The Mentoring Program has been a vital aspect of WISCOMP’s evolution as a leading action research and peacebuilding organization that draws on innovative and experiential pedagogies synergizing research, training, and practice. These are used to build linkages between individuals who work in the fields of education, gender studies, peacebuilding, public policy, law, and the creative arts. Its practice builds on a body of research that covers over 200 scholarly publications, reflecting cutting-edge ideas from the areas of international relations, displacement, refugee flows, climate change, and their impact on gender.
The context of mentoring cuts across programs and is mainstreamed in the organization’s work. Building positive mentoring relationships that enrich both professional and personal trajectories form the essence of the Mentoring Program. This vital aspect of WISCOMP’s evolution as a leading practitioner in the creation of empowering spaces for women has informed its articulation on issues of democracy, representation, foreign policy and peacebuilding. Our inclusive and low key approach has enabled us to work with diverse constituencies that are often sequestered into silos.
Stewarding Transformative Futures & Stimulating Integrative Methodologies – The program enunciates the sustained interrogation of gendered approaches to security and throws open avenues for bringing together experience and potential in a stimulating exchange. As facilitators, we understand and encourage the genuine desire of the mentors and the mentees to understand differing values, expectations and approaches. Our goals are to:
Bridging the Conventional Gaps – The Program has grown in myriad ways, empowering young women and men—academicians, grassroots workers, practitioners, media professionals—and facilitating a process that provides opportunities for voices to be transmitted to relevant policymakers. Concious efforts have been made to bridge the gap between— policy and practice, the world of academia and the NGO sector, senior and younger professionals—and this it does, by also using a gender lens.
EXPERIENCES AND REFLECTIONS
The WISCOMP Fellowship is easily one of the most insightful experiences of my professional life. The Fellowship enabled me to see beyond the political rhetoric and the dominant and divisive narratives of the conflict in Kashmir. It helped me recognize the vicious cycle of violence, the entrenched interests to perpetuate it, and the futility of violence as a means to acquire political ends.
Aarti Tikoo is a New Delhi-based journalist. She is a Senior Assistant Editor with the Times of India and has reported from the conflict-ridden state of Jammu and Kashmir for seven years, covering politics, violence, governance, and human interest stories. She holds a Masters degree in International Affairs from Columbia University, New York, besides two Masters degrees in Political Science and English from the University of Jammu and a Post-Graduate degree in Journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Jammu. She is currently working on her book—an account of the conflict unfolding in her native land Kashmir, her displacement from the Valley, and her subsequent life in exile.
I was introduced to WISCOMP in 2013 and since then it has been a journey of experience and learning. I have learnt the value and importance of parallel truths and the possibility of working on the grey areas between them. My association with WISCOMP introduced me to Critical Security Studies and the idea that security could—and did—mean more than military protection against external threats.
Akorshi Sengupta is pursuing a combined Bachelors’ and Masters’ degree in Clinical Psychology at Amity University, Noida. He is Editor of Study India Ambassador, New Delhi, and a recipient of the Nokia Create to Inspire Fellowship for Theater and has been a Key Speaker in the 11th and 12th Annual United Nations International Students Global Video Conferences. He has coauthored an article titled An Integrated Approach to Development in the Youth Issue of the United Nations Chronicle. Akorshi has completed his specialized training in basic counseling skills, mediation, and conflict resolution based on Marshall Rosenberg’s approach to Nonviolent Communication.
ALPANA KISHOREIn 2002, I decided to conduct research on my deep interest in Partition and the Two Nation ideology. Over the next three years, I interviewed Partition-era Muslims in India and Pakistan about their choices, identities and ideas of nationhood. Yet support for an Indian working on the ideologies that led to Pakistan was almost impossible to get.
Alpana Kishore is an independent writer-researcher in New Delhi. She has worked extensively on the Partition of India, the Two Nation ideology and its effect on Muslim identity on the subcontinent. Earlier, as a print and television journalist, she reported for 10 years on Pakistan and Kashmir at the peak of militancy in the 1990s. Her WISCOMP fellowship put forward Kashmir’s ideas of identity, its religion-based ideology of nationalism, and the severe damage inflicted on it from radical Islam. She is also an urban activist advocating debate on Delhi’s urban mega projects. Currently, she is working on a blog.
My experience as a WISCOMP Trainee and Peace Fellow brought me a new richness of perspective on ideas of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and the responsibilities of being a young peace practitioner. It also ingrained in me a greater realization of my aspiration and purpose to become a woman leader and mentor.
