Child, the mentor of every parent : Mallika, mine

I have been deferring writing for some time. Every day brings forth so much, worth penning an article a day. Lazy or I can say misplaced priorities, I must say about myself.

Yesterday was a very eventful and memorable day for me! All thanks to our lovely daughter Mallika. She was awarded the scholarship in school for her meritorious work and excellence in Music, through her middle-school, classes 6-8, at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, her school. Music is one of those intelligence that is not so common as maths and sciences, still we usually look down upon. Thankfully at our home, it is appreciated. The right brain enriches the left brain effectiveness and we invest significant time to facilitate the right.

Collecting the scholarship from eminent public servant, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra formerly Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of India

Here are a couple of favourite compositions of the school. The school has many a music album to its credit. Mallika features in the choir..

Yes, over the last six months there has been a concern with her performance in other subjects, especially Maths and Sciences. Mallika is brilliant there too, but interest and passion is lacking. I have been running with her a little more purposefully to infuse the passion. I always feel bad if one does not perform to ones potential. I am sure she would realize hers soon.

What made me introspect more is one more episode that happened last night. We have been talking to Mallika about a great opportunity in a fellowship, Counter Speech Fellowship, that aims to expose a very young mind to a variety of perspectives, especially in the world that is getting influenced by the proliferation of Social Media. We have been having talks with Mallika about her inclinations and engaging interactions over Social Media, both overt and covert, in the last few months. We felt, some of them are not only unproductive but energy sapping and rendering her ineffective.

It was Oct 31st, the last date to fill the form for the Scholarship and time 8pm. When we went through the form, we realized it demands introspection and expression of oneself, not only in words but also she has to design a poster. Mallika was revising for her weekly test scheduled this morning. We spoke to Mallika, whether she would still like to fill the long form for the fellowship. She said she wants to. I just spoke to her broadly about the purpose of the questions and went to my room. She filled the form and did everything to be submitted before she called me to show. I said, if she is happy, just submit. It was almost 11pm.

And this morning I saw a copy of the form that came my way from the fellowship office. When I went through, I felt so inspired by Mallika’s expression, I am still overwhelmed. CHILD IS A MENTOR OF PARENT, Mallika mine. I felt like expressing. Here insights into what our young darling is blossoming into.

What excites you about the Counter Speech Fellowship?

The mind of an adolescent is always a tumultuous one, the heart is one that is often unexpressed and the thoughts are always confused ones. Many feel alone, unsure and weak. Many around us , harm those weaker than themselves to feel powerful. Many seem to feel eyes judgemental eyes on them even in an empty corridor. We are surrounded by individuals who frequently use the term “depressed” to describe their state of mind. People think its a joke and that it is okay to put somebody under a term that is not a very friendly one, something that may be racist ,sexist ,casteist or any other term which makes one feel low and discouraged. A lot of our ideas are influenced by the internet, which may or may not be giving our thoughts the right shape and direction. One always feels the need to be guarded and protected.This is the time of discovering oneself and of self-realisation . People should realize that it is NOT okay to close your eyes and take it or see someone else take it. Your voice, can make a difference.

As I see it, the counter speech fellowship is an opportunity to voice my opinions and engage with others who are my age and who believe that these same set of problems should be tackled. I want to know more about Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Well being, Embracing Diversity, Safe Spaces Online and Violent Extremism and learn better ways of making people aware of these issues .
This is why the Counter speech fellowship excites me.

Have you held any leadership position at school or outside of it? Tell us about some life lessons from that experience.

Yes, I have held a leadership position before. I have been elected as the representative of my class at school (Sardar Patel Vidyalaya) quite a few times.
Something I learnt while I was a class representative was that, all people are very very different. We all have our own set of likes and dislikes. You cannot control somebody ( it makes them rebel) and you should not take such condescending behaviour either . Everybody’s idea of an ideal individual differs. It is important to respect other’s thoughts as well as have your own opinions which one should have the courage to express. This is what, in my opinion , can make us better. I also think that one can be a good leader only when one listens to other opinions and learns to accommodate others.

