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10,000 partition stories to be added to ‘The 1947 Partition Archives’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

partitionWashington: During India-Pakistan partition in 1947, Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah sent a message to renowned Indian author Khushwant Singh asking him to stay in Lahore and become a high court judge, an offer he declined and decided to move to Delhi.

“I drove on a totally empty road, blank road, all the way to Delhi. I didn’t see a soul till I reached Delhi,” he told 21 year old Manleen Sandhu before his death in March 2014 relating his personal experience of Partition.

“Jinnah sent a message to me through my father–he was his friend–to stay on in Lahore and become a high court judge. I was a lawyer.”

“Bad times. No humanity at all…After Partition I returned to Lahore many times. I had no venom against anyone,” he said shaking his head as he explained his decision to move amid escalating violence.

Khushwant Singh’s story is among nearly 2000 stories comprising over 4000 hours of video footage recorded by citizen historians like Sandhu for ‘The 1947 Partition Archive’.

What began as a small grassroots effort to preserve the disappearing memory of Partition, at the University of California at Berkeley in 2011, has quickly spread across the globe to 157 cities where Partition witnesses reside.

Young, tech savvy citizen historians train to record oral histories and spread out in their communities with their phones or any other recording device as part of what has become the largest known oral history collection of South Asian memories.

Today a majority of the stories come from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, though many pour in from diasporic communities spread across Europe, North America, the Middle East and Australia.

They’re telling of how far refugees scattered in search of a stable life following Partition.

With those who were teenagers at the time of Partition, in their 80’s now, The 1947 Partition Archive has announced a manifesto to record 10,000 stories through 2017, commemorating the 70th anniversary of Partition.

The people-powered Archive relies in part on trained volunteers, or citizen historians, for recording the stories, according to a media release.

To accelerate the recording of stories and reach the 10,000 story goal, the Archive is announcing its next call for story scholars, a ten month long concentrated story collection fellowship programme.

Anyone who has attended a free training to become a citizen historian and recorded a story is eligible to apply. Applications opened on Aug 30 and the deadline to apply is Oct 31.

An anonymous donor, feeling the urgency for recording stories, has endowed the programme with $100,000 which will fund the field work and back-end archiving for 10 story scholars. Together they will record 1800 stories.

As founding donor Dr. Narinder Kapany, an Indian-born American physicist known for his work in fibre optics, says, “Partition affected every community. Stories of Partition are everyone’s stories. And time is of the essence to make them known.”

The Archive will begin releasing the stories for public viewing in 2017.

The Archive’s long term plans include building Centres for Learning on Partition that combine tolerance education, in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It will be launching its task force for institutionalising the memory of partition later in 2015.

The first exhibit based on The Archive’s stories launched in 2014 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.

With inputs from IANS

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By Advancing Interdependence, India will Bring New Dawn for Democracy in 21st Century

All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India

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Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination. Pixabay

In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Interdependence can be achieved by creating a country in which there is a shared understanding of the value of each citizen and a reliance on one another to eliminate discrimination, hostility, and prejudice and to provide equality and opportunity for all. All citizens must be active participants in shaping the future of India. They must be equal partners in Indias inclusive economic mobility and in Indias shared prosperity.

Independence Day is the perfect day to highlight the importance of and advance the concept of interdependence. This can be accomplished by promoting the need for a unified India on this national holiday.

The need for doing this is critical. Unfortunately, in the period since the Prime Minister called for winning “trust” in his speech, some Indians have engaged in actions destroying it.

Sadly, the heinous crimes at the beginning of Modi’s second term are nothing new. There were several lynchings and numerous attacks on Muslims during his first term.

Interdependence, India, Democracy
In his first speech after winning the election for his second term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proclaimed that “…we have to win ‘sabka vishwas’ (everyones trust).” Pixabay

Modi did not speak out vigorously then. He must do so now to demonstrate the essential leadership that will be required to create a state of interdependence. There are other serious conditions that must be addressed as well. To name just a few: sexual violence and subjugation of females continues; the caste system still exists; and, the problematic conditions of those in the weaker sections persist.

By speaking out, Prime Minister Modi can bring the country together to confront the matters that are hardening India’s democratic arteries. He cannot do that alone, however. He will need buy in and support from across the country and the citizenry.

A first step should be to “find our spiritual common ground”. That step can be initiated by recognizing that spirit is the invisible force that brings us together regardless of our caste, race, religion, region or political predisposition. The goal in discovering that common ground should be to create one nation under God. That nation would be an interdependent one and its God would be ecumenical and non-denominational. Its God would be welcoming to all.

As one nation, India would celebrate and embrace the richness of religious diversity

Also Read- BBC Decides to Expand its Shortwave Radio Service in Kashmir to Beat Communications Blackout

As one nation, India would be inclusive and accepting unity over division and hope over fear

As one nation, India would elevate citizenship above angry and mindless partisanship and bring people together to pursue the common good

As one nation, India would be the place known for sharing and caring as opposed to blaming and shaming

As one nation, India would emphasize building bridges instead of constructing boundaries and barriers

Interdependence, India, Democracy
What will be required to win that trust is establishing a true state of interdependence. Pixabay

As one nation, India would ensure that all its people are literate and equipped with the skills to succeed in the 21st century

As one nation, India would extend life lines instead of drawing battle lines

As one nation, India would be a land of big dreams, small treasures, brave people, kind deeds, and tender mercies

As one nation, India would ensure the importance of the freedom of the free press, not to bury it

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As one nation, India would be a role model and exemplar for other democracies to emulate

Everyone must play a role in establishing India as one nation. Each citizen should engage in small acts of kindness by reaching out to those less fortunate and to the downtrodden by extending a helping hand and a hand up.

Some people can make special contributions. Religious leaders should promote interfaith dialogue. They should bring people together followers of different persuasions for meaningful conversations. They should promote a dialogue of understanding and a shared sense of community with other faiths. They should call the fact that attack on one faith is attack on all faiths. Political leaders should promote a framework of unity and civility. Civic and community leaders should promote collaboration in problem-solving. They should toil together their creeds to plant the seeds for doing good deeds.

There is no better day on which to resume our journey than Independence Day. There is no better way to make that journey than to chart a course to interdependence. By reaching that destination, India will establish itself as the beacon of hope for democracy worldwide. By realizing that potential, India will bring a new dawn for democracy in this 21st century. (IANS)