Education Reforms: Curricula, Teachers, Parents, Children – Itihaas Annual Summit

Yesterday was a very insightful, introspective and compelling morning, being at the ITIHAAS’ 9th Annual Summit of Teachers and Educationists. Over 250 of them congregated in this annual immersion from across the country. Prof Poonam Batra, an eminent professor who has contributed immensely to the education space in the country, and Ms Prachi Agarval, noted developmental psychologist were the first ones to address the esteemed audience on the issue of, “Teachers and Curricula in the times of Educational Reforms”

It was a pleasure listening to Prof Poonam Batra of Delhi University on the shifts in the outlook towards education as the nation went on a roller-coaster ride that the ruling dispensations took the nation through, with their concept of nation and nationalism, paradigms of developmental economics, notions of secularism and tolerance! Here are a few of the salient points I managed to capture and tweeted live too.

Prof. #PoonamBatra #Teachers&CurriculaInEducationalReforms @ITIHAASKiBaat

  • Teachers have become one of the most marginalized, in a society that is hierarchical! #EducationalReforms are driven by #EconomicReforms. what are the #HumanIndicators? #Health #Education sliding further
  • #Teachers are catalysts in societal transformation. But #liberalization made the schools a market place #lessonplans, #studentprojects are being bought! #Teachers become #laborers #corporates who don’t understand #children and #education are packaging
  • #EducationPolicy is being pushed by #VentureCapitalists. #Teachers are no where in deciding what, why, when, where and how of #curriculum. #market has taken over #love, #affection too. Where is #Education? Where is development of #people?
  • We are focusing on #learningOutcome than #LearningExperiences #joy #child #Centricity has vanished! #Education has to be contextual, you cannot have global uniformity. Marginalization of #knowledge #context of course #Teachers.
  • #Child-centred vs #Discipline, #traditional vs #modern, why do we see only #polarity? Best way to learn is to have a non-threatening environment? Freedom means free to make mistakes, air opinions! Children observes your walk, do not talk!

Here are few points that I captured from Prachi’s sharings – @PrachiAgarval

  • Why do we go to #school? How many of us as #Teachers promote #questioning? Do we help the child to #realize his #potential? #developmental #relationship
  • Are we listening, understanding children? Are we co-creating? are we making children comfortable in committing mistakes? Helping them be compassionate? how many of us use our potential? How will we help children unearth theirs? #ExpressCare belonging, #ChallengeGrowth

Singers from TONK who have been championing the cause of education in country side, championed by dear friend Amir Abidi and his movement. The audience had the privilege of listening them.

I had short engaging interaction with the audience on  “#Perspectives, in the rapidly changing #world”.

Thanks to my dear friend Manohar Khushalani, an eminent theater personality and a Professor at IIIT Delhi, who went live on FACEBOOK while I was engaging the keenly learning facilitators and mentors in the auditorium.

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#Education is so much more! It is not about syllabus and marks for sure!

I am summing up the three things that any #educationist or #institution should strive to facilitate in a #child………………………..

1. Desire to #learn, through life: Life-long #learner
2. Have #courage to push boundaries: #Discover more of self. Dare to make #mistakes.
3. Be #humble whatever you achieve: #humility

These will not only help one in the changing times, but also #facilitate one ride the #change. Be the #master of your journey and destiny. Be the #change-maker. #Impact the #world.

#Shivani  of @ITIHAASKiBaat nicely summed up. If you do not know #where you are #coming from; if you do not take pride in who you are,  #why and #How will you know where you want to go? Do we facilitate #integrity #compassion #courage #humility?

Smita Vats, the founder of ITIHAAS concluded in her inimitable style, exhorting the teachers to create their own stories that they and also the society will be proud of, and also facilitate children in a manner that their stories too become legends.

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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.

dalai_lama_25

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.

 

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

A blessing to have had stalwarts of Indian Art and Culture on SPANDAN 2016 for release of special issues of Nartanam Dance Journal on Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Dr Padma Subrahmaniam and Sri Avinash Pasricha by Prof Lokesh Chandra (President ICCR). The Amaltas Hall at IHC was packed with eminent scholars, dancers, gurus, photographers and rasiks.

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

The evening was anchored by Ms Indira Ganesh.

It was very kind of Sri Raghuraman to play “Vataapi Ganapatim” on his soulful flute to start the evening, as the chief guest was a triffle late. It was blessing!

