Where is that imaginative, creative, energetic, vivacious child lost?

Smita, a teacher from one of the sought after schools in Dwarka, N K Bagrodia public school, has been chasing me for the last couple of months to visit her school. She confessed that, ever since she heard me speak at an education leaders conference conducted by ITIHAAS, she wanted to invite me to her school. She would call me to grace one function or other, as a guest. Most of the times, I was on the move. One thing about Smita I always felt when she spoke to me, is her energy and enthusiasm; that transcended the medium of phone. Last week when she called, I acquiesced to be the guest for their annual festival of creativity – Trishna, wherein about 30+ schools from across Delhi were participating.

The real pleasure being in a school lies in the children’s space.  On arrival, I was ushered into the Principal, Dr. Rajee N, Kumar’s room to meet her and a few more school leaders were called too. Dr. Rajee was sharing her experience of watching the children pushing boundaries since morning, in one creative activity or the other. Here I was, so keen to see the children in action, more than distributing the prizes, I was feeling incarcerated, though the interaction with the leadership was invaluable. The real learning is in experiencing the process, not in seeing the final product. I insisted on watching the children in action. The principal was graceful in facilitating me to watch a couple of activities.

Albeit it was at the fag end of the day, I could experience the theatre / acting performance, wherein the students were given 30 minutes to conjure a scene, write a script, select the performers, prepare and present. The students were from classes 7-9 and it was a delight to watch how they went about presenting. Children observe everything, absorb like a sponge and synthesize making meaning out of every action around them. This activity gave me one more opportunity to watch their thought process; how well they could project their learning. Needless to say, I really enjoyed every presentation, reinforcing my beliefs about children and their infinite capabilities.

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Post the event, I was now keen to interact with the school leadership. Thanks to Dr. Rajee, she too was keen to. I was sharing that the ingenuity of children that we witnessed in the activities of the event can be stoked every day, in every class and home; and who are we to restrict to one event or two in a year.

Very unfortunate that in most of the schools in India, in general, the child comes last. Schools need to exist for the child; she must be the center of all activities that schools plan. It is far from being so, the way we operate – the curriculum designed, the courses offered, the syllabus, the pedagogy, the planning to finish syllabus….. the list is endless. Everything is designed to help the school and the teachers to have peace of mind and to enable ease of execution. An imaginative, creative, energetic, vivacious child, bubbling with ideas ends up being a morose, thoughtless, aimless, fearful youth devoid of confidence and self-belief by the time he or she ends schooling.

If only each one of us, every adult – teachers, parents, schools, universities, educational leaders – can believe in every child, put the child first, acknowledge the needs of the child, really bring the openness to create exciting learning environments at schools, universities and home, I think the world will be a far, far better place to live in. The children and youth will be keen to solve the problems that the society in their neighborhood is facing. Every education institution can be at the fore-front of transformation of the society. Alas!

I am a culprit too. It takes immense effort to be open and facilitating. I am trying and have been on that journey for quite some time. Still short-comings come to the fore. I still need to keep my EGO aside. Working on being humble, pleasant, purposeful is still a huge ask, even with all good intentions and awareness of the outcomes.

My personal endeavour has been to be conscious and work towards making every child’s space an exciting one. To this effect, we, leadership at CL Educate, have been proactive to work with schools, institutions, universities to stoke jigyasa (curiosity, inquisitiveness) among children and youth; create an environment to help them explore, research in areas or subjects of their interest; have belief in their capabilities. Over the years the outcomes have been rewarding as we see the Ananda (joy) among children and youth. This facilitates the institutions and families to also realize where the inclinations of the child is and this has lead to remarkable breakthroughs for the progress of children and youth ahead in their careers and life. Many a child has presented his research and innovations in the global conferences, got her work published in prestigious journals; has had confidence to present oneself for an interview to reach the portals of a world class institution or university. The quest is to enable every child, irrespective of the outcome, gain a great deal of belief in oneself for one’s life. The process makes them so.

I welcome anyone who is keen to facilitate his child or children in schools, and youth in college, to write to me. We will be more than happy to facilitate.

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Insights into Legal Education, Profession and CLAT : with Sachin Malhan (Founder LST)

I have had the honor of moderating an interactive and engaging session with Law School Aspirants featuring the Legal Education Expert Mr. Sachin Malhan. Sachin is an alum of NLSIU; Founder LST, Rainmaker and Inclusive planet – each a path breaking effort in their respective spaces of legal education, professional facilitation and social inclusion; Sachin is the Executive Director (world wide), of Ashoka Changemakers one of the initiatives of Ashoka, a top-5 non-governmental organization in the world.

