SEIL, A unique experiment towards National Integration : says Atul Kulkarni

With more than 166 tribes following different beliefs and cultural traditions, North East region of our country truly represents the ethos of our great nation. Although their features, food habits and such visible practices somewhat differ from the rest of the country, there are evidences and findings which unequivocally establish the fact that the region has been very much part of our common living. The blue hills, green valleys and the most importantly the people living there make the region special. The rich natural resources like water, minerals, oil and bio diversity is our national wealth.

On this background when some of the student activists of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) visited the region in 1965, they were surprised to find the feeling of alienation and lack of awareness further complicated by mis- communication amongst the regions separated by long physical distance.

An honest and detail assessment of this situation led these activists to an innovative project aimed at overcoming this challenge and promote emotional integration amongst the far flung areas of our nation. This simple yet what has over the years proved to be very effective project was named as Students’ Experience in Inter-state Living (SEIL)

“One Nation- One People-One Culture” is SEIL credo. By forging sense of belongingness and self realization of cultural similarities amongst the youth in their formative age, SEL has shown more practical approach towards national integration. This project is celebrating its Golden Jubilee year in 2015-16.

Objectives and Mission of SEIL

  1. To bridge the communication gap.

  2. To highlight the similarities in the divergent lifestyles particularly of our border area people and other parts of the nation.

  3. To create greater awareness about the remote areas and people over there.

  4. To establish a cultural rapport and to provide opportunities to the youth of the country to experience the unity in diversity.

We are confident that experience makes one realise and realisation leads to conviction; a firm conviction about the essential oneness of India. To us therefore, unity and integrity is not a mere slogan, it is a commitment to be fulfilled; an experience to be enjoyed.

Achievements of SEIL

  1. SEIL has provided a platform for all nationalist forces working in the region.

  2. SEIL through its various cultural exchange tours held so far has brought to the attention and notice this challenges to more than 1500 tour participants and 3000 host families at different places across India. Such well thought tours of students going from either NE region or other states have resulted in thick exchange of ideas and aspirations of the new generation and lifetime relationships sometimes even extended to next generation.

  3. Through various study groups and “On The Spot” surveys SEIL has generated huge amount of knowledge and understanding of socio-cultural issues.

  4. SEIL has been able to establish good relationships with various tribal leaders.

  5. Through YVK, we have provided opportunity to school and college drop out youth become employable by taking up job oriented training and employable skills.

Yuva Vikas Kendra

With a vision to create a permanent centre, which would offer appropriate guidance and training to youth enabling them to participate in the economic and development agenda of the region and socio cultural activities, SEIL in the year 2000 embarked upon new initiative called “Yuva Vikas Kendra”.

Objectives of YVK

  • To promote leadership qualities among the students and youth of the NE region through ongoing personality development and leadership training programmes.

  • To provide internship opportunities to the talented youth in trade, industry, social work, welfare, art and culture all over India.

  • To impart holistic training for community development and entrepreneurship development within the communities through socio-economic activities.

Activities of YVK

To achieve its objectives of developing healthy vision and meaningful action by youth for ecological, environmental preservation. Cooperative movement, journalism, creative writing, fine arts various activities are organized. These include:

  1. Personality Development Camps, Employment Oriented Courses, Surveys, Documentation and Research, Field Studies, Career Guidance and Counselling, Lecture series, etc.

  2. YVK, by making skilled labor available locally has enhanced the speed of infrastructure creation and thereby diverting youth towards constructive participation in the nations cause.

  3. SEIL through its ‘Education Information Centre’ provides necessary assistance to NE students seeking admissions elsewhere in the country.

Thus, through its journey of last 50 years, SEIL has emerged as an experiment which is sincere, sensitive towards the needs and result oriented finding permanent solution to the challenges of the border areas of our motherland.

The experiences of visiting students with host families across the country has given them the confidence of having home away from their homes and the relationships have continued through to next generations. Some participants like Sunil Basumatary and Gitika Boro of Assam, Leki Phungtso and Tana Kaya Kara from Arunachal Pradesh, Surabala Devi and Joy Singh of Manipur have time and again shared their profound gratitude towards SEIL for transforming their lives.

Activities planned during Golden Jubilee Year

  1. Release of commemorative Postal Stamp

  2. Awards for significant contribution to North east region

  3. Seminar on Geo Strategic importance of North East in Delhi

  4. Convention of Student Leaders from North East in Guwahati

  5. Tour Operators Meet

  6. North East Festival in major cities in the country

  7. Interactive meetings with Tribal Leaders

  8. Tour by 250 delegates from North East India to rest of the country locations

  9. Activities in Leh and Andaman & Nicobar Islands

  10. Programmes in various colleges across the country viz. quiz, lectures, screening of films, interaction with visiting students.

(Writer: Sri. Atul Kulkarni, General Secreatry SEIL Trust)