Something to celebrate

Celebrating Indian and Pakistani Independence Days with Karachi Truck Artist Haider Ali and friends at Dover Rug (L-R): Ken Shulman, Hardeep Mann, Haider Ali, Mahmud Jafari, Jaspal Singh. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Celebrating Indian and Pakistani Independence Days with Karachi Truck Artist Haider Ali and friends at Dover Rug (L-R): Ken Shulman of Away Games, Hardeep Mann, Haider Ali, Mahmud Jafari, Jaspal Singh. Photo: Beena Sarwar

A friend points out that my last few posts have been about death and loss. Then with Pakistan and India’s Independence Days coming up (Aug 14 and 15 respectively) someone asked, ‘What’s there to celebrate?’ My response: Yes, there is much to mourn, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be that much to celebrate. As Jimmy Engineer says, the fight between good and evil is an eternal one. Doesn’t mean we stop living. When Indians and Pakistanis jointly Celebrate India, Pakistan Independence Days for Peace, Aug 14-15, 2015, it symbolises the desire to own an occasion that has been appropriated by hyper-nationalist, jingoistic war-mongers. Through this joint commemoration and greeting and wishing each other, we defy our government and security establishments’ efforts to create a negative narrative about ‘the other’. That, surely, is something to celebrate. Continue reading

Rest well, Praful Bidwai — humanist, peacemaker, activist

My personal tribute to a true secularist, humanist and peacenik not just of India, but of South Asia and the world, published in The News on Sunday and Aman ki Asha; unabridged version below

Praful Bidwai (Journalist, Aktivist, Indien); Foto: Stephan Röhl

Praful Bidwai. Photo: Stephan Röhl

“The funeral for Praful Bidwai is scheduled for the 27th June 2015”. The bald announcement on June 25, 2015 emailed from the South Asian Citizens Web newsletter run by our mutual friend Harsh Kapoor came as a shock. Continue reading

An app for India Pakistan love, the patriotism question, and peace-mongering, regardless

20150218-AKA pageMy latest Personal Political post for Times of India blogs

I have for some time been in touch with a young Indian software engineer turned project manager turned ‘digital nomad’, Amrit Sharma. Last week in the Aman ki Asha page that I edit published weekly in The News, Pakistan, we featured a small report on a heart-warming initiative he has started (all the articles are online at the AKA website).

In August 2013, Amrit launched India Loves Pakistan for the joint commemoration of India and Pakistan’s Independence Days. The aim: “to add the human element into the India Pakistan relationship”.  Now he has launched an Android app called “India or Pakistan” through a self-funded tech startup. Continue reading

India and Pakistan must unite to fight terror…  

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

A student in Chennai prays for those killed in Peshawar. Schools across India held a two-minute silence on Wednesday. Photo: R. Senthil Kumar/ PTI

My op-ed in The Indian Express today, Dec 18, 2014…

Together we can 

By Beena Sarwar

In an unprecedented move, students at schools across India observed a two-minute silence on December 17, 2014 in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the barbaric attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.  

Immensely moved, Pakistanis have responded with gratitude for this humane gesture that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed for. There is also gratitude for the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan that began trending on the social media a few hours after the attack on the school began on December 16.

A Pakistani friend remarks on the “irony that our so-called arch enemy’s sympathy and voice seems more comforting in this time of need then our pious apologists”. Continue reading

Mahesh Bhatt’s “Milne Do” – II

A year ago, I wrote about Mahesh Bhatt’s new theatrical project a play titled ‘Milne Do’ aiming to find common ground between India and Pakistan. Here’s an update: He’s going ahead with it in collaboration with Azad Theatre and Laal band in Lahore. My article published in Aman ki Asha below:

imran and mahesh 1

Imran Zahid and Mahesh Bhatt: teamwork for a causMahesh Bhatt, in an attempt to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play titled “Milne Do”.

The veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, in an attempt to find common ground between India and Pakistan, is all set to produce and present a play titled “Milne Do”.

“I have always maintained that a movie or a play can be a greater vehicle of peace than all the lectures we give,” he says. Any message, if communicated through storytelling, touches a chord. We are also trying to do the same. This play will be an emotional transaction between industries on both sides.”

This cross-border collaborative project across borders has been in the making for over a year. Continue reading

A cross-border royal Rajput wedding

Bridal couple: at the Roka (ring exchange) ceremony in Jaipur, June, 2014

Bridal couple: at the Roka (ring exchange) ceremony in Jaipur, June, 2014

This is an updated version of the piece I wrote published in Aman ki Asha on December 3, 2014

It’s nice to be able to write about something joyous for a change. This time, it is about the forthcoming marriage of two beautiful, bright, spirited young people, one in Pakistan and one in India.

The Rajput community on either side of the border is particularly excited about the marriage that will join two princely families from either side of the border. Preparations involve the Tikka ceremony that took place in Pakistan on Dec 7, 2014, for the first time since 1947. Continue reading

India/Pakistan: #DearNeighbour – a new ‘velfie’ movement

A ‘velfie’ movement is sweeping social media as Indians and Pakistanis share video messages for peace as part of the ‪#‎DearNeighbour‬ Peace Challenge. But are the politicians listening? The organisers invite people to send their Peace Velfies to: dearneighbourmovement@gmail.com and/or upload it to the fb page DearNeighbour Movement and nominate two friends to take the challenge. Here’s the piece I wrote about it for Aman ki Asha. Text below.

Continue reading

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