“In today’s world, peace is a constant struggle” - is how the Indo-Pak Peace calendar welcomes the new year on its January page.
The message penned down by an Indian lawyer is complemented by a painting by a student from Lahore that shows a white dove flying across from India to Pakistan in the calendar that was launched here recently.
“The idea is to reflect a message of 365 days of peace,” says Ravi Nitesh, founder of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint initiative between non governmental organisations from both countries, which launched the calendar here recently.
A discussion that followed the launch saw noted political commentator and former diplomat address the gathering along with ex-governor of Karnataka T N Chaturvedi, chief creative of special projects at ZEEL Shailja Kejriwal, president of South Asian University Kavita Sharma and secretary-general of South Asian Fraternity Satya Pal.
“India has such strength and power to absorb jolts, and it has been so for centuries. It is wrong to divide India into Hindus and Muslims. There are certain people from both sides who indulge in some kind of wrongdoing but the common notion remains of co-existence,” said Nitesh.
Issues of poverty, gender equity and co-existence were mentioned by Sharma who said that the two countries are among the youngest part of globe and that one cannot oppress women.
Shailaja highlighted how the media shaped the perception Indians had of Pakistan for generations, for those who did not have the first-hand experience of Pakistan and partition.
Endorsing the voices of dissent by using her example of Iqbal Bano who sang the revolutionary “Hum Dekhenge” nazm by critically acclaimed poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz at a Lahore stadium full of 50,000 people wearing a black sari in defiance of Pakistan’s dictator General Zia-ul Haq’s ban on the attire, Shailaja said media needs to be used effectively.
She went on to say how through her Zindagi channel, she wanted to “put Pakistan into people’s homes and see if perceptions change if the enemy is in your drawing room 24X7”.
She said that when she went to different cities with Pakistani content and showed it to people, she received amazing response.
“One person even said ‘they look like us!’ she said amid laughter from the audience that also had schoolchildren whose paintings were selected from some 300 entries for the calendar, in its fourth edition this year.
The calendar is a joint initiative between non-government organisations of both countries that have come together to form Aaghaz-e-Dosti, which means ‘A Start of Friendship’.
It has been started, led and managed by a dedicated team of youths from both the countries has currently its presence in Bengaluru, Dehradun, Meerut, Mumbai, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Dehradun and Vadodara in India besides Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Toba Tek Singh.
A special screening of director Ketan Mehta’s “Toba Tek Singh” wrapped up the session.