About the interactive session.

Sachin Malhan, a luminary in legal education, engages the Law Schools Aspirants in his inimitable style. Sachin shares rare insights into legal profession and its immense possibilities.

The interaction encompasses all of the following –

· Sachin talks about law school experience as a student at NLSIU

· “MY JOURNEY” – Sachin talking about his journey of life – as an aspirant of law and law professional

· Secrets to do well in CLAT

· How to become better in Verbal section of CLAT?

· How to overcome fear? How to believe and succeed?

· How National Law Schools differ from other law schools?

· Is it worth dropping a year to prepare for CLAT?

· On RIGHT Hardwork and WRONG Hardwork

· Specializations a lawyer can pursue

· Career Perspectives and Opportunities as a lawyer

· Why Learner mindset is key to success

· Three values to inculcate – Learning, Courage and Humility

· Significance of General Awareness; importance in CLAT

· How to get insights into your readiness to crack the CLAT?

· Corporate Law and business; on private law schools

· Indian Law school education Vs Global Law Schools

· Is it worth to look at global law schools? Cost implications

· Criminology and prospects

· International Law and perspectives

· Media and Law

· Challenges in setting up one’s own practice; life in a law firm

· Is Law education of any value, if one doesn’t want to take up practice?

· How important is to remember the cases, articles etc that lawyers rattle out

· Difference between the regular 3 yr grad + LLB and Integrated Law programs

· Does legal education stoke creative capability

· A day in a National Law School

Kindly go through the entire interaction and also share your feedback here. Thanks

On AIR’s National Programme of Talks – Coping with Examinations

I had recorded for a program on #AIR, All India Radio/#Akashvani which was broadcast on the #National Program of Talks on 10th April at 9:30pm. – #Examinations and #stress among #children; How to alleviate? – What #schools, #educators can do? – #Mentalhealth, how to acknowledge and take #care! – Are examinations must, what other ways to #evaluate a #child? – #competition, good or bad – when to introduce competition – How to #enable #children to face life – #career choices – #realizing #potential
#education #society #expectations #socialpressures #parentaladvisory #dream #job #livlihood #facilitation …… The show was moderated by Sri Suchinto Chatterjee, a lawyer and radio fanatic, the co-panelits we’re Dr Meena Gupta, wellness counsellor and Therapist, Mrs Neelam Kumar, principal of a leading public school. Sri Naveen Gupta and Apoorva Jha coordinated from AIR

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Kindly click on the following link to listen to the entire show

IWSB Alum Sumit Gunjan, an inspiring changemaker, featured in Indian Express

Delighted to see #IWSB 2010-2012 PGP alum, @SumitGunjan, who anchored the school for children of construction workers in the evenings on campus, being featured in the Indian Express today.

IWSB - SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for childrenGUNJAN with friends facilitating children at the IWSB – SEE : Mull-A-Cause launches library for children

Sumit Gunjan has always been an epitome of empathy; a fine human being who always strived to create an impact wherever he was! Blessed to have such purposeful, passionate, persevering human beings who walked into life.

The above photograph is from the occasion of launch of the library for children at the evening school, when Indira and Mallika bought over 200 books for children from CBT and other sources. The evening saw story-telling and book reading sessions. More of the photos can be seen at the album Mull-A-Cause

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Here I am copying the Indian Express Story, as it appears on its website. I humbly thank IE.

In hostel for tribal children near Ranchi, lessons on how to stay close to roots

Two events, two years apart, were to set Sumit Gunjan on a journey that would not only change his life but that of scores of tribal children in ‘Bal Nivas’, a hostel he set up for them in Banta-Hajam, a village in Silli Block, 70 km from Ranchi.

The first was eight years ago, in 2010, when Gunjan, then a 20-year-old pursuing a post-graduate management programme in a Greater Noida institute, came across a group of children of construction workers at a plot near his college. He began engaging with them, holding informal classes for them with the help of his batchmates and a few professors.

The second “turning point” was in early 2012, when Gunjan, still with the Greater Noida institute, undertook a “research yatra” to Jharkhand for the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) in Ahmedabad to study medicinal herbs used by the tribals of Jharkhand.

