PRESS RELEASE: Asian Unity Day, 2 April 2018
This year on “Asian Unity Day”, April 2, 2018, let us take a pledge to work for a Democratic, Secular, Prosperous and United Asia, with a view to promoting World Peace. Pledge is to be taken by all Asians in Asia and in other continents and Non-Asians who want to promote World Peace. The pledge can be taken at any convenient time. This may be done individually or in groups.
The “Association for Asian Union & Asia Pacific Cooperation”(AAU&APC) is an NGO devoted to the cause of peace and prosperity in the world by focusing on the cause of Asian unity. It was founded in 2001 in New Delhi, India, by former Ambassador and Professor of Political Science, Dr. Beni Prasad Agarwal and other like-minded intellectuals.
The AAU&APC has been organizing Conferences, Seminars etc. since August 2001, and also started contacting Asian intellectuals and Governments to promote its goals from that time.
The AAU started commemorating the 2nd of April as “Asian Unity Day” from April 2, 2012, though similar events were organized earlier on different days. A large number of days in a year are observed as special days for one cause or another, on which the UN Secretary General also issues special messages. There are special days for Europe, Africa and America and for Human Rights, Disarmament etc. but no day specially reminding us of the need for Asian Unity.
AAU had done some research and come to the conclusion that the 2nd of April should be declared as “Asian Unity Day” to be celebrated as such every year. It was from 23 March, to 2 April 1947 that the first Asian Relations Conference was organized in New Delhi. Delegations from 28 Asian countries had come to attend the Conference. The countries were: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia-Cochin China-Laos, Ceylon, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaya, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine Jewish Delegation, The Philippines, Siam, Tajikistan, Tibet, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
It was a truly pan-Asian gathering including participants from the extreme west of the continent like Egypt and Palestine to the extreme east like Korea and Vietnam and from Mongolia in the north to Indonesia in the south. It is interesting to notice that 8 of the 28 delegations were of the central Asian republics of what was then the Soviet Union and they are now independent countries. Observers from Arab League, Australia, London, Moscow, New York and the UNO were also present.
In his welcome address to the delegates, Jawahar Lal Nehru, then in the midst of Indian struggle for independence had said: “It is fitting that India should play her part in this new phase of Asian development. Apart from the fact that India herself is emerging into freedom and independence, she is the natural centre and focal point of many forces at work in Asia.
Geography is a compelling factor, and geographically she is so situated as to be the meeting point of western and northern and eastern and south-east Asia. Because of this the history of India is a long history of her relations with other countries of Asia” Nehru became first Prime Minister of India later in August that year.
Addressing the Conference on the concluding day, April 2, 1947, Mahatma Gandhi had said: “If you want to give a message of importance to the West it must be a message of love……The West is today pining for wisdom.
It is despairing of multiplication of atom bombs because such multiplication must destroy not merely all the West but the whole world…….It is up to you to deliver the whole world and not merely Asia from wickedness and sin. That is the precious heritage which your teachers and my teachers have left for us.” How relevant this advice of Mahatma Gandhi is even today!
At the plenary session on the 2nd of April a Resolution (formally moved by the Chinese delegate, (Yuan-ning) was adopted, to establish an organization to be called “Asian Relations Organization”. A provisional “General Council”, consisting of 30 members from various countries was appointed. Nehru was chosen to be the first Head of the Council.
As it happened, this initiative of asian leaders was overtaken by the coming of Cold War. Today the Cold War has been over for over two and a half decades. Europe has created an European Union, and Africa has created an African Union, while Asia still lacks a Pan-Asian body, which is a crying need of the day.
Although Cold War 1 has been over since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Cold war 2 seems to have begun because of set-backs to Democracy in China and now Russia and the growth of Islamic Radicalism in some parts of the World and the continuing efforts of ISIS and Al Qaeda to find new foot-holds.
We all know how the institutions of the European Union have changed the scene in Europe. After the devastation of the two World Wars, and hundreds of years of struggle for the mastery of Europe, the European Union has transformed the continent which was the most dangerous region of the world into the most stable part of the world, while Asia has become the Continent of Instability and a potential source of future World Wars. Even the departure of UK from EU(Brexit)will not diminish the importance of this grouping of 27 countries.
It is felt that a positive idea celebrated annually will help in counteracting the various negative currents from time to time regarding relations among Asian countries, who have no option but to live in peace and amity in this nuclear age. If the 2nd of April is celebrated every year as “Asian Unity Day” it will promote the cause of peace and harmony in Asia as well as the whole World.
Fortunately the date also falls in the spring season, a season of rebirth, renewal and hope and fit for celebrations.