12TH – 15TH FEB 2002



“The All J&K People to People Dialogue for Peace and Prosperity”, organized by Pragati Foundation, was held at the Centre of Initiatives Of Change, Asia Plateau, Panchgani, between 12th to 15th February, 2002. Earlier an “Indo-Pak People to People Dialogue for Peace and Prosperity” was held in August, 2001 at the same venue.


The present conference was attended by people from all over the state comprising Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Youth, Senior Citizens, former and present MLA’s / Ministers, Political Activists, Artists and Intellectuals bringing three generations onto a common platform.  Mr.Yusuf Tarigami and Tsering Dorjay Lakrook in addition to Mr.Tsering Samphel (President Ladakh Buddhist Association), Mrs. Khemlata Wakhlu (Vice President – J&K Pradesh Congress Committee), Nirmala Deshpande (Social Activist), Lt.Gen.Moti Dhar (Retd.), Mr. Mohd. Yusuf Parry (MLA), Lt.Gen. Srinivas Apte (Retd.), Mr. P. Namgyal (Former Union Minister), Mrs.Padma Sachdev (Dogri poetess) and many others were present.


These two conferences are the first ever in this genre using Open Space Technology, which facilitates taking responsibility, openness, and expanding love and peace. This leads to awakening of one’s inner guidance, healing, reconciliation and compassion.  The      Open Space process encourages attitudes such as commitment, responsibility, open-dialogue, listening, faith and trust.  Besides the Open Space Technology, the techniques of Meditation and Creative Problem Solving were also systematically used in the conference.


The participants acutely felt the big impact the conference made on them.  Bottled up emotions were expressed, and frank dialogue, without any bitterness, occurred in an atmosphere of joyful sharing.  All this led to a clear understanding of the roots of the Jammu and Kashmir problem, and what everyone of us needs to do for bringing Peace and Prosperity to Jammu and Kashmir.  The Truthful voice of the People of Jammu and Kashmir emerged.


In order to foster unity amongst people of Jammu & Kashmir a cultural heritage film titled “The Voice Within” was shown to the participants.  This helped them to appreciate their vast and glorious spiritual and cultural heritage and values, which are common to people of various regions of the state.


The Pragati Foundation is playing the role in this whole process of Catalysts for the changing the mind-sets of the people through awareness, understanding, creativity and responsive action.


The following creative initiatives were resolved to be taken:


1.    Keep the process of interactions and dialogue amongst the people of J&K going. Expand the circles of positive thought processes and creative action throughout J&K and outside.


2.    Focus on my own decisions, my own restitution, rather than on blame. Take responsibility for creating a glorious future.


3.    Take Practical Actions and Initiatives moving towards fundable projects. Pragati will facilitate networking and resource mobilization.


4.    Facilitate youth of J&K to spearhead the process mentioned in 1 to 3 above. Youth Conference in J&K, using Open Space Technology so as to generate mass mobilization for creative community action.


5.    Raise the voice of all for good governance, which is receptive and responsive to the needs of the people.  Move towards a project for the same.


6.    Taking proactive steps towards attracting private sector for setting up educational institutions in the state in addition to providing means of vocational education.  


7.    Initiating steps for promoting entrepreneurship training programmes and opportunities for the people.



16th February 2002









This brief note describes the use of Open Space Technology for two related conferences held at Asia Plateau, Panchgani (120 KMs from Pune in Western India) in August 2001 and February 2002.  Both these conferences addressed the issue of people working together to make a difference  towards restoring Peace and Prosperity in areas, which have seen  a lot of violence and explosive conflict. Both conferences were between people harbouring a lot of mistrust.


The two conferences were:


1.      Indo - Pakistan People to People Dialogue for Peace and Prosperity 


Date                                 :           5th - 8th August 2001 

No. of Participants       :           70


A growing mass of well-meaning people, in India and Pakistan, believe that the time has come to positively & consciously bring about a shift in mind-sets, which alone can lead to outer changes and long-term friendship between the two countries. 


