Celebrating Diversity
Organiser   22-Jan-2019
SEIL Tour 2019 has many delegates who have come out of their states for the first time in life, but one can be assured that by the time they reach back to their homes, they would have realised that the whole country is their home
Srinivas
 
At the very moment of its foundation, precisely on July 9, 1949, the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) was determined with conviction that for restoring the national pride in the coming generations, the students must be introduced to Bharatiyata i.e. the national ethos and the real identity of the nation. Since then, the ABVP has tirelessly worked in this direction with the spirit of ‘nation first’.
 
 
Students from North-Eastern states in the University of Delhi during SEIL Tour- 2019 
 
ABVP was established at time when student organisations in the country were being actively discouraged by the government and the established political parties. Then the mainstream leaders would openly say “students’ power is nuisance power”. The arrival of the ABVP as a responsible and service-oriented organisation brought changes in the popularly held views. The ABVP pointed out that it is entirely wrong to see a student only as a citizen of future, but a student must be seen as a citizen of today. The ABVP, through its conduct, proved that “students’ power is nation’s power”. To generate the feeling of responsibility as a citizen of the country and love for the nation, ABVP organises various creative programmes. The programmes are designed in accordance to our eternal Sanatan ideas focusing on the ‘unity’ among all the ‘diversities’ of the nation.
 
The ABVP works on the assumption that a student is today’s citizen. This view automatically fills every student in our organisation with a sense of responsibility and awareness. ABVP believes that common students would only come to realise that this whole country in all its length and breadth is their own home if they see it themselves through travel. As we all know, the seven sister states in the North-East, which are home to many ancient tribes are not just rich in natural resources but they are located in a strategically important regions sharing borders with many countries. First, the British rule of two centuries and then the negligence of Central Government for few decades reduced the contacts between North-East and rest of India. The creation of East-Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1947, left a very narrow stretch of land geographically connecting the two parts of the country. Taking advantage of the lack in connection and cultural dialogues, certain ill-motivated and anti-national forces got activated in the region of North-East. They started producing destructive and misleading myths.
 
The ABVP realised the possible fallouts of the lack of integration in North-East as early as 1965. In that year, senior functionaries of the ABVP travelled to North-East and stayed there for a while to understand the culture and specialties of the region. Understanding the geographical and social significance of North-East, they internalised the culture and aesthetic sense of the Ishan (Sanskrit word for North-East, which is considered to be the most divine of all the directions). They pondered upon ways to increase the contacts between the North-Eastern region of India and the rest of India. After having visited the North-East, they were already convinced that the development of India is not possible unless the North-East develops. They could also see that the integrity, sovereignty and the inherent oneness of the nation can be further consolidated only through an increase in the contacts, dialogues and exchanges among the different regions of the enormously vast country. For such dialogues and exchanges, the common people in the society must be made aware and awakened. To achieve this awareness of common citizenry, the ABVP decided to count in the contributions of the students. We started Students Experience in Inter-State Living (SEIL) in 1966 as a journey to rediscover and realise that our roots which run deep into the Indian soil.
 
In 1966, which was our first experiment, we invited 17 students from North-East to Mumbai and arranged for their studies. We called this venture ‘My Home India’. Our slogan was- ‘My India, My Home, My Country, My Home’. Our experiment got great reception and the students showed great results. We were encouraged to upgrade the scale. Thus, the SEIL came into being. Through SEIL, for over last 50 years, we are consistently providing platform for exchange of culture and emotions to the students. In this journey we created thousands of SEIL alumni who are working for national integration in the North-East or some other parts of the country. This year, 2019, the SEIL tour is thematically named as ‘Bharat Gaurav Yatra’, and it is taking place from January 4 to 26. In three different batches of 30 each, the students belonging to North-East will travel across the country. One should not misunderstand SEIL tour as a formal or professional tour. It is marked with an organised informality, which is focused on comingling in order to discover the threads which bind us together. Therefore, the students travelling as SEIL delegates would not stay in the hotels, but they would stay with the common families. So that the actual exchange takes place. The host families and the delegates both get to know about each other’s culture, customs, lifestyles, food, music and language etc. The families are always extremely happy to host North-East students. Though the SEIL tour happens every year, yet we see a competition among the families to host more and more delegates. We see this as a success of SEIL.
 
The SEIL delegates go through a great change during the tour. They undergo rich experiences. They learn a lot with their growing interactions with the host families. They become aware of the shared bonds and national ethos. They get to meet inspirational figures of current generation and they also do media interactions. All these factors help them in growing in confidence. Not just that they develop into an empowered individual, but they also take up the mission of national awakening in which ever field they venture into in their life. SEIL has played a great role in providing a leadership in North-East which has full realisation of the historical, cultural and emotional bonds of the region with rest of India.
 
SEIL tour 2019 has many delegates who have come out of their own state for the first time in life, but one can be assured that when they reach back to their homes by that time they would have realised that the whole country is their home. SEIL chapter of ABVP has touched the life of the people in North-East by bringing generations of the students to the realisation of the fact that My India is My Home only by ensuring exchanges through travel. We believe that like this year, every year will see students coming as SEIL delegates to understand the real identity of this great nation, to understand the element of unity in the apparent diversity, and to spread the love for Bharat. May SEIL be an endless series!
We speak different languages We follow different sects But, these differences are meaningless When it comes to the respect for the country We are One!
(The writer is national joint organising secretary of ABVP)