The first time Gunjan, the youngest of three children of a district court lawyer in Jharkhand’s Giridih, visited Banta-Hajam, he stayed for five days. But he kept coming back to the village, fascinated by the tribal way of life, until he finally decided to stay on for good that April.

“Yahaan ka boli, yahaan ka chaal… hum sab kuchh sikhaya usko (I taught him our language, our practices… everything),” says Bhavani Patar Munda at whose mud house Gunjan began by imparting basic literacy lessons to children.

Gunjan also worked in the fields, did errands and lived like any other member of the Munda household. “From then until today, we have never discussed rent. I live with them, work with them, eat with them,” says Gunjan, who has a Bachelor’s degree in management from Durgapur, West Bengal.

A couple of years ago, Gunjan, with help from villagers, friends and well-wishers, set up Bal Nivas, where 35 tribal children are imparted knowledge of traditional tribal languages, and trained in singing, dancing, classical music, computers and spoken English, besides vocational skills such as bee-keeping and knitting.

The children, all of them from the village, live in Bal Niwas, cooking their own food and cleaning their living quarters. While some children go to the primary school in the village and others to schools in Ranchi, they come back to the hostel, where they are encouraged to stay connected with the tribal way of life.

“At any given point, we teach around 35 children, of whom 25 are girls. They learn music, folk and classical, instruments such as the tabla, harmonium and even the tuila, a traditional tribal instrument on the verge of extinction, the do-tara and the mandolin,” says Gunjan.

When he arrived at Banta-Hajam village, Gunjan realised the children had limited language skills, and were not interested in studying. That’s when he came up with the Bal Nivas concept. “Initially, this was a place to give young children time after formal school where they learned basic things like mathematics and language through activities that were part of their own milieu like local games, which children don’t play these days,” he said.

At present, there are around 15 children, including seven girls, who live at the Bal Nivas. “Most of these children either do not have a father or a mother or are orphans. Also, we take children, who are generally dubbed failures by their own community or those who veer towards alcoholism and other vices at a young age,” he said.

The villagers donate rice every week, while the children have created a fund, donating Rs 2-3 a week. Gunjan also earns by teaching at two teachers’ training institutes in Koderma and Giridih.

Gunjan says he realised that to impart education to tribal children, he would have to first understand them better. “They ate rice three times a day. I started having the same diet and realised it was affecting my stamina. It then became easier for me to explain to them why having a balanced diet, especially for children, was necessary,” he says.

Some of his friends from NIF pushed Gunjan to introduce machines for sowing paddy. “But I decided to sow the saplings myself, along with the women. I then realised how it was also a place and platform for women to socialise. They would sing their traditional songs and come to know about each other’s lives. If we introduce machines, this beautiful thing would be lost. I am not against technology, but it has to be integrated with the milieu in which it is to be introduced,” he says.

Villagers are full of praise for Gunjan’s efforts. “Earlier, the only option for a young boy growing up in these parts was to migrate for work, or fall in bad company and take to liquor and other intoxicants. Gunjan has brought the focus back on all the good practices and traditions that we lived by but have now forgotten,” says Jogendra Gope, a folk singer, on whose land Gunjan set up the hostel. His daughter Sumati now learns classical and folk music at the hostel.

However, the journey wasn’t always smooth. “Last year, some people, upset with what Gunjan was doing, approached the panchayat. They wanted to know why so many girls were in the hostel and why they were being trained in music and dance. But, we stood our ground and, finally, they relented,” says Ramesh Chandra Kumhar, a lac businessman who lives opposite the hostel and who trains the children in vocational skills.

Kumhar says the reason why almost all villagers backed Gunjan was that the change he had brought about was for everyone to see.

Suraj Patar Munda, one of the students at Bal Nivas, says, “I had fallen into bad company and would take marijuana and never attend school. Now, I have left all that and I’m getting trained in music, besides English and computer,” says the teenager who is enrolled at the Ramakrishna Mission School in Ranchi.

Gunjan says he could win the trust of parents, especially of girl students at Bal Nivas, because he kept things transparent. “We would invite parents to live with us at Bal Nivas. When they saw for themselves how things were, they felt good about it and believed me,” he says.

The biggest certificate of their trust came in 2015 when he travelled with some of the children to Ahmedabad for the annual Satvik Food Festival of NIF. “For a village where girls are not supposed to go beyond Ranchi without men escorting them, it was a big thing,” says Gunjan.

