You must have fun in learning

The Fabindia School Annual Day 2015 Speech ~ Sandeep Dutt, Chairman.
Thank you, dear children, for giving us the opportunity to be amongst you! Yes, we need to thank all the people who helped us reach here, but without the joy and the fun you have has no meaning. This is the only school that I have come across (as I visit thousands of schools) where they make fresh air, the forest behind you makes the fresh air. This is the only school that actually makes fresh air this is the only school that perhaps gives you the cleanest water. This is the school where you can see the stars above and feel the mud under your feet. This is the school where you can hear the children sing, this is the school that has grown where you grow with care, love and affection.

Thank you, Mr. Bissell, for you, we are very happy to be here today. We are grateful to you for having us all together on a mission, a mission that started almost   25 years back and more, so all the board members, parents, friends who all are participating in making the mission a success. What you see here is the journey partially complete, this is just the beginning. I often say and for us the happiest day will be when we see a Fabindian lead us in every sphere of life.

It is our dream that we have a Fabindian lead us not only in Study but also Sport, Skill, Service and what else? Absolutely! We want the Fabindian’s to excel in all the four fields: Service, Skill, Sport and Study. With this motive, we feel the quality of education which the school offers is far superior to even mainstream school in the country. I travel all over the country, I have come just from Delhi, I have been to many cities, but I tell you that nowhere do you breath the clean fresh air, that you breathe here.

I will say in Hindi:
जो खाओगे वही बनोगे। जो हवा पानी आपको यहाँ मिल रहा है वो आपको आगे ले जायेगा। जो शुद्ध हवा पानी बाली में है वो आगे बढ़ाएगा। आप और हम मिलकर इस छत्र - छाया में आगे बढ़ेंगे।

Thank you Principal Ma’am, thank you Chief Guest for joining and doing everything to make this evening a wonderful one. And it is wonderful to see young people like our Head Boy, Head Girl, the Prefects all taking charge. It is wonderful to see them being part of the society who are now leading to give us various skills, sports. It is wonderful to see a boy reaching the District level in soccer, It is fantastic to see children cycling all the way to Ranakpur. It is even great to see children work on Service project. The Social Service League in the school is a noble idea, we don’t have a Social Service League in any school in Bali. The Art and Craft, the Music and the Orchestra, only The Fabindia School, gives us. Let me assure you, it is all to give your child the necessary space. It is all to give your child the necessary opportunity to excel. It is for your child, of your child and by your child. Children love having fun, and we hope they continue to have fun. Teachers love teaching and the joy only spreads when children have fun so let us all be together in the joy of learning and all the best.

Thank you, everybody.

Sandeep Dutt

BEATING A FLOWER: Resolving Violence in Children

She, a child of around seven years sat with me on a bus. We were on a holiday. At the last tourist spot, I had bought her a small handbag with a little rose and two leaves pasted on it.

Curious, as every child is, she had dissected the bag and the flower had almost come out. The flower started dangling like the tail of a weaver bird's nest. This was bothering her and she was repeatedly trying to stick it back. This attempt gradually became violent. She harshly started to beat the flower with her water bottle. She was hitting the flower as if she was nailing something into a hard wall. It was that hard and violent!

I looked at her. I wondered why is she expressing so much violence on a plastic rose flower.

"What are you doing Asha (named changed)," my voice calmed her violently hitting hand. "It's a small flower. Can you stick it back by hitting at it?" Her face suddenly regained sense. It was as if she understood what she was doing. Till then her violence was driven by some unconscious, invisible factor.

When I calmly talked to her she regained sense. "You can go home and stick it with a strong glue or with a needle and thread," I said.

The violence and anxiety flew off from the child immediately and in no time she forgot what she was doing. A little later she opened up about everything she was facing at home. I hadn't impelled her to do so. I was awe stuck that a child is  capable of such complex thoughts and observes the adult world so closely.