The themes for the 2017 Fellowship are: Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Wellbeing, Embracing Diversity, Creating Safe Spaces Online and Countering Violent Extremism. Tell us about a personal experience that makes you passionate about one or more of these themes.

I come from a modest middle class family. Ever since I was young, I have been taught to share, to include people , to always be open to learning. As a family we travel widely and try to experience and interact with new places and people.

I have attended various workshops on a variety of topics and am interested in the performing arts (I am trained Bharatanatyam dancer, a Carnatic music vocalist and a theatre person).

All my experiences have given me memories which I will cherish forever. But would it have been as memorable if it weren’t for the people? Would it possible to learn so many new things from new places and to gather such experiences randomly?
The beauty of life is in differences. In different cultures, traditions, thoughts , ideas and lives. Differences make our life more exciting , they give us something new to learn, to behold, to try , to explore.
It is funny , that one would feel more at home with their warm and friendly neighbour than a relative who appears to be cold. Relations are made not pre-decided. Diversity should be celebrated. A canvas is more beautiful when it has many colours. 🙂

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What a clarity in the young mind. So much we can facilitate to help her blossom. I shall commit more of myself to facilitate both Mallika and Svwara, along with Indira. God bless every young mind. Love.

Will add videos to this, as and when I find time.

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SPIC MACAY : An inward transformational journey; A Cultural Immersion – Convention 2017

I am very fortunate to undertake the soulful inward journeys laced with the culture pilgrimage of SPIC MACAY every year, all through. For every ambassador of Indian and world culture it has been a very enriching one as always. Here I captured the essence of the pilgrimage 2017, SPIC MACAY international convention 2017 held at IIT Delhi recently. You can check the visual captures, in still form, at my FLICKR stream

The Prime Minister of India, Sri Narendra Modi, inaugurating the International convention 2017, in his inimitable style of eloquence, pays tribute to the movement of SPIC MACAY and also to the founder of the movement, Dr. Kiran Seth. Beseeches the youth to embrace the spirit and purpose of the movement.

The following short video documentary, in five parts, captures the essence of the conventions, the daily schedule followed, the spirit of volunteerism, the passionate facilitation by gurus who have dedicated their lives for the cause of artforms, the earnest desire of every participant to assimilate, imbibe and live the spirit as well as the art forms, as much as they can.

The week long convention is an endeavour to instill the discipline and have a sublime control of ones own life and expose every participant to the mysticism of arts and culture.

The days start at 4am with YOGA, then shramdan to keep our environment clean and tidy, then after a break of an hour for morning ablutions, commences with the intensives. Every participant will undergo an intensive to gain deeper understanding of an art form works with a Guru for seven days, four hours a day. The afternoons after the lunch is devoted the exposing every participant to a variety of genre like not limited to music and dance but also theatre, choir music, folk music and dance, puppetry etc. The evenings are devoted to classical music and dance performances.
Enjoy watching!



The last day is all about sharing the learning during the week gone by, in every art form. .Here are a few of the showcasing I have been able to capture at a couple of venues. I apologize for not being able to cover all the five centres of performances.


Come participate and contribute to the propagation of art forms and the spread of the spirit of brotherhood and composite culture. UNITY in Diversity.

H H Dalai Lama – ‘Love and Compassion make all the difference’

It has always been a pleasure contributing to the spaces where children observe, introspect, participate, engage, discuss, debate and learn. One such movement that I have been part of as a volunteer, contributor and advisor has been ITIHAAS, an endeavor by a team of strong-willed and highly capable youth lead by Smita Vats and Shivani, has been doing a yeoman service for over 15 years now, in the space of Heritage Education for children. The movement now addresses children and institutions in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh while children from across the country travel to these states to soak in and also learn the heritage of our rich, composite nation.