Ammara Durrani is an independent polymath professional and management consultant with 15 years of leadership experience in Knowledge, Strategy, Management, Media, and Advocacy. Based in Islamabad, she works with international, regional and national organizations on a range of strategic programmatic initiatives in areas of Conflict, Peacebuilding and Counter-Violent Extremism; Democracy and Governance; Media Development and Freedom of Information; Public Diplomacy, Arts, Culture and Strategic Communications; and Gender, Youth & Children. Previously, Ammara served as Pakistan Country Director at Search for Common Ground; Project Director and Strategic Communications Specialist at Federal Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan; and Development Outreach and Communications Specialist at U.S. Agency for International Development Mission Pakistan. Prior to her management roles, Ammara worked as a journalist in the capacities of Senior Correspondent and Assistant Editor with The News International, Pakistan. She also has the distinction of being the second Daniel Pearl/Alfred Friendly/Helen Baldwin Press Fellow whereby she worked at Los Angeles Times and Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles in Los Angeles, U.S.A (2005).
I had the opportunity to be a founding member of Athwaas project, and conceptualize the Annual Women Writers Workshop in Kashmir. In addition, I took part in the ethos of productive conversations, seminars and workshop that pivoted around issues of armed conflict, militarization, peace and women. WISCOMP was great platform to learn hands-on activism and the basic tenets of scholarly research.
Ather Zia has a doctorate degree from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California at Irvine. She also has two Masters Degrees; one in Communications from California State University Fullerton and another in Journalism from Kashmir University. Currently she is a faculty member in the Anthropology Department and Gender Studies Program at University of Northern Colorado Greeley. In 2011 she co-founded Critical Kashmir Studies, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region.
As a WISCOMP Fellow (2002), I carried out a research study about the experiences of Naga women in armed conflict situations. As a young researcher, the WISCOM1P Fellowship played an integral role in developing my research interests in ethnography, feminist research methodology, and peace and conflict studies.
Dolly Kikon is a social anthropologist. Her work examines the intersections of law, everyday state practices, structural violence, and resource extraction activities in Northeast India. She is also a practicing human rights lawyer and researcher, and currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University.
I completed a Ph.D. at the Global Women’s Studies Programme at NUI Galway. My thesis “Narrating In/Security: Women and Activism in Kashmir” explored the relationship between in/security and activism for women activists in Kashmir. As a visiting research fellow at WISCOMP, I gained the opportunity to learn from best practices in peacebuilding in Kashmir.
My time with FUR and its WISCOMP program profoundly shaped my life journey. During the two-and-a-half years that I assisted the inspiring, talented team to organize conflict transformation workshops and policy roundtables, I developed a life-long commitment to pursuing human security through the incorporation of gender perspectives and women in decision-making.
Evelyn is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusive Security, Washington DC, an organization that works to increase the participation of stakeholders—particularly women—in preventing and resolving conflicts. Evelyn writes on women’s participation in peace processes, leads training programs for women leaders from Asia and Africa, and advocates extensively to advance the Institute’s work. Before joining the Institute, Evelyn work for WISCOMP where she assisted with the conflict transformation workshops for young people from India and Pakistan and published research on the changing contours of diplomacy in South Asia. A native of Virginia, she holds a Master’s degree in conflict resolution from Georgetown University, Washington DC.
Down To Earth magazine as well as with the teams that brought out the 5th and the 7th State of the Environment He has been an associate editor at the Vayu Aerospace and Defence Review, a New Delhi-based aviation trade journal. He is co-author of Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis published by Authors Upfront in 2014.
Jyotimoy Chaudhuri is an editor and researcher-journalist based in New Delhi. His main interests have revolved around the media, environment, defense, aviation. At the Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, he has worked on the Down To Earth magazine as well as with the teams that brought out the 5th and the 7th State of the Environment He has been an associate editor at the
JAVED AHMAD TAK
I was living in a remote village, bed-ridden due to a bullet injury, when the WISCOMP team reached me. WISCOMP supported me in my efforts to educate orphans and disabled children.
They gave me a number of opportunities to participate in workshops and meetings on pecebuilding.
Javed Ahmad Tak is a social activist based in Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir. He runs an organization called Humanity Welfare Helpline in Bijbehara (Anantnag). He holds a Masters’ degree in Social Work and a Certificate in Human Rights from IGNOU, New Delhi. He also holds a B.Ed degree in Special Education from Kashmir University, Srinagar. Javed has received several recognitions: The National Award for Persons with Disabilities; the Achievers Award (by Rotary Club of Kashmir); Tak Zainagiri Memorial Award for the Welfare of Orphans of Kashmir; J&K State Award for the Empowerment and Uplift of Disabled People; CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist Award; Bharat Jyoti Award, among others.
