Intro: Students’ Experience in Interstate Living (SEIL) turns 50.
Started with materialising the vision of ‘one nation-one people-one culture’ in 1966, the Students’ Experience in Interstate Living (SEIL) programme of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) turned 50. The biggest achievement of the initiative is that now the people of north-eastern states feel integrated with rest of the country than ever before.
SEIL is a cultural exchange tour and short stay in host families giving the ‘feel’ that even in diversity we are one in soul and heart. Under this programme batches of students from one state, particularly from north eastern-States, are invited by their counterparts in other states. The batches spend a few days in the host State. They observe various activities and programmes. They visit places of historical and tourist interests. They discuss with various local and State level educational authorities. Above all, they enjoy the experience of living with local families. The first group of boys and girls visited North-East in 1964 and later on the cultural exchange tour was conducted from both sides.
North-East India not only demographically but also in other aspects is totally different from rest of the India. Many problems are spreading in NE like increasing Naxalism, conversion, etc. All these are due to lack of development and education. Through SEIL, efforts are being made to stop the youth falling into Naxalists hand and violent culture. The efforts maybe seen small but they have a long effect, “If we are able to stop even a single youth to become a Naxalist, we would be able to save all those lives who would become victims of guns,” said Shri Sreerang Kulkarni, ABVP Sampark Pramukh.
The SEIL slogan Alag bhasha alag vesh, phir bhi apna ek desh (Language and dress maybe different, but our nation is one) seems to have made a deep impact on the participants. In 1987, the Khasi Students Union went about terrorising and driving out the non-Janjati Hindus from Meghalaya. Two Khasi girls, who had previously participated in the SEIL programme, stood up and faced the student mob in defence of a non-Janjati doctor serving in a Seng Khasi hospital. The same spirit was witnessed in all its youthful exuberance when students of other parts went to the North-Eastern States in 1987. The local Janjati boys and girls in Haflong, Shillong, Itanagar and other places welcomed them at railway stations and bus stands with Bharatmata ki jai. Hearing the spirited chants by the Janjati students, Hipshon Roy exclaimed: “I had never thought that I would hear the slogan of Bharatmata ki jai in Khasiland.”
This year a group of 32 delegates from the north-eastern states landed in Delhi on January 14. In their two-day tour they stayed in various host families. “The host families took care of us like their own kids”, said one of the delegates. They also visited Shri Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs where they discussed various issues over breakfast. They were also given the opportunity to have a word with the Lok Sabha Speaker Smt Sumitra Mahajan. They visited various historical monuments and also met Delhi University VC Dr Dinesh Singh. At a welcome function organised at Shankar Lal Hall on January 15, Shri Rajyavardhan Singh, Minister of State for I&B interacted with the delegates.
“ABVP has set up a Youth Development Centre in the North-East where the students are given technical knowledge,” said Nagesh Thakur, ABVP President while inaugurating the programme. The function was attended by principals of many Delhi colleges, which included Ramjas College, Satyawati College and Kirori Mal College.
The delegation reached Thiruvananthapuram after visiting Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. A reception was accorded to them at Samskriti Bhavan on January 13. Shri Ajay Sigh, SEIL Coordinator, pointed out that a total of 166 Janjati communities existed in the region has rich natural resources and cultural heritage. Shri G Laxman, joint secretary of the ABVP, Dr KNM Pillai, Academic Director of Bharatiya Research Centre also interacted with the delegates.
Pramod Kumar (With inputs from S Chandrasekhar in Thiruvananthapuram)