A NATIONAL CAMPAIGN BRINGING COMMUNITIES TOGETHER ON AUGUST 15, 2023by Editorial Desk August 5 2023, 1:00 pm Estimated Reading Time: 3 mins, 59 secs
A national level campaign, #MereGharAaKeToDekho (Visit My Home, Be My Guest) is being launched by hundreds of national networks, secular and democratic groups and individuals on August 15, 2023, reports The Daily Eye #Newsdesk
In India today, hate and bias against those who are different from us is growing. The “othering” of those who might belong to a different religion, caste, class, sexual orientation, language, or region is often based on stereotypes and hierarchies handed down to us and a lack of opportunities to understand and know them. As our society becomes increasingly segregated and we live in exclusive communities, prejudice and mistrust grow. Add to this the circulation of politically motivated rumors and hate on social media and we have a situation where violence and hate crimes are easily engineered. It is easy to construct ‘the other’ and spread hatred in the absence of direct contact with one another.
The campaign has been designed to help counter and change preconceived ideas and unquestioned populist opinions about different communities - on the lines of, but not limited to class, caste, religion, sexual orientation, language, ethnicity, region, and disability.
The objective is simple - people visit the home of someone from another community, spend a few hours with them, and share water, tea or a meal together. This modest act, we believe, goes a long way in breaking existing socially constructed barriers. The warmth of a home, sharing a meal together, and open conversations have the power to spark life-long friendships that provide a bulwark against persistent political efforts to divide people. In absence of direct positive interaction with one another, we are more disposed to creating, believing and circulating false constructions of the ‘other’, thereby feeding into established narratives of prejudice and hate.
It is the systemic segregation of communities in India, on the basis of caste, religion, class and other social markers, that has exacerbated deep fear and mistrust for each other; this has been aided by communal and divisive forces, who deploy both social media and on-ground mobilization to engineer hatred, polarization and violence. Among various ways of combating this ideology of hatred, one of the most important and time-tested ways is to bring communities together and enable their interaction.
These interactions that foster healthy curiosity and rapport are what the campaign aims to provide a platform for, starting August 15. Its objectives are as follows:
- To promote unity, fraternity, diversity and inclusion, and defend our progressive Constitutional values.
- To promote inter-community amity and harmony by demolishing myths and stereotypes of the ‘other’.
- To provide a common platform for groups working on combating communalism and discrimination, who promote secularism and inclusion, especially those working with women, Dalits, Adivasis, farmers, trade unions, sexual minorities, disability rights groups, teachers’ and students’ organizations.
When asked what is the Campaign about, Shabnam Hashmi said that ‘our target is that on August 15, 2023, one lakh families visit each other in all parts of the country, to set in motion the plan of action’. She continued, “We meet at least one family who is not from our religion/class/caste/sexual-orientation/region/linguistic-background. Following this meeting, we extend an invite to the host family to our own home to start with. Thereafter we create opportunities to meet those who have different lived realities, such as single women, single mothers, and survivors of sexual violence, victims of communal, caste and ethnic violence, war widows, ex-soldiers, and freedom fighters and more. We also encourage breaking inter-generational barriers by having visits and interactions between the youth and the elderly. Through the meetings, it is hoped that all of us would make an effort to understand each other’s cultural milieu and social and personal issues, After the meeting, we take selfies together and upload them on different social media platforms using hashtags #MereGharAaKeToDekho and #CelebrateAzadiTogether and we will upload videos of our experience using the same hashtags after the visit”.
“Though the emphasis is on visiting homes of each other, at places where personal visits are not possible, our partner groups will be facilitating programs to bring different communities together in public spaces, to carry and share meals, and to talk, sing, dance and experience each other’s life worlds,” said Leena Dabiru and Bhavna Sharma.
The campaign is from August 15, 2023 to January 30, 2024. The endeavor is to keep it going long-term, because efforts to foster love and understanding between communities form the basis of creating a just, peaceful, and inclusive India.
You can follow the campaign here:
For more information, contact: Shabnam Hashmi- 9811807558, Leena Dabiru- 9811137421, Bhavna Sharma-8860125558