Category Archives: Pakistan
Last week, I was at a workshop on the financial crisis and it’s impact on South Asian economies put together by LYSA – Liberal Youth of South Asia – a network of South Asian youth organizations based on liberal values.
The workshop was mainly handled by Dipankar Sengupta, professor of economics at the Jammu University, an interesting chap with wide interests. From my conversations with him I gathered he’s mildly sympathetic to the Austrian School and the work of Hayek, et al.
Dr. Harsha De Silva, also made a guest appearance for a session on the global recession and South Asia mainly focusing on the plight of Sri Lanka. His presentation was surprisingly fun, something I didn’t expect from him.
The following are some broad points by the two speakers from my notes and by no means complete and comprehensive.
What really happened
The narrative of what exactly happened in the U.S. mortgage market which led to the financial crisis and what caused those problems are very relevant. However, because I’m too lazy to put it down, I will post a couple of links which I think captures the (classical) liberal narrative of what happened in the financial crisis and largely conforms to the narrative given by Prof. Sengupta.
The first is a video on youtube and second is this article by Lawrence White at Cato unbound.
The Impact on the rest of the world
According to Sengupta, the reason for the impact of the financial crisis on the rest of the world, particularly in Asia, is pretty simple. U.S. and Europe is the largest export market for most Asian economies, when the economy in those countries goes into recession, demand for foreign exports fall, when exports fall demand for labor in export industries also fall, resulting in adverse economic conditions in exporting countries.
Impact on Sri Lanka
Adding on, Harsha de Silva made the following points.
- Sri Lanka is only now beginning to feel the brunt of the financial crisis, its impact on top of our already mismanaged macroeconomic conditions will hurt us even more.- Sri Lanka for example, refused to depreciate the currency even when other countries in South Asia, such as India, did so. (see LBO’s recent fussbudet Column).
– We have had a problem of high inflation for a very long time
- Financial crisis will impact Sri Lanka in number of distinct ways.Middle-eastern domestic workers who Sri Lanka depends on so much might loose their jobs, resulting in a loss of foreign exchange.There is no liquidity in the market, so borrowing for government for example is going to be tough.
The ‘patriotic bond’ which the Sri Lankan government tried miserably failed, raising only 1% of the expected amount. CPC alone has a debt of about US$ 800 million which needs to be paid.
- The Government however keeps harping on the high GDP growth. GDP however can be misleading when government expenditure is high, particularly for things like the military. It’s an example of Bastiat’s Broken Window Fallacy.
- Sri Lankan companies are already hurting. Last quarterly results of all traded companies showed that profits have declined by 61% in Q1. If one were to take the banks out of the equation there have been a decline of 81% in profits in the rest of the sectors.
- As solutions,Policies like the fiscal stimulus have less impact on Sri Lanka, because there’s already a lot of government spending.“Looking inwards” is also a bad policy, and not practical since Sri Lanka is a small country.
Need to somehow raise private investments or go begging to the IMF. No real silver lining in the dark cloud.
- Focus on the long term and reforms is one way to cushion the adverse effects of recessions. For example high labour costs force exporters to become niche producers and cater to niche markets (e.g. expensive lingerie in the case of SL) which are most vulnerable when it comes to recessions.
Deane is Core Group Member of Beyond Borders and formerly a blogger. The workshop was organized by Liberal Youth Guilds, the Sri Lankan partner for LYSA. BB is now an observer member of LYSA.
Dead men on pitches,
Bullet wounds for scores–
‘Is this the new cricket?’
The gentlemen groaned.
They stopped wearing chest guards,
And switched to bullet proof vests–
They stopped looking at the ball,
In order to drop down just in case–
‘They’ll all be bowled for a duck!’
The fans screamed in the stands–
But the players, didn’t give a fuck,
‘Cos their lives were in the devil’s hands–
When the war came to cricket,
The world stopped and stared–
Not since Munich,
Had someone so dared.
Another war crime painted
Another terrorist escaped
Traces of blame faded
Not one of ’em, could be traced
Oh some of them were captured
And were interrogated in due course
But they never revealed their masters
Not under the worst form of tortures
Because even they didn’t know.
And so the incident passed,
The shock slowly faded,
And soon a movie was made,
That rivalled ‘Machang’ in it’s fame.
Halik Azeez is a Core Group Member of BB, blogs under a pseudonym elsewhere and read this out at the open mic held recently. His views are his own..
