youth sensitisation and
‘peace and communal harmony’
Jointly Organised by:
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) &
Colloquium for Local Awareness and Research (CLEAR),
Koilandy, Calicut, Kerala.
28/04/2012 to 30/04/2012
Sargalaya Craft Village, Iringal, Calicut. .
Students and young activists from various districts of
CSSS in collaboration with CLEAR, Calicut organised a
three day workshop for youth with the objective of
increasing the awareness level of youth activists on
such as secularism, communalism, communal harmony etc.
Topics, resource person, participants, venue etc. were
decided in mutual consultation with both the organisers.
Participants were mobilised from the local colleges as
well as other universities in Kerala. Many local
activists who were interested in the subject also
participated in the programme.
The organisers, resource persons and participants
reached the venue by the 27th evening and 28th
morning. Formal registration for the programme started
at 9.30 am on Saturday 28th April. Total 45
participants registered for the workshop.
The first session of the three day workshop was by Dr.
Asgar Ali Engineer on ‘Secularism and Cultural Symbiosis
in India’. He talk on the cultural diversity existing in
India, and how a secular government is essential in such
a cultural diverse country. With examples from various
parts of India he also made the participants aware about
how cultural symbiosis, which promotes communal harmony,
exists in our culture. Thereafter the discussion further
developed in to topics like religion, values, ethics
etc. He was of the opinion that, religion is
misinterpreted by the clergy and politicians for
material benefits, where as true
stands for the rights of the oppressed section of the
society. The half day session ended with long question
and answer session. Mr. K.K Subair, PRO, CLEAR, presided
the session and Mr. E Dinesan, Convenor, CLEAR, gave
Afternoon session was by Mr. K.P Rajesh, a social
activist and Research Scholar from Hyderabad
University. The title of the session was ‘Ethnic
conflict and civic life: Hindus and Muslims in India’.
He started his presentation with a briefing and finding
of the book by ‘Ashutosh Vashney’ with the same title.
This session was a live discussion on what contributes
to communal harmony and sociological factors which lead
to conflict between two communities. Participants agreed
and disagreed with many of the findings in the book and
Mr. Rajesh’s own conclusion. The comparative study of
Aligarh and Calicut (where the workshop takes place) was
the prime focus of the discussion. Participants also
shared their view in this regard.
After taking a break, participants assembled back by
7.00 pm in the evening for the screening of ‘Ram Ke Naam’
a documentary film by Anand Patwardhan. The film
“on the campaign waged by the militant Vishwa Hindu
Parishad (VHP) to destroy a 16th century mosque in
Ayodhya said to have been built by Babar, the first
Mughal Emperor of India. The VHP claim the mosque was
built at the birth site of the Hindu God Ram after Babar
razed an existing Ram temple. They are determined to
build a new temple to Ram on the same site. This
issue, which successive governments have refused to
resolve, has led to religious riots which have cost
thousands their lives, culminating in the mosque's
destruction by the Fundamentalists in December of 1992.
The resulting religious violence immediately spread
throughout India and Pakistan leaving more than 5,000
dead, and causing thousands of Indian Muslims to flee
their homes.” A discussion was followed by the
The second day of the workshop began at 9.30 am in the
morning. The half-day session was by Dr. Ram Puniyani on
‘Rise of Communalism in India’. Began with the
historical context of origin of communal politics in
India, He discussed with the participants, how communal
forces functions in contemporary India. The session was
developing based on the questions and comments from the
participants on the broad topic ‘communal politics’.
After noon session was by Dr. K.C. Varghese, a social
activist, writer and an advocate of liberation theology
in Christianity, based in Kannur District of Kerala.
Broadly his session was on the exploitation of religion
and religious followers by the established church. The
resource person was comparing the morals and values of
and that of the today’s organised church. The session
generated discussions on topics such as religion,
morals, ethics etc.
This was followed by a visit to nearby ‘Kunjali Marakkar
Museum’. ‘Kunjali Marakkar’ was the title given to
Muslim Naval chief of ‘Samoothiri’ (Zamorin) Raja’s of
Calicut during 16th and 17th
century. Their relationships stand as a symbol of
peaceful co-existence of two communities during that
period. The visit was helpful for the participants to
learn more about ‘Kunjali Markkaars’ and their
relationship with the King ‘Samoothiris’.
After the visit the participants assembled back in the
hall for another session on ‘Emerging rituals and
religiosity in Kerala social life’, By Roopesh O B, sub
editor, State Institute of Encyclopaedic Publications,
Trivandrum. The discussion was on the ‘Attukal ponkala’
festival taking place in Thiruvananthapuram every year.
an annual congregation of women to offer Pongala
offering of boiled rice in earthen pot - during
Compare to earlier days, the participation of women is
increasing heavily in every year. The resource person
analysed the socio-political reasons and motives behind
this mobilisation. Increasing religiosity/public ritual,
in a way help communal forces to develop their network,
and influence the social psyche, the resource person
presentation also generated a live discussion on related
This was followed by screening of the film ‘Nero’s
Guest’ is directed by Deepa Bhatia, a story about
India's farmer suicides and the growing inequality seen
through the work of the Rural Affairs Editor of Hindu
newspaper, P Sainath.
The third day of the workshop began with a talk by Dr. P
Geetha, Feminist writer/Activist, on ‘Communalism and
Women’. The patriarchal structure in all major religion
is against gender justice. Religion is also a product of
patriarchal society and hence it is a view from men’s
perspective. In contemporary Kerala’s social life
fundamentalist religious organisations suppress women’s
life. Their role behind recent incidents of ‘moral
policing’ is evident. Participants also shared their
views on the topic presented. Ms. Divya Divakaran
moderated the session.
The next session was on ‘Local interference for
Secularism’ by Mr. N.V
Director, CLEAR. He began with a critical evaluation of
the discussions, through out the workshop. The actions
one should carry on based on the workshop’s concerns
were the major point discussed in this session.
Participants also put forward their ideas for action to
The valedictory session was inaugurated by Koilandy
M.L.A Shri. K. Dasan. He also stressed on the need for
collective and conscious action to counter communal
politics. Mr. N.V Balakrishnan, Director, CLEAR presided
over the valedictory meeting. Mr. Riyas V.M, Programme
Executive, CSSS gave the welcome speech and Mr.Edathil
Ravi, CLEAR, gave the vote of thanks. With this the
three day long youth workshop came to an end.