Incredible India! Fatehpur Sikri – Mughal Architecture at its best (sreeni on road)

The grand entrance to the city of Fatehpur Sikhri
The grand entrance to the city of Fatehpur Sikhri

This is in continuation of the last story on road, that I shared in the previous posting. When we reached Agra with all the intention to see Taj with our kids, after the smooth, pacy and yet the adventurous ride on the new expressway, we got stuck for a couple of hours in the traffic snarls of ill-prepared Agra. Agra never witnessed such flood of vehicles ever in its history, in its narrow lanes. It could not entertain the huge rush from Delhi that took the newly inaugurated expressway. So, quickly we exited and headed towards Fatehpur Sikri, that I have never visited before. Thanks to Indira and Mallika who insisted on going there at any cost to untie the knots at the chisti’s abode that they tied a couple of years ago, praying for our second child. Now that Svwara arrived in our life, we headed to the chisthi.

Thus we reached Fatehpur Sikiri and I was flabbergasted at the expanse of Mughal Architecture and its finery. I am always astonished at the Vision, Design, Execution and craftsmanship that go into making such grand structures, that have been existing in this land of INDIA for a cover 2000-3000 years, many are still standing majestically!

The grand entrance to the city of Fatehpur Sikhri from inside
The grand entrance to the city of Fatehpur Sikhri from inside

According to contemporary historians, Emperor Akbar took a great interest in the building of Fatehpur Sikri and probably also dictated its architectural style. Seeking to revive the splendours of Persian court ceremonial made famous by his ancestor Timur, Akbar planned the complex on Persian principles. But the influences of his adopted land came through in the typically Indian embellishments. The Easy availability of sandstone in the neighbouring areas of Fatehpur Sikri, also meant that all the buildings here were made of the red stone. The imperial Palace complex consists of a number of independent pavilions arranged in formal geometry on a piece of level ground, a pattern derived from Arab and central Asian tent encampments. In its entirety, the monuments at Fatehpur Sikri thus reflect the genius of Akbar in assimilating diverse regional architectural influences within a holistic style that was uniquely his own. Built during the 16th century, the Fatehpur Sikri is one of the best preserved collection of Mughal architecture in India

For the full canvas of sreeni’s photopaintings of the Fatehpur sikri, visit travel blog link ofsreeni on road

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Solitary : A photostory on human emotions at SREENIViews

“As soon as we are alone,…inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieities, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Making All Things New and Other Classics

 

Alleys and stories within - Varanasi, India
Alleys and stories within – Varanasi, India

 
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‘Skilling India is a national imperative’ – Sanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-ite and sweet 16 too.

Matchless Sanjay, always sweet 16. An Inspiring Leader.

Matchless Sanjay, always sweet 16. An Inspiring Leader.

Dear Sanjay, The last couple of months, ever since I got to know about your decision of exploring new challenges and pastures beyond Career Launcher, I have been having a feeling of losing one of my vital organs and being incapacitated. I could not reconcile to the fact that you will not be there shoulder to shoulder in the endeavours, every day. But, I am sure, you will be a CL-ite in spirit and letter for life time.

I still recall the early days, 1998, when we used to meet at the gate of Balwant Rai Mehta school, GK-II, for taking CAT prep-classes. We used to share jokes and had a good laugh, as well as having intense interactions about how to go about in a particular session, and we swapped classes in between too at times. Your contribution to expanding the CL horizons geographically, strategically and spiritually is beyond compare. You have left indelible marks in the journey and an enviable benchmarks, very few can match. I salute you and your steadfastness.

All the memories of this long journey together, are very cherished ones for me, and will be there for life. I am sharing here your parting note, that came into my mail box, talking about future of India and our responsibility. Thanks Sanjay for everything and being there. Love you Sanjay.

The captures of Sanjay’s farewell at CL HO, Greater Noida.

Srijan 2012 - Seventy nodal locations, entire CL FamilySanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-ite
Sanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-ite
Sanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-ite
Sanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSanjay Shivnani, forever a CL-iteSrijan 2012 - Essence and Emotions capturedSrijan 2012 - Essence and Emotions capturedSrijan 2012 - Essence and Emotions capturedSrijan 2012 - Essence and Emotions captured

———Sanjay’s note in first person – Skilling India is a national imperative —–

Last week I took some personal time out to visit rural skill development centers in two backward districts of Orissa. Besides the obvious, I was glad to note the not so obvious. Entrepreneurship, specially in challenging circumstances must depend on creativity and out of the box thinking and in such circumstances one must look, figuratively speaking, in the dark corners of the room rather than in the areas that are well lit.

While the obvious is, well, so obvious; rural youth learning computers, gaining skills to become household electricians or car engine mechanics or training to work in hotel kitchens, etc. I was glad to note the other emerging story. The trainers or faculty were young men and women who were themselves degree or diploma holders from local engineering colleges and polytechnics. It was heart warming to meet with a BE Electrical graduate of 2008 who is now contributing to the skill effort in general but more importantly he has procured gainful and sustainable employment for himself.

