From Pakistan, With Love

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201209102012091011592217627a4cd78/From-Pakistan-with-love.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/eyiy0Tub/TOIM_2012_9_10_32.html) 

Sometimes, life leads us down a path which figuratively changes us. I recently embarked on such a journey to Hyderabad which left me amazed as it changed some of my dominant preconceived notions that I had been harbouring since childhood. The impact this experience had on me was even more profound simply due to the current relevance of the matter. 
The purpose of my trip to the City of Nawabs was an international conference with students from over 21 countries participating including those from Pakistan. Unfortunately, this conference occurred around the time of the August 11 protests at Azad Maidan which accentuated the communal and anti-Pakistan sentiments already existent amongst many Indians. However, my interactions with students from our neighbouring country gave me an opportunity to view Pakistanis in a different light contrary to public opinion. During the course of a week, I had multiple conversations with my fellow students from Pakistan about a range of topics varying from terrorism to politics and even cricket! 
I distinctly remember an incident at a mall that made me realise that Pakistanis are similar to us in a number of ways. After a great team lunch, all of us were looking to hire an auto rickshaw back to our hotel. Being the typical Indian city it is, we couldn’t get anyone to agree on a fair price for the ride. After a lot of innate Indian haggling, we finally got into one, still not satisfied with the decided fare. However, I saw my friend from Lahore smiling. She turned to me and said, “We have the exact same tendency to haggle in Pakistan!” That was it! The big moment of realisation! 
I realised that despite being at each other’s throats for years, India and Pakistan are truly like fraternal twins with just different perspectives and ideologies. However hate-filled and prejudiced the thoughts of our leaders, or for that matter, our elders may be, we (the youth) have a radically peaceful outlook. Over the years, we have witnessed religious discrimination or fanaticism. Yet, we, the youth, have brought about a silent revolution that runs deep within our mindsets. This effect is that of religious indifference. We understand nationalism but with a cool head. To our minds, not every Pakistani is a terrorist nor do we believe that harmonious existence is a myth. Although our politicians constantly make efforts to mask nation-based hatred, the grim reality is it always resurfaces with biased and illogical anger. Just as we overcame religious borders, it’s time to bond over actual borders. 
I returned home a changed teenager. I’ve returned a person with some great friends across the border and with a vision in my mind, a vision of eternal peace and harmony. Because for the first time in seventeen years, when a Pakistani hugged me I knew that the vision was not Indian nor was it solely mine. It was a shared vision of some youngsters not as citizens of two different nations, but as humans living in a global civilisation.

From Pakistan, With Love in Education Times,Mumbai Edition


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Don’t Fight, Freedom is our Right!

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201208132012081314113447424da4e33/Don%E2%80%99t-fight-freedom-is-our-right-.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/qcuYiRmz/TOIM_2012_8_13_31.html)

Freedom itself is a liberalised term. As a soon to turn adult, it’s truly an honour to be a citizen of the Republic of India.  Democracy, in its essence is based on the expression of liberation by its citizens. Our constitution makers, inspired by this, gave us the Right to Freedom, which truly is a legacy we cherish. Nearly 62 years since its inception, liberty now runs through our veins. May it be a free expression of our opinion, a peaceful candle march against corruption, the ability to pick our choice of pencil or our choice of politician; we can legally do all of it. Sure many attempts at suppression have risen, but our judiciary has always quelled the situation. In recent times, the new IT rules proposed have drawn the ire of many legal experts as its terms blatantly violate our fundamental rights. I sure agree with them! No one messes with my rights!
As a young Indian, the ability to speak my mind, express my appreciation or more than often, my criticism, knowing that I am well within my rights to do so, is a matter of great joy. However, it still is a small ruby in a pile of diamonds. Unlike popular belief, freedom to us is not just limited to being our self. The knowledge that we can freely live our lives without the threat of unlawful conviction coupled with the unique perk of free and compulsory education (recently brought into effect by the Right to Education Act) from the age of 6 to 14 years, too factors in our umbrella of independence.
 Often, I arrogantly questioned some of the government’s seemingly absurd acts such as the different set of laws in Kashmir and the need for passes to enter Nagaland, on the pointless basis that such measures took away many of our promised rights. But, when I realized their necessity and simple brilliance, I was humbled. Our forefathers guaranteed us our rights but ensured that, freedom never took precedent over law, order and most importantly peace. I acknowledge that independence is never restricted. Well not unreasonably anyway. For e.g. when I’m told to not drive before 18, I never consider it as curtailment of my freedom. Rather, I realise it to be a supplement to my right to a protected life.
My freedom is mine to choose and define. It always was, always shall be. But when it’s constitutionally my right, I can’t help perform a small jig of thanks every morning. Many people I know moan about how India has still not matured in terms of freedom. I simply tell them this: “Read Part III of the Constitution and ingrain it in your head because legally, we are one of the most privileged citizens in the world for nearly 62 years! If that’s not mature, then nothing else is.”

Education Times,14th August 2012,Front Page

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