BATHINDA: Aaghaz-e-Dosti, an Indo-Pak friendship initiative run by youth volunteers of India and Pakistan will release its 9th edition of Indo-Pak Peace Calendar online on February 21. The cross-border initiative is a collection of paintings by school students of India and Pakistan, 6 from each side, on the theme of ‘Indo-Pak Peace and Friendship’.
Ravi Nitesh, Founder of Aaghaz-e-Dosti says, “Previously, each year we used to organise separate launch events in both India and Pakistan. However, owing to the COVID19-related situation in both countries, we are taking all necessary precautions. Hence, we have decided to go with a virtual launch of the calendar this year.”
“A virtual launch of the calendar has also provided us the opportunity to invite audiences and speakers from both countries together, that was a limitation for the physical launches in previous years because of visa issues”, stated Raza Khan, Convenor – Pakistan, Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
The launch program will also involve an interaction of the winning and runner-up students as an extension of our peace education activities. Through regular interaction between the students, we hope to break stereotypes about people on the other side of the border”, said Tulika Bathija who is an educator and team member.
Sheema Kermani (Activist, Artist and Founder of Tehrik-e-Niswan, Pakistan) and former JNU professor Saleem Kidwai will be keynote speakers. Tehrik-e-Niswan, an organisation promoting art, women, and South Asian culture, has also collaborated with Aaghaz-e-Dosti this year for the Indo-Pak Peace Calendar.
Paintings came to us from various cities including Karachi, Lahore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru as well as Tier 2/3 cities like Ludhiana, Phillaur, Phagwara, Nagpur, Koppal, Abbottabad, Paragon, and Shahjamal.”
Madhulika Narasimhan says “Owing to the COVID19 pandemic, the schools in the subcontinent were closed and it was extremely difficult to reach out to students or stoke interest them for yet another activity, since they were already burdened with the load of online classes, and coping with changes in schedule due to the pandemic. However, we got big response which reinforces our hopes that despite the environment of political enmity between the two countries, tiny saplings of peace are sprouting each year in the expanses of the subcontinent.”