
For programs in other countries: $ 1500
Travel and local hospitality to two resource persons for each session to be provided by the host organisation
COVA, 20-4-10, Charminar, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, INDIA. PIN: 500 002 Phone :+91-40- 24567087 / 24572984 / 24528318 / 24528320
Fax : +91-40-24574527 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.covanetwork.org
COVA- Peace Alliance Partners (PAP) Program