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There are many initiatives by ITIHAAS, year around, that engage the children, schools and the entire education community not only through their walks but also through facilitation of research in literature, music, traditions, livelihoods that are integral to Heritage.

As part of the latest initiative, first in the series of Changemakers talk, His Holiness Dalai Lama delivered the ITIHAAS ANNUAL ADDRESS to the school fraternity… What an interaction, it was !!  Always a pleasure listening to His Holiness. It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with him too. Just observing him silently is good enough to absorb so much about purposefulness towards humanity…

As he was addressing the children, teachers and education community, laced with his inimitable humour, I made it point to tweet whatever I could gather. Here I collate my tweets and share for posterity. Each of the points that he shares are invaluable –

  • Every #child receiving #love, affection, hugs of #parents in #childhood, will grow to be a confident and compassionate adult
  • we, generation of 20th century created a lot of problems, your gen of 21st century, has to solve. Solve Disagreement by talking
  • Young generation, #brothers and #sisters, think how to build a happy and compassionate world, through education and learning
  • Through warm heartedness you will be able to resolve every issue in the world; love, forgiveness will help you to bring peace
  • Anger brings violence; conflicts need to be solved through dialogue; love others and respect them to facilitate. Create peace
  • Non violence, peaceful dialogue by you will create a peaceful and happy family, society and world228
  • #Secular #education needs to include moral #values, ethics; value of warm heartedness makes the difference to humanity
  • fear is part of human being; I train my mind through analytical #meditation; analyse the source of anger; you will solve
  • Positivity begets positivity, creates peace; work towards eliminating negativity; Ahimsa and Karuna can solve all problems
  • without inner #peace we cannot develop world peace? #Trust & #affection will beget happiness & peace at home and society
  • As an youngster, I can contribute to solving every problem with my small actions with awareness; environmental issues, example
  • People’s movement – I must think, I must talk, I must work – our vision, on sharing, can gather mass to bring change
  • All religions, all traditions talk of love, harmony. #India needs to take lead in promoting tolerance, forgiveness and peace
  • Different #religions may have different approaches for different people, but the final purpose is #oneness and #love
  • Be a kind-hearted and #compassionate person. #Education needs to just contribute for this one purpose. That is the basic value
  • I never saw my mother angry. Not just me, she cared for every child ….First teacher of love and compassion is my mother
  • Every teacher has responsibility towards every child.Yr love helps every child understand whatever U impart. Infuses Happiness
  • Secret of my youth. 9 hrs of sleep and rest of 15 hours with peaceful thoughts. Have healthy mind. Smile adds to handsomeness

He also interacted with students by taking their questions and responding. I shall get the complete video across soon…

I have not done justice to this event if I do not speak about the Live painting by Artist Vilas Nayak that mesmerized His Holiness The Dalai Lama Dalai Lama. I consciously did not do, as I felt I need to write a separate story on it. I shall.

 

Education, a space to create lasting impact for generations

Going by the consumer behavioural studies, researchers in marketing have documented that, every DELIGHTED customer shares with at least 6 of his friends / families about his great experience with a brand. He becomes a brand ambassador to endorse your brand among his friends and acquaintances. It has been estimated that in the era of social media, this effect multiplies to about 60 folds (spreads across the country and the world).

On the contrary, a DEJECTED and DISAPPOINTED customer, shares with no less than 20 of his friends/acquaintances/strangers about the abysmal service rendered, and this spreads anywhere between 80-100 folds! People take pleasure in sharing ‘Khundak’ wali stories….

Now look at the impact every DELIGHTED customer is going to cause and every DISAPPOINTED one is going to cause……… More and MORE Delighted students and families we make, we not only get their heart-felt blessings, but they also drive more walk-ins who need no convincing…They come to pay and join.

Especially, in the space of Education, the impact is unimaginable. Every family will bless for generations to come.

