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Student Essay Wins Int'l Acclaim

by SAMEER KUMAR SHARMA

 

Ludhiana, Punjab:   Reading best-sellers is her hobby and she has been writing since she was a child. Penning articles for newspapers has been her favourite pastime and she wants to get them published some day. According to her, peace can prevail in the world only when man finds peace within himself.

She is Jalnidh Kaur, a student of Grade 10 at Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar, Ludhiana, who has just returned from her trip to the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, USA. She was invited by the university to attend the 24th Annual Pacific Educational Conference at Honolulu.

Jalnidh had posted her essay on the internet, and it was selected as one of the top winners by the university.

Of all the participants from nine countries between the age group of fourteen to eighteen years, just four were selected. Jalnidh was the only winner from India, while two others were from the USA and the fourth was from Bhutan.

Jalnidh was awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the university, in association with the East West Centre. Besides this, she also received the title of Asia Pacific Leadership Programme-Junior Fellow. She is also the youngest of all the winners.

But writing the essay that made her go places was just a matter of chance. "One day, when I was browsing the internet, I came across a website that asked for entries for 'Value For Life', an international essay contest, which was held under the auspices of the Polynesian Voyaging Society", she explained.

She added, "Since I am a habitual writer, I wrote the essay with as much flair as I have. I also quoted the famous line from UNESCO: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the mind that defences of peace must be constructed".

"The crux of my essay was spirituality. I believe that there can be peace in the world only when spirituality gets promoted. And I wrote in the essay that we should let spiritual bonding link the entire humankind", she said.

The young writer noted that her father, who is an assistant professor of journalism at the Punjab Agricultural University, is her mentor. "He has inspired me a great deal. He is a great human being and social worker", Jalnidh declared proudly.

 

And here's the essay:  

NURTURING THE PLANT OF PEACE

Jalnidh Kaur
Grade 10, Guru Nanak Public School
Ludhiana, Punjab

 

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed".

 

Conflict is rife in today’s world. No doubt conflicts are an unavoidable part of living but these can be used as an opportunity for learning and growth. We cannot stop conflicts but can certainly master the art of solving conflicts through negotiations and mutual understanding, thereby eliminating violence. In every country, a new change is emerging based on freedom, more choices and greater responsibilities due to awareness of the people to shape their future.

At the same time, certain problems are being faced by the world. Maintaining world peace and development are in fact the key areas where an indispensable need for concern has arisen. A powerful movement for moral regeneration & spiritual awakening of our people is needed.

Our desire for peace and justice can be fulfilled by free, fair, and unbiased representation of people in society. Today, peace and security are no longer viewed only in terms of absence of military conflict but it is an issue strongly correlated with the common interests of mankind such as social justice, dignity and fair play. Victory over poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and human rights violation will be our greatest victory in achieving global peace.

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the first President of India said, “to be spiritual is not to reject reason but to go beyond it.” The future of our civilization would be bleak if we loose intellectual vigor. The world needs to spiritualize every movement, action, thought & feeling.

According to UNESCO, the Culture of Peace is peace in action, respect for human rights on a daily basis and the power generated by the interactive triangle of peace, development and democracy. As a culture of life, it consists of enabling different individuals to live together within a democratic society that fights poverty and exclusion.

At the same time, it guarantees political equality, social equity and cultural diversity. Community Government in Belgium has the power regarding cultural, educational and language-related issues, which contributes to avoiding civic strife between major communities and a possible division of the country on linguistic lines. What else would one demand?

The Culture of Peace, which came into being in 1989, was adopted as programme of the UNESCO in 1995 with its goal to ensure the transition from a culture of war, violence, imposition and discrimination, towards a culture of non-violence, dialogue, tolerance and solidarity. Individuals as well as institutions and states are already taking part in this movement that has proven to be an undoubted success.

Today, everyone appears highly educated but one does not find the proof of such education in hisher practical life. Peace also means staying away from intoxicants, drugs, etc. For peace we need education but it is also true that education alone cannot help if an educated person harbors greed, avarice & pride.

Social justice is the cornerstone of a world characterized by peace. Social justice requires a massive shift in resources from North to South. It requires redirection of investment into socially productive activities. It demands moral leadership asserting the need for redistribution between and within societies so that adequate living standards for all could be attained.

In other words, it requires and inversion of the current concentration of wealth and resources in global multi-national enterprises which pursue shareholder value rather than social justice. A world portrayed by justice and harmony must essentially have the following ingredients:

-     Respect for life and dignity of each human being without discrimination of prejudice.

-     Practice active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economical and social.

-     Share time and material resources in a spirit of magnanimity in order to put an end to political and economic injustice.

-     Defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others.

-     Promote consumer behavior that is responsible, develop practices that respect all forms of life, and preserve the balance of nature on the planet.

-     Contribute to the development of community with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity.

Out of these, diverse voluntary balances should gradually develop a social order that reflect in its social institutions the overall experience, interests, and adjustments of humankind to its varied situations, dissimilar personalities, and clashing interests.

Dr R.J. Rummel opines social justice can evolve out of spontaneous behavior in the same way knowledge evolves from diverse individuals seeking and contending over truth.

It is the people who make violence and we need people to build peace. Preventive action is more imperative today then ever before.

Let us pray for the grant of enterprise to work for world peace. Let a bond of spiritual unity link the entire humankind. Let us create history by design and not by accident.

[Article  -  Courtesy: Express India. Jalnidh Kaur's essay  -  Courtesy: The Polynesian Voyaging Society.]

Conversation about this article

1: Gagandeep Kaur (Chandigarh, India), July 18, 2007, 1:47 PM.

First of all, congratulations on your success. Upon reading your essay, I am really amazed and delighted to see the ethics, philosophy, spirit, values and, most importantly, the vision you have towards life, at this young age. Really impressed by your work. So, keep it up, dear!

2: Sharan Kaur (Chicago, U.S.A.), July 19, 2007, 8:31 AM.

Very impressed by your essay and your success. If only more people in the world thought like you, we would have peace! Congratulations.

3: I.J. Singh (New York, U.S.A.), July 20, 2007, 4:02 AM.

Very progressive, very mature; a sure sign that the spark of honest enquiry burns bright in the young. Wonderful.

4: Tejinder Hansra (Australia), July 20, 2007, 5:16 PM.

Congratulations, Jalnidh. Words that stood out for me in your essay ... "Our desire for peace and justice can be fulfilled by free, fair, and unbiased representation ... our greatest victory in achieving global peace." Your observation of human psyche and its underlying desire for self preservation as ingrained in human genes, is something each one of us also needs to aware of. Nurturing the plant of life in all is our first human duty. That is, if you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all. Thanks.

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