Children are impacted by the negative and the positive around. Education and educators have to make children aware of their true selves. This case illustrates how simple it can be to do so.

When negativity goes unresolved it becomes fear and violence. Fear and violence breads more fear and violence until resolved.

Irrationality is an unresolved sentiment. We carry such unresolved sentiments from our experiences of childhood.

I want to leave two message here for parents and teachers.

First: There's no better therapy than compassionate behaviour.

Second: You can't be a parent by just giving birth. Parenting is not living social fancies. Learn about parenting the way you learned to be good doctors and engineers!

Venus Upadhayaya

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My Good School

Editor's note

My Good School works for the personal and social development of an individual by offering an environment where experiential learning is made possible through activities beyond just study; this brings to life learning that would otherwise be theoretical and uncoordinated. School teachers have the most important role in delivering quality education. There is an enormous paucity of good teachers, the only way out is in-service training and building a Professional Learning Community.

Our work for The Fabindia Schools Programme demonstrating excellence in school operations, involving the community and establishing a sustainable model for delivering good education in the villages of India, is now being replicated at a larger scale. We believe that the happiness of young people is in the hands of teachers and mentors, and we must do all to help them live their dreams by providing them with the best possible education. Taking ahead this vision and mission, we are working to provide affordable quality education in rural and urban India, by putting in place good systems, offering best in class training and ensuring that we have happy teachers to lead us.

Sandeep Dutt
Helping Schools Deliver Better

Back to The Jungle Book

As a child I used to love fairy tales. Read voraciously and keenly. Absorbing much like a sponge and just soaking up all the magical fairy tales and stories from far away lands. There was a world that I envisioned and a world that I had pictured in my mind as the perfect world where chocolates would just simply grow on trees and natural beauty would surround us while we fit into that landscape of green and lush. Goldilocks adventures into the woods were a particular favourite where she would sneak into the lives of the 3 bears just to be caught red handed, jump out the window and disappear into the woods again. Each story that was worth remembering had revolved around the mysteries of the woods and deep forests. Red riding hood braving the woods and the big bad wolf to meet her grandma, Snow white and the seven dwarfs living in a small cottage in the woods, Hansel and Gretel finding their treasures in the deep woods….Alice in wonderland…etc etc..The list is never ending. I doubt I would have remembered any of these stories as a child if they had contained a setting in which Red riding hood walked through garbage lined streets, under the blazing sun and leering men to reach her Grandma.

These stories were meant to provide an escape, to inspire and to show us a world to aspire to. What a perfect would should be like and what we should have strived to build for us. Amazingly, everything that we were taught as children and that we loved as children is being destroyed by us, before our very eyes and there is nothing that the majority of us is doing about it. Voices have been lost in layers of cynicism and a sense of righteousness has been replaced by insatiable greed.

I was watching The jungle book the other day and I was amazed at how it instantly transported me to that innocence of childhood and wanting a life of such simplicity and beauty. I almost felt sad for Mowgli when he reached the man village and parted from Baloo and Bagheera. Instead of relief that he was back to where he belonged my heart ached to see him back in the jungle. It struck me then that I didn’t like my own world anymore. It made me wonder how much we’ve destroyed our world and that too up to a point where we ourselves are constantly looking for escapes. How have we managed to build a world around us along with a life that we constantly need to run away from? What would the world have been like had we stayed true to a child’s love for the magical, wooded storyland? Would we have lived in a land that was still pure and beautiful?

As a country we’re sitting on the verge of a natural disaster. Our forests are fast disappearing under the greed of those that continue to sell our country. Our wildlife perishes at the hands of those that wield the axe. The mute are suffering the gravest injustice and no voices speak for them anymore. The non-patriots, the non-loyal and the corrupt seeds of our country continue the rampage at an alarmingly accelerated rate. True patriotism lies in being loyal to our natural heritage. True religion lies in saving our natural heritage. Not in singing songs of devotion, chanting hymns without knowing the meanings and raising flags while destroying our country.