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Here is a small episode that happened yesterday…

I finished my class at CP and came out. It was evening, about 5:30pm. I was strolling in CP and clicking a few interesting pictures (you can check on twitter @sreenindia) on the occasion of Independence day. Suddenly three youngsters came to me and asked me whether I will give them a short interview on five questions based on the relevance of INDEPENDENCE DAY! They run a channel on YOUTUBE… I interacted and responded to their questions.. When they got to know that I am part of CL, all the three youngsters who were till then a little haughty, melted like anything. Two of them told how CL has impacted their families, by helping their brothers/sisters realize their dreams… They profusely apologized. They stayed for a while to ask advise for their journey of life, business, channel etc.

Another episode happened, on the last Saturday. I was waiting outside Manav Rachna university for a pick up, looking into my mobile and responding on whatsapp. Suddenly I had a tap on my shoulder. When I turned around, I found a family, husband-wife with a kid in arms smiling at me. The couple were students of IWSB in 2008-2010. I just hugged them. They noticed me standing by the road, as they drove and took a turn to come and stop, to ask if I need any help, to be dropped….

I can keep narrating many stories…I am sure each one of you is creating such an impact that is far reaching…which you will narrate your lifetime.

Let us be the catalysts for transformation of the families that we touch. Let us make it happen.

Inspiring Excellence of Families and School : DPS Patna

It was a pleasure facilitating both teachers and families in separate sessions at DPS Patna. Each session was of over two hours, though short, were very invigorating and inspiring.

Can we enable ourselves, our children, our families and communities to be –

a. Eager learners,

b. Have courage to push the boundaries, not worried about “failing” and

c. Be humble whatever we achieve

If we are able to instill these three values, then our job is done…

Glad to have parents getting out of car on their way back when they spotted me by the drive way to say, “I came with a very different intention to talk to the Principal about future of my son, I am going away completely transformed. I will make sure that I invest at home and also with the parents work with school to make all the difference to every child”

 DPS Patna - Facilitating families excel

One of the teachers said, “I have been struggling with a challenge for the last six months, I found the reason and solution to it in these two hours. Thanks”

 DPS Patna, workshop for teachers - Striving for Excellence, Realizing potential

It was one of those days where I had to touch down at 8am and take off at 3pm, for I had another session with art world in Delhi, as my baby SPANDAN festival of Performing Arts has been underway at India Habitat Centre, with large format exhibition paying tribute to Iconic Institutions, movements and Gurus.

Thanks to Anup and Ragini of Career Launcher Patna, for facilitating and inspiring families in Patna to EXCEL.

Inculcating the passion for reading, stoking imagination, building linguistic excellence

Our daughter, Svwara, yesterday came to me at night, when I came back home and said that she had a surprise for me. The games of surprise keep happening at our home, all the time. It is a way of enthusing one another.

Svwara said that she would read four books to me that night before she went to bed. “Wow!,” was my response. As this is the reverse of the usual exercise. Every night before she hits the bed she wants either Indira or me read four to five books, that she would select.

Here are a couple of books that she read to me that night. I wanted to record for this article.

Yes, she is able to recognize the letters of language, at times she may even write the letters that is a mirror image of the letter. This may happen till the age of six.

But, she reads every book verbatim, without knowing the words!! Its just like any other rhyme that she learnt. The entire book is a rhyme. She remembers every word and sentence there in. Simply because these books have been read umpteen number of times, as part of her ritual every night.

For a four-year-old, Svwara’s vocabulary and expression in the English is way beyond her years. Many an elder is startled at her ability to construct complex sentences with vocabulary that even I may not use. Her ability to imagine and draw a visual in a context of a story, is fascinating.

All these have happened because of one and only one activity since her childhood – reading that Indira has imbibed in her since Svwara’s infancy, more than me.

