To bridge the divide across borders, foster love, harmony

To bridge the divide across borders, foster love, harmony

Most of us, including children have different notions about our neighbouring countries, especially Pakistan. Over the years, successive generations and indeed Governments, both in India and Pakistan have been unable to divest themselves of the baggage of their traumatic history, the memory of the bloody Partition that in more than one way defined the ‘blow hot, blow cold’ relationship between these two nations. And yet at the end of the day, there is a realisation and acknowledgment of the common links, the shared roots, the similarity of culture and tradition. 

Fortunately there have been many an endeavour in the past to bridge this divide and create an atmosphere of love, friendship and positive attitude towards our neighbours across the Line of Control. A laudable attempt in this direction, to foster friendship, change mindsets, especially in the minds of young children, and bridge the gap across borders,  has been made by Routes 2 Roots and The Citizens Archive of Pakistan, which recently launched the ‘Student Exchange for Change program, 2013-2015’ in the Capital. 

Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Kapil Sibal, inaugurated the program along with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in India Salman Bashir and Bollywood actor Juhi Chawla. Also present on the occasion were various diplomats, principals and students from the participating schools and those children who were part of the event during earlier years.

This third round of ‘Students Exchange for Change’ initiative is by far the biggest with an impressive participation of almost 5,000 students from 25 schools in six cities across the two countries. The students engaged in numerous activities to engender peace and harmony, including  connecting with their counterparts through letters and postcards. From India, schools from Delhi, Mumbai and Dehradun  participated in the event along with the ones from Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Expressing happiness about the peace initiative actor Juhi Chawla said, “It is a very proud moment for me to be part of this historic moment as children from India and Pakistan are part of such a wonderful cause.”

Ananya Dhanuka, a student of Class VI from Delhi Public School, Sushant Lok, shared her experience with Metrolife and said, “I have asked them about their loves back there in Pakistan, their culture, their lifestyle, etc. We all have various misconceptions about Pakistan and initiatives like these will help clear them and also develop a bond between the two countries.”
Another participant, Jasleen Kaur, a Class X student from Guru Harkishan Public School, said, “Through my letter I have asked about their culture, their way of life, and about the similarities we share. And I think this movement will improve the condition between the two countries.”

A real and lasting change in the relationship can only be brought between two countries by altering the ingrained mindsets of the people on both sides of the border and Students Exchange for Change helps students to strengthen these bonds, change the perspectives and opinions, and lead to a better understanding about cultures, habits and rituals of the two nations. This program aids to narrow the differences and promote peace across the borders through facilitating exchange of positive thoughts.

Rakesh Gupta, Founder, Routes 2 Roots said, “After achieving spectacular response to our first and second ‘Exchange for Change’ program, we are fortunate enough that we were able to connect a much larger pool of children, schools and cities this time. I hope this third phase too will be able to help in bringing a positive shift in the mindsets of people from both the countries, especially the children.”

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