Aas Pass ki Khoj: Methodologies for Heritage Education – A Workshop

25th– 26th AUGUST 2014, Srinagar

Two day-long workshops titled Aas Pass ki Khoj: Methodologies for Heritage Education were organized as part of the Hum Kadam: Education for Peace Initiative with a view to provide educators space for discussing issues of diversity and difference. These introductory workshops were a first-of-a-kind and aimed to offer an alternative perspective to the school teachers who are engaged in teaching social sciences and literature.

53 participants attended the workshop at the two venues – Government College of Education, Srinagar and Delhi Public School, Srinagar. The participants were encouraged to know the importance and the various methods of heritage conservation so as to inculcate in the younger generation a sense of ownership and respect for their heritage.

The workshops drew on the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 that has served as a guide for evolving a national system of education to realize the democratic vision enshrined in the Indian Constitution. It sought to bring in an integrated approach to teaching about heritage, which involves weaving heritage education into the curriculum instead of seeing heritage conservation as an extracurricular activity.

Engaged Leadership: Skills and Perspectives – A Workshop

30th October – 3rd November 2014, New Delhi

WISCOMP and FAEA collaborated to bring together students from diverse backgrounds and regions over five days for a workshop on “Engaged Leadership: Skills and Perspectives”. A large majority of the 42 participants who attended this workshop were recipients of FAEA scholarship and came from families with limited economic means; many were the first, in their families, to earn formal degrees and travel outside their communities. About half of the participants came from Srinagar and the other half were from other parts of the country.

The workshop program focused on ways to cultivate positivity, present oneself in public, think critically, and develop one’s full potential. Professional Leadership-Self-Presentation and Interpersonal Skills, Exploring Shared Spaces, Thinking beyond Borders, Non-violent Communication, Conflict and Media and Entrepreneurial Skills, formed the themes of the various sessions of the workshop. In the light of the flash floods that struck Srinagar few weeks before the workshop the program was redesigned to include sessions on leadership in times of crisis. To motivate the youth to take action a session titled Involving Youth in Post-Disaster Reconstruction in Conflict Contexts was added.

In the feedback that was collected by WISCOMP and FAEA at the end of the workshop many of the participants shared that they had been positively impacted by the skills they learnt at the workshop as well as the interaction they had with peers from different parts of the country. The Kashmiri students were specially appreciative of the empathy expressed during the workshop by fellow participants.

From Transmission to Transformative Learning – A Workshop

9th – 10th December 2014, Srinagar

The WISCOMP workshop “From Transmission to Transformative Learning” was organized for pre-service and in-service teachers in Kashmir with the objective of examining how they can improve the learning outcomes as well as environment for their students . The need for such workshops was expressed by stakeholders from Jammu and Kashmir and National Capital Region at a roundtable in January 2013 in New Delhi. The participants had pointed out that the B.Ed. programs and curriculum provide the required subject knowledge and fundamental understanding of child psychology and development, but did not prepare the teacher for the entire gamut of challenges that the teaching-learning process unveils in the classroom.

The workshop used an interactive format and introduced the participants to innovative pedagogies that mobilize art, drama and narrative for therapeutic and educational ends. Several sessions also focussed on self-awareness and identity and cross-curricular teaching.

In their feedback the participants shared that they felt optimistic about applying the learnings from the workshop into their personal and professional lives. Many also expressed that the workshop convinced them about the need to improve relations with their colleagues, work collaboratively and reinforced the importance of creating a safe environment for children in the school.

The Role of Media in Conflict and Peace: Exploring Alternatives

28th –30th DECEMBER 2014, New Delhi

The WISCOMP workshop titled The Role of Media in Conflict and Peace: Exploring Alternatives aimed to offer an alternative perspective to journalistic practice with a focus on sensitive, responsible and reliable reporting. 34 participants were drawn from the Journalism and Mass Communication departments of universities and colleges in Delhi and Srinagar that are partnering with WISCOMP in its Hum Kadam initiative. Through the workshop the aspiring journalists were motivated to communicate issues, problems and stories set within a conflict context in such a manner that it opened up spaces for conflict resolution and transformation.

