It can be irrefutably said that most differences arise from misunderstandings between two people, and the communities they belong to. And these misunderstandings are often the result of a series of divides that already exist between two individuals. These so called line of differences that are only imagined and never physical have such a strong influence over people, that often they become an integral part of the growing process of a child into adult. India, as a country since time can tell has taken pride in being a melange of religions, castes, class, ethnicity, culture and languages. That is how it introduces itself – A unity in Diversity. However, underlying this understandably unargued premise that the world bestows on India, there are innumerable crevices and invisible borders which divide the people from these very diverse backgrounds. The country has seen series of communal riots, (Should I mention names? – Sikh Riots 1984, Babri Masjid 1992, Godara 2003) often instigated by political motives, causing immense blood shed and generations scarred by one event. The country also has witnessed centuries of caste based discrimination where in the so called lowest in the strata have experienced an overwhelming extent of humiliation and lack of opportunities to break the shackles of submission. The gender disbalance and opportunities to the female sex are undisputably prejudiced, and the economic development seems to impact only the richest positively whereas majority of the people are going into great poverty- a helplessness which is causing suicides in monstrous numbers. All these socioeconomic challenges glare at us and yet somehow go unnoticed in the business of everyday life. In such a situation, does one lose hope? Of course not. Because giving up can never be a sustainable solution to bring change. Change can only come with a change in the mindset of the people, a change which helps us re evaluate our value based judgements and a change which makes each one of us more accepting of each other and change is possible.
India by 2020 will be the youngest country in the whole globe, we’ll be known not only for our diversity but for our average age and hence, the resulting vigour and passion. In such a situation, it becomes ever more important to focus on the youth as they are the creators of tomorrow. It is in youth that a person is most flexible to changes and most open to new ideas and it is precisely this phase when she develops her values and perception of the world. Providing young people with opportunities and platforms to not only understand themselves better but to simultaneously understand the society they live in. A space which doesn’t just give lectures on what to do but lets young people experience the society, the differences that exist and gives them the opportunity to not only decide the relevant actions but also supports them in making those possible. It is here that the concept of ‘5th Space’ comes in. A space which is non judgemental, gives freedom to explore, believes in trust and has immense faith in relationships. It helps a young person take the journey from self to society without dictating the sameAn idea conceptualized in the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolitions and Hindu-Muslim riots which witnessed hatred on a scale never seen before. An absence of spaces for young people to come together and talk about peace, harmony, and acceptance; a dearth of spaces where young people wouldn’t be dictated or judged led to the need for a 5th space and creation of Pravah as an organization started by young people for young people and has since evolved with changing times.
In 2016, Pravah’s federated organization ComMutiny- the Youth Collective has more than 40 youth organizations all over India associated with it and carries forward the idea of involving young people from all over the country on issues that matter. That of social and economic justice, self awareness, leadership in youth and bridging the gap between two individuals. There have been a number of initiatives taken by the collective like unManifesto – creating awareness in young people about politics and participation, With.in – a journey facilitated for 100 changemakers from all across India to work on projects working on social inclusion of caste, gender, religion and disability, and Bus! Stop discrimination right now- taking a bus through major states of India and mobilizing youth on discriminatory practices, breaking stereotypes. The most recent initiative – Samjho Toh Express, which literally translates to ‘Try to Understand’, has a huge emphasis on friendship across borders and involves pairing up of individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds who come together to understand each other beyond their given identities. The journey which is being run by….. Organizations in 14 states of India promises a distinctive and remarkable opportunity for one to one engagement which when seen in the larger picture will have thousand people across borders all over India, having built relationships and acceptance which can not be disregarded as one of the best mutinies by young people based on non violence to bring about a change. A positive change towards inclusion.