Chandigarh, September 30, 2010; When former UN Secretary Kofi Annan predicted the next world war would be fought over water, he wasn’t exaggerating the current situation.
On Thursday’s Water Conservation-themed day at the International Youth Peace Festival, delegates from around the world made it clear that water was not just a problem for some, but for all.
Yuvsatta, along with the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, GGD SD College, SUNFO, Sri Lanka and Bangalore-based Global Citizens for Sustainable Development partnered to present the world’s most basic and essential issue to hundreds of international students.
Anugraha John, Executive Director of Global Citizens, led a stirring discussion by gathering a panel of young representatives from Nepal, China, Bhutan, the U.S. and other present countries. He quizzed the audience about sanitation and ocean water issues in exchange for t-shirts.
Ganesh from Nepal spoke of the melting snow on Mt. Everest, and a Chinese delegate spoke of the work her country is doing to prevent further drought and overconsumption. The U.S. discussed it’s overuse of water, and the attempt of foreign countries trying to take control of their water sources.
When the session closed for a tea break at 11 am., a lively dhol drum announced the start of a Bicycle for Peace rally, where delegates from several countries led by Sunil Sharma, a photo journalist dressed as ‘RAVAN’ grabbed local bicycles to tour the Chandigarh roads in the name of peace.
Meanwhile, at Punjab University, the Bangladeshi representatives spoke with the Gandhian studies department about peace and moving forward with Gandhian practices. The small group of youth gathered to discuss Indian-Bangladesh relations.
At 12 pm at SD College, the chief guest, Shri Randeep Singh Surjewala, the Haryana Minister of Public Health Engineering, arrived to address the delegates and commend them for the initiative they are taking for a better future. He gave weight to the water issue with serious statistics about water scarcity, and presented small steps students could take to limit their conception.
Santosh Kumar, Director, Department of Enviornment, Chandigarh Administration presided over the initiative. He spoke of Chandigarh’s water situation, and the source of the city’s drinking water.
As the water talks and exhibition continued, a dedicated group of students worked with World Comics India to develop detailed and interesting comic strips.
After a full day of talking about water and sustainable environment issues, students got their hands messy for conservation-themed art projects. Small mud-created pots, a symbol of India’s water, were painted in beautiful hues for a “matka” decorating competition. The students worked in teams to display their ideas through art and symbolism.
The energy levels were high as the friendly competition ensued, and students from some delegations started to prepare for the evening’s cultural performance.
Dance troupes from Bangladesh, Spain, France, Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka channeled their talents on stage at Bhargava Auditorium at PGI, Chandigarh.