The program entailed the exploration of specific themes that were connected to media ecology and ethical issues that professional journalists encounter in the field. the workshop sessions included – Digital Story-telling, Peace Journalism, New Media, Oral Histories, and Corporatization of Media, among others.

The participants acknowledged that in their professional training at the universities they had not been exposed to the ideas they learnt at the workshop. When asked to give their feedback on the most useful learning from the workshop there was a collective view that itwas essential to foster peace though journalism and learn how to report about a conflict by exploring and acknowledging different perspectives and respecting alternate truths.

Tenth CT Workshop: The Software of Peacebuilding

WISCOMP organized the Tenth Annual Conflict Transformation Workshop titled The Software of Peacebuilding in New Delhi on August 23-26, 2012 as the tenth in the series of annual dialogues-cum-trainings for ‘next generation’ leaders in Pakistan and India. It brought together 40 young professionals (in the age group of 22 to 35 years) from the two countries with a purpose to broaden the network of Pakistani and Indian peacebuilders and enhance their capacity to participate in processes of nonviolent social change and conflict transformation.

While the participants represented different cultural and political backgrounds as well as professions such as law, psychology, conflict resolution, advocacy, education, media, business, development, public policy, and the arts, they came together for a common purpose: to build their capacity to contribute to sustainable peace and security in Pakistan and India. Kashmiris from both sides of the Line of Control constituted a large sub-group. In this context, the workshop curriculum consisted of seven modules:

  • The Composite Dialogue and Beyond
  • Jammu and Kashmir: Engaging with Possibilities
  • Women, Peace, and Security
  • Media and the Peace Process
  • Peacebuilding: State of the Field
  • Religion, Conflict, and Peace
  • Envisioning Futures

Ninth CT Workshop: Gender, Democracy and Peacebuilding

The Ninth Annual Conflict Transformation Workshop was held on December 1 – 4, 2011 in New Delhi. Titled Gender, Democracy and Peacebuilding in South Asia, the Workshop was qualitatively different from the previous eight dialogues, in terms of goals and composition.

Since 2001, the Conflict Transformation Workshops have brought together youth leaders (in the age group of 22 – 35 years) from India and Pakistan with a purpose to empower them with the motivation and skills to participate in peace processes. This year, WISCOMP broadened the Workshop composition to include 40 young professionals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka (in addition to India and Pakistan). Tibetan, Burmese and Afghan youth based in Delhi represented refugee voices and those displaced by conflict. The participants also represented diverse social, political and professional backgrounds. In this context, the 2011 Conflict Transformation Workshop sought to:

  • Build trust and strategic relationships between young South Asians from a diversity of cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious backgrounds;
  • Enhance professional development in the areas of gender, nonviolence and conflict transformation;
  • Promote cross-border partnerships for peacebuilding; and
  • Encourage empathy for diverse worldviews among South Asian youth leaders.

Drawing on WISCOMP’s work over the last 10 years in the areas of trust- and relationship-building, coexistence and citizen participation, the Workshop addressed the following questions:

Are South Asian democracies truly representative of their populations? In what ways can old power imbalances, particularly those pertaining to gender, caste and class, be transformed, at decision-making levels?

How do we move beyond the conception of democracy as one that simply involves the casting of an electoral vote, or worse still, an exercise in getting popular sanction for elite rule?

How might democratic practice expand the base of public dialogue on a diverse range of social and justice issues? Further still, how might the base of economic prosperity be broadened to include historically disadvantaged and marginalized groups?

What efforts have regional organizations and initiatives such as SAARC made to prevent and reduce armed violence as well as less visible forms of violence such as hunger, poverty and high maternal and child mortality rates?

What are some of the options that that the field of peacebuilding offers for enriching the processes of democratic governance, particularly at the local level? How might we strive to make peacebuilding frameworks and vocabulary an integral part of democratic practice?

