Inspiring stories from sportswomen, and behind the scenes with Sapan

“I’ve been attending online events for the past two years, and this was the best, most engaging by far”, a young activist in Delhi after the South Asia Peace Action Network event on Sunday, featuring sportswomen from around the region and their stories.

This was the best feedback ever, especially with the tech issues we had behind the scenes.

International award-winning sportswomen from around South Asia participated in the event. We tried to do a ‘group photo’ but it didn’t go the way we were planned, so Aekta Kapoor found a creative solution and put together this collage for the Sapan website. Top row (L-R): Mabia Akhter Shimanto, weightlifter, Bangladesh; Sana Mir, former captain Pakistan cricket team; Ashreen Mridha, basketball player, Bangladesh; Nisha Millet, swimmer, India; Middle row: Ayesha Mansukhani, athlete and sports investor, India; Champa Chakma, cricketer, Bangladesh; Khalida Popal, former captain, Afghanistan football team; Preety Baral, tennis player, Nepal. Bottom row: Noorena Shams, squash player, Pakistan; Roopa Nagraj, cricketer, UAE/India; Gulshan Naaz, partially blind runner, India; Caryll Tozer, athlete, Sri Lanka; Rumana Ahmed, captain Bangladesh national cricket team.

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Covid-19 needs a regional response, say physicians and activists

The South Asia Peace Action Network webinar Neighbours in Peace and Health, June 27, 2021, was the third in the SAPAN series: Imagine! Neighbours in Peace, a title borrowed from an unpublished Chowk.com volume, 2005

Visuals by SAPAN volunteer Vishal Sharma in Simla.

Sunday’s event included prominent physicians like Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, Dr Anup Subedee, Dr Vandana Prasad, and Dr Hamid Jafari of Pakistan (led the team that eradicated polio in India). Speakers included Salima Hashmi, Khushi Kabir, Kanak Dixit, Lalita Ramdas, besides journalists Beena Sarwar, Mandira Nayar and others. Activist Priyanka Singh conducted the event.

“South Asian countries cannot go it alone, that’s irrational,’’ said Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, renowned public health activist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee from Bangladesh.

The hard lockdown in his country will lead to furthering the inequalities in society, he warned, emphasizing that it is irresponsible to impose lockdowns without providing food. “Poverty has increased. There are 25 million more poor without food.”

Dr Chowdhury was among the physicians and health right activists across countries who came together on Sunday 27 June at a webinar organised by the South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN) to emphasize that the coronavirus pandemic must be fought collectively.

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“Dialogue is necessary for conflict resolution, not the other way round”

I.A. Rehman. File photo

– I.A. Rehman’s last interview, with youth group Aaghaz-e-Dosti

My young friends Atiqa Shahid in Sweden and Nickhil Sharma in Germany got this scoop, an interview with the visionary journalist I.A. Rehman, shortly before he passed away. He looks frail but his words are clear and strong. Wrote this short piece in Aman Ki Asha and thought I’d share it as well, below.

Sheen Farrukh, Zakia Sarwar: At our place in Karachi a couple of years ago. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Meanwhile, trying to process other losses. Another dear friend of my parents, journalist friend Sheen Farrukh passed on today in Karachi. A feisty, independent-minded pioneering journalist, she was so encouraging when I came into the field. Always supported me in all my causes – her causes too. Appreciate our friends artist K.B. Abro and writer Attiya Daud who had moved in with her and looked after her. RIP Sheen Khala.

Aaghaz-e-Dosti’s interview with I.A. Rehman, 27 March 2021

“We are neighbours, situated next to each other. We have a shared history and geography. We have fought for our freedom together… Plus human beings are social animals, and social animals talk to each other. Unfortunately, our politicians and states due to their own compulsions have not allowed us to do this”

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Health is a basic human right; inspiring stories of care and compassion

Create economic and healthcare closeness across South Asia during the Covid-19 crisis – Amartya Sen

Posting this a couple of days late, but it’s still relevant: South Asia Peace Action Network press statement 31 May 2021

Create economic and healthcare closeness across South Asia during the Covid-19 crisis – Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen: Our battle is not just against the Covid virus but also against the economic injustice of hunger and poverty (screengrab)

“We have to learn to maintain physical distancing but at the same time create economic and healthcare closeness in South Asia,” said Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, speaking at a webinar on South Asia’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The gathering also adopted a resolution describing the pandemic as a wake-up call for regional cooperation, and pressed for equitable vaccine supply across the region.