Violence against women takes a dismaying variety of forms, but the worst form which snatches away the lives of millions of women each year are “honor killings”. For a lot of women in some parts of the world, the prospect of an honor killing is a bitter reality. Each year, uncountable amount of women are killed, burnt, sold, exchanged and handed out to different tribes for compensation for a conflict in the name of honor.
From thousand years, women suffer in the form death……..which to their men is restoration of the man’s honor. Women even faintly suspected of an ‘inappropriate’ relationship face hideous forms of violence. They are stoned, shot, beaten until death, and attacked by axes by their brothers, fathers, husband and even cousins.
Women keep on being victims to this merciless tradition and shed their blood for a custom which has not assigned by any religion, any culture, but only an imagined honor.
WAKE UP!!! Campaign against honor killing is a movement which aims to bring small changes in the lives of these victims of ‘honor’. Targeting around 5000 people, the campaign would work towards raising the voices of those women around the world who have been forever silenced by these hideous customs.
WAKE UP!!! is currently at work here in Pakistan; soon we will be launching its website for online membership for international change agents. For the moment you can support by,
- Joining our Facebook group and showing solidarity with the cause.
- Helping us spread the word about the campaign by posting this information (emails, blogs, etc.)
- Writing in your thoughts and your feelings about this crime for our campaign e-newsletter.
- Participating in discussions, or if you know of a community affected by “honor killings” then by sending us more information, pictures, or videos.
- Identifying as a Change Agent! in the cause against honor killings
To get involved in the campaign or for more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
WAKE UP invites you to be a part of this Global campaign and be the change agents against honor killing!!!
– Khalida Brohi.
Khalida is deeply involved in the WAKE UP!!! Campaign working with Participatory Development Initiative, an organization based in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. She’s also an action partner for Oxfam International Youth Partnerships where she had her first interaction with Beyond Borders.
All eight members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) participated in the group’s first youth camp being held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed inaugurated the four-day camp on the 10th of December exhorting the participants to exchange ideas and experiences that would help push the region towards greater and faster progress.
He reiterated Bangladesh’s commitment to “building partnerships in activities relevant for our (Saarc countries’) progress”.
Dhaka is holding the first regional youth fest, with the theme ’Connecting South Asian Youths’, in keeping with its promise made at the 14th Saarc Summit in April this year in New Delhi, The Daily Star reported Tuesday.
Ahmed was quoted as saying the Saarc Youth Camp would bring “young minds from Mazar-e-Sharif to Male, Quetta to Kathmandu, Colombo to Kolkata, and Thimphu to Dhaka for meeting annually in institutionalised but informal settings”.
Story adapted from AussieIndoLanka
Beyond Borders Bangladesh (Now known as NationPulse) helped organize the event and ran a few sessions at the camp on themes related to leadership. BBites from India went in as participants for the camp. Pictures are at NationPulse site and our Flickr.
On 15th of August of this year, India celebrated its 60th year of Independence. Celebrations of independence, as residents of many South Asian countries would know, come with the usual ‘expert’ analysis of ‘how really free we are’; what are the triumphs, what are our failures. The Indian media was full of it.
On the same day, I and a friend of mine (also a BBite) happened to travel to Mumbai from Pune to meet up with Mumbai BBites and to see a city which has a population roughly equal to that of Sri Lanka.
We arrived in Mumbai, to what was a marathon-film screening organized by Beyond Borders Mumbai and managed to catch the latter part of a documentary titled, ‘India’s third Sex’ (or gender, I forget) the film is about eunuchs (or hijra as they are referred to in the sub-continent) and was quite a insightful take on the life and practices of the hijra community in India and my first real exposure to their lives and issues, although I was ignorantly aware of their existence.
The following day, we were invited to a walk organized by Humsafar, a trust which works on rights for sexual minorities and partners with BB Mumbai. Mostly out of curiosity, we agreed. The ‘silent walk’ was supposed to be a demand for their rights as citizens of India on the 60th year of ‘freedom’.
The experience was quite intriguing; there I made a mental note that I should blog about the experience, and about the hijra community. I never got around to it until yesterday when I discovered a blogpost by someone who has.
Following is an extract from the blog which relates to not of the same event, but of the same people and places.
We climb up to the fourth floor of the meat market in Vakola, Santa Cruz East, on wooden stairs that are surprisingly sturdy. Upon entering the drop-in center (DIC) of The Hamsafar (“companion”) Trust, which caters to the hijra (the third sex) and MSM (Males having Sex with Males) communities, the first thing you see on the reception desk is a basket of condoms. Then you notice the pink curtains.
