Skip to main content

Plan and pray for a significant peace initiative around Christmas and New Year

By Bharat Dogra

Can a year which experienced such terrible although entirely avoidable violence and conflict still end on a note of peace and hope? Yes, it can if the remaining few days can be used for a significant peace initiative to take place around Christmas or the arrival of the New Year.
This is the time of the year when people, and hopefully world leaders, are likely to be more inclined toward ideas and plans of peace and harmony. Efforts should be made to make the best use of this limited time-span.
There is another reason why such an effort should be made. The calendar for the next year 2024 is full of several important elections and issues of critical importance. It is important that such a year should begin on a note of peace and goodwill.
Although the present world scene is characterized by several deeply worrying conflict situations, at the same time there are some indicators that the time may be favorable for some peace initiatives.
In the context of Ukraine, for example, the enthusiasm of several western supporters of Ukraine for continuing weapons supply and continuing conflict appears to have diminished in recent times after taking a more realistic view of the situation. Hence this may be an opportune type for declaring an unconditional ceasefire on the basis of the present line of control, accompanied by some gestures of goodwill, to be followed after a short gap by negotiations to resolve all contentious issues.
As this writer has argued consistently, the territorial and perhaps some other issues are so contentious that if a ceasefire is to be based on such conditions then it may be delayed indefinitely, leading to further highly distressing, avoidable loss of life. Hence unconditional ceasefire is really the way forward and the likelihood of acceptance of this has improved in recent times. If this idea is promoted in an unbiased way with due respect and dignity for both sides and with true, sincere commitment to peace, then it is just possible that surprising good results can be achieved very quickly in current conditions.
In Gaza the situation is even more distressing just now. However many journalists, activists and others have been working with deep commitment to draw attention to the terrible human tragedy being enacted here and as a result world opinion has also been changing, to the extent that even the USA policy makers and President Joe Biden could not remain entirely unaffected by it. We should not forget that within Israel also there have been some very sincere voices of peace. True, Netanyahu with his extremely aggressive agenda is a big problem and obstacle for any peace initiative. But can just one obstinate leader stand in the path of peace if the peace effort is strong enough?
As the people of Gaza have suffered so much recently and there is increased worldwide sympathy for them, this may be just the right time to speed up the peace efforts to stop the Israeli aggression while securing the release of remaining hostages, to be followed by gestures of peace and goodwill ( such as release of prisoners). This in turn can be followed by talks to secure some kind of a two-state solution which is based on peace and justice, even if only to a limited extent, for all sides.
While these two are the most worrying conflict situations, both in terms of the distress caused and the threats of escalation and widening of conflict, there is the ever-present threat of the blowing up of the USA-China rivalry into a serious conflict situation, and so peace efforts should give due attention to this too.
There are several other costly conflicts too, whether in Sudan, or the wider Horn of Africa region, or in Yemen or Myanmar or elsewhere. Significant efforts for ending conflicts and moving toward peace should be attempted around this time of the year in all conflict zones.
In the extremely important context of disarmament too the world has been moving in the wrong direction as even some of the existing treaties, including some of the most crucial ones concerning weapons of mass destruction, have been weakened or have collapsed. Hence any major step forward in the direction of strengthening disarmament would also be a very welcome and reassuring way of ending an year that has seen so much of highly distressing conflict.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include “Planet in Peril”, “Protecting Earth for Children”, “Earth without Borders” and “A Day in 2071”



'Wedding of the century': What does Mukesh Ambani want to prove by such extravaganza?

By NS Venkataraman*  Mukesh  Ambani,   a renowned Indian industrialist who is said to be the richest person in India and  one of the richest persons in the world,   has just now conducted the wedding celebration of  his son in Mumbai,   with unheard level of lavishness in India.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'28% rise in sedition cases': Top global NGO alliance rates India's civil space 'repressed'

By Rajiv Shah Rating India's civic space as repressed , Civicus, a global civil society alliance, in its new report submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) on the state of civic space in the country has said that the use of sedition law against the Modi government’s critics continues. "Under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sedition cases have increased by 28 per cent with over 500 cases against more than 7,000 people", it says.

How US is using Tibetans to provoke conflict with China 'ignoring' India

By Lobsang Tenzin*  On July 12, US President Joe Biden signed the Resolve Tibet Act, and Tibetans cheered for it, believing that the law promotes a resolution of the dispute between Tibet and China. Is this true? First, let's look at the issue of the ownership of Tibet. 

Tribals from 60 villages observe seed festival to 'protect' diversity of indigenous seeds

By Bharat Dogra*  Nearly sixty villagers are sitting on an open floor covered by a roof for shade but otherwise open on all sides. Women and men are present in equal numbers but the visibility of women is higher because of their colorful dresses.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Maharashtra govt's proposed bill may be used against 'dissenting' journalists, writers, filmmakers, artists

Counterview Desk  The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra, strongly objecting to what it calls “repressive and unconstitutional” Maharashtra Special Public Security Bill 2024, has demanded the proposed law be scrapped in its entirety. In its Statement of Objects and Reasons for the Bill, PUCL noted,  the broad and non-descript label of ‘urban naxal’ has been used, which is actually a “common slur used for any citizen who expresses their opposition to state policy or is not aligned with right-wing majoritarian views."