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Youngsters sign up for peace culture


By Anita Joshua

NEW DELHI, NOV. 29. They have a stake in the future. After all, it belongs to them. And so it was probably natural that adolescents and youngsters should have responded so enthusiastically to a peace initiative undertaken by UNESCO in this the International Year for the Culture of Peace.

Banking on UNESCO's signature line that ``peace is in our hands'', youngsters outnumbered others in putting their signature to Manifesto-2000 and committing themselves to a culture of peace. In fact, those in the age-group of 12-25 years accounted for 58 per cent of the 35,172,086 signatures collected by Brahmakumaris - entrusted with the task of taking the message of peace to people across the world - from across the country.

With a world record to their name, the Brahmakumaris found themselves become the toast at a function organised here today by UNESCO to recognise the effort put in to collect 35 million signatures for the Culture of Peace Manifesto. Drafted by a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the Manifesto is being circulated around the globe by U. N.-designated agencies in the hope of logging in a hundred million signatories by year-end.

Lauding the grand effort of the Brahmakumaris, the Director of the U.N. Information Centre here, Mr. Feodor Starcevic, said: ``It is an outstanding achievement by any measure.'' For his part, the UNESCO Director, Prof. Moegiadi, said that to broadbase the culture of peace, efforts are under way in this region to incorporate it into the national curriculum.

And, according to the Director of the Culture of Peace Unit at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Mr. David Adams, the United Nations is all set to continue with the work begun this year and declare the coming years as ``International Decade for the Culture of Peace.''

Called in to address the gathering, the head of the Brahmakumaris, Rajyogini Dadi Prakashmani, said peace should become the global religion.

As for the profile of the signatories, the highest number of signatures have been collected from Gujarat, and men across the country took a greater interest in this exercise than women.

While India is the biggest contributor to the worldwide signature campaign, others are not far behind. In percentage terms, Colombia has bettered India with one-third of the population signing up.

Here in India, several luminaries including politicians have put their signatures to this Manifesto. Just today, at the felicitation function, another celebrity - activist-actor-turned- Member-of-Parliament Shabana Azmi - committed herself to the culture of peace and non-violence with an admission that it was an onerous responsibility and no mean job to live by the Manifesto.

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