The mission statement above the desk read: Mission: A holistic approach to the rights and health of sexual minorities and promoting rational attitudes to sexuality
Today is a special “Transgender Mondays”- it is the day before the hijra festival, and many of the hijra and transgender clients are dressed up in their finest saris and jewelry. Fragrant flowers adorn their hair, some of which are made into buns with hair extensions. Most of the hijra are too, too thin – their falsies slipping out of their bras and sari blouses; a few have decent breasts and round bottoms, the result of hormones…
On the night of August 14th, history will be made as the people from Pakistan and India come together to jointly celebrate 60 Years of Independence.
For the first time ever, permission has been granted by both governments to allow this extraordinary coming together of hearts.
Dil se Dil, which means Heart-to-Heart, is not just a name. It is an idea whose time has come. Many of our worlds problems result from the biases and prejudices that take hold in the absence of real contact and communication.
This extraordinary event – which will be broadcast to a quarter of the world’s population – will help to shed light on the core humanity we all share, regardless of our differences.
Not only is this a momentous event in the history of India and Pakistan – the first time the people of these countries will celebrate their independence together – but it offers the world a model for how to deal with our differences – kid-to-kid, people-to-people, heart-to-heart, this commemoration will entail a single, unifying concert event, the performances will originate from twin stages, one in India and one in Pakistan, on either side of the Attari/Wagah border. Live performances will alternate from one stage to the other, visible to the entire live audience, no matter on which side of the border they are sitting.
This two-stage-one-concert approach, with its innovative utilization of advanced telecommunications, sound engineering, and broadcast technology is as symbolic as it is practical. It represents the younger generation doing exactly what they do best: harnessing technology to create community and to overcome distance, physical barriers, and outmoded thinking.
– From the Dil Se Dil Web site
The concert will be organized by Friends Without Borders in conjunction with Routes to Roots and will feature stars such as AR Rahaman, Atif Aslam, Shafaat Amanath Ali, Kailash Kher, Shah Rukh Khan, Wasim Akram, Juhi Chawla, and Shaiyanne Malik.
Beyond Borders wishes FWB, routes to roots all the best in organizing this event.
UPDATE : CONCERT POSTPONED INDEFINITELY DUE TO TERROR THREATS
Salman Rushdie, the well-known author of the controversial book ‘The Satanic Verses’ has recently been knighted, which has again sparked some controversy with both the Iranian and Pakistani governments issuing statements condemning his knighthood.
Disturbing religious sentiments, as the Danish cartoonists found out, is tricky business. Simply because for most people, whole of their spiritual existence is derived from religion and any upset to those sentiments can result in aggressive reaction, which can effectively be harnessed by extremist elements for agendas of their own.
As historical evidence would suggest, the type of religion, in this situation doesn’t really matter. In fact even an Atheist – a believer in the absence of god – would react aggressively if his or her fundamental beliefs are challenged. It is therefore very human and very natural for a Muslim to react strongly against ‘Satanic Verses’ or the Danish Cartoons, and for a catholic to resent the ‘ the Da Vinci Code’ or for a Buddhist to take offense at the movie ‘Hollywood Buddha.’
So far the simple solution to these types of situations seems to be simply banning the book or the offensive material. But greater analysis of the economics of prohibitions would suggest that banning things is a poor solution.
The Blog IndianMuslims explains further:
It is a famous saying in marketing that there is no such thing as bad PR. By The Satanic Verses banning a book, the government is unintentionally providing a big fillip to what might have been a totally worthless piece of literature. Taslima Nasreen is a case in point. I have asked many of my Bengali friends about their opinion of Nasreen as a writer and most of them have been pretty disappointed by her literary skills. By banning her books, the Bangladeshi government made her a martyr to the cause of freedom of expression. Her books have now been read by millions of people world-wide and are now available in over 20 languages. Nothing guides a man like curiosity does. Not many people would have cared for The Satanic Verses but for the reactionary fatwa of Khomeini. When I couldn’t find the book in India, I looked for it in Korea just to figure out what the whole fuss was about. To be very true, I found it to be profoundly boring and couldn’t get beyond a few pages. May be it would have remained such but the whole controversy gave it a cult status. [link]
Respect for religious sentiment is of course good, but spirit of tolerance cannot be enforced by an authority. It’s a personal trait, not something which can be regulated.
I realize that the circumstances are such that often, governments find it pragmatic to make this sort of decision to pacify a potentially explosive situation. But when one such situation occurs certain people expect the practice to repeat itself, and before you know it freedom to express ourselves is slowly eroded to the extent that it would be all too natural to prohibit anything the minute someone claims to be ‘offended’ by it.
