Report of Chandigarh Launch of 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar
Chandigarh, India: Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a voluntary and non-political Indo-Pak cross border friendship initiative launched its 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar in Chandigarh on 18 February at St’ Stephens School.
The calendar was launched by Smt. Asha Jaswal, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh; Dr. DNV Kumara Guru, Director – External Relations and Human Resources at Indian School of Business, Mohali, Punjab; Mr. Sandeep Joshi, Cartoonist, The Tribune Group; Mr. Avtar Singh, Director – People’s Convention Centre; Mr. Louis Lopez, Principal, St. Stephen’s School, Chandigarh; Mr. Pramod Sharma, Director – Yuvsatta and Shruti Achesh, member Aaghaz-e-dosti.
The Launch program was organised at St. Stephen’s School by Yuvsatta, a Chandigarh based youth empowering NGO, who is also one of the collaborators of the Aaghaz-e-dosti Indo-Pak Peace Calendar this year. The program was attended by majority of the students of the school along with the school Principal, Vice Principal, teachers and the staff members.
Besides the Launch, the esteemed guests also presented their views regarding Indo-Pak issues and the value of developing friendly relations with the neighbouring countries.
The Aaghaz-e-dosti Indo Pak peace calendar features selected paintings (6 paintings from India and 6 from Pakistan) from schools students (Grade 8 to 12) of India and Pakistan. These Paintings depict an innocent and apolitical horizon of peace.
This year, we received thought-provoking expressions from students of several cities in India (Bulandshahr, Cuttack, Dehradun, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Surat and Vadodara) and in Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Swabi and Toba Tek Singh). Along with the paintings, peace calendar includes messages from peace activists and renowned intellectuals. This year, Peace calendar includes messages of Dr. Salima Hashmi, Dr I A Rehman, Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Lt. General (Retd) Muhammad Masood Aslam from Pakistan and Dr Shashi Tharoor, Col (retd) Virender Sahai, Major General (retd) Ashok Mehta, Sudheendra Kulkarni , Dr Syeda Hameed from India.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Louis Lopez, Principal St. Stephen’s School congratulated Aaghaz-e-dosti for taking this thought forward to initiate Peace between the two nations. He talked about the role of students in peacebuilding and how the noble values of peace and non violence can lead our country and can contribute in developing a peaceful and more humane environment in the world.
Shruti Achesh, who is a member of the Aaghaz-e-Dosti team, Delhi, gave an introduction on the vision and mission of the initiative and, how this peace calendar is helping to bridge distances between the people of India and Pakistan. She said that both countries have a history and geography shared together and in no way both can even think about being a rival of each other. She described how common people as well as children of both the countries are eager to develop friendly relations and are doing efforts to achieve that. She recited examples when during classroom connects of Aaghaz-e-Dosti, students from both sides became so happy while talking to each other and started inviting each other to their home immediately.
Chief Guest Smt. Asha Jaswal said that Indo-Pak relations is one area where we need more and more people to work for.. And the best people who can contribute towards this initiative is the youth of both the nations and everyone should support them. She also congratulated Aaghaz-e-Dosti for initiating this process of people to people contact and emphasized on the point that no one wants war, everyone wants to live in peace with each other and, if Aaghaz-e-dosti has taken this initiative to bring this forward, then everyone should encourage them by themselves being a part of this process. She also told that there are lot of efforts being done to normalise the relations through increased role of people to people communication and it needs to be developed more and more.
Mr. DNV Kumara Guru who is the Director – External Relations and Human Resources at Indian School of Business said, there are much deeper bonds of love and friendship between the people of India and Pakistan and we should continue making efforts to strengthen these bonds, to build bridges and to remove all kinds of barriers that divide us. He said we all are peace loving human beings and it is our responsibility to break this rhetoric to foster harmony, love and the importance of togetherness.
Mr. Sandeep Joshi, who is a cartoonist with the Tribune Group stressed on the importance of art in bridging the gap between the two nations. He further added that art accepts no boundries and can be one of the ways in which we can create a momentum for peace between India and Pakistan.
