Sunday, November 30, 2008

Proud to be an Indian….MAY BE THAT IS THE PROBLEM!

Proud to be an Indian….MAY BE THAT IS THE PROBLEM!

There have been many times when I have thought about the answer to that question (in case it is asked), and I realized I can never bring myself to say “I am proud to be an Indian”(IAPTBAI), I will be lying otherwise.

I response will be, “I am OK to be an Indian”, or better “I am cool to be an Indian”, or may be just state it as a basic fact “I am an Indian” take it or leave it.

I believe we have for too long and with disastrous consequences lived on IAPTBAI. Think about how many of us are proud Indians and how many are questioning Indians. I am often surprised by between Proud Indians and foreign nationals, where the Indians tell them so many Good things about India that when the foreigner passes by a slum he gets utterly confused about the tales of Proud Indians.

Another example of Proud Indians goes back to the last year of my college in Durgapur. There was a stabbing incident where an Indian student stabbed a Palestinian student. The Palestinian student was a friend and we wanted some action to be taken against the Indian student within the law. I was horrified when a lot of my batch mats and some people form college staffed actually came up to us and in casual conversation told us, “why are you bothered, the victim is not an Indian”. I can not in my life understand what makes a human being come up with such a Hitleristic thought.

OK so I am a Proud Indian, the question I will ask myself is what about millions of people who don’t get 2 square meals a day? What about 100,000 thousand women who are forced to be prostitutes in one city alone, Imagine what will be the number if we think of whole country. Take a guess will these women be daughter/sister/wife/mother of someone. Do you think they will be proud Indians? Or may be they don’t count!

History/culture/tradition to be proud about and I am sure we all know all the good things. Lets just balance that with some other not so glorious things about our past. Right from our mythology where Sita was abandoned and Dropdi was molested - something to be Proud about? DO you know about massacre of Jain community in Tamilnadu by a sect of Hindu’s in Tamilnadu? One of my journalist friend has done a PHD on it. What about a whole lot of people generation after generation for centuries being humiliated/insulted/treated as scum and termed as untouchables. Do you think they were proud to be Indians? OR can we today be proud of centuries of discrimination? Now we get angry about reservation and talk about how that has not worked at all?

So many places in India you go and tell your first name, what will be the immediate response – “what is your surname”. May I ask WHY? Can we not be just proud Indians why do we have to be Proud Brahmin Indians, Proud Rajput Indians, Proud Yadav Indians?

I can go on and on and ask about girl child being killed before or after birth by parents Proud Indians??

Garbage on the road, spitting on the wall, bribing to solve our problems, What do we do? What are we doing to change anything that will change even a little bit for better?

The whole politics of IAPTBAI is exactly to make us ignorant and inactive, because a proud nation does not need many changes, it implies things are fine with us, it prevents introspection, and it stops questioning old and outdated social order.

Even if we stop being proud Indians for one hour every day and in that one hour do something to become proud Indians we can make a big difference.

So my request is, LETS STOP Being Proud Indians even if for an hour every day!

Even with this Mumbai attack, why do you think it happened? We can blame/curse many people it will not stop the next one from happening. We need to recognize that we have angry/hateful people who are looking some way of expressing it and someone used them very skillfully to create this whole episode. We can say they are wrong or there is no place for such hatred or that those people are not proud Indians but the fact remains, there are people like them and I am sure the number is not small but significant. The more we hate the more this number will grow. The only way is to find ways to reach out to all angry people.

In Peace


Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Mumbai Attack - An Appeal for Peace

The Mumbai Attack
Another attack, life’s lost and in all probability Hate and Venom seeded in the minds of thousands.
I wonder what is the bigger success of people who’s brain behind these things? The attacks themselves or the amount of hatred they are able to generate.

Strangely I remembered what Bhagat Singh the revolutionary of Indian Freedom struggle said after throwing smoke bombs in the parliament run by British rulers, he said, you need a bang blast to open the ears of people who have stopped listening to the calls of freedom.
The question in my mind is what are we suppose to listen to. Also what state of mind we need to be in to listen.
Compassion is what comes to my mind.
The easy way out for all of us is to blame a group, a community, a religion, the inefficient security, and what not. It will allow us to curse them and wish horrible things to happen to their near and dear ones as has happened to 100 or more people who have died. Again will it stop anything is the question?
But can be listening to the pain or the hatred in people, who do such things, Imagine 22 year old young people, putting their life at stake, how many us will risk our life for anything. What will be the reason, what passion (hatred/pain) they might be carrying? In coming hours and days, you will her a lot of rhetoric about how terror is taking over, how Mumbai is so resilient, how we need to act against terror (like Bush said). Watching countless hours of TV and reading news and discussion we will also get passionate and speak with hatred about some group/community. I am wondering how more HATRED will help any of us? Can we be different from people who do these kinds of attacks and actually listen to what is going on, what is making us more violent?
Normally talking about peace is seen as weakness at such times, and I want to reaffirm that Peace is not absence of violence it is way of living. We all have a choice we can contribute to the hatred that exists between groups/people/communities/individuals and it will only create more hatred and lead to more violence. Or we can distance ourselves from any kind of hate and even doing that will tilt the balance in favor of peace.
Question is Do we have the courage?