The Blog web-alochana in a post titled “Baroda, Kelaniya and fundamentalism around world” (in Sinhalese) relates a story in the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka where an ‘installation art’ based on commonly used items by a Buddhist monk was ordered to be removed from an art exhibition because a special-interest group from the Kelaniya campus thought it was incompatible with ‘Buddhist culture’.
One of the reasons which lead to these types of pathetic incidents is that those who defend such things as ‘Freedom of Expression’ have been selective in their defense. Voltaire once said that ‘I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it’. That should be the abiding principle. The same people who, very rightly, defend the Boroda student, or M.F Hussein for their right to paint whatever they want should also come to the defense of the Salman Rushdie’s right to publish satanic verses regardless of whether or not they agree with the content of the work.
But of course it’s easy to be idealistic, but what does one expect a government or an authority to do when faced with for example a situation like the ‘Danish cartoons incident’? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. I’d vote for pragmatism, but people have to just stop tolerating suppression of expression as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. That’s a weird type of tolerance, not of differences of opinion but of authority and the ‘moral police’ who tells us what’s good and what’s not.
That type of ‘tolerance’ should not be tolerated.
Deane is a Core Group member of Beyond Borders Sri Lanka, and an undergraduate student of computing (and many other things) who rarely attends his lectures. He maintains an oddly named blog which he updates with varying frequency.
Disclaimer : opinions expressed here are those of the writer and may not necessarily coincide with the opinions of Beyond Borders or its partner organisations.
It’s been a year since the last Bangladesh festival – a fantastic exchange of ideas, a celebration of culture & Diversity and foundations of a few eternal friendships.
All things in the experience are worth a revisit, the dance, the fun, the music and the serious issues we managed to discuss and act on in-between. The song and dance will perhaps be consumed by the moment, but the issues linger. Of all the things we experienced in the festival, I’d like to touch on just two. Not because they were more important than others, but just because I as a person found them most thought-provoking.
Language Movement Day (Martyrs’ Day) walk
On the 21st of February we along with tens of thousands of Bangladeshis took to the streets of Dhaka to celebrate the language movement day, about 30 or 40 of BB members walked behind a specially crafted banner, taking turns to hold it, right up to and beyond the Shaheed Minar.
The Shaheed Minar, is the monument built to honor the martyrs of the Bangladeshi language movement. This monument, that day and those events commemorated, has a lot of history behind it and not all of it is entirely positive.
At the time though, I didn’t quite realize the significance of what we have done. But looking back now – that was quite a statement we made. Among the participants in the walk, there were of course Bangladeshis, Indians, Sri Lankans and more importantly – Pakistanis. Given the history this act symbolizes, that’s quite some statement. A statement, perhaps only a group like beyond borders could have delivered.
I do not want to get into the politics of the Bangladeshi Liberation movement, as I fully well know; living in Sri Lanka, unbiased information on these things is a rare commodity. But this is one of the things in the festival that got me thinking, especially given the similarities to the situation back home, the importance of language for people, among other things which I’m not comfortable discussing here. But being in Dhaka at that time, Bangladeshi nationalism was impossible to escape, and I know some of the events of particularly that day, made some of the Pakistani participants a tad bit uncomfortable.
This perhaps is one of the central challenges of multiculturalism, which stresses the need for space for individual and collective identities while also being able to appreciate diversity as well as being tolerant of differences.
Now, ‘Tolerance’ is something that we as members of BB have discussed at multitude of international forums and the general feeling tends to be that ‘tolerance’ is something negative and we should instead move on to true understanding. Principally I’d agree, but I guess there is still space for healthy tolerance to exist, especially when it comes to situations where you do not agree with what’s going on, instead of adopting a divergent approach, tolerating especially differences of opinions has its place.
Geneva Camp is the name given to a small area in Dhaka which is home to the Urdu-speaking community of Bangladesh, stranded during the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. While scores of Urdu-speaking people have been transferred to Pakistan after the independence, many of these people didn’t get the opportunity, and now find themselves not accepted as citizens of Pakistan nor Bangladesh. To put it bluntly – they are stateless.
The small camp, (which more accurately can be described as a slum) is home to about 250,000 people who lead a deprived life, with 10 or 12 people living in spaces as small as 10 feet by 8. The electricity and some minimal services are provided by the government but for the most part the people in the community do not have access to public services such as education, they do not have the right to vote or contest for elections and basically do not have the right to institution. The residents cannot get jobs if they give their addresses as being from this camp; it’s the same with education thus restricting these people to an eternal cycle of poverty.