The WISCOMP experience of passionate work, academic excellence and professionalism with a heart has inspired me throughout my Master’s studies in London and my career start in German development cooperation. My two internships with WISCOMP really showed me that small teams can have large impacts if they believe in what they do.
In 2003, I was selected as a Scholar of Peace by WISCOMP. My research project for WISCOMP focused on refugee identity and questions of agency, an issue that remains central to my career even today. The interviews I conducted with Afghan and Burmese women refugees in Delhi cemented my decision to work with displaced persons, women in particular, and serve as a reminder of the courage of refugees, and the individuality of their narratives.
WISCOMP is one of the pioneering institutes in India to evolve practical strategies to the challenges facing the nation. In addition, it has helped mainstream gender in the realm of conflict resolution that is often emphasized now. My association with WISCOMP provided me with the much-needed early exposure to the multi- dimensional aspects of peace and security.
Luv Puri is a Political Affairs Officer at the United Nations. Earlier, he worked for The Hindu for many years. He majored in International Affairs at New York University and has studied Economics from Delhi University. Puri has also completed a Thomson Foundation course for senior journalists in Cardiff, UK. In 2006, he won the European Commission Award for Human Rights and Democracy and, in 2005, he was commended by the International Federation of Journalists for promoting the values of tolerance and religious freedom. He is a recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship and the Appan Menon Award for his work on Himalayan tribes.
An opportunity to work with WISCOMP in 2004 was the beginning of a challenging and immensely emotional relationship with Kashmir and its people. I worked on WISCOMP’s Jammu & Kashmir project, engaging with women at the grassroots to expand constituencies of peace through a range of activities including active listening, trauma counselling, and conflict transformation workshops.
Manisha Sobhrajani is a Delhi-based researcher and journalist associated with several journals and newspapers. She volunteers with the Samarpan Foundation, and spends time in the wilds of the Sunderbans, West Bengal, where she is also working on her second book, on the Sunderbans. Manisha worked with WISCOMP on its peacebuilding initiative in Jammu and Kashmir.
My engagement with WISCOMP ever since the first workshop in 2009 has been a ‘turbulent’ one. ‘Turbulent’ not in the sense of a tough relationship with the folk at WISCOMP, but in terms of the thought processes that resulted from the various discussions I was fortunate to be a part of. What is important is that I have changed my opinions after being part of WISCOMP events.
Mukaram Ahmad Wahid studies History at St. Stephens College, New Delhi. He did his schooling from Srinagar, where he was born and raised. Mukarram belongs to a Lasakhi-Tibetan family that has now settled in Kashmir. He is interested in learning about the various traditions of the world.
NIREKHA DE SILVA
The WISCOMP Scholar for Peace Fellowship enabled me to engage in extensive field work with women Army soldiers, women Army officers as well as LTTE women combatants and obtain a deeper understanding of the civil conflict and its impact in Sri Lanka.The experience influenced me in developing the concept of Harmony Centers (that is currently established in Killinochchi), contributing towards University harmony.
Nirekha is a PhD Candidate at Griffith Law School, Research Fellow at the Center for Inter-Faith and Cultural Dialogue, and an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Socio-Legal Research Center at Griffith University. She has extensive research experience in social harmony, human rights, marginalized communities, and cultural diversity, by engaging in International and National research projects conducted by the Government of Sri Lanka, SAARC, United Nations, and the University of Colombo since 2001.
The WISCOMP Workshop for Indians and Pakistanis was a life-changing experience…Though we felt we were open-minded individuals even before the meeting, most of us had some reservations and apprehensions of ‘the other’. By providing a space for genuine dialogue, the Workshop challenged these myths even as it enabled us to speak openly and frankly.
Ouseph is a Project Officer with the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, Singapore. He participated in two India-Pakistan WISCOMP Conflict Transformation Workshops.
It is was during my work at WISCOMP that I learned and understood the value of grasping and connecting issues of change at the grassroots level to the policy level; most importantly, I learnt to seek multiple perspectives to a single situation or conundrum.
Pallavi is a young professional with seven years of experience across diverse portfolios in the development sector in India. With a Bachelor’s in Political Science and a PG Diploma in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, Pallavi began her professional career working as an intern at WISCOMP. Thereafter, she worked with PRS Legislative Research, The YP Foundation, Oxfam India, and VSO India. Through these diverse roles, she has deepened her understanding on issues of governance, youth development, and gender and peace education in India.