A group of such people, led by the Pragati Foundation in Pune, India, and the Foundation for Human and Economic Development, USA, had a very inspiring and energizing Indo-Pak dialogue at Panchgani in the summer of 2001 ( 8th -11th August 2001 ). It was probably for the first time since 1947, that Pakistanis and Indians, including Kashmiris, sat together at one table, in a spirit of Friendship, Amity and Dialogue and came up with a shared understanding of what we need to do, to bring about permanent Peace.


One of the resolutions adopted at Panchgani was that another dialogue should be held, in which the people of undivided J & K could share their authentic heritage and voice their true collective aspirations. It was agreed that the true voice of the people of J & K needs to be heard and their deepest aspirations need to guide actions on the future of the state.


The next conference was aimed at the above objective.



2.      All J&K People to People Dialogue for Peace and Prosperity

Date                                 :           12th  - 15th February 2002

No. of Participant         :           62




This dialogue was aimed at bringing together seriously committed people, from the whole of Jammu and Kashmir state, in a very inspiring setting. We sought the guidance of Love in silence, besides dialoguing, to come up with practical solutions and proposals for lasting Peace and Prosperity for the people of J & K as a whole.


In this dialogue, the purpose was to get together, listen to each other and re-connect back with the rich and glorious Spiritual, Aesthetic, Intellectual and Universal heritage (including Kashmiriyat) of J&K…… one that has a tremendous relevance in today's times. We intended to work together for Peace and Prosperity for all, inspired by the Universal Spirit, which has guided us all through the ages. This dialogue and reconnection, gave the participants a chance to reconnect with the Underlying Values that forge the Kashmiri Spirit, and realize how deeply they draw from the Human Principles of Love, Brotherhood and the Universal Oneness of all humankind.  It was also felt that a solution to the problem of poor Indo-Pak relations,  and to the Kashmir issue, can be found within these values.



Both conferences were very successful.  Open Space Technology was used in both cases.


 Here's why I think OST helped so much:



1.      One of the needs in the Indian Sub Continent, and Jammu & Kashmir in particular  is for people to take responsibility for co-creating a future, which is deeply desired by all. Open Space Technology (OST) gave people an experiential feel of the process of co-creation.  It was a direct way of experiencing the power of Freedom / Responsibility.

2.      The process of opening space opened peoples' hearts.  In situations of conflict and misunderstanding this is most important for building trust and courage.  In both the conferences participants commented on how  the open, loving atmosphere created in the conference was helpful in healing and re-conciliation.

3.      The process of OST and the focus on listening to each other with respect, and honouring all voices gave many an opportunity to voice their feelings freely.  For many people who had never found such a forum, this brought immense relief and deep satisfaction. It was also an affirmation of the basic human right of free expression. It also was an eye opener for people to hear about others problems. 

4.      There were many moments when people paused in silence to listen to Heart / Spirit / Inner guidance.  This brought in a sacred dimension in the proceeding.  Since silence is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Buddhist, it was whole-heartedly accepted by all. In an atmosphere charged with religious mistrust, it gave people a feel of the Peace that transcends religion.

5.      In both the conferences, there was a lot of sharing of the practical house work at the conference centre (Dish washing, serving food, cleaning up, laying the tables etc).  When you do such things with "the enemy", one strongly realize the  basic commonality of life and human needs.  This was a powerful means of connecting us back to our intrinsic humanness. 

6.      Because of the unbounded field of human expression that OST provides for, many creative expressions like skits, songs, dances, celebrations, humour and meditation emerged.  These helped to bring people into the space of feelings / heart and thereby helped integration.  This was further helped by the cultural programmes that were part of both conferences in the evenings.

7.      The beauty of the physical environment ( Asia Plateau, Panchagani, Western India), and the proximity to a lush green forest, and the view of mountains, a lake and open sky, connected people to the elements. This further created a sense of wholeness and integration. 

8.      The Law of Two Feet, paying attention, being present, and showing up all brought people into integrity. This is the same as reconnection with spirit.  Ultimately, it is spirit that heals, reunites, inspires and gives faith and courage for creative action. 

9.      Many initiatives have rippled out of these two conferences.      With further conversations and invitations, the ripples of loving action and responsibility will reach out still further.


Arun Wakhlu

Pragati Foundation


For more details about these conferences, visit