Art of Living founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s recent comment on Malala Yousafzai being undeserving of the Nobel Peace prize has caused quite a stir. DU Beat spoke to a young peacebuilder from Delhi University, Oman Agarwal, about his achievements, plans and his take on this issue.
“Both Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Ms. Yousafzai are massive figures in the world of humanitarian work. While Guruji has been able to advocate simple living and understanding different perspectives to lead a life of harmony, Malala on the other hand has been extremely courageous in the face of regressive and violent regime. I believe Guruji’s rejection to be honoured with the Nobel Peace prize is because he treats his work like a duty, and Malala’s acceptance of the prize has helped shed a lot of light on the issue of education and inspire others to take action. A thousand salutes to them both,” says Omang Agarwal, a 19 year old Political Science student from Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, DU hailing from Darjeeling.
Like many students his age, Omang holds strong opinions on issues like gender parity and social equality. However, unlike most students his age who are content with expressing displeasure on social media, Omang has gone a few steps further. He is the founder of Youth for Peace International, a first of its kind youth organisation in India, aimed at building peace with the tools of education, gender equality and inclusive development, and he also recently been appointed as the Asia Coordinator for CYPAN, Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network.
When asked about how it all began for him, he takes us back to school in his hometown, Darjeeling. “I had the opportunity to lead a winter camp, where we helped 4000 children from nearby villages by providing shelter in our school campus for three months, along with mid – day meals, educational and co – curricular activities, and scholarships. I was able to contribute towards helping rebuild Nepal after the earthquake with a joint project with Rotary International, Interact, Rotary and Rotaract Clubs called ‘HumAct’, a recognised Success Story at the Whole Humanitarian Summit Consultation by United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth. I haven’t looked back since.” Omang has also been a part of the organising team for the HeForShe campaign in DU, including an event organised in association with NSS, Shri Ram College of Commerce last year.
On his role as Asia coordinator of CYPAN, Omang says, “My aim is to build a network of Youth Peacebuilding organisations in Pan Commonwealth Asian Countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Maldives and Brunei). We will take up training to build the capacity of the youth to create new and responsive approaches to conflicts and issues, relating to it in their regions and beyond it. Forced displacement (refugee crisis), reconciliation of crisis areas post wars and humanitarian action are going to be my focal points of working.”
His advice for youngsters looking to bring about change is to research on the issues and the efforts made to resolve them in the past, joining hands with like-minded organisations / individuals to come up with probable solutions and efficient plans of action, and being fearlessly perseverant. His organisation, Youth for Peace International (YFPI), which has already conducted a number of campaigns and is now partnering with UNHRC India, will begin recruitments in July. Mentorship talks (jointly for CYPAN and YFPI along with Rotary International Action Group on Peace) for people looking to participate in peacebuilding efforts will be conducted on the 19th and 25th of May in Delhi and one will be held online on 29th May. Interested students may register here: . “These workshops will help students earn summer internships research, advocacy, project building and implementing with national and international agencies, governmental and non governmental agencies,” Omang says, adding, “Interested students can check our page for announcements or contact me personally over Facebook or LinkedIn. DUites can directly find me on Shaheed Bhagat Singh College campus for the next two years!”
Students interested in the Mentorship talks may register here.
Feature Image: Facebook page of Youth for Peace International