16th Aman Chaupal: Indian Youth Activist interact with students of Excellent Education Center in Lahore
In Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s 16th Aman Chaupal, an Indian Peace activist interacted with students of Excellent Education Center in Lahore with the aim to counter stereotypes and misconceptions. Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak Friendship initiative of India-based Mission Bhartiyam and Pakistan-based The Catalyst – TC, has conducted 15 aman chaupals or Indo-Pak peace sessions wherein someone from across the border interacts with students in a school or college.
In this session, youth activist and Indian convener of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, Devika Mittal (Convener from India) had interacted with the students of Excellent Education Centre. Excellent Education Centre (EEC) is a Lahore-based institution providing education and guidance to students for their holistic development and enabling them to become positive contributors to the society. The session was conducted on 4th November 2015 and was co-ordinated by Naseem Nasir, Namra Nasyr (Lahore Co-ordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti) and Wasiqa Khan (Teacher and Apprentice at EEC)
The students of Excellent Education Centre had previously participated in a cross-border cards exchange initiative of Aaghaz-e-Dosti wherein they had exchanged cards with students of Ecole Mondiale World School (Mumbai) on Independence Day of India and Pakistan,
The session began with the students presenting welcome cards to the guest. The interactive session began by inquiring about the cards, how they were received by the Indian students. Devika informed the students that the school and the students were very excited to know about the cards coming from Pakistan. The video that the Lahore Co-ordinator had made showing them receiving the cards from India and making cards for them as a response was shown to everyone in the school and was even shared on social media and was much appreciated.
The next question was about the difference that the Indian guest felt in Pakistan to which, Devika responded that she did not feel that she was in a different country. She shared that how people just cannot recognize her unless she herself informs that she is an Indian. This happens because there is no difference in the way we look, dress and speak though in Lahore, Punjabi is most-spoken but urdu is also spoken and understood so Indians are not easily recognizable in Pakistan and so is the case in India for Pakistanis.
The next question was about the difference between hindi and urdu. Devika said, “It is interesting that you people are speaking urdu but I am able to hear Hindi and I am speaking Hindi but you are hearing Urdu. This shows that there is hardly any difference. The script is different. There are also some particular words that can distinguish but overall, there is no easily noticeable difference.”
The next question was about religious diversity in India. A student asked, “Are there only Hindus living in India?” Devika Mittal informed that like Pakistan, India is a religiously diverse country. Hindus are in majority but there are muslims who form the largest minority, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Jews and several other religious groups. India also legally recognises agnostics and atheists or people’s right to not have any religion.
Devika asked the students if they watch Indian movies. All the students raised their hand and said they watch all Indian movies and shared their favourite actors from Bollywood. They also asked if Pakistani movies and serials are as famous in India as Indian movies and serials are in Pakistan. Devika shared that Pakistani movies are not released in India but because of Zindagi Channel, Pakistani serials are now aired in India and they are being loved by Indians for their beautiful and realistic storylines.
There were many other questions that revolved around similarities between India and Pakistan, about Indians and on popular culture. The students expressed their desire to come to India and meet with kids of their age.
Press Release issued by