IIT Bombay that witnessed the coming together of some of the brilliant minds from across the country for the Techfest 2012 was also the venue for Ummeed-e-Milaap – an initiative by the youth to promote peace between India and Pakistan.
Amidst all the excitement and buzz surrounding the IIT Bombay Techfest in a relatively silent foyer, there were volunteers handing out small pamphlets encouraging people to pen their thoughts. On the wall, a huge white flex acted as a pinning board - this was Ummeed- e-Milaap. The brain child of IIT Bombay, Ummeed-e-Milaap is a step towards engaging the youth of India and Pakistan to promote peace.
Speaking about the initiative, Ronnie Philip, Media Manager for the Techfest says, “We at Techfest normally pick up special issues and other things as a part of our responsibility towards the society. We thought about Ummeed-e-Milaap, as the current problem that India faces is the constant enmity with our neighbor. Also, the youth has been detached so far from the whole issue and so we thought that we should take a step ahead to lend a hand of friendship towards the people in Pakistan.”
It started out as a diary initiative, wherein diaries with thoughts penned by the students from various colleges from both the countries were exchanged. Initiated by IIT Bombay, it found support from LUMS Spades Lahore, AIESEC Karachi and FAST Karachi. Ronnie says, “We wanted to know their response first, about how will they react, but to our surprise we got a similar response from them and even better in some ways. Because, even they were very enthusiastic about having a peace initiative and they helped us out in covering over 15 colleges in Pakistan. And the response has been amazing and it validates our point that if the youth wants peace then why are we actually fighting? Also, if the youth can proclaim that we want peace then no one can stop us.”
Ummeed-e-Milaap on Facebook
While on both the sides people have been appreciative of the initiative there are fanatics and naysayers, but what’s heartening to know is that their numbers are negligible. Even the Government officials have taken note of this unique initiative undertaken by the youth and have shown interest in seeing the diaries. Speaking about its success and what they hope to achieve Ronnie says, “Our initiative has definitely helped at least thousand and thousands of people realize that their counterpart in Pakistan is not their enemy. Of course there have been some negative hate comments from both sides, but the instances are far lesser compared to the positive comments. So we have managed to change a lot of hearts and develop a good will towards the other country. In the long run it will benefit the country as a whole and for now we have generated a lot of awareness amongst the people. And that’s what the motto of our campaign is.”
At the Techfest, they had a wall where the students could pen their thoughts and it received overwhelming response; the images of which will be sent across to Pakistan. After having laid the foundation they now want to take this ahead and hopefully have people traveling across the border. Ronnie says, “The key was to break the ice and having done that our focus will be on how to move ahead. The road ahead isn’t clear, but it’s not as vague as it was earlier because we know that even the other side is equally keen about this.”