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Indian, Pakistani students to write letters to bridge gap

Friday December 17, 2010 07:18:23 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: As many as 2,400 students in India and Pakistan are all set to share their lives through letters, postcards and photographs in a 16-month long project 'Exchange for Change' which aims at fostering friendships across the border.

The programme was launched in the capital Friday. Organised by NGO Routes 2 Roots, the Indian part of the project involves 1,200 students from five schools of the country - three in Delhi and two in Mumbai.

"I am really excited to be part of the project. We will all be given the name of a Pakistani student to whom we will write and I can't wait to share my world with him or her. I am also curious to know what their life is like," said Aastha Shrivastav, a class 8 student of St. Pauls School.

Abhinav Sharma, a student of Sanskriti School, said: "I am very curious to know if things like Facebook are as popular as they are here, and if kids in Pakistan like video games. People in India and Pakistan have a lot of things in common like food and culture, so I don't see any reason why my pen friend and I can't hit off really well."

The project involves four parts. The first will involve students writing letters to each other, talking about their lives, interests and hobbies. The second will see them send postcards with small messages.

The third involves taking photographs of monuments and other places of historical importance and sending them across and finally sending videos of themselves and maybe their grandparents talking about India and Pakistan.

At the end, students of both the countries will make scrapbooks about the other country based on the information they received.

Talking about the initiative, Irfan Ahmed, counsellor at the Pakistan High Commission said: "It is up to the civil society to sow the seeds of friendship. An initiative like this can ensure that misunderstandings are removed."

Adding to this, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said: "Both the governments (of India and Pakistan) have had their differences and we have our issues even now. But it's important that the people of the two countries communicate and bridge the gap."

Rakesh Gupta of Routes 2 Roots said the aim of the initiative was to make children aware of India-Pakistan relations because it is they who are the future generation.

"Children will not be able to make a difference if their mindset is not developed to be more peaceful. Peace needs time to be nurtured. The values have to be instilled in the formative years and that is the essence of this programme," he said.

The NGO working on this initiative in Pakistan is Citizens Archive of Pakistan. The Delhi school students will mainly be interacting with their counterparts in Lahore while the Mumbai students will be doing so with their counterparts in Karachi.





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