One of those who made that trip to Ahmedabad was Ashtami Patar Munda, the 15-year-old daughter of Munda, at whose house Gunjan stayed when he first came to the village in 2012. “For the first time, I saw a world outside our village. Had it not been for Gunjan bhaiyya, it would have been unthinkable. I want to follow his footsteps,” she says.

Jharkhand’s Commission for Protection of Child Rights chairperson, Arti Kujur, who has attended a couple of cultural programmes organised by Gunjan’s students, says, “He got the artistes to perform to themes such as child marriages and human trafficking, which is a problem in these areas. Also, he has gained the confidence of the tribals. It’s not easy.”

But what really matters for Gunjan are lines like these, delivered with a warm smile. “For us, he is one of our own. He has changed our lives for the better,” says Alam Khan, a resident of Banta-Hajam.

Moderating the interaction , “Know everything about IPM (IIM Indore). No more Hearsay!”

It was a pleasure moderating an Interactive session that featured Surjo Sankar Sarkar, Student of IPM (Integrated Programme in Management) form IIM Indore and Amitendra Kumar, Head, LST and School Test Prep programs, CL Educate Ltd.

This session got beamed into hundreds of homes across the country from where students and their parents attended this session. It was a highly interactive with questions coming in on various dimensions of the course; and I had to keep the discussion going, while also noting all the concerns of the students flying in and I had to make sure that they were addressed by the end of the session. Thoroughly enjoyed facilitating the session.

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One course which has caught attention in recent times, no doubt is IPM by IIM Indore. Be it the design of the curriculum, placements, degree/diploma issue, it has got every ingredient of being the talk of the town.

Slowly the student and school community is waking up to presence of such an exciting program as choice after class XII. Since it is a new program, and also very limited (only to IIM Indore), every aspirant and more importantly parents have a few concerns.

Watching this interactive session will assist the students to have the authentic information about IPM, from an youngster who has been through the program. The session features Surjo Sankar Sarkar, who is pursuing IPM from IIM Indore, and is in the final year (fifth year of the program) attending classes along with the PGP students who enter through the CAT examination, post their graduation (and work experience)

The recorded session will help the students gain insights into the IPM Program, and also understand how it’s different from BBA+MBA or regular PGP. The session also covers comparative institutions that offer best of the undergrad programs in business.

It will not only help the student but also parents and every facilitator who wishes to understand and get peep into IPM. You can be an ambassador of the program 😊

On Zee Business special : Cool Careers

Zee business conceived a two part series on cool careers, careers beyond engineering and medical. This is the first one that went on air on March 29,2018. The second in the series will happen immediately after the board results are announced.

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This was an hour long programme. The Zee Business channel failed to upload the episode on to their youtube channel, in-spite of promising that they would.

Surprisingly I found that an edited version of the program was put up by one of my co-panelists on the programme, Mr. Sunil GOel, highlighting all of his interventions, but editing out other two panelists R.Sreenivasan and Parveen Malhotra, significantly. Nevertheless I thought, for the young students who wish to go for non-conventional careers, even this truncated episode will be of value.

As a facilitator, mentor and coach, I just want to say that let us all be a good, facilitating human beings first. Rest will follow.

Ownership, Purpose, Passion, Responsibility, Perseverance, Excellence…

#Purpose, #Passion, #persevere
#Excellence #success #career #life

Watch the one min video….so much to learn !!
Love to hear your comments. Also kindly share.

#Fascinating #journeys!
#Pushing #boundaries!
#Celebrating #lives!

I was walking briskly with my #camera, with an intention to #photograph #Kite-making, in the short half an hour time I had. This young man, a #logistics-auto plier, tapped me as I was passing by his auto and asked, “#Reporter?”, “Write for #Magazine?”. I said I do write, for my websites and blogs, at times columns in newspapers. His #enthusiasm was so #infectious, I paused to talk to him….. As he started, realized this #interaction will be so invaluable for #youth who give a million reasons for their inability to perform. Hence recorded….

listen to him…..

Since I was in Ahmedabad, I had acceded to requests from Baroda and Ahmedabad offices of CL Educate to take PDP workshops. These we’re eight hour sessions, covering..

A. Understanding self
B. Personal Victory
C. Public Victory
D. Creating a vision for self
E. Building Profile
Leading to excellence in life

At the end of the sessions, quite a few participants started asking questions on how they keep their enthusiasm for long, overcome their language challenge etc…

I just showed them this video that I had just captured… Each one was overawed.

#Ownership is the key. Do you own yourself?

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