Jai Jagat 2020 is a global campaign and a moving school to inspire and mobilise next generation leaders based on a vision of ahimsa (non-violence). In this framework, Ekta Parishad and ILC launched in November 2019 the Jai Jagat 2020 Fellowship with nine young fellows from ILC members from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In the first phase of the programme, fellows spent 21 days in India learning the principles of the Jai Jagat philosophy, interacting with communities and marching with other activists from around the world. This note summarizes some of the lessons fellows learned during the experience, especially during exchanges with leaders of non-violent social movements. It will be followed by a manual and nine case studies.
The Jai Jagat fellowship is a year-long learning programme to train future ILC leaders in non-violent social mobilisation to promote change from below.
Non-violence can reduce conflicts and make social movements more long lasting. With non-violence, social movements will be more resistant to internal and external threats. At the individual level, non-violence can limit a person’s ego and help in getting along with others. In a group, it will make cooperation more effective and minimise conflict. With non-violent training, at least the conflicts that are internal to an organisation or a movement can be reduced. Externally, interaction with both allies and opponents will become more constructive.
Steps to build and sustain a non-violent social movement
The first step should be a training process addressed to the people who will be part of it, including youth. Youth is an effective agent of change and as such it is an important driver of the movement.
To plan a mobilisation that will be long lasting and sustainable, it is key to understand the scale of the movement. This will depend on the type of issue, on available funding, on its geographical scope (district, region, country, etc.), and on the size of the country.
Step 1: train people and raise awareness
Make people aware of the cause. Support them in getting ownership of the movement. Support the creation of knowledge about the problem and possible solutions. People will have to feel the movement is theirs, and make both successes and failures their own. Diversity is part of the movement. Organisers should design a training with appropriate languages and tools to connect diverse people. Respect the oral culture, and use theatre, drawing and other forms of art.
The training process consists of the following steps:
Building confidence is needed, especially among marginalised people who have felt demoralised throughout the years. Confidence to see the world outside their community without fear and to be convinced that we are all equals with our different strengths and weaknesses. People should share what they can and cannot do (i.e. I can milk a cow, I am a carpenter, but I can’t read and write, or I can read and write but I can’t plough a field, milk a cow). Build trust in ourselves and each other.
Understand the problems of poverty and discrimination
People believe in karma and think their condition is God-made, but they should understand their conditions is human-made. Therefore, the status quo can be changed.
Interact with institutions
This changes from country to country. Institutions exist, however often they are not accessible to people. Social movements have the responsibility to introduce people to institutions. Young people are encouraged to overcome their fear and bring their claims to institutions. Becoming familiar with institutions is already a first achievement.
Understand the non-violent approach
This is essential to avoid that the situation gets out of control. After people have gained confidence, and learnt about the work of institutions, they might be angry and have violent reactions. Interiorising non-violence is key to prevent this from happening.
Everyone can give a different contribution and be instrumental to the success of the movement. Create diverse groups of people where everyone can contribute in their own way.
Step 2: engage and mobilise the community
After the training process, community leaders (who have been trained) will start to engage with community members. It’s important to keep in mind the following actions when engaging and mobilising the community.
Provide ongoing support to social movement participants
Offer continuous moral, legal and financial support to the people who were trained and who become part of the social movement. An activated mass of (often young) people will push to quickly progress on their claims. Community mobilisation will bring to community action; then communities will be linking with each other. People should be alert and not get trapped into small fights (e.g. against the police), otherwise the bigger objective could be undermined.
Create diverse groups of people in support of the movement
Everyone can give a different contribution and be instrumental to the success of the movement. Create diverse groups of people where everyone can contribute in their own way: hard working people, intellectuals, artists, people with good organisational skills, etc. For instance, artists could sing songs and keep the group motivated. Diversity is a strength.
First, the movement should appeal to the system. Once the movement is organised, it has to be externally recognised. Get creative. For example, in the Janadesh march (2007) people wrote postcards to authorities and marched to post offices to send them all. Secondly, the actual struggle begins with rallies and sit-ins: the system starts to recognise the social movement, authorities understand that the movement is powerful. Thirdly, simultaneously to the mobilisation also do advocacy to start putting pressure not only from the bottom but also from above. Advocacy is different than saying “down with corporations”: it is about encouraging dialogue on certain issues to promote change.
some principles of non-violent social movements
A non-violent society starts from our relationship with nature
Believing in the cause
It is important to truly believe in the cause of the initiative in order to convince others to support and join.
Power to the poor
People living in poverty can make real change happen. With the tool of non-violence, they can revert situations and are willing to engage full time to bring about change. They are economically poor but have capacities beyond the material and are spiritually and culturally very rich. Their strength should be known and acknowledged.
From problems to possibilities
Many people living in poverty or extreme poverty walk to get water and food, or sleep on the road . When building a social movement, even these situations of vulnerability can be turned into strengths. We all walk to contribute to a major change.
The concept of gift
Non-violent social movements can rely on gifts that allow them to sustain themselves. Gifts can be food, time, intellect. For example, the Jai Jagat marchers receive food for free by middle class people. Many people are helping by giving ideas. It is essential to develop the capacity to organise and use such gifts properly.
The magic of “one”
Everybody should contribute with “one” thing, based on what they can afford: one handful of rice every day, one rupee every day, one person from each family participating in the walk. When you can rely on thousands of people, little contributions can make a difference.