Pramod Sharma, Director and Coordinator – Yuvsatta told that he has had many experiences through his travel to Pakistan and he has found that people on both sides of the border are same. He also talked about the Global Youth Peace Festival that is organised by his esteemed organisation every year in Chandigarh, and where they are trying to promote the process of building peaceful ties by inviting and encouraging the youth from different parts of the world.
Running since last 5 years and, presently with a vibrant team of youth coordinators along with more than 15 chapters in both Pakistan and India, Aaghaz-e-Dosti aims to create unwavering bonds of Peace and friendship between these two nations by strengthening people to people contact. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is heading towards its objective through various activities such as Aman Chaupals, Peace Workshops, Classroom to Classroom connects, Indo-Pak Peace Calendar, Discussions and Seminars and others. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is one of the most prominent voice on Indo-Pak issues and has been recognized for its voluntary efforts by people, media and governments on both sides of the border along with many awards from organizations and peace institutions.
This year, calendar has been launched in presence of various dignitaries in Lahore (1 Jan), Toba Tek Singh (8 Jan), Peshawar (9 Jan), Karachi (29 Jan) in Pakistan and New Delhi (14 Jan) Mumbai (30 Jan), Dehradun (5th Feb), Panipat (11th Feb) and Kolkata (5 March) in India. The Calendar has also been launched in Kyrgz Republic.
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5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar launched in Kyrgyz Republic
Aaghaz-e-Dosti Kyrgyz Chapter created history by launching 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar internationally on Saturday February 18, 2017 at Unum Cultural Centre in Bishkek. The calendar launch was followed by a discussion titled “Sharing of Hopes for a Peaceful Co-existence”. Kayemba Nicholas was a guest speaker in the discussion. He is from Uganda and a student at International Ataturk-Alatoo University in Bishkek.
These peace calendars have 12 selected paintings (6 from India and Pakistan each) which were selected from hundreds of paintings received by Aaghaz-e-Dosti this year. Every year, Aaghaz-e-Dosti announce to invite paintings from school students in India and Pakistan on ‘Indo-Pak Friendship’ theme. The team also invites messages from 12 (6 from India and 6 from Pakistan) eminent persons working on Indo-Pak peace. After selection of paintings by jury, Indian painting with message of Pakistani peace activist and vise-versa get form of a calendar by 12 such pages i.e. one for each month and these calendars are released with a discussion ‘Sharing of Hopes for Peaceful Co-existence’ in India and Pakistan every year.
This year, we had got tremendous participation in our competition for paintings from youths of both the countries. From Pakistan, we received paintings from Balochistan, Karachi, Lahore, Rahim Yar Khan and Toba Tek Singh district. From India, we received paintings from Anupshehr (UP), Cuttack (Orissa), Dehradun (Uttarakhand), Delhi, Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir), Kolkata (West Bengal), Lucknow (UP), Mumbai (Maharashtra), Surat (Gujarat) and Vadodara (Gujarat). We also received a painting from an Indian student studying in Oman.
This year’s calendar has already been launched in different cities in India: Dehradun, Delhi, Mumbai and Panipat and in Pakistan: Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Toba Tek Singh. The Calendar is also scheduled to be launched in three other cities in India – Chandigarh, Jalandhar and Kolkata.
The event in Kyrgyz was the first launch of this calendar outside India and Pakistan.
The event was attended by children of different age groups, students, young professionals and parents from India, Pakistan, Uganda and Kyrgyz Republic.
Infact, the Peace Calendar was launched by future leaders i.e. our children. The children, Nasim Karim, the Kyrgyz Co-ordinator shared, took great interest in going through the pictures in the calendar drawn by students of India and Pakistan. They were very excited for the next year calendar launch as they want to participate in the competition and want to get their voices for peace published.
Nasima Karim had briefed about activities and mission of Aaghaz-e-Dosti through presentation and images. The event was wrapped up by brainstorming and networking activity to further promote friendship, peace and co-existence.