The sessions were a combination of different formats, including lectures, panel discussions, roundtables, and elicitive workshops, and drew on a diverse range of media such as music, theatre and cinema. While the lectures introduced the academic discourse on concepts such as gender, democracy, peace and security, the panel discussions and roundtables investigated their functioning and efficacy on the ground by engaging with case studies. These were followed by elicitive workshops that looked at how popular media and culture address gender relations and social/political/familial conflicts in South Asia.

Eighth CT Workshop: Enriching Democratic Practice in South Asia: Possibilities from the Field of Peacebuilding

WISCOMP organized a two day Peacebuilding workshop on “Enriching Democratic Practice in South Asia: Possibilities from the Field of Peacebuilding”, in collaboration with Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), South Asia on October 30 – 31, 2010 at India International Center, New Delhi.

The workshop brought together fifty four young leaders to reflect on how the evolving discourses on peacebuilding and democracy can complement each other. The objective of the workshop was to empower the participants with the skills, knowledge and motivation to engage in processes of peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

The participants came from diverse disciplinary backgrounds including Political Science, International Relations, Journalism, Development and Peacebuilding and represented diverse nationalities – Afghanistan, India, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

The participants were familiarized with the theoretical underpinnings of peacebuilding and democracy and the current debates and issues around them. The panel discussions drew from the expertise of both academics and practitioners. The workshop not only explored the political and socio-economic parameters in peacebuilding but also the crucial role spirituality can play. ‘Beyond Our Differences’, a documentary by Peter Bisanz, shed light on the positive role spirituality and religion can play in mitigating or diffusing tensions.

At one of the sessions, participants reflected on the strengths that could be imbibed from the conflict prevention approach and identified the weaknesses and challenges of this framework drawing upon examples from Afghanistan, India and Nepal. Participant presentations furthered the goal of exchange of ideas on various themes including: Diversity, Difference and Coexistence; Nonviolence and Conflict Transformation; Conflict Prevention; and the Role of Women in Peacebuilding. As part of the skill building component, a module on dialogue and negotiation was integrated into the program.

Seventh CT Workshop : Seeking Peace in Changing Worlds: Conflict Transformation and the New Geopolitics of Power

WISCOMP held its Seventh Annual Conflict Transformation Workshop in May 2009. Titled Seeking Peace in Changing Worlds: Conflict Transformation and the New Geopolitics of Power, the Workshop brought together 45 youth leaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and India for a dialogue and training in Conflict Transformation. It sought to address the issue of otherization by exploring peacebuilding approaches that could reverse this trend that has assumed dangerous proportions in South Asia. It also addressed the issues of territoriality and identity in the context of growing violence and terror, both of state and non-state actors.

The 2009 Workshop broadened the canvas of the bilateral relationship between India and Pakistan and invited insights from participants from Afghanistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. In the process of exploring a collective regional identity, it examined what civil society initiatives such as this can do to:

  • ” Motivate “future influentials” in South Asia with the skills and knowledge to engage in processes of Conflict Transformation;
  • ” Transform the “trust deficit” between people belonging to different ethnicities and religions, encourage understanding of each other’s worldviews, and integrate these with the goal of professional development; “
  • Build strategic, cross-border partnerships in peacebuilding between young South Asians, and “
  • Build a gender-sensitive curriculum for Conflict Transformation that can create a foundation for a culture of peace and coexistence.

Seeking to explore new possibilities that the lens of Conflict Transformation might open up, the Workshop included the following sessions:

  • Application of Peacebuilding Approaches to South Asian Conflicts”
  • Identity, Terror and The Other: Prospects for a South Asian Identity “
  • Exploring the Place of the Sacred in Activism for Social Change “
  • The Nuclear Conundrum: Security or Terror
  • Geopolitics and Conflict Transformation: Afghanistan-Pakistan-India
  • Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Role of the Media in Conflict Generation and Conflict Transformation

Sixth CT Workshop: Coexistence and Trust-building

The Sixth Annual Conflict Transformation Workshop, titled Coexistence and Trust-building: Transforming Relationships, was held from December 16th to 20th, 2007 in New Delhi. Opening with an introduction to the field of peacebuilding with a special emphasis on the framework of conflict transformation, the five-day Workshop addressed several themes including: Education for a Culture of Peace, Public Diplomacy in Conflict Resolution Processes, Coexistence in Practice, Role of the Media in Conflict Generation and Conflict Transformation.

