Observations from the Indo-Pak Video call on the theme of “Safe Spaces for Youths”
Contributed by: Swarnak Das
Research on peace and conflict studies shows that societal and political systems are more than often prejudiced and are an important tool of the ideology that can exacerbate or mitigate conflict thus reducing the safe place for the children and the youth. The state machinery can be used as a vehicle to promote dominant ideologies. There are numerous instances where propaganda have been used to oppress particular ethnic groups and to promote hatred, xenophobic and racist ideologies, militarism and religious warfare.
In order to promote this spirit of fraternity and the bondage of innocence on the harmonious moments of International Youth Day, Project KHEL from India and Aman Pukar from Pakistan made a conscious attempt by arranging a video conference on the theme of ‘Safe Spaces For Youths’ to ensure that a group of children of both the Nations who are subjected to the disillusioned ambience of historical antagonism develop the skills and values to consciously avoid negative behaviours, such as violence, intolerance and discrimination and improve mutual respect for each other. The goal was to eradicate from the minds of the children the deliberate or unconscious reinforcement of ethnic and other identity grievances which accumulated in their sub-conscious level as a result of the classical conditioning through the language of extremism, negative stereotyping, and the discriminating representation of particular groups through distorted presentations of history. Because of the contemporary intolerant compulsions in the society, the video conferencing was the utmost necessity to help the children or the future nation-builders develop a constructive non-violent behaviour, including cooperation, peaceful approaches to resolution of problems, respect for human rights and responsibilities, and active democratic citizenship for the holistic enrichment of a composite culture.
Children shared among themselves about the humble but touching facts of their own countries connecting the various facets of human lives ranging from sports to food, from clothing to places of tourist attractions (even how they get scolded by their parents), which in a subtle way manifested the very concept of oneness by consolidating the spirit of commonness that the children perceived in their own unique ways. They discussed about their own notions of safe places and how they identify it under diverging scenarios. The session was the cosmic call for the children in its simplest form to understand that they all belong to the same part of the Mother Nature but unfortunately forced to live in a chopped off world mostly run by men with exploitative motivation and imperialistic attitude which are presented in the disguise of nationalistic patriotism. However, the ending of the session emanated an enlightening ray of hope when the National Anthem of both the Nations were sung by every child for their respective nations thus resonating the vibrations of “Aman ki Asha”.