‘South Asian youth can change region’s future’

February 18th, 2009 - 9:29 am ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 18 (IANS) South Asia’s future can be bright if its youth can come together to share ideas and work together as young people remain largely unaffected by some of the animosities and conflicts between their countries, said students at a South Asian festival here.
For the students gathered here for the South Asian Universities Youth Festival’s (SAUYF) Synergy-2009 event, the fest was a unique meeting point of diametrically opposite cultures on a single platform.

Mohammad Sanjeeb Hussain, a law student from Dhaka, said SAUYF can substantially help in solving the conflicts between South Asian countries.

“At platforms like these, the youth of South Asian countries can exchange ideas and knowledge and this can work as a positive catalyst in establishing peace and development in the region,” Hussain told IANS.

The Feb 12-16 five-day SAUYF festival held at Panjab University saw the participation of over 175 young artists from different South Asian countries - India, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Pratikshya Kandel, a student of Kathmandu University in Nepal, told IANS: “Youth are the future of tomorrow and I do not think there could be any conflict between youth of any countries. These conflicts emerge only due to the political or military pressures. I think our future would be prosperous if we have such like-minded young brigades for the future.”

“I consider myself lucky that I got an opportunity to participate in this youth festival. It is all fun here as I have made many new friends,” Kandel said.

The festival was replete with exciting activities in the fields of music, theatre, fine arts, folk art, heritage, poetry, debates, dances, quizzes and painting.

“SAUYF is a significant forum in which we can include the participation of youth in the decision-making process. Such initiatives can certainly help in erasing the differences between the countries of this region,” said Tureen Afroz, a lecturer in BRAC University, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Afroz, who had studied in Delhi University, was here with a group of 21 Bangladeshi students who participated in various events.

“I had participated in such events during my college days in India, and strongly believe that festivals like this are the perfect confidence-building measures between any countries,” Afroz told IANS.

The earlier three editions of SAUYF were held at Mumbai and Jammu in India and at Kathmandu in Nepal. The next edition of the South Asian fest is expected to be held in Dhaka in 2010.

However, the participants had some complaints too.

Afroz said, “We got the invitations very late and this year there is very little participation of foreign universities compared to last year. Nobody has come from Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and only those students of Afghanistan are participating who are studying in colleges of this region.”

Nazia Ahmed, a student of electronics engineering at BRAC University, loved the beauty of Chandigarh. She said, “The environment here is very good with greenery all around. I am thrilled to see girls driving motorcycles in the college campus, which is not very common in Dhaka. I would love to learn driving.”

The foreign guests also went for a sightseeing trip during the festival.

Harkanwal Sekhon, an organiser of SAUYF, said students from Pakistan could not come due to visa problems, while Sri Lankan students failed to arrive because of the troubled conditions in their country.

“We want more such gatherings of youngsters of this region if we want a better tomorrow. At events like this, we discuss about various common problems that South Asia is facing and can also derive solutions through collective efforts,” said Ranjan Mukhopadhaya, a student of Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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