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

Indira invited Dr. Sunil Kothari, scholar and dance critic, who conceived the evening to share about the chief guest, Prof Lokesh Chandra. Indeed we were blessed to have him, for his sheer depth of research on various aspects of culture, language and heritage. He extensively recited Sanskrit shlokas and also shared stories from his journey to the Oriental lands of Japan and China. Dr. Sunil Kothari felicitated Prof Lokesh Chandra.

Madhavi Puranam, editor Nartanam, humbly invited scholars Dr. Sunil Kothari, Mrs Manjri Sinha, Mrs. Leela Venkataraman, Sri Avinash Pasricha on stage. Prof Lokesh Chandra felicitated the scholars and also released the special issues of Nartanam. Unfortunately Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan was indisposed with a fall, and could not make it. Prof Lokesh Chandra unveiled the book on Art and Aesthetics written by Madhavi Puranam.

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

Mrs Leela Venkataraman and Mrs Manjari Sinha shared their insights into the effort being taken by Madhavi in running the journal Nartanam, to deliver the issues month after month for the last 15 years. Indeed a commendable work and service to the art forms.

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

Tributes to GURUS : Nartanam special edition releases at SPANDAN 2016

The evening culminated with a divine performance by Bharatanatyam Danseuese Rama Vaidyanathan. It was a humble gesture on part of Ramaji to gracefully accede to our request to perform. Smt Sudha Raghuraman with her divine vocals accompanied by Sri Raghuraman added to the divinity of the evening.

I humbly thank Mr. Veenu Pasricha for clicking these photographs.

CLASSICAL DANCES CATCH EVOCATIVE VIBES OF ETERNAL MAN THROUGH TAGORE’S POETRY

Fun & Frolic

BY Leela Venkataraman in India Heritage Desk

Categories like traditional and contemporary dissolve in Tagore’s poetry which essentially catches Eternal Man, in all his colours. A scholar on Tagore’s works, Dr.Utpal Banerjee (recognised with a Padmashri award for his expertise) conceived of a delightful evening of classical dance hosted by Indira Ganesh and organised by R.Sreenivasan, under the aegis of India International Centre at the IIC auditorium, based on Tagore’s poetry.Established dancers selected from various dance disciplines, specially known for their sensitivity in abhinaya, in order of appearance, were Puvadhanashree (Vilasini Natyam), Kavita Dwibedi (Odissi), Pratibha Prahlad (Bharatanatyam) and Saswati Sen (Kathak).

Fun and Frolics 101

With Kamalini Dutt’s creative collaboration, the poem Purva selected for interpretation Saadh (The Desire), by settling for a vocalist like Samina De singing the original Bengali poem, preserved the linguistic ambiance of Tagore’s work, with Tanjavur Kesavan’s rhythmic inputs and mridangam accompaniment, tabla by Gyan Singh, Dr. S vasudevan’s nattuvangam and Rajat Prasanna’s flute chiming in with sensitive support. Purva’s interpretative skills, honed under years of training in Vilasini Natyam under Swapnasundari exudes an inner joy which ideally chimed in with the uplifting nature of Desire, where hope and expectation rising high bloom among the clouds and amidst the stars. This abstract state-of-being lost amidst the birds floating in comfort in the sky, was convincingly caught in the dancer’s highly internalised interpretation. Not going beyond the grammatical boundaries of the lasya-filled Vilasini Natyam even in the teermanams, the dance not having the ambit of bodily spread of Bharatanatyam leaps and jumps and leg stretches, the dancer through intensity of feeling (filling the dancer’s inner space), retained in the contained performance the soaring feel of taking off into space in joy. Lines like “..hriday mor megher mato, aakaash maajhe haasity chaay” or “paakhir gaan laage re Jena, deher chaaripaashe” with the songs of birds caressing the body were very suggestively brought out in the dancer’s gestures and expressions. Sung in the form of a thumri with feeling, the joyous finale with the garden filled with sounds of Dawn’s laughter and the laughter of flowers got represented through a Tillana in Kapi ragam sung by A.Venkateshwar, winsomely rendered through light footed nritta.

