Melbourne: Eshan Arya, PhD scholar at La Trobe University and a lecturer has been staying long enough in Melbourne to imbibe its multicultural ethos. Having just founded the UPS (United and Peaceful Subcontinent), a not for profit association, Arya says the association’s aim is to promote love and peace. On Wednesday, UPS launched their first flashmob to send a vibrant message across social media to all viewers across the world. He shares his views with the Indian Weekly.
What was the idea behind UPS?
I have been in 19 countries and whenever I have travelled, I noticed how South Asians in neutral lands behaved differently than those residing in their respective South Asian country. I observed this difference at a higher level when I arrived in Australia eight years ago. In Australia, migrants and students from the subcontinent i.e. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives, live together, attend festivals together, eat together and also find life partners among the community. This unity and family-like treatment despite their diverse backgrounds showcases how e South Asians from the subcontinent have not carried the political and historical luggage with them while migrating to Australia. That is when I formed UPS INC. (United and Peaceful Subcontinent) a not for profit association in Australia, where South Asians in Australia would promote peace in South Asia. At present I am the founding president of the association. Being a lecturer at La Trobe University, I encourage my students to proactively contribute their views and ideas towards this project.
UPS Inc. is a one of a kind and first of its type organisation in Australia. There are many existing associations, clubs and organisations working towards community projects for isolated countries within the subcontinent or Asia in general, but UPS is the first to target peace and harmony through various community projects and campaigns for the seven nations of the subcontinent. UPS specifically uses the term ‘subcontinent’ as it refers to the geographical and political array of seven nations in South Asia. Afghanistan is the only nation in South Asia not falling under the ‘Indian Subcontinent’ or the ‘Subcontinent’. In the future as the scope and resources of UPS increase, it would be willing to include Afghanistan under its wings.
What are its aims and objectives?
UPS aims to utilise this existing harmony and further bring together South Asians who are yet to be united and harmonised with fellow South Asians in Australia, to send a message of love and peace to the residents residing back in the subcontinent countries. When people from the seven countries of the subcontinent look at the message spread by UPS, they would realise that they don’t have to hate each other by drawing historical references and falling prey to political vote banks.
There are many reasons towards the build-up of this united family like behaviour of South Asians in Australia. A sense of belonging to the subcontinent and being related to each other’s culture against a very different Australian culture was the main reason why this harmony existed. A sense of belonging when it came to food, culture, festivals as well as languages. The languages spoken in the subcontinent are vast, however, just the fact of travelling from the subcontinent to Australia with similar dreams and similar family backgrounds and stories of struggle are what have bonded the South Asians in Australia.
What are your goals?
The short term goal of UPS is to first unite all people from the subcontinent living in Australia, not only irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds but also irrespective of their religious backgrounds. This itself shall merge into the long term goal of attaining peace and ending border conflicts and acts of terrorism due to border issues in the Subcontinent.
The campaigns and projects that UPS will plan in the coming months will look at spreading awareness about the rich and diverse culture of the subcontinent. As this grows, people will look beyond their borders and limited interests, and focus on the larger betterment of the entire subcontinent. In doing so not only should national policies and political agenda related conflicts decrease substantially but also the violence related to religious conflicts decrease.
When the nations in the subcontinent fight, they fight over borders, aid, terrorism, history, ethnicities, religions and treatment of minorities. The treatment of nationals of one nation residing in another nation also often sparks violent debates. Thus UPS aims to monumentally decrease issues over the long run. This cannot be achieved overnight. It will include hundreds and thousands of projects and campaigns and a good starting point would be creation of a dialogue among these nations, a dialogue that is rational, receptive, empathetic and respectful towards each other.
UPS has had a good start on social media, with its Facebook page hitting close to 4000 likes and followers across the world within just the first month of the launch.
Tell us about the flash mob?
To promote UPS to a wider community, a flash mob was organised. Campaigns and projects of such associations should have a variety to attract the masses. Media rallies and protests should not be the only means to send out the message of what the association stands for. Creative projects that engage the people from the subcontinent as well as fun events that grab the eye of locals as well as internationals should be included.
Keeping this in mind, a flash mob was organised on 12th August at lunch time in the busy Agora of La Trobe University. The flash mob included performers across 10 nations and it was witnessed by thousands of by standers across more than a hundred nationalities present at La Trobe.
The song of the flash mob was ‘Rind Posh Maal’ that itself conveys a message of harmony and unity.
The date 12th August lay just before the independence days of two major South Asian nations and the lunch time was decided to attract maximum number of onlookers visiting the cafes in their lunch breaks.