Saturday, February 13, 2016

celebration of 50th Anniversary of Indo-German Society Affiliate Remscheid

Message of Ms. Helma Ritscher, Chairwoman, Indo-German Society Affiliate Remscheid

It is a great honor for me, to celebrate together with all of you today and with the many invited guests the 50th anniversary of our Indo-German Society Remscheid here in Varanasi. In Germany, we will start the celebration in June 2016 in the town hall of Remscheid, where we will have Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi as our guest of honor.

As Dr. Lenin told me that he decided together with his wife Shruti and the whole PVCHR team to invite me to India for celebrating the anniversary of our company here together with all of you, I felt deeply touched. Moreover, I am even now deeply moved in the moment I stand here before you, holding this wonderful booklet in my hands. This booklet was a very lovely idea of PVCHR!

Before I continue, I would like to take this opportunity once again to express on behalf of our society and personally as "Helmaji" our whole-hearted gratitude towards Dr. Lenin and the whole PVCHR- team. Thank you for your generous gifts, the invitation and the ceremony as well as the successful brochure.

Thank you! This brochure tells the story of the extraordinary friendship and harmonious cooperation between the PVCHR and our Indo-German Society Remscheid, since early 2002, when we met each other for the first time. What has brought us together? I will tell you.

At the time of our first meeting, the PVCHR was at the beginning of its development to become a recognized organization for human rights. Our society from Remscheid had experience since many years: we organized numerous events and projects in which we wanted to explain and show the diversity of the Indian culture and its unique traditions, past and present to the German public. We also organized an exchange between Indian and German schools: thanks to pen pal-friendships and project work, the students were able to overcome prejudices, create a better understanding for each other, and develop an appreciation of each other's culture.

We were convinced, to be good mediators between the two cultures.

That changed abruptly with the "Global March1998", which was initiated by Kailash Sartyarthi, as the International Coordinator. Here I want to add, that Mr. Sartyarthi was honored for his tireless efforts against the exploitation of children in South Asia and his fight for the access of all children to education with the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2014.

The "Global March" brought child laborers from different parts of the world for the first time to Geneva, Switzerland, to the meeting of the ILO (International Labour Organization). They should get the opportunity, to talk for themselves about their rights and against intolerable child labor. They also came with thousands of thumbprints they had collected on their way to Geneva, as an evidence of solidarity.

We suddenly became aware of our global responsibility for the fate of this world's suffering children, particularly children in India. The examination of "child labor and the lives of the marginalized and neglected Dalit-Communities” showed us quite plainly, that we also had marginalized them in the programs of our Indo-German Society Remscheid – until the "Global March".

The issue of human rights was immediately on the agenda of our Society. From this moment on, we actively participated in the "Global March", updated the theme in Remscheid schools through information material and organized a day of action in the city center. One of our activities was a charity concert of the esteemed musicians and brothers Prakash, (who unfortunately died), Subhash and Vikash Maharaj of Varanasi. We know each other since 1983. Today we share a deep friendship and a multifaceted cooperation. Vikash Maharaj, founder and vice-president of human rights organization PVCHR at that time, invited me after the concert to Varanasi to meet the founder of the PVCHR, Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi.

Unfortunately, it took four more years, until I met Dr. Lenin and the PVCHR for the first time. The Global March had already given me an insight into the discriminatory situation of the Dalits, but to see the situation with my own eyes shocked me even more. However, how happy the crowd of children greeted when I arrived at the villages - the people were so friendly! From this moment, the cooperation between PVCHR and our Society was decided: The promotion of Dalit in the struggle for their rights and their appreciation as equal human beings became the main topic of the affiliate Remscheid.

Beginning in 2007, the Indo-German Society utilized public funds of the German Government in North Rhine-Westphalia and sponsors from Remscheid, to enable the construction of social and educational facilities in the villages around Varanasi, like Ayer, Baghwanala and Shivrampur. In the more distant village Raup, a community center was built for and by the Dalit community, headed by Dr. Lenin and the PVCHR.