Working with WISCOMP was a brilliant experience. I couldn’t have expected a better working environment and learning experience for my first job. It was more like going to college than work, where I imbibed knowledge and was always learning something new and interesting on the job. I have been most inspired with the way WISCOMP furthers its commitment with a holistic combination of intellect and compassion.
Padmini Ghosh is pursuing a Masters in Law at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and an LLB from the University of Delhi. She has also completed post-graduate diplomas in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding and in Human Rights, Humanitarian and Refugee Law. Her interest lies in issues related to gender and child rights within the larger framework of human rights, peacebuilding and human security. Padmini worked with WISCOMP in 2014 and 2015.
The WISCOMP Fellowship was one of my first exposures into to documenting narratives of war-affected people, where I looked into the ‘hero’ complex within the context of military vs. civilian disability. As an impressionable young person, I believe it has had a deep impact on my choices in working in Sri Lanka. I have worked consistently in the area of peace, security, and gender from various angles: through the arts, through research, through development programming.
Radhika Hettiarachchi is a researcher, curator, and development practitioner working on socioeconomic stability and conflict transformation in Sri Lanka. Having completed her Masters degree in Development Management at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2004, she worked with UNDP-Colombo on tsunami recovery, handling private sector partnerships for development and civil society capacity building. Subsequently, she led a pioneering project to engage Sri Lankan and diaspora business people as change agents for peacebuilding. Radhika is the creator and curator of the HERSTORIES project, which is an oral history archive of auto-ethnographic narratives of women’s resilience and hope in post-war Sri Lanka. It is archived online at www.herstoryarchive.org and is also deposited at the National Archives in Sri Lanka, Library of Congress in Washington, and the Women’s Library in London.
I first became aware of WISCOMP’s work in 2005 when I was a journalist at the Times of India, Ahmedabad. My work at the newspaper was of a generalist, writing about the most topical issues of the day, on a variety of subjects. WISCOMP’s Media Fellowship for working journalists provided the perfect avenue for short-term specialist projects.
Raheel is a scholar of ethnic violence. At Oxford University, her doctoral research explained spatial variation during Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat in 2002. In her current position, as a postdoctoral research fellow at the International Center for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia, her work examines mechanisms of ‘neighbourliness’ in heterogeneous neighbourhoods marred by a history of ethnic conflict. She has received awards from Nuffield College, Oxford University; Open Space, Pune; and The Hindu Center for Politics and Public Policy, Chennai.
WISCOMP in number of ways provided me with the platform to organize events and engage with researchers working on gender issues within South Asia. It enriched and shaped my understanding of gender politics and taught me the nuances of articulating key issues pertaining to gender and conflict. I will always cherish this experience of working at WISCOMP which made me a more confident person.
I assisted in the organization and preparation of conferences and workshops, which included background research on various topics, concept note writing, preparation of study material, all kinds of logistics and communication with partners and participants, report writing, and assistance in evaluation. Considering the fact that I did not really have an academic background in conflict transformation or on gender issues,
Ronja Gottschling is a German national who graduated with a joint Bachelors degree from the University of Muenster, Germany, and the University of Twente, Netherlands, in Political Science, European Studies, and a Minor in Sustainable Development. During her studies, she visited Pakistan twice and has been interning with two local civil society organizations in the field of youth development, de-radicalization, religious harmony, strengthening of democracy, and India-Pakistan relations. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in South Asian Studies with a focus on political science and regional languages at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.
I had a very instructive internship at WISCOMP.
The WISCOMP Fellowship provided me a much sought opportunity in my early career to develop a keen interest on the intersectionality of gender and conflict in transitional societies. It helped deepen my insight and ethnographic research skills, to chart out my career path and to further explore how gender is ignored in conflict and peace discourse across the globe.
Being a WISCOMP Fellow was a special honor and an opportunity to achieve what had intrigued me for a long time. I was able to explore the possible relationship of a lonely soldier and a traumatized young boy. It is rare for a women-focused body to understand that women too need to explore what ravages are inflicted on men by other men.
I served as a Consultant with WISCOMP where I worked on cross-border dialogues and inter-regional trust and relationship building initiatives. I worked closely with youth and educators from New Delhi and Kashmir under the Hum Kadam: Education for Peace initiative….I always carry poetry in my heart…They have been life-giving for me, and resonate with my journey at WISCOMP, which will never cease to be dear to me.
” WISCOMP is pioneering organisation in field of conflict transformation and peacebuilding. 15 years ago when WISCOMP started I was a young college student who looked at the world from a binary perspective, WISCOMP opened up the world and the discourse of peace for me. It has been a key player in redefining the scope of conflict studies from management to resolution and further to transformation.
