Collective psyche changing in favour of peace between Pakistan, India
The Rotary International president has said the efforts being made by his organisation and Aman Ki Asha to bring the people closer will go a long way in wiping out the atmosphere of mistrust and acrimony that has plagued ties between India and Pakistan.
"I am sure our efforts at bringing the people closer and mitigating the sufferings, which affect all human beings equally regardless of race or nationality, will go a long way in wiping out the perennial atmosphere of mistrust and acrimony that has plagued ties between India and Pakistan for six decades, Kalyan Bannerjee said while talking to The News at a local hotel on Tuesday evening.
He appreciated collaboration between Rotary International (RI) and Aman Ki Asha - an initiative jointly undertaken by the Jang Group and The Times of Indian to make efforts to help create an environment conducive to peace talks between the South Asian neighbours.
"We at Rotary International (RI) are now hand in hand with Amn Ki Asha in the matter of medical treatment and surgeries for Pakistani patients in India," said Bannerjee, currently based at Evanston, Illinois, USA (the headquarters of Rotary International.
"During the last five years, since Rotary International began to collaborate with Aman Ki Asha, there have been 500 surgeries performed on Pakistani patients in India. This year (during the remaining part of it), we are likely to see another 200 of them. This compares very favourably with just 50 earlier, before Aman Ki Asha and Rotary International began to collaborate in the matter," he noted.
When asked as to what the total number of surgeries performed was since they began, he said he could not provide the exact figure off the cuff, but added, "Rest assured, there have been a large number of them."
He said that delving into the heart of the matter, one would come to the conclusion that numbers did not really matter all that much. "What really matters is the spirit behind the endeavour."
He quoted the words of a 1962 song from the Indian film "Hum Hindustani", rendered by the late Indian vocalist, Mukesh, the words being, "Choro Kal Ki Baatein, Kal Ki Baat Purani". Mutual hatred, he said, would not get the people of either country anywhere.
Bannerjee narrated the case of a 12-year-old Pakistani child who was operated upon for a major heart complication in India. He said that while sitting in a company of family members and elders, he interrupted the conversation by declaring that while he had been born in Pakistan, his "second birth" had taken place in India. So at least, he said, a beginning had been made in changing the collective psyche in favour of peace and harmony, away from continuous acrimony.
It was announced during the interview by Rotarian Faiz Kidwai that Sindh Governor Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad had on Tuesday morning promised to allot 300 acres in the city to a 300-bed cardiac hospital.
Talking about this hospital, Bannerjee said that in all likelihood, there would be collaboration between the medical staff of the two countries. It was most likely that the Pakistani medical staff at the hospital would go to India on "familiarisation tours" and then on their return would perform surgeries in Pakistan. The hospital is to be designated Peace Hospital. As for the cost of treatment at the hospital, he said that it would be considerably subsidised and if need be totally subsidised.
Talking about the e-literacy programme that was decided on at the last Saarc summit in Kathmandu, Bannerjee said the idea had been initiated in India because school classrooms in most of rural India were poorly equipped and not meant to handle a large number of students. "So why not educate them through laptops and other symbols of information technology?"
Rotary International and Aman Ki Asha, he said, planned to help Pakistan implement such a programme.Rotarian Aziz Memon announced that the Rotary Humanitarian Trust had decided to build a village for the families hit by the floods of 2010 and 2011 in Thatta. Apart from other things, the settlement is to have a bio-gas plant.
Rotary International was founded in 1905 in Evanston, Illinois by an American businessman, Paul Harris. The agenda of the organisation was for the business community to help in community development. The motto of Rotary International is: Service before self.