One year before, in 2006, our affiliate and the PVCHR had started an educational initiative between a student team of a Remscheid Gymnasium and Dalit students. The Remscheid-students have campaigned on public actions to promote the struggle of their Dalit friends for equal rights. Today the German students are grown up but still engaged on sustainable projects. One of them, Henrik Sadlowski, will come in March for the third time to Varanasi – to be with the PVCHR and his Dalit friends.

Over the years, an indestructible bridge of friendship has been created. This bridge brought Dr. Lenin also to Remscheid, where the Lord Mayor in the town hall received him. Moreover, on behalf of our Indo-German Society, I have been here in India for many times. In all the years, I attended some inaugurations of important buildings, like the "Savitri Bai Puhle Women Centre" in 2012.

After this opening ceremony in Baghwanala, the "Helma Ritscher Education Scholarship Fund" was initiated by PVCHR as recognition for the work of our Society and our commitment to education for all children. The scholarship, as a long-term and sustainable initiative, offers underprivileged boys and girls the opportunity to receive continuing education. Deeply impressed and moved by the idea I accepted this honor.

Tomorrow I will share happiness with all the young people who have successfully graduated with the help of the "Helma Ritscher Education Scholarship Fund". It will be a great honor to me, to hand over the “Certificate of the Indo-German Society Remscheid” to the young Dalit graduates.

A certificate as a symbol of recognition and as a sign, that they are equal, emancipated and well educated Indian citizens, with rights and dignity.

We truly celebrate this occasion today and tomorrow here in Varanasi:

The unique friendship and sustainable cooperation between PVCHR and the Indo-German Society Remscheid – on special occasion of the 50 anniversary of the Indo-German Society Affiliate Remscheid.

But, why a German celebration in Varanasi?
Because Germany and India, Remscheid and Varanasi, Indo-German Society and PVCHR
  live in our hearts – today and in future!

In deep attachment,

Helma Ritscher,
Indo-German Society
Affiliate Remscheid

Banaras Declaration on the celebration of the 5o years Anniversary of Indo – German Society, Affiliate Remscheid.

On February 12-13, 2016 at Varanasi, Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and Malaviya Center for peace Research, Banaras Hindu University organized peoples’ celebration of 50th Anniversary of Indo-German Society Affiliate Remscheid.

1.           Endorse and support Banaras Declaration[i] on 9th August, 2014 at Kabeer Mulgadi Math, Varanasi. We urge UNESCO world heritage committee to declare plural and inclusive history of Varanasi as a living heritage of the pluralism and inclusive culture.
2.           Let’s continue to promote the mutual understanding between our people in general and youths in particulars. Only then our societies can withhold the influences of intolerance.
3.           Explore and highlight the potentials of multi-culture, diversity, pluralism and, in particular religious diversity as a resource for peace rather than a barrier.
4.           Desiring that Governments of world embodies the aspirations of the People, aver the need for greater efforts for promoting the sovereignty of the People and violence free world through democratic values and structures.
5.           We are concerned by the increase in human trafficking (including children, women and marginalized communities) in the region and call for receiving countries to take on responsibility for repatriation and compensation of the victims.
6.           We affirm that discrimination based on gender, caste, creed, ethnicity and differently-abled is a major obstacle to meaningful participation of People.
7.          We believe a child's right to survival and health is of paramount importance to the progress of the society, and maintain that the child's right to development be upheld through free and compulsory education, including vocational training, and recreation without discrimination for all and in a child-friendly environment.

Lenin Raghuvanshi, Founder and CEO, Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, India

Helma Ritscher, Chairwoman, Indo – German Society Affiliate Remscheid, Germany

Marius Kurtz, Founder and CEO, Plurismo e.V. and Sukria UG (haftungsbeschraenkt), Germany


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