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5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar launched in Dehradun
Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a voluntary and non political cross border initiative of Indo-Pak Friendship has launched its 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar in Dehradun at Hotel Aketa. Besides the launch and a panel discussion, a special screening of Toba Tek Singh (Directed by Ketan Mehta) was also done. This film is part of Zeal for Peace initiative by 12 film directors of India and Pakistan. Local hospitality support was provided by Aketa. This Indo Pak peace calendar features selected paintings (6 paintings from India and 6 from Pakistan) from schools students (Grade 8 to 12) of India and Pakistan. These Paintings depict an innocent and apolitical horizon of peace.
This year, we received thought-provoking expressions from students of several cities in India (Bulandshahr, Cuttack, Dehradun, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Surat and Vadodara) and Pakistan (Karachi, Lahore, Swabi and Toba Tek Singh). Alongside the paintings, peace calendar includes messages from peace activists and renowned intellectuals. This year, Peace calendar includes messages of Dr. Salima Hashmi, Dr I A Rehman, Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Lt. General (Retd) Muhammad Masood Aslam from Pakistan and Dr Shashi Tharoor, Col (retd) Virender Sahai, Major General (retd) Ashok Mehta, Dr Syeda Hameed from India.
During the launch, a discussion on ‘Sharing of hopes for peaceful co-existence’ was also organized where Prof Dhreerendra Sharma, G K Swamy, SP Goel and Lokesh Ohri were present in the panel.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dheerendra Sharma, who works on nuclear disarmament, said that the nuclear race in South Asia must be stopped and nuclear disarmament should be a priority for countries of the world, specially India and Pakistan, if we really want to see the development and uplifetment of people.
G K Swamy, who is an economist and educator, said that education is something that provides us a vision for future. Our education, specially in India and Pakistan should be more inclusive and more connected as we share our history and our future as well. Children are the tomorrow’s leaders and such activities that promote peace and humanity among them are definitely for welfare of human being and real objective of education.
Lokesh Ohri, who is an anthropologist said that history and heritage of both countries are closely connected with each other. With the hundreds of years of togetherness, these are only 70 years when we are so disconnected that we started making stereotypes for each other. A better connection of history can build a peaceful future together.
SP Goel, Philantrophist and Founder of Hotel Aketa narrated personal examples of Hindu-Muslim Unity, dispelled stereotypes and talked about the importance of communal harmony.
Vinay Bhardwaj, a film producer whose upcoming movie Dushman is also based on Indo-Pak Friendship, supported the initiative through a video message. The trailer of the movie was shown during the launch program. It was the first public screening of the trailer.
The students whose paintings have been featured – Vikas Pal and Ifrah Naaz from Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) Learning Academy were also felicitated. They shared their vision behind the painting. Mr. Harwant Singh, Principal of the School talked about the importance of peace and the need to continue efforts for peace building between India and Pakistan.
Running since last 5 years, Aaghaz-e-Dosti aims to create unwavering bonds between India and Pakistan through people to people network. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is heading towards its objective through various activities such as Aman Chaupals, Peace Workshops, Classroom to Classroom connects, Indo-Pak Peace Calendar, Discussions and Seminars and others. Aaghaz-e-Dosti is one of the most prominent voice on Indo-Pak issues and has been recognized for its voluntary efforts by people, media and governments of both sides along with many awards from organizations and institutions.
This year, calendar has been launched in presence of various dignitaries in Lahore (1 Jan), Toba Tek Singh (8 Jan), Peshawar (9 Jan), Karachi (29 Jan) in Pakistan and New Delhi (14 Jan) and Mumbai (30 Jan). After Dehradun launch on 5th Feb, this calendar launch is scheduled in Panipat on 11th Feb, Chandigarh on 17th Feb, Kolkata on 26th Feb and Ayodhya on 5th March.
Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s Annual Peace Calendar Launch: Endeavoring Towards a Peaceful Coexistence
Aaghaz-e-Dosti is an India-Pakistan peace initiative of Mission Bharatiyam (India) and The Catalyst of Peace (Pakistan). The annual launch of the Peace Calendar is a bookmark event among various other peace activities organized by the initiative.
First launched in January 2013, the Peace Calendar has entered its fifth year in 2017. It is a unique attempt that tries to remind the two neighbours with much of shared history and culture, that there is much in common that connects, than what separates them. It is a humble attempt to remind those on both sides of the fence that a calendar is not just a mere bunch of dates on a piece of paper, it can also serve as a messenger of peace, humanity and love that binds all in invisible yet strong threads.
This year, after having been launched in Lahore, Toba Tek Singh and Peshawar in Pakistan; the Peace Calendar was launched in New Delhi at India International Centre Annexe on January 14th, 2017.
Along with the launch of the Peace Calendar, a discussion on the theme ‘Sharing of Hope for Peaceful Coexistence’ was held. The event saw the presence of eminent speakers including Dr. S.N.Subba Rao (Veteran Gandhian), Dr. Syeda Hameed (Member of the erstwhile Planning Commission and Peace Activist), Ms. Kamla Bhasin (Peace and Women’s Rights Activist) and Colonel (Retd.) Virendra Sahai Verma.
The event began with Late Colonel Mandeep Singh’s daughter, Gurmehar Kaur, recalling the memories of her father’s presence and his loving embrace, before she and her family lost him in the Kargil War of 1999. She recalled how she, at the tender age of three, could not comprehend the uncanny silence of her father on his deathbed and how for many years to come, her innocent questions were fed by her mother’s assurances that it was just a bad dream. After many years, when she witnessed on television the similar painful cries of the families, who had lost their children, brothers, fathers, husbands, their loved ones in Uri and Pathankot, all her childhood memories rushed back to her and an excruciating cry deep inside, made her understand the violence, death could bring.
With a heavy heart, as her throat choked with emotions, she made a plea for peace and asked us all to question and understand the immense futility of hatred, violence and war, wherein only the humans and the humanity is defeated.
Next, two Pakistani students Bharat Kohli and Suneel Nand, studying in the South Asian University, New Delhi, shared their experience of being in India, which they termed ‘wonderful’. Talking of the importance of platforms like the SAU, they held that such platforms offered students from different SAARC Nations not only an opportunity to avail quality education, but also taught them the importance of strengthening the neighbourly bonds of friendship, respect, acceptance and accommodation.
Next, the Peace Calendar was unveiled and launched by the guest speakers.
The four panelists, all stalwarts of the movement for peace in South Asia had very many insights they shared on the peace process and its importance. Dr. S.N. Subba Rao, a Gandhian in its best sense, was the first to share his experience and views on the theme of the event. He spoke of ‘Jai Jagat’ in the same breath as ‘Jai Bharat’ and ‘Jai Pakistan’. With the call of ‘Jai Jagat’, he tried to highlight the importance of universalism, as against parochialism and narrowness in views and boundaries.
Asserting that ‘mere absence of war is not peace’, he argued that as ‘war begins in the minds of men’, so should peace. He lamented that there were huge efforts towards fueling the war industry, as against the minimal efforts towards peace. With this, he shed light on the importance of creating more ‘peaceful minds’ and facilitating the birth of “Peace Preparation Laboratories” like Aaghaz-e-Dosti and expressed hope for its growth.
Kamla Bhasin, a crusader of Indo-Pak peace since 1975, began by appreciating Aghaz-e-Dosti’s efforts and wished that more of such events were highlighted and aired by the media houses, who more often than not, are engaged in hate mongering, when it comes to India-Pakistan relations. Talking about the divides existing at various levels between and among individuals, she held that these are not natural; she held that nature, at the most, creates differences, which are transformed by us humans into inequality at various levels. She argued that war creates an artificial divide of “us v/s the other”, of “we v/s them”, wherein these “others” are not considered human enough and are often treated with discrimination. With this she tried to argue that labels are a social construction, as nature does not put labels, nor does it create hierarchy among and between people, and hence, pointed out that there was nothing natural about the various existing hierarchies based on gender, religion, caste, nationality etc.