It leads me to think of all the upsides that this small yet powerful example has displayed. Think of the great multiplier effect that can be impacted by such initiatives. The just graduated engineer may have never found gainful employment upon graduating from a, so called, Tier III engineering college. However, he chanced upon this teaching opportunity and is earning a livelihood and heartily participating in India’s growing consumerism, we hope not conspicuous, adding wealth to those below and above him. The great Indian smorgasbord of consumer durable, non-durable and FMCG companies are all benefitiing from this young person’s propensity and opportunity to earn and spend. It sounds like a perfect win-win for atleast these two stakeholders.

The point that I am trying to drive home here is plain and simple; such skilling/training initiatives right at the bottom of the pyramid across india’s length & breadth can have a tsunami effect on India’s economy and GDP growth rates. The micro can help build the macro picture convincingly, surely and far more robustly than some tweaks to CRR, PLR, etc, etc.

If I owned a biscuit manufacturing company, besides the traditional approach to business viz building the brand, stocking the channel, ensuring pull & push, connecting with consumers and ensuring that all the functions of a normal business are working full steam, I’d also take time out and invest in skill training initiatives that will probably ensure a lifetime pipeline of future customers who will have the needs & wants and more importantly the means to consume my biscuits. Doesn’t this make sense, if not today then atleast for the day after?

India stands at the threshold of a great opportunity; amidst a sea of nations and economies that are growing old our country is ‘young’; about 700 million young. This is more than adequate human capital  to run all the factories, banks, clinics and malls in the entire western world and with all the energy and resources of bounding youth. This is more than just ‘manpower’; it is human capital and it can be harnessed and deployed to generate large amounts of benefits for all stakeholders. This mass movement can fundamentally alter the future of this country.

 

Much like parliament aggressively discusses the Lokpal issue or for that matter any other political or economic issue the skilling agenda for India must be the single most important agenda for discussion and action.

While the government and our so called ‘leadership’ takes its time to figure out what is really important and what is not, private industry must take up the mantle and do what it needs to do. If corporate India can become the center of gravity for a large, universal skill training & education movement it can ignite the economy.

From this perspective, NSDC is doing seminal work in catalyzing the disparate & strewn components of this national agenda to come together and put a logical picture in place. It’s working as a matchmaker to bring various beneficiaries together and help them align and stay that way. NSDC is a government initiative at the very highest level and that is probably good thinking and a great beginning. But this is also akin to the proverbial “water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink” . The system needs to nurture the skilling agenda by correcting or putting in place some very basis structural systems in place such as Financial Inclusion, Banking services reach, Employment generation, Micro Financing, Entrepreneurship development.

So while one can espouse what the establishment or administration should do one has to simultaneously address the learners’ dogma of going back to school, skepticism of yet another pre-poll promise and overarching low RoE (Return on Education).

Finally, programs & initiatives like MNREGA & social security may need to be revisited. Are these in direct conflict with the skilling India agenda?

Teachers’ Felicitation Ceremony – A CL Varanasi’s outstanding initiative

Media celebrates too, the felicitation of Varanasi's inspiring teachers by CL

Media celebrates too, the felicitation of Varanasi’s inspiring teachers by CL


Teachers' Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiative

Teachers’ Felicitation Ceremony – A CL Varanasi initiative

Teacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiative
Teacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiative
Teacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiative
Teacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiativeTeacher's Felicitation Ceremony - A CL Varanasi initiative

It was a humbling experience for me to be amongst best of the teachers and mentors of Varanasi, the last weekend, Sunday, 9th Sept.

The unique initiative launched by Career Launcher to felicitate the inspiring teachers of the city, nominated by the institutions from across the city as well as selected, brought in a wealth of knowledge, experiences and learning to be shared and celebrated.

It was a wonderful confluence of brilliant and inspiring facilitators – a few in late twenties to eminent 70 year young – who have made a significant difference to the young absorbing minds.

I am looking forward to this occasion taking shape into a great event every year. It will be very enabling to have all these teachers and mentors engaging and contributing on a live blog through the year.

I commend the entire CL Varanasi team – S C Bagla ji, Rashmiji, Sanket Bagla and Deepika and members for this initiative.

ICCR Thumri festival 2012 – Pt Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharma and Saswati Sen

Natkat Umaji with Kanhaiya Birju Maharaj
Natkat Umaji with Kanhaiya Birju Maharaj

 

What an evening it was! It was first Vidhushi Uma Sharma regaling the audience with her Natkat andaaz (mischievous style). Then the versatile Birju Maharaj showing his mastery over Gayaki as well as Narthanam! Very few people I have seen who have mastered both and also very many instruments. Perhaps Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna may give Birju Maharaj a close competition on versatility. Then Saswati sen ji is always around to prod and bring out the best from Birju Maharaj ji. The final stanza of the day was the small gig that Uma ji had with Birju Maharaj.. The connect going back to over 50 years!

Thumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati Sen
Thumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati Sen
Thumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati Sen
Thumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati SenThumri Festival - Pt. Birju Maharaj, Vidushis Uma Sharm and Shaswati Sen
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