“Religions are different roads converging to
the same point. What does it matter that
we take different roads, so long as we reach
the same goal?”
- Mahatma Gandhi
For several years, I have been interested in studying and learning about indian Society. My first real immersion into understanding society through the lens of religion, was my visit to the Kumbh Mela on January 26th, 2019 (https://www.rediscoveringindia.net/). It opened my eyes to a new universe that I had never seen before. I understood the integral role that religion played in people’s everyday lives, and interestingly, this was true across social and economic strata. This sparked my curiosity to get a deeper understanding of religion in India.
In the last 4 months, I have met six religious leaders from different religions to understand the similarities and differences between religions. After speaking to them, I realised that all religions have more in common than I had earlier believed.
Religious Harmony – Where is India Today?
India is the birthplace of a large number of religions of the world, it is also the place where many religions have resided over centuries. I believe that India is facing certain challenges with regard to religious harmony today. The world is looking upon us for social models for peaceful co-existence. If we want India to be in a stronger and more integrated place ten years from now, it is important that the youth of today understand different religions and appreciate the need for inter-religion harmony. Let’s begin a conversation amongst the youth on inter-religion harmony in India.
Panel discussion of religious leaders and thinkers on the following:
1. Has inter-religion harmony changed over time and what do you think
is the situation of the country today?
2. What do you think are some of the reasons for this change?
3. Has the media played a positive or negative role in this change in the
Indian context? (Newspaper, TV, social media)
4. What in your opinion is something the youth can do to promote inter-
religion harmony and make a meaningful difference?
5. Can you give us a real-life example or personal experience related to
A historic, engaging and enlightening discussion!
Event conducted on 03 Aug 2019
Dr. M. Christhu Doss is a Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and a scholar of Secularism, Christianity and Communal Politics. He completed his Ph. D. on Protestant Missionaries and Depressed Classes in Southern Tamil Nadu 1813-1947. His more recent research is in the area of Communal Margins of Secularism, in Post Colonial India.
Dr. M. Christhu Doss
Head of the Jewish community in New Delhi. He is the Honorary Secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue at Humayun road in New Delhi. Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar is a scholar of Judaism, a human rights activist and the Former Deputy Registrar (Law) with the National Human Rights Commission in India. He has authored many articles and has been actively involved in inter-faith activities since 1980. He has also attended more than 2000 National and Inter-national conferences and seminars and represented Judaism.
Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar
Farha Iman is a founding member and general secretary of Sarva Dharma Samvaad (SDS). Before SDS, She worked with National Social Watch (NSW) and Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) as Advocacy and Communications Officer. She has also worked as a researcher for Arigatou International and UNESCO on a project named, "Best Practices of Interfaith Dialogue by/for youth: Asia and Pacific Region".
Ms. Farha Iman
Ms. Upasana Dhankhar is the Founder and CEO at Melodypipers Services Pvt. Ltd. She is a Lawyer, Historian and Social scientist. She is a scholar of Hindu law, Gita studies, and is an expert in Prakrit and Sanskrit literature. She was the Assistant professor at Deen Dayal Upadhyay College and Miranda House of University of Delhi.
Ms. Upasana Dhankhar
I conducted an interactive discussion on religious harmony with 60 global youth leaders from 27 countries as part of the UNESCO MGIEP World Youth Conference on Kindness on 21 Aug 2019.
My aim is to conduct many other such workshops to evangelize the concept of religious harmony among the youth
- Ayesha Dhall
Workshop held on 21 Aug 2019
My name is Ayesha Dhall and I am a 17 year old, 12th-grade student of the Shri Ram School Aravali, Gurgaon.
I have grown up hearing about the Partition of India in 1947 from my grandparents who had to flee from Lahore when a nation got divided on the basis of religion. My uncle, a Kashmiri Pandit fled his home in Srinagar, to escape the ethnic cleansing that took place there in the 1990s. These stories made me understand the futility of a society divided on religion and passionate about the idea of religious harmony.
I believe the youth plays an important role in driving change in society. My peers and I drive programs on planting trees, saving electricity, water conservation in our communities. It’s time for us to start a conversation about the topic of religious harmony.
I am a socially conscious person and have done 2 major initiatives on women empowerment – ‘She Dares’, a reverse mentoring initiative involving students and corporate women and a Street Art initiative in a village in Haryana to propagate women achievement and ambition ()
News & Views
Dear Ayesha, Very good initiative, especially for Indian youth since universities here, lack a curriculum on religious studies. The talk was indeed enriching since it will help reach out to those who wish to work for the cause. I wish you all success, Love and Best wishes
Scholar of Hindu Law, Gita Studies and Sanskrit Literature
The discussion ”Youth for Religious Harmony” moderated by Ayesha Dhall was historic, interesting and enlightening. While exploring the possibilities for inter-religion dialogues, the discussion attempted to find out similarities and differences in Indian cultural settings. I am sure, this discussion would open up vistas for the possibilities of a movement, which can create an inclusive, harmonious and peaceful society. My best wishes to Ayesha, the ambassador of religious harmony.
M Christhu Doss
Professor at JMC, Delhi
When you came to the office with this idea, I was impressed and inspired at the same time. It is exactly the epitome of youth – young, concerned and assertive. Keep it up. Sorry, I could not move the bureaucratic machinery to help you make this space bigger but small was even better. I promise more help, individual and to an extent organisational. Reach out of you need to bounce off ideas – anything, reach out. See you at the World Youth Conference, on 20-21 August, more soon!
Keep Going! Much Love.
UNESCO MGIEP, manages #YouthWagingPeace
Amazingly beautiful work by Ayesha. Learned a lot about different perspectives on Religions. I also learned about myself; how I deal with scattered thoughts. I am impressed and excited to see that another generation is coming up for Inter religious Dialogue
Founder Sarva Dharma, Samvaad.
Researcher for Arigatou International and UNESCO