Our elder daughter, Mallika (12) who is a voracious reader herself, who finishes big tomes every week, is surprised at Svwara’s ability to articulate such complex thoughts with great felicity. Mallika has been a precocious child herself and now she is enamoured of Svwara’s.

The greatest gift each one of us can really bestow to any child is reading. Hope this journey is just a beginning of an exciting journey of discovering the world through books and much much more.

Education Institutions at and as HEART of the developmental endeavours for INDIA of the future

One of my dreams has been to settle in the hinterland of India (either in the mountains or by the sea side) amidst a verdant, ever green forest, running a school (preferably) that makes a huge difference to community in a small way, at the same time being the model school for the entire nation.

One of my dear friends from Career Launcher, Nishant Pant, has taken such a leap and we have been interacting on what such a school be like. This morning I got an email from Nishant and I just responded.. The kind of work he intends to do is so inspiring, I thought of blogging this interaction….. just to keep inspiring myself, and perhaps a few others too..

Dear Sir,

I am writing a bit late to you as I was in process of moving houses. However, if you remember the conversation we had the other day over telephone…sir I require a bit of your help in making the school here a ‘hot-bed’ for lively and lovely activities- in this context, if you could work your contacts through some celebrities (artists, dancers, writers, theater people) to visit and conduct some good workshops here…..
Sir, Haldwani is a typical moufussil town like many other towns in India, where the thing which sells is really an electrifying personality or a well-established name. To quote an example, people here might become very happy on meeting a Chetan Bhagat or a Virat Kohli. Someone, like an Amartya Sen or a Harsha Bhogle may not work, at least as a large ‘crowd-puller’.
In fact, I have for now put the idea of SPIC MACAY on the back-burner.
Looking forward to your reply.

Dear Nishant,

Glad to receive your mail. I am really excited about your vision. I am seriously planning to be there with family soon (whenever we get a 3 day weekend break), in oct/nov.

I suggest you look at making the school a hot bed of activities that no one else can imagine…A few random thoughts, visualizing what I will do when I head to mountains and establish a centre for development in the school.

Instead of getting heroes from outside (we will to enable to broaden our vision), we need to create heroes from within, especially those with a vision and also skill sets, unmatched. We will find them.
I am sure you can do these regular workshops yourself –

a. Workshops for parents and teachers – I can send you ppts on Multiple-Intelligence and how parents and families can help the children really blossom.

b. Workshops on science and maths, kabaadSeJugaad etc – pour through www.arvindguptatoys.com; you can see his other videos also

c. SPIC MACAY is a big hit in all rural areas with dancers doing lecdem, become a member of the SPICMACAY groups on FB you will get to know what all happening and you can seek. You can be the anchor to the entire Kumaon area and organize one in a quarter. It is a big puller.

d. Also you keep an eye on artists in the remote areas of Kumaon who are very good and create their workshops and even once in a month/quarter mela for them to come and share as well as sell their wares..
We can implement the idea of creating our school as a community centre for development, HEART (ref Prof. Srivathsan’s idea) of the real India –

H – Healthcare : At our school or nearby villages…co-opting a few doctors; a net-enabled centre…
E – Education : of course this will be the starting point for everything..
A – Agriculture : how tech can facilitate farmers; taking initiatives to help farmers produce better
R – Rural Development – igniting a few initiatives

T – Tourism and Artist – centre for enabling and facilitating

look at http://www.vigyanashram.com pabal creating a school to promote entrepreneurial mindset, transforming the whole district

Agastya foundation (http://www.agastya.org) doing remarkable work to promote sciences and maths among children and communities
There are many many more videos of these and also of many such initiatives, I think all these can come together in your vision of excellence and enablement.
You can create a model school for the whole of UTTARAKHAND.
Just think BIG. With the kind of focus Modi is bringing in, we can do a lot.
looking forward to more interactions..

Love and wishes.

I am blogging this interaction… very exciting and I am sure it will inspire many..

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