Fun and Frolics 167

Odissi dancer Kavita Dwibedi in Shapan (The Dream) “Dine hai ek-mato rate hai aar” wondered at the polarities she saw in herself – from what she was in her wakeful state and what she became in her nocturnal dreams – seemingly representing two contradictory selves – one a reluctant school goer being pushed by her youngest uncle, the other flying in the sky, a cloud searching for the rainbow, travelling on the wings of the wind, crossing the seas to spread ‘water -showers’. Rudely awakened by the thunderclap, she trembles looking for Mom, nowhere near. Kavita’s evolving artistic creativity now has the strong support of singer Suresh Kumar Sethi, whose Pallavi composition in Brindavan Sarang for this work, coming in as punctuation after every interpretative segment, changed the level of the work completely. With Aavery Chaurey for guidance, and her own very involved expressional talents (her now more trim presence aesthetically turned out), Kavita’s Odissi did full justice to the poem, Indira Mukherjee helping out with the poetry recitation parts. While the nritta parts for the Pallavi were well conceived and laya perfect, the chauka position so central to Odissi, tended to be less articulated than required.

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Pratibha Prahalad in her Bharatanatyam homage to Tagore and Utpal Banerjee, skilfully wove in passages from three poems – exploring the mother/child relationship – Aakul Aahbaan (The Fervent Call), Maa-Lakshmee (Goddess Lakshmi), and Shishur Mrityu (Death of a Child). A mother’s heartache at the loss of a child, the apple of her eye on whom she has lavished all love and care, whose heart could not bear the slightest tear in the child’s eyes and she sorrowfully asks Nature why as Lord of endless treasures, Nature needed the victorious thrill of emptying a mother’s heart by taking away the one treasure of her life? The dancer’s knitting of selected passages from each into a seamless whole, had Sudha Raghuraman’s very moving music in Neelambari, in Vasantha and finally in an evocative.Tanam passage set to Kalyani. Sudha added bhava through the contours of the raga while the highly emotive passages in Bengali were recited by Mahua Chowdhury. Stages of the child growing up under the mother’s care and love came as interspersed passages while the refrain of the Mother anxiously awaiting the daughter’s arrival – …”Kothay gelo Raanee aamaar Raanee” became the eternal cry of the bereaved mother. The dancer in a theme, which could have strayed into exaggerated histrionics, retained the aesthetic level undiluted. Chandrasekhar’s muted mridangam and G. Raghuraman’s plaintive flute notes added to the total impact.

Fun and Frolics 219

Saswati Sen, given her penchant for abhinaya, had the double advantage of dealing with home territory –for as a person from Bengal, she was on familiar ground with Tagore’s poetry. Banabaas (Banishment to the Wood) is a quaint child/mother interaction, wherein the child challenges the mother that if he only had a brother like Lakshman for company, he too would go to the forest without qualms, if his father like Rama were to send him. He would, under a tree shade, fix up a home for all, and would feed the deer with the tree leaves, make a garland out of the blooming flowers, share the fruit he collected with brother Lakshman, eating out of a lotus leaf, play a tune on the flute and watch the peacock dance, and the squirrel scurrying around. But for all that – he had to have a brother like Lakshman. The poem clearly echoes the child’s cry for a sibling. Saswati successfully drew on Kathak’s ancestry with the Katha vachak tradition, for the narrative bits of a mother/child dialogue. Kathak’s rich nritta bits of ginti compositions, tukras and Mayur gat, became links connecting interpretative passages with some footwork also woven in. Music composed by Pandit Birju Maharaj , had Abirban Bhattacharya for the vocal support with Utpal Ghosh on the tabla and Ajay Prasanna providing flute accompaniment.

Utpal Banerjee could hardly have wished for a better thanksgiving than what the evening provided.

Guru Ghanakanta Bora, Anwesa : Sattriya @ SPIC MACAY Intl Convention, IIMC
Leela Venkataraman

LEELA VENKATARAMAN

To every woman…..

WOMAN… … …

When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day…….

An angel came by and asked.“ Why spend so much time on her ?”.

TEJASA - The four women of substance of Ramayana - Kaikeyi, Sita, Soorpanaka, Mandodari

The lord answered. “ Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?”…..

she must function on all kinds of situations….,

she must be able to embrace several kids at the same time,

give a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart ,

she must do all this with only two hands,..“

She cures herself when sick and can work 18 hours a day”…. …

THE ANGEL was impressed. ..“ Just two hands…..impossible !” ..

And this is the standard model ? ! ….“

The Angel came closer and touched the woman”……

.“ But you have made her so soft, Lord”…..

.“ She is soft”, said the Lord,

“ But I have made her strong. You can’t imagine what she can endure and overcome ”…

.“Can she think?” The Angel asked…

The Lord answered. “ Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate” …
.

The Angel touched her cheeks…..

“ Lord, it seems this creation is leaking ! You have put too many burdens on her. ” …

.“She is not leaking…it is a tear” The Lord corrected the Angel…

“ What’s it for?” Asked the Angel…..
.

