Beena Sarwar

We hold on to our core beliefs and values, refusing to descend to the level of those who seem to have lost their humanity.

Dear friends,

“The middle letter in Sapan’s name, P, stands for Peace,” notes the retired scientist Dr. Vinod Mubayi, co-editor of the long-running progressive journal Insaf Bulletin (International South Asia Forum), one of over 50 organisations that have endorsed the Sapan Founding Charter.

Read this piece by the prominent feminist Urvashi Butalia about Dr Mubayi’s talk on dialogue and relationship-building that Southasia Peace Action Network (Sapan) stands for.

The ‘P’ is central to Sapan’s statement last week calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. It was not an easy statement to finalise, but silence is not an option. As a Southasia- and diaspora-focused peace group, our alliance encompasses varying political opinions. The ‘Sapan way,’ as a young supporter terms it, is about nuance and providing context, upholding humanitarian values, and making room in our hearts for the pain of all those affected. Our statement links among others to the Avaaz online petition focusing on children: Stop Child Bloodshed Now, endorsed by over 6,34,000 signatories so far.

Our hearts also go out to those affected by devastating earthquakes in Morocco, Afghanistan and Nepal over the past month, and the glacial lake outburst floods in Sikkim, India.

In the face of such monumental humanitarian disasters, it feels overwhelming. What can we do? One thing possibility is to remember to put on our own oxygen masks first. Look after ourselves and our loved ones. Join in solidarity with likeminded folks, be compassionate, try to understand other points of view.

And, not least, keep doing your work, as my uncle, the late filmmaker Mushtaq Gazdar would say.

We are honoured to have partnered with the South Asian film festival Tasveer (‘picture’ in Urdu/Hindi), which just concluded in Seattle, Washington. Read: Tasveer: How an unapologetically Southasian film festival grew to an Oscar-qualifying cinema platform by Shailaja Rao for Sapan News.

Tasveer and its dynamic co-founder Rita Meher are also signatories to the Sapan Founding Charter. Here’s the link to her thoughtful video interview with Aekta Kapoor, editor eShe magazine, also among the 50+ organisations endorsing the Sapan Founding Charter. Remember to click the YouTube link, ‘like’, share, etc.

Why a recent Southasian film festival in Lahore felt like a pet goat about to be sacrificed, by Dr. Ahmad Bilal, filmmaker – and nephew of the late great writer and poet Munnoo Bhai.

“A lot to cheer for”: 5 Southasian teams out of 10 at the cricket World Cup by Malinda Seneviratne, Colombo-based journalist and award-winning poet, former editor of The Nation, Sri Lanka. Visit his blog Malinda Words to access a treasure trove of elegant and moving pieces, including about current political happenings.

Bhutanese activists appeal to UNDP Geneva to mediate peace and reconciliation process in Bhutan, by Suraj Budathoki of the Peace Initiative Bhutan that is also a signatory to the Sapan Founding Charter.

Endorse Sapan Founding Charter

Spotlight on Sapan allies

Congratulations to anti-trafficking activist Ruchira Gupta for receiving the Alnoba Leadership Award along with other trailblazers. See her speak at the Sapan seminar Combat Trafficking of Women in Southasia earlier this year and check out her new novel I Kick and I Fly.

Boston area: I attended a scintillating discussion last weekend at MIT between Bollywood filmmaker Anubhav Sinha (‘RA-One’, ‘ThappaR,’ ‘Mulk,’ and ‘Bheed’) and Bollywood journalist Faridoon Shahryar to commemorate Sir Syed Day, organised by Resolv Education and Training Programs and the MIT-India Program. The event was spearheaded by Aligarh University alum S. Ali Rizvi who runs Resolv and is a Sapan founder members. Here’s a report from Outlook magazine.

Our wonderful Sapan volunteers

Shoutout and gratitude to our amazing team of intergenerational, committed, courageous and hardworking Sapan volunteers without whom none of this would be possible – Aekta Kapoor, Afia Salam, Malinda Seneviratne, Namrata Sharma, Saman Shafiq, Sara Arshad, Sarita Bartaula, Shailaja Rao, Siraj Khan, Vishal Sharma, and advisors like Khawar Mumtaz, Khushi Kabir, Lalita and Ramu Ramdas, Salima Hashmi, Vinod Mubayi, and so many more.

Signing off with Navratri, Dasain, Bijoya greetings to all those celebrating. Dileep Kumar Khatri, a young journalist in Karachi shared his footage of the festivities at the Swami Narayan mandir.

Be well, stay safe.

Thank you for your support.

Donate to help take our work forward


Beena Sarwar is the Founder-curator  of Southasia Peace Action Network and the founder-editor of Sapan News Network. (Please subscribe, it has links)

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