“The Borderland’s Project – A journey through India’s borders”

For those keeping up with the blog, you know I am out and about a lot these days –part social, educational, and a bit of networking for my future career. As I sit here writing about a recent event, I am waiting for a panel of Department of State employees to speak, and hopefully impart wisdom (a roadmap) on acquiring a position at State…

A few weeks ago I attended an event for “The Borderland’s Project – A journey through India’s borders” at The Consulate General of India in New York. The speakers associated with the project included Policy analyst – Michael Brooks, Vice President, Soros Economic Development Fund – Fawzia Naqvi, curator of the Alkazi Foundation for Arts in New Delhi – Rahaab Allan, filmmaker – Vikram Gandhi and project writer/photographer – Suchitra Vijayan.

Vijayan’s background is what first peaked my curiosity. She is currently a political analyst and writer, but was previously an attorney; she worked with the UN war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She also documented stories along the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where she was embedded with ISAF forces.

This current project “Borderlands” is a fascinating look at the borders of India and its neighbors – Bangladesh, Burma, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. The photographs she presented of locals along the way were wonderful. For someone with limited knowledge of the disputes and interactions of these bordering states, it was a fascinating discussion. The panelists talked about personal experiences and families split apart by borders, difficulties acquiring visas, and if the Pakistan/India border will be dissolved. Honestly, I did not realize that a dissolution of the border was a hope for the future. The panelists explained that the border separates many people who speak the same language, cook the same traditional foods, and share cultural identities. That is not to say that there are no cultural or religious differences in the area, but from the perspective of some of the panelists the Pakistan/India border created more harm than good.

Vijayan also discussed the reactions to her project by local individuals and said the reactions varied according to different cultural groups, i.e.: one person would say the situation is how it is, and these events are in the past, while another would suggest that speaking about the border and separations is not done. Admittedly, she said she was generalizing regarding the groups, but that people had similar reactions based on the area they lived in.

I am definitely glad I had the opportunity to attend, I learned more about an area I wish to visit in the future.

As an aside, the blogs might be fast and furious this week because I am fairly behind ~ so I apologize for the high volume of emails.

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