In a visit that is likely to have a far-reaching impact on the process of peace-building in the North East, world renowned humanitarian and founder of The Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is arriving in Guwahati on Tuesday.
During the visit, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will attend several public and private events. He will interact with people from all sections of society in a bid to seek a shared vision for addressing the issues facing the region through non-violent and democratic ways. One of the highlights of the interactions will be his keynote address at a conference of opinion-makers and thought-leaders of the region.
Christened Strength in Diversity: North East Indigenous People’s Conference, the power-packed event is being organized by many like-minded and prominent individuals and groups of the region. The event will bring leaders from all walks of life, including leaders who had formerly taken up arms, on a common platform to debate, discuss and bridge the gap among various stakeholders in the peace processes and reduce the trust deficits that exist.
What is making North East watchers keenly await Sri Sri address at the event is the presence of several former underground leaders, led by General Secretary of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Anup Chetia as the convener of the event. Other prominent names include former leader of Tripura National Volunteers, Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl and Dilip Nunisa of Dima Halam Daogah, the Assam-based militant outfit that laid down arms in 2013.
Apart from the organizers, the conference is also likely to see the attendance of a large contingent of leaders from Nagaland, including former army chief of NSCN(IM) Lt Gen VS Atem and Wangtin Naga of NSCN(R) and top civil society leaders from Manipur such as President of United Committee Manipur (UCM) Elangbam Johnson and President of All Manipur United Club’s Organization (AMUCO) Ph Debananda Sharma.
“We have invited Gurudev to address the conference as he is known all over the world for motivating individuals and groups to resolve long-standing conflicts on the basis of love, equality, human values and compassion,” explains Anup Chetia.
“The vision of Gurudev to bring together such key leaders previously associated with armed movements and articulate to them peaceful ways of resolving the issues that have given rise to a “culture” of conflict in the region marks a historic chapter in the process of peace-building in the region,” says Sanjay Kumar of The Art of Living, who has led several conflict-resolution initiatives of the organization.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been pushing for peace in the region very proactively and is acknowledged to have played a big hand in the recent homecoming 68 militants in Manipur.
Adopting a holistic approach to peace, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will also attend the ‘Adhibhautik Shanti Sanmelan,’ a unique program hosted by The Art of Living to harmonize the environment and pray for an atmosphere of peace and harmony in the wake of devastating natural calamities the region has witnessed in the recent past. Sri Sri will also take stock of The Art of Living’s ongoing flood relief initiatives in Assam which have benefited over 70,000 people in worst-affected and remote areas.
After his engagement in Assam, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will visit Arunachal Pradesh where he will attend the Maitreya Diwas celebration in the Indo-China border town of Tawang. He will also attend several programs hosted by the government of Arunachal Pradesh, including an address to ministers, MLAs and bureaucrats.