I started all alone towards the goal/(but) people kept joining and it began to turn into a caravan
I am happy and inspired to be part of the WISCOMP Caravan.
Shreya Jani is the Founder and Managing Trustee of STEP (Standing Together Enable Peace Trust) and the first person to receive a Masters in Peace Education in India. She has actively been involved in promoting Peace Education at a governmental level and has contributed to NCERT first manual on peace education for teacher- Ways to Peace published in 2010 in English and since then translated into 3 other regional languages by NCERT. Apart from this she has also co-authored two books for teachers on ecology with renowned ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva. As part of the Global Youth Team for Evaluating the Decade of Culture of Peace Shreya was invited to the World Education Forum in Spain in 2011 to present the Asia evaluation report for the decade. This report was also presented at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. In 2013, she was conferred the Rotary Peace Award for contribution towards building a culture of peace and invited to UN Headquarters as emerging leader in 2013 by UNAOC leadership Summer school.
There are three elements of the WISCOMP experience I distinctly value and recollect. First, its normative orientation to exploring serious alternatives to the mainstream discourse premised on a sustained engagement with conceptualizing peace from the perspective of the marginalized and simultaneously examining the conditions that may enable its operationalization in different contexts.
Siddharth Mallavarapu is Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of International Relations, South Asian University, New Delhi. His prior publications include the book titled Banning the Bomb: The Politics of Norm Creation, two co-edited books (with Kanti Bajpai) on International Relations in India and another (with B. S. Chimni) titled International Relations: Perspectives for the Global South, besides other journal contributions. His research interests include disciplinary histories of International Relations, the politics and episteme of the global south, the theory and practice of global governance, and evaluations of both mainstream and critical approaches to the study of world politics.
WISCOMP is a very important landmark for my personal and professional trajectory. My close association with the organization and the vast array of South Asian expertise that WISCOMP exposed me to, have given me professional direction. My PhD research at the University of Adelaide is focused on the role of Think Tanks in India and their influence on the Indo-Pak peacebuilding process—
Stuti is a Research Scholar at the University of Adelaide in Australia. She is also the Post-Graduate Representative in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University. She holds an M. Phil degree in International Relations and a Masters degree in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi. Stuti worked with WISCOMP from 2003 to 2007.
I worked at WISCOMP as an intern, helping with the Conflict Transformation Workshops.
Apart from learning practical skills related to organizing an event of such a scale, I was able to interact with individuals from different parts of India, and with Pakistanis for the first time.
Today, I teach a paper titled ‘Gender, Conflict and Peacebuilding’ at Jamia Millia Islamia. Sucharita Sengupta is Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is also Adjunct Faculty at the Nelson Mandela Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Jamia Millia Islamia. She completed her education from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her areas of interest are climate change, urbanization, and gender.
I served as Program Associate with WISCOMP from 2004 to 2005 and worked on the project ‘Reconciliation in South Asia: Exploring the Terrain’. As someone keenly interested in issues of conflict and gender, working with WISCOMP provided me with hands-on experience in engaging with the academic debates and theories surrounding these complex issues.
Sumani Dash is a policy professional with experience in working with businesses and non-profit organizations in India and the United States. She serves as the Director and Country Head (USA and Canada) for the Confederation of Indian Industry based in Washington DC. She is responsible for driving the expansion of CII’s role and presence in the US-India and Canada-India bilateral relationships and raising the profile of India Inc. in both countries. Sumani holds a Masters Degree from the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, Colorado, and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Delhi. Her Bachelors’ Degree is in Journalism from Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi, India.
ZAHID SHAHAB AHMED
I attended my first training at WISCOMP in 2004 when I knew very little about international relations, especially about Indo-Pak relations. I was merely a sociologist, a passive academic. WISCOMP helped my professional progression in many ways because I needed the knowledge and exposure to reach where I could work for peace.
Zahid Ahmed is Assistant Professor and Peace Research Coordinator at the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Center for International Peace and Stability, National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad. Previously, he taught at two Australian universities: University of New England and Charles Sturt University. He received his PhD in the area of Political and International Studies from the University of New England in Australia. He holds an MA in Peace Education from the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (Costa Rica) and an MA in Sociology from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (Pakistan). He publishes and presents papers on a wide range of issues, such as Islam, human rights, peace and conflict, regionalism, and regional security. He is the co-author of Extremism in Pakistan and India: The Case of the Jamaat-e-Islami and Shiv Sena