India and Pakistan have one of the greatest rivalries when it comes to sports such as cricket, kabaddi and hockey. While this is healthy and encouraging to a certain extent for sports, the rivalries off the field are troubling. Politics and other events come into the picture and people on either side of the border sometimes get into heated arguments over incidents that have no actual bearing on them.
Recently, there was an ad from Fevikwik with the tagline, ‘todo nahi jodo’, AIB had released a video on August 15 last year, ‘When India Spoke to Pakistan’, about the similar sentiments among the two neighbours. In a similar vein, to bridge the divide between the two neighbours, Amrit Sharma started a social initiative titled India Loves Pakistan.
What is it?
It’s an app where users are presented with photos and they have to identify the landmark and figure out whether the photo was shot in India or Pakistan. Then the user is presented with the correct answer and can move on to the next photo.
“We believe that there is so much that connects India and Pakistan. Our passion for cricket, love for Bollywood movies, smell of ‘garmagaram chai’ in the morning, the first delicious bite of a ‘jalebi’, and so on. The people, streets, monuments, and markets of India and Pakistan look quite similar too, and it's often difficult to tell them apart.” says Amrit. He also wants to highlight the similarities between the two countries and educate people on popular tourist attractions and national monuments in India and Pakistan.
The guy behind it
After watching a TED talk by Ronny Edry in early 2013, Amrit Sharma was inspired and decided to start 'India Loves Pakistan’ in August 2013 during the two-day Indo-Pak Independence day celebrations.Amrit had spent 10 years in USA where he attended college and then worked as a software engineer and project manager at a Fortune 100 company in Minneapolis. He feels that he has been very fortunate to have had an international friend circle, including classmates from Pakistan, from kindergarten till university. He said that he realized early on that people are people, even if the politics between their countries may be complicated.
In October 2014, he says he decided to hit “Ctrl-Alt-Delete” on his corporate career, moved to New Delhi to jump head first into building and growing his own startup while also working on projects. He launched the app titled 'India or Pakistan' on Valentine’s Day this year, one day before India and Pakistan’s clash in the Cricket World Cup.
He says, I have a dream that one day people will be judged by the content of their character and not the colour of their passport.
His goal through this initiative is to create a personal context for Indians and Pakistanis using technology to add a human element to the India-Pakistan relationship. Amrit also mentioned that a few organisations had reached out to him and he was looking forward to collaborating with them and others on future apps and also introducing new features on their website.
What we liked?
The app has a nice but simple UI and UX. The concept and execution of the idea is also appreciable. I went through a variety of emotions while trying out the app. I realized that there is a lot about the architecture and people that are so similar, that I wasn't able to differentiate between images and say for sure on a few occasions. The app does achieve its goal of humanizing the India-Pakistan relationship, and build more channels for people to connect with each other.
What could be improved?
So far about 75 images are on the app database and images repeat often.We would love to see many more images on the platform. Amrit assured us that he is working on this and in the near future they will request and invite users to submit photos to them via email.
As of now users can only tweet images, so another improvement could be more social features so that users can email, share on Facebook, and WhatsApp etc.
On the whole this is a very interesting social initiative and it will be interesting to see how they go about adding more features and spreading the cheer through social media and other channels.
Have you heard of any other initiatives that aim to break down barriers and bring countries closer? Do share in the comments below.