Friday, July 11, 2008

A lovely story

Just as Play for Peace had become a familiar concept, i stumbled upon Chalk for Peace! It's a beautiful story and regardless of whether anyone decides to take it up or not, have a read, here.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Play for Peace (workshop report)

The Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre and PeaceWorks organized a three-day Play for Peace workshop on the 27th, 28th and 29th of June at Seagull’s Satish Mukherjee Road address. Play for Peace is a unique international initiative that teaches young children, especially in conflict-torn areas, to play together as a first and crucial step towards peaceful community-building. The Indian leg of Play for Peace is located in Pune and has previously worked with Hindu and Muslim communities in Hyderabad, riot relief camps in Gujarat and tsunami relief camps in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The workshop was conducted by Agyat and Swati (who prefer not to use their surnames as a stand against the prevailing caste system in India), youth facilitators of Play for Peace in India. Attended by a group of 26 people ranging from college students to NGO workers, the objective of the workshop was to learn playing community-building games, become aware of the psychological processes that lead to conflict, and finally learn to conduct these games in a way that avoids these processes and encourages children to play together irrespective of their differences in background and experience.

The first day of the workshop began with games that familiarize the participants with each other’s names, moved on to alertness games and group games requiring each other’s co-operation. These were punctuated with song-and-dance games, where the entire group came together with silly and fun lyrics and dance moves. The lyrics were simple, ridiculous, and often wordless onomatopoeic sounds (like “Aga Zumba Zumba Zumba…”) – the sort would that appeal to children of any background; otherwise they were kept within simple words in English or Hindi. The games, even the most competitive ones, were characterized by the absence of elimination – in short, nobody would get “out” or be humiliated for being less apt at playing than others. This practice was explained by Swati and Agyat as one of the “core values” of community-building games, the others being always ensuring the emotional and physical safety of the players, and always keeping an invitation to join in open to anyone who is interested. The participants were also taught how to introduce a new game to players, how to conduct it, and when to finish. By the end of the day’s workshop we had learnt 22 games and how to make others play them.

The second day concentrated on psychological experiences of conflict and how to deal with them. One exercise done on the first day had already given us a taste of it, when we were given a list of 15 essentials of day-to-day life and gradually eliminate the ones we could do without till we were left with only four – a tough ordeal; and then reminded that there were people in the world who did not have access to even those. The second day also began with new games, but these were awareness-building games. One game taught us how we succeed better if we pay more attention to our own growth than on stunting the growth of our peers. Another game divided us into four quadrants according to our individual stands on several debatable issues and encouraged us to share our opinions, but not with the objective to debate and win but to notice and learn to accept how different the opinion of a peer can be from ours. There were stories shared, penned by other Play for Peace volunteers from different places; and the songs learned were about peace, unity and the value of human life.

On the third day of the workshop, the participants were given a list of books, films and websites which will enhance our knowledge on child development, building peaceful communities, constructive thinking and such related topics. We were also taught how to create a report for each play-conducting session, so as to have a consistent log of data. Then, or the main part of the days session, we were divided into two groups and each participant in turn was made to demonstrate the skills of teaching and conducting a game, while his/her other group members posed as children. After this session, we sat and discussed various projects to carry forward our training with Play for Peace. Ideas were put forward, proposals made, and many of the participants came together in small groups to carry out certain projects, some of which are already on the way. Later in the evening, a group of visitors were welcomed at the workshop space and we practised our recently acquired play-conducting skills by inviting them to join us in our games. The day was concluded with a screening of Anand Patwardhan’s anti-nuclear destruction video Ribbons of Peace.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Friday, July 4, 2008

Hey guys,
I've been sent 92 pictures from the workshop!! In order to prevent overloading everyone's inbox, i'm uploading a choice few here. All the remaining pics will be put up on flickr asap...we have a peaceworks defender's group there as well, esp. for photographs. I'll send out invites for it. I guess putting up pictures on a large scale is better done on flickr so as not to clutter the blog. Here's the link to the flick group: Meanwhile, check out these!

an ice-breaker...possibly the pair tag?

mingle mingle...7 common things n a song people to people!

the monster!

Collecting coup!

production ball - first round

a classic moment!

Day 3

Ways of Seeing

mock session planning

...and on the other side!

mock session in action!

elephant!!! :)

the session inside

aur...hariyaali idhar udhar!! :D


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Format of Games.

This is so much tougher than I thought it would be!!! The good Lord above knows why volunteered to take on this self-inflicted torture!!! I would have been totally lost had it not been for Prachi who decided to take pity on poor little me..... :P

So what we have come-up with is a format under which all the games can be put into categories.

So here goes......

First we have the F.U.N.N. games:

  1. Action/chase

  2. Song {memory and follow}

  3. Alertness/memory

  4. Ice-breakers.

1. Action/chase.

  • Tom and Jerry

  • Save me

  • Imitation tag

  • Pair tag

  • Kabadi

2. Song


  • Arum sum sum

  • Aga zumba zumba

  • Alive alert awake enthusiastic


  • Hum gol tum gol

  • Haryaali

  • Watermelon....

  • Hathi ka baccha

  • Dekho apni dosti

  • Penguin

  • Sepo

  • Ride Ride Ride My Pony.

3. Alertness/memory

  • Zip zap..../elephant/rabit/monkey.....

  • Big fish - small fish

  • Idly/dosa/vada/coffee

  • 7-up

  • 8 step dance

  • Arista cha

  • Stop-walk

  • Save your finger catch your partner's!

4. Ice-Breakers

  • Name toss

  • Mingle mingle

  • People to people

  • Walk-stop (with greetings)

  • Have you ever...... been to jail?/watched 5 movies back to back.....

Another one is "Tara Bai" which is a voice modulation exercise which is one of its kind, hence no separate category for it. It is as of now a category in its self.

F.U.N. Games

  • Human knot

  • Collecting Coup

  • Production Ball

  • Quadrants

  • (a.) Acceptable/ Non-acceptable + Violent/non-violent

  • (b.) My way / Highway + Expressive/non-expressive.

The break-up of the sessions will follow really soon. Till then opinions and comments are most welcome.