Usman Institute of Technology (UIT) student’s project ‘Chai Ki Dukaan’, has been selected to be presented at the UN High-Level Political Forum in New York. Ramsha Baluch, who is also the team lead, student affairs at Usman Institute of Technology, and co-founder of Chai Ki Dukaan, has succeeded in winning a spot as a finalist of the Voices of SDG16+: Stories for Global Action campaign.  The joint project by UIT student aims to target Sustainable Development Goals #16, by providing young Pakistanis and Indians a platform to share, discuss and interact.

The SDGs are part of the United Nation’s (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by the General Assembly on September 2015. It emphasises on a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

‘Chai ki Dukaan’, a social media initiative by two friends from India and Pakistan, offers a platform for young people from both countries to share their tales of friendship. Chai Ki Dukaan draws inspiration from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals #16 for the promotion of peaceful societies. It serves as a democratic space for young Indians and Pakistanis to communicate with each other while highlighting the human perspective of people who have traditionally been labelled as “enemies”. The platform was launched by two friends, Ramsha Baluch and Rudrani Dasgupta from Karachi and Kolkata respectively. Chai Ki Dukaan is a safe space where anyone can share anecdotes, art or any form of human expression promoting a friendly relationship between neighbours.

Initially, Chai ki Dukaan was created as a reaction to the Pulwama incident on February 2019, which was a sobering reminder of the deep-rooted, historic hostility between India and Pakistan. Ramsha and Rudrani both wanted to counter the antagonistic cheering for war and took a break from the daggers-drawn animosity that prevails around them.

Further to this, the duo made a video where both the co-founders spoke about the motivation, impact, and goals for Chai Ki Dukaan. Subsequently, their video was selected as a finalist for the Voices of SDG16+: Stories for Global Action campaign and will be showcased at a parallel event during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on July 11, 2019. The UN High-Level Political Forum is the platform for countries to review progress on implementation of the SDGs and provide an opportunity for countries to share experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons with a view to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs.

UIT stated that – “We need to enlighten every Pakistani at home and abroad to understand why these SDGs are important and that they should do whatever they can to help that process along, building our capacity to ensure that efforts like Chai Ki Dukaan work. Our country has everything including the tool, assets and every component that is required to move our nation to exactly where we deserve it to be. We need to make sure that we do not stop the discussion at simply having a great plan but also great implementation.”

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