I’ve always wondered why is it that those that destroy our forests think that they can survive without them. What makes them confident that they can survive without our ecosystem? It is the very life giving force that our forests gift us with which we seek to destroy. Why do natural disasters and calamities shock us anymore? Why do we cry for the lack of clean drinking water when we are slowly and steadily working towards destroying the very rivers that provide us with that?

Those that have read my words and feel that somewhere something needs to be salvaged while it still can please don’t stay quiet or be party to the grave injustice being done to our ecosystem. Raise your voices, raise awareness and speak up when you see crime against our natural heritage and our wildlife.

The wisdom was there for us to imbibe a long time back. The ancients have written the word many eons ago. While we choose to glorify the Geeta and other teachings that have religious sentiments from our scriptures we choose to ignore the most essential, basic and fundamental lesson that was passed on to us. The only lesson that can help salvage the losses of today and leave us a ray of hope for the future.

“Do not cut down the  forest with its tigers and do not banish the tigers from the forest; the tiger perishes without the forest and the forest perishes without its tigers”  - Mahabharata, 400 BCE, Udyogaparva.

And we perish without either....


About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

God of all things..

Time and again we chance upon meetings with random strangers that stop you in your tracks of your monotonous thinking and shake you up into really using that rusted thought process. Living the herd mentality makes us belong to the community of the living dead. I’m afraid I also am guilty of turning into a living dead every once in a while.  Fortunately or unfortunately my own nature and destined coincidences do not allow me to vegetate in that state for very long.  After all is dead and gone, after all the glory has faded and the wealth of money spent away….the only thing left alive is our voice and our mind. What truly remain alive even when our physical manifestations have decayed are our thoughts. A little while back I was introduced to somebody that asked me why all photographers as a community loved to show the ugliness of our country by photographing dirty street children with runny noses and village people. Something in that statement refuses to leave my head as it brought up so many things to the forefront and many questions that needed answering. My first instinct was to ignore the statement as very understandably different people have different beliefs and thought processes. But as usual I failed to follow my first instinct in life and kept reminiscing over the issue.

While it’s true and reasonable that most people would like to see beauty in art at all times sometimes we forget that the naked truth also needs to be represented from time to time and artists are the best medium for that. When I was told how I should not photograph dirty children on the street I was forced to go back down memory lane into each and every photograph that I had taken. The best part of that little journey was that I relived some absolutely joyous moments. What this gentleman had failed to consider in his generalization was that there was a possibility for each individual to be unique in his or her own way and viewpoint.

I revisited that small village in Himachal where I had photographed the oldest lady in the village who was then a little over hundred, still standing straight and very proud of her own independence at being able to invite me in for a cup of tea and a session of intriguing conversation. I remember feeling respect for her and much admiration at her spirit, will and enthusiasm for life. That’s when I had asked her permission to photograph her.

I revisited that construction site in the hills of Kumaon where there used to be a gang of little children who looked at you with their adoring big eyes even though they had no clue who you were. My mother and I would pack food for them each day for almost three months and go to the site and spend some time with these children. They loved us not because we got them food but because we had made the effort to get to know them and share some love together. This is when I had asked their mother’s permission to photograph them.

I revisited a small village in Karnataka where I was working on a project and stationed in Belgaum. I was inherently spending time with the children and the local people in the village and while being constantly under observation I also spent much time returning the favour of their constant surveillance of a city person. The girls there were always getting into trouble with their naughty little pranks on everyone including me. Overcoming the language barriers we managed to form our own parallel system of communication that allowed us to share a few laughs together. This is when I had asked an elderly person in the village for permission to photograph them.

