Centre for Respect & Understanding

The Centre for Respect & Understanding is established within the Cordia Educational Institutes in Sanghol, a village of archaeological and historical significance located in Punjab. Sanghol's rich cultural heritage reaches back from the late Harappan era and the Kushan period to Mughal and Sikh history. The Cordia Educational Institutes owes its creation to the drive and vision of Lord Diljit Rana, Baron of Malone, who is Member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom and Honorary Consul for India to Northern Ireland. Committed to transforming the state of rural education at his birthplace in Sanghol, Punjab, Lord Rana established a non-profit education campus, Cordia Educational Institutes. It was inaugurated by former President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in 2006. Stressing advancement of girls and women and promoting rural empowerment, the education campus comprises a senior secondary public school, multi-disciplinary colleges and vocational centres, with the vision of creating access to quality education and diverse professional opportunities for rural youth, particularly for women, in Sanghol and neighbouring regions.

Established within the Cordia Educational Institutes, the genesis of the Centre for Respect & Understanding lies in the creation of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding. The Commission sought to explore initiatives to promote mutual respect and understanding among all communities. The Report of the Commission, 'Civil Paths to Peace', was presented and approved by 54 heads of Commonwealth countries from across the world in 2007. The Report observed that the importance of respect and understanding lies partly in their intrinsic value - they are indispensable parts of good living in peace and harmony with one another - and partly in their contribution to restraining and removing group-based violence and hostility that have become pernicious features of the contemporary world. Cultivated disrespect of target groups, and engineered misunderstanding of the ways of the world, are integral to the process of instigating and sustaining violence. This underscores the need for responses to extend beyond policing criminal activities towards exploring a plethora of creative civil engagements including social, economic, cultural and political initiatives that can confront and defeat the appeal for violence and militarisation of the mind.

The pursuit of transforming people's minds urges a deep understanding of the wealth of social differences that make individual human beings richly diverse in distinct ways, rather than being set up on opposite sides of rigid binaries of 'us' and 'them', across divisions of religion, gender, nationality, class, among others. It is one of the great insights of the Report that we must dedicate ourselves to cherishing and nourishing the 'multiple identities' to which we are heir through the richness of our human heritage, away from the rigidities and aridity of 'singular identities' which may be thrust upon us.

The Report highlights that the institutional changes needed for pursuing civil paths to peace call for clarity of thought, with an equal emphasis on demanding organised policies, programmes and initiatives with adequate reach. It alludes to the role of economic inequalities, social humiliations and political disenfranchisement in generating disrespect and hostility, along with past and present deprivations. It emphasises the social rewards of working towards mutual respect and fuller understanding to counter such phenomena.

There has also been a deplorable coarsening of public discourse which cannot go unchallenged in a civil society.

The Centre for Respect & Understanding was born as a pioneering initiative that draws its title from the Report. It will incubate innovative ideas to serve society by fostering respect and understanding in diverse ways, and promote their wide social ownership.

Four projects that CRU currently seeks to initiate in collaboration with partners and supporters include:

— Creating a public platform to project instances of harmony and mutual respect in India across divisions of gender, religion, language, region, citizenship, class and ethnicity, to project positive and inclusive narratives that inspire a culture of mutually respectful communities and celebration of multiple identities.
— Supporting opportunities in every state for creative social engagement for the vast numbers of government officials retiring every month, to serve with existing or planned social sector and grassroots initiatives or with voluntary organisations.
— Supporting community-based pilot projects for the inclusion and empowerment of women and girls and documenting effective strategies and policies.
— Creating resources such as publications, audio-visual and online material to advance awareness of citizens towards collective values, goals and responsibilities.

Other areas of engagement will emerge as CRU grows in partnership. CRU looks forward to the contribution of a :widening circle of friends of the Centre, who will support and advise the Centre, as it serves our society through fostering respect and understanding.

Contact: Kamalesh Sharma Email: | Phone: +91-9129977928




Rural Mobile Teaching Kitchen

Malnutrition remains one of the leading global health problems, reaching many countries across the world in its three forms of overnutrition, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency. In India we still frequently see undernutrition, but also conversely growing numbers of people who are over-nourished leading to obesity and diabetes amongst other diseases leading to devastating consequences on individual and public health. 
NNEdPro felt the need to intervene and began to tackle this, initially utilising an innovative technique using a mobile teaching kitchen to teach mothers of lower socioeconomic status about food and nutrition. Their project began in October 2017, with a group of mothers in two separate Kolkata slums. Over a period of almost two years, these mothers developed understanding of their diet and how to make it nutritionally balanced. But also, the kitchen has taught them knowledge and practical skills which have allowed them to buy and cook a balanced nutritious meal that was affordable and tasty.


The mothers, who are based in slum settings and often work as household assistance, were then supported to begin the next phase of the project by initiating a micro-enterprise model. Through this they were taught other template menus, more appealing to those working in the city. They have provided healthy meals to those who may actually be over-nourished providing them with a nutritionally complete, but not calorie heavy, lunchtime meal. This meal was of course prepared for a charge, allowing re-distribution of wealth into the slums, but also importantly teaching a number of transferable skills such as numeracy, communication, teamwork and leadership.
Following its success in an urban setting NNEdPro felt the need to expand to rural environments. With support from the Cordia Group, without which this would not be possible, we have had seen the exciting steps of initiation of the mobile teaching kitchen project in Sanghol. Two local group of mothers have been identified, as well as good numbers of supporting volunteers, researchers, staff members and medical professionals.
The adapted template menus, which were altered to ensure availability of ingredients locally as well as acceptability, were taught to the volunteers by the team from Kolkata in February 2019. The launch was a huge success, allowing the volunteers to then share their recently acquired knowledge with both groups of mothers. Apart from developing the model for rural settings, we are also seeing an expansion in numbers with almost double the number of mothers from each slum being seen in Sanghol. The initial responses were very much positive, we look forward to updating as the project continues.


The project provides education around nutrition to the mothers but is also key in empowering women within lower socioeconomic communities, as well as providing an opportunity for clinical health screening. There is always room to assist these projects, through the provision of funding or supplying support on the ground through volunteering.
If you are able to support these mothers to take hold of their family’s health, as well as their future please contact us on or visit our crowdfunding campaign