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April 2005

Young voices

- As told to Emmanuelle

Young International delegates share their views

On dialogue between the youth of different countries, and how it could influence society at large

“The youth today are more open minded, because history has not had as much negative impact on their minds as it has had on the previous generations. Dialogue between the youth is of great importance because today, due to globalization, a change in their mindsets could influence the whole world.”

Zahid Shahab Ahmed, from Pakistan


“Today in India and the SAARC countries, 55% of the population is made up of youth. So I really think that if we all get together, and get a voice together, then it's really going to make a difference! We are the foundation of the future.”

Pratap Sinha, from Uttar Pradesh


“It is time we set aside all the differences, all the conflicts that we may have had in the past and start again. And for that we need to know each other and not just know each other from a distance. A dialogue is a very personal way of meeting someone, getting to know someone, through where they come from, their culture, their background, and appreciating people for who they are and not the kind of picture other people or the media might want to project of them.”

Manmeet Kaur, from Delhi


“When there is something to be proven or some experiment has to be done on a large scale, first the scientist takes a small sample and performs the experiment. If it is successful, he will do it on a larger scale. This conference, which has brought young people from different countries and religions together, was definitely a success, so it means it could be replicated on a larger scale.”

Lakshminarayan, from Hyderabad


“As we have seen in world history, youth were behind every great revolution, and I believe that the youth of today can really bring about change.”

Khalid Wasim Hassan, from Kashmir


“This conference has made it really clear that it lies in our own hands to bring about change and that if we want to change something we have to start with ourselves. We cannot expect the world to change if we're not willing to change.”

Muna Wagner, from Germany


“When we go back home, we may not be able to do much, but we will still carry what we have learned with us. And when we bring up our children, we will bring them up with a vision of human unity.”

Kiruthika Ramanathan, from Singapore


On the important issues which need to be addressed in the world today, in the SAARC region in particular

“One of the greatest problems the region faces today is that of inequality. If you look around, you will see that all the delegates who have attended the conference are from middle class or well to do families. There is absolutely nobody here from the base. And this is what is the problem in the world today: while the upper and middle classes are getting richer and richer, the base is getting poorer and poorer, and the rift is growing. Something has to be done about it and I think part of the solution would lie in education.”


“I think the developed countries should give a big hand to integral world development. We should also strive to harness all the earth's natural resources in a sustainable, democratic way.”


“Especially in India and Pakistan , when we think about development, we most of the time neglect to focus on peace and human rights. When we talk about peace, and then spend a big amount of our budget on arms, we are also neglecting the rights of the poor people in our countries.”


“Intolerance is also a major issue. We have to start respecting diversity in all its forms.”


“Most conflicts are happening because of the identities people take on, whether national, religious, or other. A lot of the present problems could be solved if all these identities were set aside and we all realized that we're all members of the human family.”

Lamsalanki Pariat, from Meghalaya

“Today, a lot of us are becoming very materialistic. And conferences like this one remind us of the importance of spirituality, which is really the base of everything.”

Deshen Tshering, from Bhutan

“I feel that what we should focus on is inner development along with outer, material development. Both are necessary in the world, but there should be equilibrium. Inner and outer development should go hand in hand.”

Tenzen Topden, from Tibet


On the dream of unifying the SAARC countries on the lines of the unification of Europe

“When we think of a south Asian union, we should remember that the circumstances here are very different from those in the European countries. Because in the SAARC countries, for so many years we have not even been willing to have free exchange among the people and to have free trade. We should first find solutions for all the conflicts which we are having, and strive for peace in the region.”


“In Europe , it started with economic cooperation between the countries, and only later on did it become a political union. I think that the SAARC countries could follow in their footsteps, setting aside political conflicts and other issues to cooperate at an economic level. I think that could be a first step.”


“A common currency and the opening up of the borders for trade would definitely help in the unification of the SAARC countries.”


“Intercultural meetings like this and economical reforms, which help all the nations develop at the same pace, could be a first step. And to foster marriages amongst different countries and religions I feel would help too.”

Meenakshi Arora, from Delhi

“If a union is to come about it will certainly be different from the European Union, because our economic structure is not half as developed as theirs is. I also think that if it does come about, it will be at a cultural level first and political differences will get solved later.”

Viral Doshi, from Pondicherry

“I think taking the European Union as an example is not a very good idea because it is a limited economically-based cooperation, and I think we would need to take it much further than that, by extending it to culture and education for example.”


“I think such a unification would be difficult, but not impossible. And I believe focusing on peace talks, conferences like this one, and cultural and religious exchanges between the SAARC countries would be a first step.”


“I believe that there can be a certain unity developed in south Asia , but I don't think it should end there because I think that would be only the beginning. It has to go beyond capitalism, beyond economics, to true human unity.”



On Human Unity, the theme of the conference

“I compare human unity to a seed, from which grows the tree of world integral development, and whose fruits are peace, harmony and concord.”


“Human Unity for me is the earth as a garden and human beings as the flowers.”


“For me it is meeting each other with love and humanity.”



“To me, human unity is having deep roots of universal responsibility in your heart. And universal responsibility means that you feel the sufferings as well as the happiness of the people all across the world, without considering the barriers of gender, ethnicity, religion or nationality.”


“Human unity is cooperation and respect for each other.”

Binod Raj Pandey, from Nepal


“(Spirit + energy + music + love) – (ego + desire + expectations) = human unity, that is how I can define it.”



“For me human unity will be achieved when every one of us can do what we like but in a way that doesn't affect others negatively. It has to have a good influence on everybody: ourselves and those living around us also.”


“When everyone can do what they feel from their heart is right without being discriminated against.”


“Human unity is simply every human having three qualities: understanding, truth and tolerance.”


“It is understanding each other and not fighting for meaningless things like nationality, colour, and religion. It is living in peace and harmony.”

Sujith Chaminda Jayasekara, from Sri Lanka

“Coexistence, tolerance, cooperation. In other words, being human.”


“I feel that if the following three are fulfilled, human unity will follow: First of all, spirituality must replace religion; secondly learning must replace education as we now it; and thirdly, consciousness must replace egoism.”


“Human unity is about realizing that we are part of a global whole and that we all play a very important part in it. Unity is finding one's place in that whole and appreciating and respecting the other person's place in it also.”



go to: Youth for human unity


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