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After the Uri attack and the surgical strikes, among the many ambassadors of peace who have been busy in the subsequent days is Chintan Girish Modi, freelance writer and educator, who has taken his message of harmony among school, college, university students and young professionals.
‘Friendships Across Borders: Aao Dosti Karein’ is Modi’s initiative that aims to promote interfaith dialogue among school students in India and Pakistan, using social media that is border-free.
So students of a handful of schools in Mumbai have been asked to share their stories with their Pakistani counterparts, and then share their Pakistani friends’ stories on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Chintan said, “The students participate in interactive sessions that involve art activities, theatre exercises, creative writing, watching videos and discussing them, quizzes, etc. Through these, they are encouraged to think creatively and critically instead of being bogged down by cynicism or hopelessness. They take responsibility, and come up with solution.”
In Mumbai, students of Shishuvan School and Ecole Mondiale International School have written letters addressed across the border and the replies they got was overwhelming. This activity helped the students realise how their lives are so very similar to the students of Pakistan.
A workshop was also held for teachers of Vidya India, an NGO. The teachers Skyped with Anam Zakhaariya, an educator based in Lahore. The conversation capped several topics ranging from atmosphere, daily lifestyle to Bollywood and Pakistani serials.
Vaishnavi Vaidyanath, a teacher at Vidya, said, “This session was a stepping stone in our journey to eradicate misgivings about our neighbours. We need this kind of interactive sessions with them if we are to ever achieve peace. In my opinion these sessions need to be held for teachers elsewhere too as teachers are the ones that mould our future generation.”
Based in Mumbai, Chintan conducts the workshops across India and Pakistan and has travelled to Mumbai, Panchgani, Vadodara, Lucknow, Trivandrum, Pondicherry, Hyderabad, Chennai, Chandigarh, Ambala, Islamabad and Lahore to spread his message.
He added, “Our agenda is to transform hostility into hope. Some students have grandparents who left their homes during the partition and settled and started a new life in India. This brings a personal element into the discussion around India-Pakistan relations.”
Modi has also initiated an online petition on change.org — “Indian and Pakistani citizens speak out against war”. After the petition reaches the set target of 5,000 signatories, it will be submitted to the prime ministers of both the countries.