Stressing the need for contact and collaboration across South Asian borders, Prof. Sen said our battle is not just against the Covid virus but also against the economic injustice of hunger and poverty created by the pandemic.

Prof. Sen was among nearly 200 opinion-makers and activists from across South Asia and the diaspora who came together to attend the webinar titled: ‘South Asian Solidarity in the Time of Covid: Sharing Grief, Inspiration, Hope and Strategies’.

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Pakistani-American physicians express solidarity with the people of India and demand increase in healthcare budgets

Urge South Asian governments to learn from India’s colossal tragedy and increase healthcare budgets, take urgent action to prevent similar crises in other countries

Screenshot from APPNE’s online campaign.
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Sharing grief and solidarity: South Asia regionalism

Even while grieving the loss of her father to Covid-19 the previous day, journalist Barkha Dutt was able to put aside her own pain to send out a powerful message to the world: “Don’t treat this as our problem alone,” she said in an interview to ITV.

Her father was one of over 2,500 Indians who reportedly succumbed to the coronavirus on Tuesday – the real numbers are suspected to be far higher as many dying at home are not counted as Covid victims. If the Covid-19 crisis “erupts” in India, it will “hit the world.” Countries understandably want to shut borders as a “necessary” short term response and put their citizens first but “we live in a world where we cannot be separated indefinitely,” she added.

A number of us had made a similar plea underscoring the connected nature of today’s world and the regionalism of South Asia, at an online discussion originally aimed to focus on Khelne Do (play for peace) on Sunday under the series title – Imagine! Neighbours in Peace’. We changed the focus at the last minute to share grief and solidarity as the situation in India spiraled out of control.

See press release below.

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Imagine! Neighbours in peace – #KhelneDo! Play for peace

Sharing below the press release of an event we’re organising this weekend. Free and open to the public. Registration required. Scroll below for details.

Sunday April 25, online event

An international squash player, a former test cricketer, an eminent South Asian political commentator, a cricket star and well-known sports journalists will come together this weekend to bat for peace at the online event ‘Khelne Do – Imagine! Neighbours in Peace’. 

Event poster courtesy Vishal Sharma / @southasiapeace
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Understanding life

Samina Saad, October 1961 – February 2021

My cousin Asif Saad wrote this moving and insightful piece about our dearest Mina Baji who left us recently, posted to his website Open Minds Consulting. Shared here with permission.

Some treasures from my sister’s brave soul

Self-help literature places a lot of emphasis on ‘finding your purpose’. The coronavirus pandemic recently snatched away my elder sister who was very dear and close to me. The tragedy leaves me looking at life through a very different lens.

As I re-visit what Samina Saad stood for, I realise that ‘finding your purpose’ is not about finding some great ultimate purpose but making the best of what life throws at you – the lemons and lemonade stuff. Baji, as we fondly called her, taught me about being bold and brave and living life as you yourself imagine it.

It’s not that a sense of purpose is not important. The point is that arriving at your purpose is about starting somewhere and following the process. Whatever feels meaningful to you can be your purpose and it may be different at different times.

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India-Pakistan dialogue must continue – peace activists at virtual brainstorming session agree to form South Asia Peace Action Network

Wonderful discussions at a brainstorming meeting some of us got together for. Thanks to Mandira Nayar – granddaughter of the late, great Kuldip Nayar for putting this statement together.

Press statement, March 28, 2021:

India and Pakistan peace activists across time zones came together for a virtual brainstorming session on March 28, inspired by the work of giants like Dr Mubashir Hasan, Asma Jahangir, Kuldip Nayar and Nikhil Chakravartty and others. On the agenda was the way forward for the movement, how to invigorate it by involving more allies, younger people and expatriates.

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Citizens’ appeal for Myanmar’s people against military repression

In the wake of Myanmar’s deadliest day so far, over 100 killed by security forces on Saturday, including children, some at protests, others in their own homes, friends in Kathmandu speak for many around the world with their statement of support for the people of Myanmar and appeal to their government to act.

“You messed with the wrong generation”… Feb 12, 2021 protest. Reuters photo

Citizens’ Appeal for of Myanmar’s People against Repression by the Military

and Demand for Government of Nepal to Act

Kathmandu, 28 March 2021

We undersigned citizens of Nepal are proud of the Myanmar people’s valorous stand for democracy, appalled by the murderous suppression by the Tatmadaw military, and distressed by the lack of adequate response from the governments of South Asia and globally.

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