Gen Y discards baggage of the past
"Why does our generation have to carry the baggage of its past?" This question, put forth by a group of Pakistani and Indian university students at a WISCOMP organised conference points to an interesting possibility for transforming perceptions on both sides of the border. It is a clear expression of the desire among several young Pakistanis and Indians to have a different kind of future based on cooperation, trust and mutual respect.india Updated: Jan 07, 2004 17:33 IST
"Why does our generation have to carry the baggage of its past?"
This question, put forth by a group of Pakistani and Indian university students to senior professionals and policymakers from the two countries, points to an interesting possibility for transforming perceptions on both sides of the border.
Youthful intentfor co-operation
The extent of dehumanisation, the prejudices and the stereotypes are now so deeply entrenched that they impact worldviews, policy formulations and rhetoric from the two sides. But there is a clear desire among several young Pakistanis and Indians to have a different kind of future - a future based on cooperation, respect and trust.
This generation will form the opinion-makers and the leadership of the subcontinent 10 to 20 years from now. This generation wields the responsibility of undoing the legacy of hatred, bitterness and dehumanisation piling for over half-a-century. And this generation needs to be equipped with the expertise, the skills and the motivation to engage in reducing prejudice and resolving conflicts in non-violent ways.
WISCOMP's initiative at generational peace-building
Several organisations, and individuals, working with this generation are motivated by this need for long-term, "generational approach to peace-building".
A few names are Conflict Transformation training and dialogue workshops that the New Delhi-based WISCOMP (Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace) has initiated for university students, young practitioners, researchers and journalists from the two countries; the Seeds of Peace coexistence camps for Indian and Pakistani high-school students (Maine, USA); and the Youth Initiative for Peace, which brings together high school and college students and has a built-in conflict resolution component (United World College, Singapore).
Face of the 'other'
The significance of such initiatives cannot be emphasised enough. Perhaps the most important dimension lies in their ability to facilitate the much-needed face-to-face communication. And those associated with them know that they are reaping rich dividends.
At one such conflict resolution workshop held in New Delhi last year, a college student from India made a telling statement after her interaction with Pakistanis: "It will be difficult to dehumanise the enemy because they now have a face."
(Manjri Sewak is Program Officer at the Foundation for Universal Responsibility of H.H. The Dalai Lama, New Delhi.)