An Initiative by The Art of Living with UN Agencies, NGOs & civil society
New Delhi, December 5, 2012: “Give one hour to the nation. The country has problems because good people are apathetic. Youth must take charge and Volunteer for Better India,” appealed Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual leader, humanitarian and founder of The Art of Living, at the curtain raiser of a national initiative - Volunteer for a Better India (VFABI).
The curtain-raiser to VFABI was held on December 5 on the occasion of the United Nations International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development in New Delhi and to also commemorate International Anti Corruption Day which falls on December 9.
VFABI aims to bring youth together to address the critical issues affecting India like HIV and AIDS, the declining child sex ratio, sexual and reproductive health and rights, various issues affecting youth, environmental sustainability, drug and substance abuse, inequality in education and entrepreneurial opportunities, corruption and child protection issues.
The initiative will also see participation from the UN agencies, NGOs, corporate sector, civil society, media, interfaith coalitions to discuss each stakeholder’s role in addressing corruption among other issues on the agenda.
Ms. Cristina Albertin, Representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for South Asia, delivered the opening address in tribute to the International Anti Corruption Day and the importance of youth involvement in fighting corruption. She said, “No country can yet claim to be free of corruption, but what we can work towards is creating a society that is aware, vigilant, stands up to corrupt practices and adopts zero tolerance towards it. A youth led initiative by The Art of Living is a powerful way to mobilize you, the young minds which create and stand for a better future for all in India.”
An open discussion followed with the youth on corruption to discuss actions to be taken at a personal and social level.
Ms. Frederika Meijer, Representative, India and Bhutan, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said, “Today we stand at the cross roads of time. The global challenges of the 21st century as well as those confronting India are unprecedented - both in magnitude and complexity. Our choices today will determine the contours of tomorrow. This freedom of choice lends itself to a certain responsibility. ‘Volunteer for a better India’ is a clear call to action to create a world where choices are not marred by compulsion; volunteerism not subsumed by apathy; and where the potential of every young person stands not thwarted but fulfilled.”
Heads of partner agencies including Mr. Roy Wadia, Executive Director, Heroes Project; Ms.Bindiya Nimala, Director, FPAI; Mr. Satyan Mishra, Co-Founder, DRISHTEE; Fr Philip Kuruvilla, Secretary, Indian Interfaith Coalition on HIV and AIDS & Coordinator for INERELA + (Asia Pacific); among others, also presented their perspective on the initiative.
The project in partnership with FPAI, UNODC, UNFPA, UNGCNI, UNICEF, UNMC, Heroes Project, DRISHTEE, INERELA + (Asia Pacific) - IICA, and APAC - VHS aims to create a new wave of volunteerism and advocacy to bring about an on-ground change and combat issues challenging society in a concerted effort towards nation building.
This initiative takes forward the ongoing work of The Art of Living which is involved in numerous humanitarian projects that include conflict resolution, disaster relief, sustainable rural development, women empowerment, prisoner rehabilitation, education for all, and environmental sustainability.