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Art Of Living playing vital role in conflict resolution, peace and social welfare of NE

Posted On :: Wednesday 6th September 2017
The Art of Living has been working actively in North East India in various spheres, including conflict resolution, relief activities, education and social welfare, for several years
The Art of Living has been working actively in North East India in various spheres, including conflict resolution, relief activities, education and social welfare, for several years
By: G Plus News

The North Eastern region of India comprising seven states – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura and Sikkim – is much more than a mere political construct. It is a unique civilization in itself with its own rich historical and cultural foundation. The region is also very strategic for the country as it shares 99% of its border with Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and China. 
 
With more than 220 communities and an equal number of languages and dialects, its population of nearly 50 million varies in language, race, tribe, religion and regional heritage. Yet the destiny of the people of the region is bound together geographically, economically and culturally. Despite the diversity, the problems faced by the people of the region are often quite common and similar. 
 
The Art of Living, an educational and humanitarian NGO has been working actively in North East India in various spheres, including conflict resolution, relief activities, education and social welfare, for several years. The organization has initiated many social service projects in the region, benefitting millions of people. 
 
Disaster relief activities
 
The Art of Living has been active in disaster relief activities in the North East. The volunteer teams have distributed relief on several occasions in the flood-prone areas. On 21st July, 2017, when a devastating flood hit Assam, The Art of Living team distributed tons of food materials, drinking water, clothes and other essential materials to around 100,000 affected victims in 800 villages. In some places, the volunteers travelled on boats to reach the remote and inaccessible areas. In areas that had no electricity, the team provided solar lamps and water filters as well. 

Trauma care for riot victims
 
Trauma relief has been another area in which The Art of Living has been actively involved. In July 2012, Assam saw outbreaks of riots between different ethnicities that displaced over 400,000 people. The Art of Living set up relief camps and provided immediate material aid such as food, water, clothing & shelter homes. Medical camps were set up by a team of Art of Living Ayurvedic doctors. The organization also provided trauma care and reached out to for over 100,000 Bodos and Muslims victims at relief camps. 
 
Electrifying remote villages with solar lights
 
Inaugurated in Nov 2012, the Art of Living's “Light a Home” project has so far distributed more than two thousand lamps in some of the remotest villages of North East; some of them requiring 6-7 hours of treks and on foot journey. 
 
 
The organization has also constructed the country’s largest solar battery charging station on December, 2016, which powers 287 households in the remote village of Mulik Gaon in Dibrugarh District. The project, reaching out and connecting so many households at a time, makes it the biggest of its kind in India. 
 
Along with the solar project, two skill development training centers, which will make hundreds of youths employable, are also being established in the same area. 
 
School for first generation learners
 
The Art of Living has 65 free rural and tribal schools across North East, benefitting around 9,000 students. The indigenous schools are not only bringing free education to more than 1,000 first generation school goers, but has also created a space for preserving and celebrating the cultures of the region.
 
Chemical-free farming to benefit 4,000 farmers
 
Among the several transformational initiatives of the Art of Living, an organic farming revolution, expected to benefit around 4,000 farmers and surrendered militants, is underway in the North East. The project will see cultivation of Marigold, Turmeric, Chilly and Ginger on a massive scale, on about 2,000 acres of land, with revenues projected at more than Rs. 50 crores per annum. The project is slated to go commercial from Oct, 2017 and will be a complete turnaround for the farmers in the North East.
 
Re-using temple waste as compost
 
In a first of its kind, The Art of Living has set up a temple waste management plant in Kamakhya Mandir, Guwahati. The compost plant produces 160 kg of manure per day from the huge amounts of waste flowers and materials in the temple premises. The initiative has helped reduce pollution in the temple and the manure is being used for farming. Several other temples have also joined in the project. 
 
Reforming and rehabilitating militants
 
North East India is often mired in inter-state, inter-community, communal and inter-ethnic conflicts. Separatist and militant groups have been active in the region since 1965. These groups are trained in warfare and know little other than this lifestyle of violence and insecurity. The Art of Living has been active in the sphere of conflict resolution in North East for several years and has so far rehabilitated over 1,200 militants. 
 
In 2010, 128 Manipur-based militants laid down their arms and were subsequently rehabilitated by The Art of Living. The group underwent a 90-day intensive behavioral, spiritual and vocational rehabilitation training conducted by the organization. 
 
In 2012, over 700 ULFA members participated in The Art of Living programs. They were also provided skill training to adopt a vocation as per their aptitude. “For the first time in my life, I have started thinking properly and more clearly. Now I know what I want to do in my life and the Art of Living has given me the skills through which I can take care of my family,” said Basarat Sahah, a former militant. 
 
The fight against insurgency got further impetus with the surrender of 68 armed militants in Manipur on 14th august, 2017. The Art of Living had played a major role in changing the hearts and mind of these cadres, and their sustained efforts paid off when the militants came on ground with a huge cache of arms and ammunition, and announced their decision to return to mainstream society. 
 
Strength in diversity: A historic peace conference
 
In continuation of the various initiatives of The Art of Living in the North East, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), an international not-for-profit organization founded by Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, is organizing a historic day-long North East Indigenous People’s Conference – “Strength in Diversity.”
 
The interaction, slated to happen on 7th September at Guwahati, will bring opinion-makers and thought-leaders of the region drawn from all walks of life face-to-face with Gurudev to collectively build a shared vision for addressing the issues facing the region. 
 
The world over, Gurudev is known for empowering individuals and groups to move together on the basis of love, equality, human values and compassion. His approach of finding strength in diversity will go a long way in ushering a new era of co-operation in the conflict-ridden states.
 
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