She also spoke of the dangers associated with the Military-Industrial Complex that made immense money out of war, whereas, there were only limited money and efforts directed towards building peace.
Moving on, she spoke of the work of her NGO-Sangat that since its inception has worked for Human Rights, Peace and Democracy and had been engaging women from the South Asian region in interactive sessions towards building peace.
Both the panelists, Dr. S.N. Subba Rao and Kamla Bhasin, left the gathering spell bound with their respective songs, ‘Jai Jagat’ and ‘Jaana Shehar Lahore(y) Jaana’, in which the entire hall followed them with much enthusiasm.
The next speaker, Colonel (Retd.) Virendra Sahai Verma, who along with Nirmala Deshpande, a renowned social activist and Gandhian, had founded a peace initiative called, ‘India-Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace’. This was after he had served in the two wars of 1965 and 1971 between India and Pakistan, wherein he witnessed the agony and loss that accompany war; it was this realization of the folly of armed combat that facilitated the culmination of ‘India-Pakistan Soldiers Initiative for Peace’.
He highlighted the necessity of understanding that though military victory would remain the major goal of the Army, sustenance of peace was a must for the long term coexistence of all.
The last, but as they say, certainly not the least, panelist of the day, Dr. Syeda Hameed, expounded the significance of the call for ‘Jai Jagat’, in the times when instead of expanding our identities; people, nations and territories were going narrow. She highlighted the need for adopting a broader point of view and expressed faith in humanity, stating – “yehi hai ibaadat, yehi hai deen-o-emaan, ki kaam aaye insaan ke insaan”.
Moving on she talked of the innocence of paintings by young minds that had not yet been affected by the venomous notions of hatred. She further enriched the discussion by sharing her own experiences of being engaged in peace building efforts between India and Pakistan for decades, and expressed hope in continuation of such efforts by many other organizations and initiatives, like Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
The school students from Gyan Mandir Public School – Tanvi and Yashasvi Singh and from Indraprastha Hindu Girls Sr Sec School – Divya Sharma and Yugantika whose paintings had been featured in the Calendar were awarded certificates. They presented their innocent and unbiased perceptions on India-Pakistan, talked about the inspiration behind their paintings and the importance of acceptance and peace. Their teachers – Ms. Anju Anand from Gyan Mandir Public School and Ms. Jigyasa Gupta from Indraprastha Hindu Girls Sr Sec School had also enlightened the gathering about the importance of peace education.
After the inspiring speeches by the guest speakers and insightful reflections by students and teachers, some people who had contributed to the Calendar initiative were also invited to share their experience and thoughts.
Abhilasha Sachan representing Project Khel, Lucknow, shed light on the role children could play and the meaningful contribution they could make in propagating the message of peace. She shared her experience of conducting workshops with children, who she considered were brimming with beautiful and innovative ideas. She tried to outline the importance of honing and channelizing these bright young minds towards the goal of attaining peace.
A teacher and peace activist from Chandigarh, Ms. Astinder Kaur, shared that she has a ‘family’ in every province of Pakistan since the time she decided to open her home and heart to this initiative. She asserted that without having gone to Pakistan ever, her bond with this neighbor had been such that she became ‘khala’ of hundreds of children from there. She expressed hope in the young minds of today, who she wished would build a better tomorrow, with a new direction and shape.
All the panelists, the speakers, some from among the audience present in the event shared their views and experiences of visiting and of being received and embraced with open arms and hearts, in Pakistan. Some recalled and cherished the small yet friendly gestures from ‘bhutta’ sellers, from ‘dhaba’ owners in Pakistan, who refused to charge them for food, for they treated them as their friends, neighbors and guests from India.
These instances are not mere stories, but are much more; they exemplify an innocuous bond of friendship, humanity and love that binds the people now separated in geography, but still one at heart, knowingly or unknowingly.
