The 7500 km Walk of Hope 2015-16 from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, organised by Manav Ekta Mission, concluded its 474-day mission for peace and harmony in Srinagar on 29 April 2016.
Led by Sri M—spiritual guide, social reformer and educationist—the journey through 11 states (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, and Jammu & Kashmir) reached out to 10 million fellow Indians. A diverse assembly of responsible citizens accompanied Sri M in this Walk.
Dr.Karan Singh—Member of Parliament, former Governor and Union Minister—flagged off the Walk of Hope on 12 January 2015 from Kanyakumari in the presence of Shri Ravishankar Prasad, Union Minister, Ministry of Communications and IT; Prof PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha; and Justice MN Venkatachaliah, former Chief Justice Of India. The Walk started from Zero Point in Kanyakumari after paying respects at the Gandhi Mandap and the Vivekananda Memorial.
The main objectives of Walk of Hope were Interfaith harmony, Equality for all, Sustainable living, Women empowerment, Community health, and Education & youth development. The padayatra covered 15-20 kms a day and halted in the evening enroute at a pre-determined village or town.
The evenings were spent meeting with the local populace—which included meaningful dialogues, inter-faith prayers, eating together and, finally, resting overnight at their homes.
Sri M spoke extensively for the cause of peace and interfaith harmony during the padayatra. The padayatra frequented places of worship of Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, Jews, Sikhs and Zoroastrians along the route. The initiative was focused on restoring the innate spirituality of the nation—by rekindling true faith and rejuvenating the spirit of hope, love, peace, harmony and oneness.
Sri M has planted saplings along the route in towns and villages – encouraging the public to understand the value of sustainable living and promoting afforestation as the way forward to help sustain a healthy environment. Sri M has also singled out the youth and children of the country to instill the message of oneness since will be instrumental in the future progress of the country.
The President of India, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee; Vice President of India, Mr. Mohammad Ansari; Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi; and President – Indian National Congress, Ms. Sonia Gandhi had endorsed the Walk’s objectives and Chief Ministers of all the states covered welcomed and participated in the padayatra. The Honourable President, Sri Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, hosted Sri M and Walk of Hope at the Rashtrapati Bhavan when Walk of Hope reached New Delhi.
The Honourable Vice President, Shri Hamid Ansari, presented the Interfaith Harmony Award of The Temple of Understanding India to Sri M for his efforts towards peace and harmony.
Sri M addressed the MPs of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on 29 February 2016 at the Parliament House Annexe, New Delhi that included Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Shri Suresh Prabhu, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Shri PJ Kurien, Shri Oscar Fernandez, and Shri Tarun Vijay.
Sri M also met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican on13 April 2016 to update him about Walk of Hope 2015-16 and its mission of peace and harmony in India. Shri Anna Hazare, social activist, welcomed and participated in the Walk of Hope in Ralegan Siddhi, Maharashtra on 13 July 2015 where he mentioned that Walk of Hope is clear example of the personal sacrifices made for the cause of communal oneness in the country.
The Walk of Hope observed its first anniversary on 12 January 2016 at Kanpur where it was welcomed by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Shri Akhilesh Yadav, who also presided as the Chief Guest at a grand reception accorded to the padayatra by the UP Government.
The Walk of Hope also organized a series of Nirahar Satyagrahas – a public proclamation against terrorism & communal violence – at Pune on 5 July 2015; the second in Ahmedabad on 6 September 2015; the third in Bhopal on 20 October 2015; the fourth in Varanasi on 18 December 2015; and the fifth at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on 24 & 25 February 2016.
At the Walk of Hope valedictory function held in Srinagar on 29 April 2016, Sri M said:
“The Walk of Hope 2015-16 has now concluded in Srinagar. This 7500 km padayatra has been a significant success and we have been able to convey the message of peace and harmony to tens of millions of people along the route. We have experienced an underlying spirit of oneness in people and their interest in maintaining an atmosphere of togetherness for the progress of the country.”
“In the course of the padayatra, we have humbly sown the seeds of Manav Ekta amongst the people, especially the youth of this country who are its future. One day, these seeds will grow into huge trees of oneness under whose shade our future generations will rest in togetherness. Each of us has a responsibility to spread the message of oneness — in our homes, neighbourhood, and elsewhere. We must evolve beyond petty selfishness and ensure a better future for the generations to come.”
“The Walk of Hope 2015-16 edition has concluded but the mission does not end here. The initiative for achieving peace and communal harmony will continue. Wherever disruptions of peace occur, I propose to walk there along with the local populace to address issues and restore peace and oneness. This edition of Walk of Hope did not include the Eastern as well as Northeastern parts of our nation. Therefore, the next edition will possibly journey the areas not covered in the recently concluded padayatra.”