You see it’s all very convenient at a superficial level and it seems alright to just generalize and compartmentalize people as per one’s convenience but the only thing that makes us different from the herd is our ability to really think and use that god gifted and much sought after brain. In this age of the Kali, the rich and affluent have in their own limited heads and experiences bought the services of God and sometimes we forget that apart from our own comfortable existence there are other worlds and other people with far bigger stories than ours.  Unfortunately the naked truth of our country remains, that outside the bubble of comfortable existence for the privileged few there exists an ugly and far greater reality.  This is a reality that doesn’t need to be told. This is a reality that WILL be told. Again and again, not just by a few, but by many, till maybe one day somebody is satisfied that they managed to make a difference.

My thoughts are all that I will leave behind, my actions will be what I will be remembered for and maybe, just maybe through my photographs those dirty street children and villagers will stay alive and somebody will have a story to tell and a chance to make a difference.

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

The looking glass

Writer’s block. Feeling uninspired. Finding your muse. Whatever the guise there are times when all of us pen happy people just refuse to give in to that temptation and calling within to write. We obstinately hold back whatever it is within us waiting to be unleashed like a monster and refuse to let it out. Maybe we’re just afraid to face what is really going on in our heads and hearts. This fact doesn’t only apply to a writer but to anybody and everybody. I think somewhere this is driven by a sense of restlessness and even to some level fear. Fear that we have nothing intelligent to say and fear of the opinion of the outside world. After not having written anything in a while I just realized that these same fears were becoming a driving force within me. Being a passionate member of the artistic fraternity many a times I forget what it was that got me into the realm of art in the first place. For me it was simply being a heart over head person. After having ardently defended the heart over head and encouraging others to use a bit of their heart to guide them all my life I realized I was falling into the trap of just existence and survival…allowing or rather forcing myself to go against my very basic instinct and following the nonsensical ramblings and stern demands of my head. That was it. The first steps towards the destruction of ones creative juices had been taken by me, resulting in many blockages!

Much silent coaxing from my guide, mentor, friend and in some sense even soul mate forced me to face the prison walls that I had built around my head and thought processes and wish that I could revisit myself. In trying to follow our heads over hearts very often we land up losing our inspiration and consequently ourselves. The heart inspires. Always. The only way to really live is to be able to look in the mirror and not see a stranger. Sometimes we just need to revisit that place inside to find our inspiration again.

As clichéd and over used as this idea might be there is nothing more true to helping one find that inspiration or their muse again. I’m talking about love and definitely and singularly not the love that exists in movies between a man and a woman but love that is much beyond that. Love that fills you with happiness every time you think of it or feel it and each of us will have a different way of getting that dose. Some get it from their children and loved ones, some from things they enjoy doing and obsessive about their camera type people like me get it from just doing what we love to do whether we do it best or not.

Sadly everything in our social system forces us to become somebody we are not and live a life that turns us into robots and robots don’t feel and robots don’t get inspired. During my moment of intense introspection I was blessed with the epiphany that I had managed to turn myself into a robot. Head over heart completely and doing things for the “right” reasons. The realization came with an intense need to break free and find that looking glass where I used to see myself.

Reconnecting with oneself is just an act of letting go. Letting go of fears, letting go of preconceived notions, letting go of mental barriers and letting go of any negativity in your life. I strongly believe in surrounding yourself with positivity and letting go of anything negative from your life no matter what or who that might be. Positivity and revisiting what you love is the best way to finding your muse. Simply let go for a while of what your head tells you and listen to that tiny little voice in your heart before it actually stops speaking to you. Be a child again, do stupid things, be free and feel alive. The only barriers that exist are the ones that we have built with our own thoughts. Sometimes losing yourself is the only way to finding yourself.

About the author: Neha Parmar is a wildlife photographer and a conservationist with some tolerable talent for writing. If you liked, connected or have a contrary perspective with anything that you read please feel to share your feedback. 

To see more work by Neha

Disclaimer: This article remains copyright of the author and is her individual perspective. If you wish to give any feedback please get in touch with the author. 

GSI Journal | Sandeep Dutt | Substack


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