The majority of these people want to go to Pakistan; the central office of the camp had wall-paintings of General Musharaf, the president of Pakistan. But as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and some welcome news is on the horizon. While most of the old generation still wants to go to Pakistan, the new generation has been born in Bangladesh and a recent court ruling has re-instituted their right to Bangladeshi citizenship.
The Association of Young Generation of Urdu Speaking Community, the youth organisation BB Bangladesh works with, is a major proponent of the idea that the community should try and make a decent living within Bangladesh instead of seeking to go to Pakistan. The organisation is headed by few spirited individual who were lucky enough to be educated well and now they are running programs to uplift the lives of young people in the community. Beyond Borders group in Dhaka is part of this initiative.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to keep tabs on the development of the situation but I was heartened to note that few young people from Geneva camp is now part of the Beyond Borders Core Group.
The plight of the Urdu-speaking people may have had Parallels back home, especially with the up-country Tamil people in Sri Lanka, but that’s not something that I can relate as easily, for when I was born, that wrong was put to right.
These are the things that have recently let me to believe that almost all conflicts everywhere in the world have similar roots. It could be fundamental issues of negligence of identities or feeling of alienation from reservoirs of power, among other things which aggravates and fuels conflict.
The festival, (as documented here in an earlier post) had lot more than these two events, but I’d hold these two experiences the most special.
Session 9: Discussion on faiths and what it means to us
By Kanwalpreet Kaur
The session focused on an abstract concept of faith and spirituality, considering it in a larger sense, without relating it to a particular religion. A somewhat lively discussion followed, with many of the participants challenging conventional beliefs and belief systems. One could feel some sympathy towards Ms.Kaur, discussing spirituality and faith with a set of (mostly) self-proclaimed atheists. Although in the end, many agreed that there was need for spirituality in our lives and faith, whatever it may be, should be a path designed to get us there.
Session 10: The Winning Game and the World Café
By the Sri Lankan BB Team
Our session kicked off with the screening of the BB SL festival documentary ‘Start to Finish’ which induced a lot laughter, energy, and spontaneous name calling from our audience each time someone they knew appeared on the screen.
After the screening we facilitated ‘the Winning Game,’ which most SL CGMs are familiar with. Despite lot of discussions and arguments, the Indians CGMs failed to realize the objectives of the exercise, and all of them only managed minus points on the board. After the scores had been put up, we showed them a few pre-prepared slides on the objectives of the game. After which we asked the audience to form three groups and discuss themes such as competition and collaboration. To make the discussion more focused and methodical we used a technique known as ‘World Café.’
World café is an interesting methodology in which large groups of people can interact, share and explore ideas in an informal setting. First the group is divided into a number of small subgroups, and each subgroup is given a question. Preferably each group should be given a table with chairs around it where the actual tablemat to be used as a canvas where the participants can formulate their thoughts. Each group thereafter is given a question to discuss, with each group being given a different question. Their thoughts/answers should be written on the canvas (table-mat). The participants are encouraged to be creative in their exploration with the use of diagrams, pictures or any other form of expression. Each group will only get a limited time to answer each question, and once time is up, each group should move onto another table to answer the next question, leaving one person behind. The idea is that the discussion from the next group can build on the ideas already discussed, thus saving time, and also enabling the group access the ideas and thoughts expressed by the other groups. It’s quite a new and innovative way to collaborate, and could be used in workshop settings.
The questions put forward for our audience, were: Is Competition Healthy? How does the Competition & Interdependency Inter-relate? and Is collaboration a sustainable Philosophy of Practice? After much debate and discussion the audience came up with diverse views on the topics and competition at corporate level as well as at an individual level were discussed and presented by the audience.
Session 11: Diversity (Religion, Conflict and Secularism)
By Mukul Kesavan
Professor of History,
Jamia Millia Islamia (National Islamic University), New Delhi
This session turned out to be one of the most interesting sessions in the camp. The theme discussed was a central theme of BB itself and religion, conflict and secularism were all themes extremely relevant to both India and Sri Lanka. Mukul Kesavan, an expert on secularism is also very well read about the conflict in Sri Lanka. This was quite refreshing since at times, during the life skills camp, the Sri Lankan team felt that the context in which the topics were being discussed was a bit alien to us.
