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#TAGᵉ Kindness: Youth and policymakers dissect the role of "Kindness" in a time of Societal and Planetary change

On the occasion of the United Nations International Day of Non-violence, and in line with its vision of mainstreaming the collective voice of youth in the highest levels of policymaking processes in education for peace, sustainability and global citizenship, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainability (MGIEP) hosted the latest edition of its flagship TAGe dialogue series as part of the Global Launch of the International Youth Campaign on Kindness for the SDGs in 4 cities: New Delhi, India; Islamabad, Pakistan; Cape Town, South Africa and TEC de Monterrey, Mexico.

October 2 New Delhi--- Gazing at the current state of the world: the deterioration in global peacefulness - the results of the 2018 GPI find that the global level of peace has deteriorated by 0.27 per cent in the last year, marking the fourth successive year of deteriorations[1]. When it comes to migration, as of 2018, 68 million people are forcibly displaced in the world – 40 million are internally displaced, 25 million are refugees and 3.1 million are asylum seekers. 10 million people are stateless as well; 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds[2]! Regardless of all the evidence for climate change: rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, increasing droughts, rising sea levels and the melting of the Arctic, only a median of the population in 40 countries believe climate change is a bigger threat[3].

When it comes to the mental state of the global population, things are not looking good. It is estimated that over 1.1 billion people worldwide had a mental or substance use disorder in 2016. The largest number of people had an anxiety disorder, estimated at around 4 per cent of the population.Regardless of the lenses through which the current state of the world is looked at, there is an urgent need for kindness towards the self, other beings and the planet. Pertinent for realizing such as cultural shift is the role of education.

The live dialogue

Picking it up from this sombre backdrop, 9 distinguished young people from diverse practical walks of life (educators, volunteers, social entrepreneurs and students) united in the hope and quest for a better, more kinder world, joined 3 senior decision makers including a distinguished senior journalist, an activist/ peacebuilder and a government official.

They started from the conceptual interrogation of the concept of kindness, through the role of education, media, youth, institutions and concluded with actionable ideas on how to realize a culture of kindness.

"Kindness is when you are putting the others before you", Ms. Bijal Damani, Founder of Project Galaxy Bazaar countered the argument that kindness could still be self-centred.

So was Ms. Shreya Jani, Managing Trustee of STEP Trust who thought, ‘’Service for others is paramount to initiate kindness.’’

"Don't trivialize kindness by only focusing on the self", cautioned Dr. A.K Dubey, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, the dialogue’s most cautious as well experienced voice. “In every nook and corner, violence is there that's why we need to be more inclusive about kindness”, he cautioned.

As the dialogue moved from what to how, Ms. Faith Gonsalves, whose organization, Enabling Leadership builds leadership skills among the young using non-orthodox avenues such as sports (football) and music led the deliberations on the role of education, especially teachers.

’’A strong model of peace and kindness can be initiated by teachers’’, she said. Ms. Bijal Damani and Ms. Anokhi Parikh who works with children and educators in places like Kashmir joined her. Anokhi made a case for the importance of emotional competencies, ‘’having an emotional vocabulary for students is the need of the hour’’, she sounded the alarm. To augment the role of education, Mr. Pratik Mishra, a third-year undergraduate student pursuing Computer Science Engineering in KIIT Deemed-to-be University, Bhubaneswar, shared their ‘Kalalight’ Project story of using drama and street plays to create positive change.  

While sharing ideas on the overall role of the media, especially social media, Ms. Tara Bedi from Instagram said, ‘’the power of social media can be best seen when you have calamities like Kerala Floods or Nepal Earthquake. These are the times when you can actually witness awesome acts of kindness.’’

On the same lines, Mr. Vikas Pandey, Senior Journalist at the BBC shared powerful stories of individuals who have significantly changed their societies and challenged young people to take advantage of social media to document and spread such powerful positive stories, ‘’even a small story has the power to impact millions of life’’, he said.In defense of Social Media amidst questions and accusations of being a biased, narcissistic echo chamber of hatred and divide, Mr. Suprotim, the young Co-Founder of Calcutta Instagrammers made a case on how they have used Instagram to create positive change in Calcutta. He also highlighted the role of Social Media in the coverage, as well as mobilization of relief efforts during the catastrophic Kerala floods. The powerful case of Robin Hood Army – a Social Media led volunteer-driven organization that has been able to feed more than a million people in 86 cities in India - shared by Ms. Saloni Sharma rested the case for social media, at least for now.

To highlight the role of youth as well as the much-needed powerful collaboration between young people and governments, Ms. Annu Verma shared her powerful experience with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, an initiative of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Dr. Dubey reiterated that the doors of the Ministry - the youth’s ministry - are wide open for such co-created collaborations.

The lively audience flooded the participants with questions via Twitter and received befitting responses from both the youth, as well as senior TAGe participants.


TAGe participants, youth and senior decision makers alike, ensured that it was not just feel good platitudes by proposing actionable ideas on how to create a culture of kindness: from online and offline shared community spaces, an App/confession Box to sensitization activities for educators and avenues for volunteerism. Ms. Nehal Dhingra, a volunteer with IRCS concluded with what she called the three Cs: Call, Connect and Collaborate. UNESCO MGIEP TAGe team has promised to work with the most passionate of the participants to realize some, if not all of these incredible action ideas.

Such is the TAGe experience: lively, equal, provocative and action-oriented!

For more information:
Mr. Kuany Kiir Kuany:
Ms. Radhika Bhatnagar: