Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) has completed 22 years now. During these 22 years, it has made significant gains, but we still have miles and miles to tread before we can rest and before we make identity based conflicts, history. We once again remind ourselves the vision of our founding chairman Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer was building a just and peaceful society where needs of all human beings are fulfilled, all humans live in dignity and in harmony with the environment and there is enabling environment for all humans to be their creative best, and loving and compassionate towards all. Communal harmony is a step towards that just society.
Along the journey we lost Dr.Asghar Ali Engineer who breathed his last on 14th May 2013. However he has left a tremendous legacy behind him – that of knowledge, courage, wisdom, values and inspiration. He showed us the path to tread on and he illuminated for us the destiny to march towards. He taught us that no sacrifice was enough in pursuit of our goals and no tradition or ideological framework was sacrosanct if it proved to be an obstacle in our search for truth.
In this journey of 22 years we evolved from an institution that employed a small staff of two persons, to an army of peace with 8 staff members, 6 fellows and scores of interns, volunteers and peace activists working tirelessly spreading the message of peace, justice, inclusive growth, diversity, dignity of all individuals, dialogue and strengthening democracy. The network of peace cadres use seminars, interfaith dialogue, lectures, cultural interventions, perspective building workshops and training camps, publications, social networks and e-groups. We have included new activities in the year 2014. We have initiated 8 peace centres – Kandhamal, Bhagalpur, Varanasi, Saharanpur, Raipur, Ahmedabad, Udaipur and Sangli. These peace centres bring people of diverse socio-religious communities together to promote mutual understanding; appreciate diversity and shared culture; best cultural practices; and celebrate life and important national days. We organised a peaceathon in Mumbai in which 1000 youth ran to spread the message of peace. Our direct coverage through these activities has increased to about 25,000 people annually throughout the length and breadth of the country. While indirect coverage through peace activists trained by us and through media is now over twenty lakh people. However even this coverage is far less, when we compare it with the demand of the situation in order to bring about social change and, change in attitudes. The outreach target includes youth, students, and activists pursuing various social causes, women, and marginalized groups like Dalits, Adivasis, trade union activists, teachers, police and journalists.
However, there are also challenges that we face. The first challenge is making our activities sustainable in face of decreasing access to financial resources. The other challenge is in being increasingly innovative and undertaking new ideas and activities that capture the imagination of hitherto untouched sections of society. We have to tap new sources for financial resources.
Through the seminars, workshop, interfaith dialogues, cultural activities, publications, lectures and various other activities that have been listed on this website, we have witnessed and felt the change in the attitudes of people and in lives of people whom we were able to reach out. Their testimonies, feedback and our follow-up activities are evidence of the change witnessed by us. The change we witness is the best reward and highly satisfying.
Through this website we share our joys and our limitations with you for your support, suggestions and advice.
Adv. Irfan Engineer
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism