Want to participate in a 'Prayers for Peace Between India and Pakistan Day'? Read on
By Swati Sharan
Their hostility to each other leads to India and Pakistan spending huge amounts of money on security at the cost of social programmes like helping underprivileged children and adults, providing nutrition, housing, education, healthcare and employment. Focusing on these issues, on social justice, could contribute towards lowering perceptions about security threat from either side. Right now, Indians and Pakistanis have a hard time even crossing the border to visit each other.
A vision of what Indian and Pakistani relations could be:
India and Pakistan could be like Canada and the US, which share the Niagara Falls as a common border. Visitors from both countries can cross over with ease and friendliness. Many tourists visit the border connecting the sky walk overlooking the Falls or drive on the famous border connecting Rainbow Bridge without thinking anything of it.
"Pray for Peace Day" - inspired by "Buy Nothing" Day and other social campaigns:
Indians and Pakistanis need to come together and work as a community but lack of resources or exposure for community mobilisation prevents this. But we needn't be in a physical group to make it happen. It can be done in simple ways too. For example, as one popular reaction against consumerism, ordinary people designated a day as "Buy Nothing Day" every year, on the Friday after American Thanksgiving. No one has to come together though they can if they wish. They just need to agree on not buying anything on that day. For years, this has been a popular movement in the North American activist community as well as in other nations. And of course it is free.
Other social awareness campaigns also focus around a given date. In the late 1990s there was a campaign known as Jubilee 2000 - a movement by churches and social groups urging world leaders and financial institutions to forgive the debt of poor countries because of the negative effects of these debts on ordinary citizens in those countries. A series of awareness-raising events went on till the designated day when environmentally-friendly balloons representing the indebted countries and their debt amounts were symbolically burst.
These are the ideas behind the day we are planning, Pray for Peace between India and Pakistan.
The eastern inspiration for "Pray for Peace"
Going along with the concept that what happens externally reflects what happens in the inside, if we want to bring about change outside of ourselves, we need to make the shift within ourselves, and our auras. This doesn't imply inaction - as leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Sri Aurobindo have proved. Gandhi believed that people should 'be the change' they wished to see, in even simple actions like boycotting foreign goods or making your own salt. Sri Aurobindo took a spiritual interpretation by meditating intensely to enable the coming up of independence fighting leaders.
So having a designated day for prayers for peace as a movement is a combination both eastern and western ideas. Wherever people are, in either India or Pakistan, or elsewhere in the world, they can use the power within them. Coming together on the virtual world of the Internet, we can keep each other informed of our activities and feel more empowered through this collective action.
The movement of 'Prayers for Peace Day' is slowly picking up as the word spreads through Aman ki Asha, the Youth Parliament of Pakistan, and various community groups alongside filmmaker Mahesh Dattani. Others are sure to join in. Please check out our facebook page www.facebook. com/praypeace
We cordially invite you to Save the Date:
When: Sunday Dec 18, 2011, Pray for Peace Day
What: Pray in your own style for 30 seconds for peace between India and Pakistan
By: People of any faith
Where: Anywhere on the planet by yourself or in a group
Inspired by: The power of prayer and meditation when done in numbers
The writer is a Canada-based writer from India, socially active with many causes.
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We probably didn't need to do this Special Report. Newspaper stories don't matter when it comes to Indians in Pakistani jails and vice versa. In fact, 'vice versa' sums it up. We do to them what they do to us.
Except when the two countries decide to begin talking, yet again! This time a little before the foreign secretary level talks, some Pakistani prisoners were released by India (and vice versa must have happened) and some more were release....read more
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