Postcards for Peace: Team India

Postcards for Peace was featured at Voices of Youth, a UNICEF-based platform!

As a Goodwill Ambassador for Postcards for Peace and a proud member of PfP’s Team India, I recently interviewed the other Indian ambassadors: Chintan Girish Modi, Kirthi Jayakumar, Tanya Singh, and Gurmehar Kaur. I thank Martin Rowsell for his help and support, and the ambassadors for their wonderful and inspiring responses. As always, I am delighted by the opportunity to spread the word about PfP in my community, and far beyond.

Richa: What do you believe is the most urgent issue facing India today? Does this issue apply to the rest of the world?

Chintan: One of the most urgent issues facing India is gender inequality

Kirthi: I think India is at the cusp of great advances in terms of development; but issues of hate, divisiveness, and the inability to distinguish between dissent and personal attacks are holding the country back. Critique is always good for a democracy, but sadly, from my experience of the world around me, one is either aligned one way or the other—he cannot support one party and critique its policies, nor can he appreciate the other party without supporting it or being aligned with it. The binaries of affiliation tend to infuse public rhetoric with hate.

Tanya: India has come a long way. We have seen and made considerable changes in various spheres of work and life. However, sadly, India still finds itself in the abominable chasm of illiteracy.  The condition in villages is worse than that of cities. Though several primary schools have been set up in rural regions, quality education is still a concern. We must take active measures and realize the potential of education as a ‘liberating force; a medium of revolution that enlightens the world to a better dawn’.

Richa: How would you use the power of creativity to stand up for what you believe in?

Chintan: I will use my writing skills to speak up against practices that discriminate against people on account of their gender identity or sexual preference.

Gurhemar: Creative content has a way of reaching people in a way that “preaching” or “lecturing” will not. When a poem or story or a painting is read and analysed by a person, it becomes his or her own thought. Creativity can bring people to get thinking in different, empowering ways.

Kirthi: I would look at art as a means to tell stories, to welcome and encourage interpretative thinking, and to drive home a message to the effect that we shouldn’t be confined to the binaries.

Tanya: Channeling my creative expression and drawing it up in verses to present my thoughts in their rawest and purest form. Most astoundingly, I find poetry, so much more capable of transcending the human force from the realm of ideals to reality. It is a force; revolutionizing and liberating at the same time.

Richa: If you could tell any 3 sentences to the young leaders of tomorrow, what would they be?

Chintan: The three sentences would be:
1. Let’s create more opportunities for men to learn emotional literacy and non-violent communication.
2. Let’s listen and get to know more about a situation before swooping in to fix it.
3. Let’s have the courage to dialogue respectfully with un-like-minded people instead of dismissing or talking down to them.

Gurhemar: 1. Try and empathise with the pain of of people even if they are not “your” people.

  1. Actively participate for causes, rather than writing passive Facebook posts. Spreading information is definitely important, but so is taking action.
  2. Stay strong and have faith in the cause that you are fighting for.

Kirthi: 1. Peace is a priority, not an afterthought—no matter where you live.

  1. Before you try to change the world, change within to align yourself with your vision
  2. Keep moving, don’t stagnate or give up.

Richa: If you could imbue society with any one value, what would it be? Why?

Chintan: That one value would be compassion. It strengthens oneself from within, and helps to work with people of different temperaments in a way that brings forth their best.

Gurhemar: The ability to love. It’s so important for people to find the courage within them to show love and respect for life.

Kirthi: Empathy. If we are capable of looking anybody in the eye and seeing them as another person with a life force within, with the drive to want to find food, shelter, clothing, education, and safety for themselves and their families and loved ones; if we are capable of doing this without any regard to what their gender, their skin colour, their race, their language, their nationalities, their political affiliation and their sexual orientation is—we can make the world a peaceful place.

Tanya: Everyone holds a different piece and each piece has a different story to tell. But at the end of the day, we do fit together and we must realize it and work accordingly through ‘collaboration’. We are a big jig saw puzzle, indeed. If I could imbue society with any one value, that, would have to be cooperation.

At the end of the day, cooperation, however, doesn’t simply mean working together; it means to stay together while helping others achieve the same goals as us. And if we can all do that, what a tremendous change would we have brought onto the world.

Richa: Lastly, what is the one cause that you’ve supported throughout your life—and to what extent have you been satisfied with the results?

Chintan: I have been an ardent supporter of inter-faith dialogue since childhood. I am happy with what I’ve done so far but I can be more proactive.

Gurhemar: Peace on this planet. It’s human nature to never be satisfied. There will always be a desperate need to do more for peace—especially when you’ve personally experienced the consequences of violence.

Kirthi: Gender Equality. I don’t quite think I’m here yet in terms of results. But like I said, peace is a priority and the journey has necessitated me to change myself before the world, and I want to keep moving, without stagnating or giving up!

Tanya: It hasn’t been too long for me on this planet, but all the while that I have tread upon the crust of earth, I would say, that I have always supported the ideals of equality for all. No human’s worth is less than the man who won the Nobel prize or more than the one who didn’t. We are all equal; it may sound trite. But that is the verity and the beauty of it. We are all equally ‘alive, blood and flesh’.

The results of supporting such a cause, perhaps, are latent. However, I have felt them in a good-night’s sleep and in the warmth of a stranger’s clasp.