Coalition commits principles to justification for all people

An organization that grew out of the Confederation of Voluntary Association’s ideals and is still affiliated with it is the Coalition for Peace and Harmony.

It formed in April 2002 following the violence in Gujarat.

The Coalition’s core principle is “belief in and commitment to justice to all, without consideration of caste, creed, or religion and distancing religion from governance.”

The organization consists of about 30 members, most of whom are Hindus, but also include Muslims, Christians, Parses and others.

The Coalition targets the middle class who, according to Manatosh Mandal, Secretary General of CPH, is the target of communal propaganda and does not have access to objective information.

“We want to provide them with validated data and objective analysis to enable them to make more informed decisions,” Mandal said.

The Coalition has organized a series of lectures on communal issues in order to do this. Some of the topics have included “Minority Rights and Limitations,” “Threat from Communalism and the Secular Response,” “The Kashmir Issue with Special Reference to the Minorities,” “Nature of Violence in Gujarat” and “Hindutva and Women.”

Mandal said within the middle class, many prejudices exist about Muslims, and these prejudices contribute to communalism.

“We are looking at these things and trying to remove them,” Mandal said.

The Coalition believes increasing social mixing and sponsoring events involving both Hindus and Muslims can relieve communal tension. Some activities the CPH has sponsored include a fast, followed by a peace march and meeting on April 6, 2002, as well as a candlelight procession, to protest the Gujarat killings; organizing relief efforts for the victims in Gujarat; protest meetings against the killing of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir; and protest letters against the oppression of minorities in Bangladesh.

The CPH also recently organized a daylong workshop for teachers and activists called “Promoting National Integration Through Understanding of History.”

A group of 150 attended the workshop.

Presently, the Coalition has only a Hyderabad chapter, but it hopes to expand its outreach and network with other organizations in India and abroad to exchange ideas, views, and published material.

Within the next three years, the CPH wants to organize more talks, discussions and workshops with these other groups; publish booklets of these proceedings; and start a newsletter and web site.

“The purpose is to outreach beyond Hyderabad and work in tandem with other organizations so that an all-India movement gets built,” Mandal said.