The fifth Peace Calendar Launch, New Delhi, saw a plethora of views and experiences being shared. A genuine hope for a better and a peaceful tomorrow was expressed, that could and would be shaped only by continuous efforts via uninterrupted dialogue and interactions between those on either side of the fence. The event, on the whole, highlighted the significance of understanding that peace is the only alternative, a shot worth taking and an investment; and the patience and support of all the people present reiterated that however easy it may be to hate and create differences, to love and come together as one is more human.
The official coverage partner for Delhi Launch Event was Zephyr: The Film and Photography Society of College of Vocational Studies (CVS).
Report by: Sanjana Arya (Delhi team member, Aaghaz-e-Dosti)
View Photos from the Event: Facebook Album 1 – Photos by Zephyr, Facebook Album 2 – Photos by Abhishek Shukla, Sanjana Arya, Flickr
5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar launched in Toba Tek Singh
Toba Tek Singh: On January 8, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, a joint Indo-Pak Friendship initiative, launched its 5th Indo-Pak Peace Calendar in Toba Tek Singh in collaboration with Youth for Human Rights Pakistan. The launch preceded a discussion on Indo-Pak peace with eminent speakers including Professor Dr. Muhammad Saleem (GC University Faisalabad), Hafiz Abdul Hai (Religious leader), Ms. Zara Shah (Human Rights Activist), Abdul Khaliq Sannam (Poet and Author), Irfan Gill and Khurrum Fiaz (social activists), Muhammad Asif Nadeem (journalist) and Umair Ahmad (Coordinator of Aaghaz-e-Dosti and Chairperson Youth for Human Rights Pakistan). The program was moderated by Gulzar Ahmad and Adil Fraz.
Every year, Aaghaz-e-Dosti, launches an Indo-Pak peace calendar in India and Pakistan. This calendar includes selected paintings of students from India and Pakistan and is launched followed by a seminar ‘Sharing of Hopes for a peaceful and friendly co-existence’. This calendar also includes messages from renowned personalities working on the peace from both the countries. The importance of the calendar is that it is a collection of shared dreams and hopes for friendship which we will be reminded of everyday.
The launch in Gojra Bar Association saw a large numbers of people gathering. People from all walks of life had participated. Sammia Sanam student from Govt. Girls High School, Gojra Toba Tek Singh whose painting was selected for inclusion in the peace calendar had come and were felicitated. The distinguished guests spoke on different issues concerning Indo-Pak peace.
Dr. Muhammad Saleem emphasized that an Indo-Pak friendship initiative like Aaghaz-e-Dosti is extremely needed in these times for peaceful co-existence in the globe. Such initiatives play great key role in enhancing cultural, traditional, and trade values in the region and will help full to eliminate the environment of hatred.
Mr. Hafiz Abdul Hai stressed that religious scholars play crucial role in promoting peace by delivering actual religious messages. All religions preach peace, love, and harmony. He also shared about renowned Sufi saints of sub-continent for betterment of mankind.
Ms. Zara Shah said that both countries visa policy for good exchanges visits, health, trade, and promotions of tourism should be revised for easy access. Abdul Khaliq Sanam expressed that people of both countries suffer from extremism and terrorism and could mutually stand against their elimination.
Umair Ahmad spoke briefly about Aaghaz-e-Dosti, its initiatives, and its outreach. Heads of both states should hold international convention on the cessation of war to avoid danger to human lives and devastation at large scale, he added. Umair Ahmad also stressed the need of friendship relations with India and all the neighbors. He said that the inter-religious and inter-faith harmony was the need of the hour for which world leaders should come forward. He also said terrorism could not be defeated by bullet.
The calendar was launched in Lahore on January 1. This calendar is also scheduled to be launched in several other cities like Peshawar and Karachi in Pakistan and Delhi, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Panipat in India.
View more photos from the launch
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Co-ordinator – Toba Tek Singh
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