Students take vow of peace to mark Mandela’s 90th birthday


New Delhi : “We stand for peace”, is a vow that students of Delhi schools took as they celebrated the 90th birthday of South African anti-apartheid icon and former president Nelson Mandela here Friday.

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Students of 14 schools participated in the programme, ‘Celebration of the Triumph of the Human Spirit’ by planting a sapling, holding a march and taking a vow to uphold peace.

“It started with the planting of a sapling of Olea Africana by the South African High Commissioner Francis Moloi at the Lodhi Garden. The sapling has been specially brought to India from South Africa,” Ramesh Sharma of the Gandhi Peace Foundation (GPF) told IANS.

The programme was organised at the India International Centre (IIC) by the GPF, Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, the Working Group on Alternative Strategies and IIC.

After planting the sapling, the students took out a march and sang ‘Vaishnav Jan’, a song that was close to Mahatma Gandhi’s heart.

An exhibition on the life of Mandela was also inaugurated after which the students lit candles to formally launch the programme.

“The students of Bluebells school prepared a special song for Mandela and dedicated it to him,” said Suhas Borker, one of the organisers.

Video clips on Mandela’s life and on Mahatma Gandhi were shown to children.

“The clips enlightened us about the life of Mandela. The programme helped us in establishing the relation between India and South Africa as both have suffered from colonialism and racialism,” said Kajal Srivastava, a student of DPS Greater Noida.

Another student of DPS Greater Noida said, Yashverdhhan Bhandari, said: “For me, the most touching moment was when we took the oath of peace.”

Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma was also present on the occasion.

A group of 20 students had come from DPS Panipat to participate in the programme.

“The programme was very inspiring, especially Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’,” said Saloni Khanna, a student of DPS Panipat.

Another student of DPS Panipat, Guarav Mehta, said, “The life of Mandela is very inspiring.”

The programme ended with ‘Madiba, Tujhe 90 Saal Mubarak’ by Rene Singh’s Touch a Chord Choir group.

The function was part of ‘Taking children to Gandhi’ – a series of interactive activities to bring children closer to the enduring legacy of Gandhi’s non-violent struggle for equity and justice.

The students were from Delhi and the National Capital Region and from schools including Delhi Public School (DPS) Panipat, DPS Greater Noida, DPS Gurgaon, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Happy School, Saint Thomas School Indirapuram, Blue Bells School and Saint Paul’s school Hauz Khas.