The discussion on diversity largely focused on secularism, seen through various examples worldwide from the recent Pope’s comments, Jack Straw’s comments, and the controversial Danish cartoons, to the Da Vinci Code. Mr Kesavan also spoke about state secularism and ethnic hegemony found in various countries including Sri Lanka. He spoke at length about the concept of Self-determination, and about states such as Israel defined on purely ethnic lines, and consequences of such moves. He also explored the scenario of the Indian Partition, and also took the time to explain at length the form of secularism that is practiced in India, which he said was what kept India in its present state.
He went on further to elaborate on other forms of secularism in countries such as the US and France. He further stressed on the point that states which are formed around ethnic and/or religious identities will find it difficult to become secular and purely democratic. He used the example of Pakistan where he said that some argue Mohamad Jinnah, when he formed Pakistan, wanted it to become a secular democracy, not an Islamic state but when a nation is founded on an ethnic or a religious basis that becomes nearly impossible.
Kesavan also discussed the forms of nationalisms around the world and the sort of effects they are having on citizens of those countries. He discussed at length about the types of nationalisms based on racial, religious or otherwise ethnic identities, and the forms that are unique such as the ‘Bhumi Puthra’ concept practiced in Indonesia.
He talked at length about the Indian freedom struggle, and the tactics used by congress to create what he called a “Noah’s Ark”’ nationalism, which led to a unique form of Indian nationalism which ultimately became successful in creating a secular state.
The discussion was truly thought provoking, and managed to captivate the audience from start to finish.
Session 12: Public Policy
By Dr. Parth J Shah
Centre for Civil Society
The workshop started with Dr. Shah giving a small introduction into public policy and asking the participants to identify some pertinent issues and come up with policy solutions for them. The audience was divided into subgroups, each working on two issues. BBites came up with diverse issues – from issues faced by the auto-rickshaw (three-wheeler) industry in India, and the solutions for them, to the problems regarding the cleaning of the river Yamuna.
The subgroups came up with interesting solutions, and thanks to perhaps some participants being exposed to a seminar by CCS, most solutions were market-oriented. Dr Shah then gave his input on the matters, and we went on to a lengthy, and an animated discussion on public policy and government involvement in the life of its citizenry.
He elaborated on the degree in which it should be desirable, and the byproducts of too much involvement of governments via regulations and laws which acts as a deterrent for development.
The discussion was vibrant and provoked novel, innovative thinking and prospective missing in mainstream policy debates. It was established to an extent that the best thing governments can do in most instances is to just get out of the way, and let the private entrepreneurs take the lead on the path of development.
Session 13: Skills Training – Theatre
By Huma Qureshi
Former CGM, BB India
The theatre training exercise was more about having fun than any serious work about theatre. A few games were which remotely related to theatre was played, which were entertaining.
Session 14: Film Screening – a second hand in life
By Ravi Gulati
The film screened was about e-waste, which has damning effects on the social fabric of urban Indian poor kids, well below the legal working age, engaging in sorting e-waste, which is ‘dumped’ into India from European companies. Indian workers (mostly children) try to extract valuable metals from this electronic equipment, and the procedure is extremely harmful to their health. The film dealt with the issue from the view point of kids who engage in these activities, as well as the circumstances that lead to it.
The screening followed a lively debate and discussion between participants as well as the host, numerous measures such as strict government regulation was discussed. There were no consensus on how to deal with the issue; some novel approaches such as corporate initiatives such as creation of green-friendly computers were discussed as remedies to the larger issue of e-waste.
The documentary which coincided with Beyond Borders Festival in Sri Lanka, entitled ‘Start to Finish’ got its first public performance last month at the British Council hall, in Colombo. Written and directed by King Rathnam and produced by Narada Bakmeewewa of the Narada Bakmeewewa Inc, ‘Start to Finish’ captures the Beyond Borders festival and Beyond Borders themes in an abstract sense.
Covering the core themes of the festival of conflict resolution, youth activism, sexual health and substance abuse, the documentary metaphorically identifies those themes as ‘hurdles’ where we, the young peoples of the world must overcome in the ‘race’ of life.
The documentary – as short as it is – covers the different aspects of the festival and broader Beyond Borders themes of identity, diversity and active global citizenship with skilful use of footage from workshops, the ‘junction’ concert and through vast amount of opinions, perspectives and feedback voiced out by festival attendees and BB CGMs both from Sri Lanka and invited countries.
‘Start to Finish’ was narrated by Sri Lankan Core Group Members, Sheetal Survase and Raashid Riza.
For details on how to obtain copies of the DVD please contact slbeyondborders [at] gmail [dot] com
Start to Finish can be viewed online here