It began in 2005 when at the meeting at Malta, the Commonwealth Heads of Government declared the significance of promoting tolerance, respect, enlightened moderation and friendship within people from various races, faiths and cultures. Emphasizing on particulars like mutual understanding and respect especially among people from different backgrounds, faiths and practices the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth set up a Commission on Respect and Understanding headed by the Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen.
The Commonwealth defines â€˜Respect’ as acknowledgement of a common humanity and a preparedness to treat everyone, no matter how different their world views are, with the dignity that they deserve because of their humanity whereas â€˜Understanding’ implies as an ability to grasp what someone else is saying in order to get to the heart of what they are trying to communicate; it involves the acknowledgement that one’s own culture and experience are not the only models of thinking and acting.
However, it was only with the celebrated Munyonyo Statement (Kampala, Uganda, 23-25 November, 2007) on Respect and Understanding that the Heads of Government acknowledged their special responsibility as influential in order to hunt effective means to address intolerance, fanaticism, violence and terrorism.
It was deciphered to involve young people basically to ensure alliance and a more liberated approach. The above workshop is a small but a significant step towards engagement of youth, governments and civil society organizations in promoting peace and understanding in the Commonwealth countries.
The Workshop on `Respect and Understanding’ for the Commonwealth Asia Region being held at the CYP Asia Centre, Sector 12, Chandigarh from 11 – 14 August is one such step. Sarika Katoch, the talented and promising young gun from Himachal Pradesh as a Regional Youth Caucus member would represent India along her other team mates, making not only the state but whole of India proud of her.
â€˜Respect’ and â€˜Understanding’ when we look at the two terms from the periphery of our existence seems two very simple and obvious facts of the world however, that’s not the truth. Where we all come from from different religions and cultures- understanding isn’t obvious and thus, respect becomes a far off thing. The increase in cases of extreme intolerance, ethnic and racial conflicts, religious fanaticism, xenophobia and violent acts of terrorism during the last years substantiate the very need of developing such a spirit.
*These group wars effect the socio-economic development of the country.
* It also affects large sections of the people, unwillingly or willingly drawn into these conflict situations.
*The most vulnerable people is the younger lot.
About the workshop
The workshop proposed for the Commonwealth Asia region identifies the urgent need to address challenging issues like the rise of religious fundamentalism, conflicts based on race and religion. This workshop would throw an open opportunity to policy makers, civil society organizations and young people to engage in a dialogue and identify critical issues w.r.t. respect and understanding of diversity.
The workshop would also provide a platform for people from different backgrounds to share their experiences, discuss actions and strategies for promotion of respect and understanding.
Participants for the workshop will comprise of 3 representatives from Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Pakistan, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Of the three, one would be an officer from the Youth Ministry and the other two young people (one male and one female) of whom one should be the Regional Youth Caucus member of the CYP from his/her country.