Friday 31 January 2014

SSRE represented at Australia India Youth Dialogue

Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) was represented by its secretary, Dr Navras Jaat Aafreedi, at the third annual conference of the Australia India Youth Dialogue (AIYD) held in Hyderabad and New Delhi in India from 27th to 30th January, 2014. He was one of the fifteen Indians selected to indulge in a dialogue with fifteen selected Australians from different walks of life. Dr Aafreedi was selected for it in recognition of his work to promote peace, harmony, amity and understanding through dialogue. During the two years, 2008-2010, when he was a Fellow of the Centre for Communication and Development Studies (CCDS), Pune, under its youth outreach programme called Open Space, he organized a series of dialogues in his hometown Lucknow, called Diversity Dialogue, involving youth from fifteen different countries. The dialogues organized by him went a long way in breaking stereotypes, removing misunderstandings, eliminating misconceptions and building trust between foreign students resident in Lucknow and their Indian peers. His work finds mention in an article that appeared in the prestigious Indian news magazine Outlook.

During the discussions, Dr Aafreedi drew attention to the unpleasant experiences Western women in particular often go through in India. He attributed the problem to the widely held misconceptions about Western women in India. According to him, Indian perceptions of western women are formed not as a result of any direct contact with them, but by the images they see in films and magazines. Indians generally fail to realize that those are pictures of women in glamorous professions and not of the common women, and end up perceiving them to be of easy virtue because of their being dressed in attires which are not considered modest in contemporary India. It is beyond their comprehension that the understanding of modesty varies from one region to the other, from one culture to the other, and that instead of being judgmental about other cultures they ought to appreciate and celebrate the cultural diversity of the world. 

Dr Aafreedi divulged how the Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE) intends to rope in the foreign students enrolled at institutions in India to speak about their culture, values and family life at campuses across the country with the aim of breaking the stereotypes of Westerners as adulterous people with no moral values that thrive among the Indian masses, as part of the massive awareness campaign it plans to launch.

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