Imagine spending a weekend with your favorite Wisdom Heroes, exchanging stories, discussing questions on swaraj, social change, relationships and the meaning of life! Imagine those heroes sharing intimate episodes from their life journeys! Imagine them sharing their dreams and dilemmas about how they want the world to be! Imagine sharing with them your ideas and dreams and getting their feedback and support!
The idea behind the Wisdom Weekend is to create a space to engage in intimate, free flowing dialogues with our elders and heroes to understand how they have explored and understood the idea of Swaraj through various personal life experiences and how Swaraj is part of their work in the world. Usually we only get to interact with these people in busy conferences or listen to them on Youtube, but in this weekend retreat, we envision having a lot of time and space to get to know the hero as a real person. We will also enjoy periods of quiet reflection, cooking together, and some fun surprises. So, bring your stories, dreams and dilemmas to share.
We have invited Rajagopal P.V & Jill Carr-Harris for our second wisdom weekend to share with us their vision of swaraj and building a movement for non-violent social change.
Rajagopal P.V, widely and fondly known as Rajaji is the president and founding member of Ekta Parishad, a non-violent people’s movement for people’s control over land and livelihood resources.
Son of a Gandhian worker, Rajagopal studied agriculture at Seva Gram in Wardha (Maharashtra). In the early 70’s, he worked in the violence-ridden area of Chambal (Madhya Pradesh) to help rehabilitate dacoits. In the years that followed, Rajagopal travelled to several tribal areas, developing an understanding of the plight and needs of India`s tribal people. Their cause became part of his lifetime mission. After setting up a number of training organizations across Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa, the subsequent mobilization led to the consolidation of a people`s organization named Ekta Parishad in 1991. It focuses on people`s control over livelihood resources in an environment where land is being grabbed, and forest rights are being violated instead of being implemented. With the continued and accelerated industrialization in the country, the need to organize people for maintaining democratic governance has become the main activity of Ekta Parishad (www.ektaparishad.com).
After uniting a membership of 200,000 people (mostly women) across six states, Rajagopal began using the Gandhian technique of padayatra (foot-march) to galvanize greater support among the poor. With a track record of 10 state level foot-marches, he led Janadesh, a national march to Delhi in October 2007 in which 25000 people marched 340 kilometres from Gwalior to Delhi compelling the Indian government to take action on land reforms and forest rights.
Jill Carr-Harris has been associated with women’s movement building, training and empowerment of women and gender policy research in India, Bangladesh and Philippines for the past two decades. Originally from Canada, Jill worked in India with the United Nations Development Programme for 2 years and then with other grassroots organizations. She joined Ekta Parishad in 2000 in an effort to build up a women’s wing of the movement called Ekta Mahila Manch or ‘women united’.
Jill has served on Ekta Parishad’s international committee. She currently travels throughout the world offering nonviolent trainings, building solidarity for the movement, and raising awareness of Ekta Parishad’s planned 2020 million-person march from Delhi to Geneva. She is also helping to plan a 2016 Ekta Mahila Manch conference in India, which will bring together 50 women from 20 different countries.
Jill has taken these experiences back to Canada in the form of lectures, writings and more recently, teaching and academic research. She taught a semester at George Brown College in the field of community development while completing through distance a master’s degree in adult education and community from St. Francis Xavier University, Canada. Currently developing a doctoral thesis on the topic of women and land rights in the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute of Studies in Education on social movements, feminism and learning, Jill also has a deep understanding of the issue of food security in the global south.
This event is offered to you in the spirit of gift culture. Like many spaces across India and around the world, Swaraj University and the Swapathgami Network have been experimenting and working with rethinking our lifestyles and our relationship with ourselves, our work, our resources and our communities. We are questioning, challenging and experimenting with our institutionalized notions of money. So we welcome you to join our experiment and explore your relationship with money and community.
Participants are invited to contribute what they can (towards the cost of organizing the workshop which is approximately Rs. 4,000 per person for food and stay); learning scholarships are available to those who need them. And if you can, your additional contribution will help support the participation of others. No one will be refused due to any money constraints.
We feel proud to share that the Swapathgami Network does not take any funding, but rather is financed by its own members.
For more info on the Swapathgami network, check out: <http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/walkoutsnetwork.htm>