The relationship between Trust-building and Conflict Transformation was a central theme of the 2007 Workshop. WISCOMP invited Prof. Nicholas Wheeler, an international scholar in the new and dynamic field of Trust-building, to conduct a daylong Workshop on this subject. Prof. Wheeler used multiple formats including lecture, group discussion, role-plays (with Indian participants role-playing Pakistani policymakers and Pakistani participants doing the same for India) and reflection exercises to explore joint initiatives that might promote trust and cooperation and stimulate a future for sustainable peace between the two countries.

The workshop included a closed-door interaction with Mr. T.C.A. Raghavan, Joint Secretary (PAI), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The dialogue was organized keeping in mind the important need for multi-track engagement and interaction with policymakers and diplomats.

As part of its efforts to build strategic partnerships between the various tracks engaged in peacebuilding, WISCOMP collaborated with The United Service Institution of India (USI), New Delhi, this year to organize an interaction with members of the armed forces on the subject of military confidence building measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. Titled Military CBMs and Inter-Action on UN Peacekeeping Missions between India and Pakistan, the WISCOMP panel discussion at USI explored perspectives from the armed forces in the context of Conflict Transformation between India and Pakistan. In addition, the discussion looked at spaces for transformation that United Nations Peacekeeping missions have afforded to Indian and Pakistani officers. In light of the fact that Pakistani and Indian army officers have had extensive interactions and collaboration on these missions, the session explored UN peacekeeping as a “connector” between the two countries.

Fifth CT Workshop: Collaborative Explorations

At the fifth workshop held in October 2006, WISCOMP brought together a select group of the Conflict Transformation program alumnae to envisage a future course both for WISCOMP’s India-Pakistan peace initiative and for the larger peace processes in South Asia. The workshop employed the framework of Multi-track Diplomacy to facilitate discussions on the Indo-Pak peace process and cooperative security in South Asia. The goals of the workshop were to:

  • Review and consolidate cumulative lessons learnt from the earlier workshops, and build on a shared understanding of the sources and dynamics of conflicts particularly in the context of India-Pakistan relations.
  • Foreground participants’ personal experiences in the field of peacebuilding their concerns and aspirations.
  • Provide a space for the sharing of knowledge and experience in order to create a community of peacebuilders who have the ability and willingness to think “out of the box.”
  • Envisage, encourage and initiate joint partnerships for research, advocacy and grassroots peacebuilding.
  • Further the understanding of multi-track processes and how the working of different tracks can be synergized for optimum results in peacebuilding.
  • Transcend nationalist understandings of identity to further a “South Asian” identity while recognizing the influence of inter-state and intra-state dynamics on peace in the region.
  • Identify challenges to forging trust and cooperation between countries in South Asia, and engage with ways to overcome them.
  • Facilitate critical reflection on contemporary understandings of diplomacy, mediation and dialogue.

The workshop program included discussions on the themes of regional security, women’s initiatives for peace, building synergies between track one and two, and “out of box” possibilities. Through multiple formats – roundtables, panel discussions, films, simulations, workshops, visual presentations and group work – the participants engaged with varied issues and perspectives. A significant highlight of the workshop was a face-to-face with Mr. Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s Foreign Secretary. The participants also interacted with Mr. Shyam Saran, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy – Indo-US Nuclear Deal; Mr. Javed Jabbar, Former Federal Minister, Pakistan; Prof. Narayani Gupta of Jamia Millia Islamia; Prof. Sanjay Chaturvedi, Center for the Study of Geopolitics, Panjab University; Prof. S.D. Muni, faculty member, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Dr. C. Rajamohan, Strategic Affairs Expert, amongst others.

In the course of the workshop, the participants offered recommendations for progressive change for peace in school curriculum and pedagogy in India and Pakistan, and put forth a timeline for resolution of the Kashmir conflict.