The Lord said. “ Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering and her pride.”…

THIS made a big impression on the Angel,

“ Lord, you are genius. You thought of everything.

A woman is indeed marvellous !”…. …

.

Lord said.“ Indeed she is.

She has strength that amazes a man.

She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens.

She holds happiness, love and opinions.

She smiles when she feels like screaming.

She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid.

She fights for what she believes in.

Her love is unconditional.

Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies

but she finds strength to get on with life.” ..

The Angel asked : So she is a perfect ?

The lord replied : No. She has just one drawback

“ She often forgets what she is worth”.

– “Unknown”

Passion and Perseverance – Dancing is a yet another form of meditation and more…..(here Garba / Dandiya of LOK UTSAV)

Every art form, whether performing arts and fine arts, enriches the soul. It is a completely different feeling when I am immersed completely into each. It is a form of meditation, in-explicable! Each one takes me to a space of consciously unconscious and unconsciously conscious! I invest a few hours every week to reach this space.

Yes, though every week I make it point to be a rasik immersing myself and capturing the soulful performances – music, dance, theatre etc – of eminent and young performers, the intense loss of self happens when I do it myself. It is a complete surrender! Come to think of it, this feeling also happens when I am intensely involved in a sport, like swimming, where I surrender myself to the process and the medium.

Every year, during the month preceding Dussherra, we get a great opportunity as a family, to participate and learn Garba / Dandiya. This is possible only due to the amazing purpose and spirit of LOK UTSAV, a movement that aims at treasuring the folk art forms of the country. These classes are held at SARDAR PATEL VIDYALAYA, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi and at a couple of other locations in Delhi.

Last week, Mr. Sandeep Dikshit, the force behind LOK UTSAV, insisted on my staying back for a while after the classes, as NDTV was to come to cover the classes as part their programme, ‘India matters’. The NDTV team surprised me by interviewing me for about 15-20 minutes on various aspects of dance, my interest in dance, my body of work including SPANDAN, annual world dance photography exhibition that I organize at IHC, Delhi and this specific workshop on Garba/Dhandiya.

Here is a short clip that NDTV incorporated from that interview of mine in their program :

I humbly pay my sincere gratitude to every dancer and guru at the Garba/Dandiya classes who have immensely contributed to what I experience in my daily meditation.

Ten LEADERSHIP reinforcements for my journey of life, from “Sirf #AAP” Elections of Delhi, 2015

Let us realize our potential and help others to realize!

Let us realize our potential and help every one around us to realize theirs! – graphic, courtesy world wide web!

The compelling verdict that the world is witnessing today in the Delhi elections, wherein @Arvindkejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party trounced, the ‘perceived to be invincible’ @narendramodi and #BJP, made me relive the last 18 months – from the run up to last Delhi elections, the coronation of @narendramodi, the Loksabha elections, the last nine months of Modi as PM of India, this Delhi elections and now the results.

I introspected at the intentions, the behaviour, the compulsions, the actions and the outcomes, and thought of the fundamental tenets that are integral to my own journey, and of course for any leadership. I thought of reminding myself, and reinforcing these values that are very dear to me –

  1. Every human being is special and has unique strengths. I will continue to be a good observer, learner and incorporate every good behavour and practice in my journey. Being a good human being is of utmost importance.
  2. I will always talk positive, infuse energy, contribute to and facilitate each and every person around me. I will talk to the concerned person, directly and share my thoughts and feelings, rather than sharing with someone else.
  3. I will convert the positive energy in every individual to create a compelling force for growth and prosperity of communities and nation.
  4. I will focus on developmental agenda to enable – myself, my family, my team, my community, my nation – to excel. Will create the agenda with active participation of every member thus involved.
  5. I will be constructive on challenges that everyone around is facing and make sure that we all together work in overcoming them.
  6. I will respect every faith and every community; we together will create a nation and a world of immense possibilities, immense value for generations to come.
  7. I will work towards identifying leadership potential from within the organization; support, empower and enable the concerned to realize that potential.
  8. My endeavour will always be to empower the team, to keep the morale high to conquer the impossible!
  9. I will always encourage and promote criticism; each and every critique is a pointer for me to introspect and become a better human being.
  10. I will remain humble, whatever I achieve. I will constantly strive to be better. I have so much more within me to realize – the potential is infinite.

Looking forward to an exciting journey ahead, of realizing that infinite potential within and that of the nation! Jai Hind!

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