Friday 24 May 2013

IAYP signed MoU with Punjab Government : Press Release from CM Office



Badal (Sri Muktsar Sahib), May 24-

In order to ensure the all round development of the rural students in the state, the Punjab Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an organization International Award for Young people to initiate a premier self development program in the Government schools.

The DPI (Schools) Mr. Kamal Kumar Garg and representative of the International Award for Young People Mr. Bivujit Mukhoty inked the MoU here today in the presence of the Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal.

Expressing happiness over the MoU the Chief Minister said that this was a leap forward towards state government’s commitment to provide quality education to the students especially of the rural areas besides ensuring their overall personality development. Mr. Badal said that in the first phase this program would be started as a Pilot project in two districts of Sri Muktsar Sahib and Bathinda, under which the organization would select 20 students each from the fourteen schools (seven schools from each districts) of these two districts. He said that these students within the age group of 14 to 25 years would be imparted training in community service, skill development, physical recreation, adventurous journey and residential recreation so as to groom their personality for competing globally. Mr. Badal said that the main aim of this program was to build the confidence of the students through motivating and training them in these fields.

The Chief Minister said that this program would go a long way not only in the personality development of the students but also in providing sustainable livelihood to them in the future. Mr. Badal said that in the current scenario the main thrust of the state government was to impart quality education to the students so that they could be capable of facing the competition across the world. He hoped that this program would not only play an important role in fulfilling the aspirations of the state government but would also help the students by opening new vistas of academic and professional training for them in the future.

The Chief Minister said that the Government schools across the state were already fully equipped with the requisite infra structure needed for implementing this program adding that the state government would extend fulsome support and co-operation to the organization for making this program a huge success. He said that after the successful accomplishment of this program in these two districts its ambit would be extended to the other districts of the state also. Mr. Badal further said that in order to facilitate the students the number of schools in every district would also be increased accordingly.

Prominent amongst those present on the occasion included Special Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Mr. KJS Cheema and Deputy Commissioner Mr. Paramjit Singh.

Thursday 23 May 2013


A report from Award Participants of Hopetown Girls' School, Dehra Dun

On 27th of April a group of Award Participants left for Hathipaon a hilly region. None of us had ever even imagined that a trek could so much fun and the experience of a lifetime! On reaching our destination and after having breakfast we did some physical activities like crossing the Burma bridge and a walk across the Ropeway. These were confidence building activities .

After taking some rest, we assisted the teachers in cooking lunch and had a hearty meal. Then we pitched tents, learnt navigation skills, route mapping and certain rescue techniques in order to rescue ourselves if we ever got trapped in a forest. Then we went for a long walk along some trails in the forest. On the way, we visited the late Sir George Everest's office where he used to record all information about the mountains around. He is known for having drawn the map of Hathipao.  Mount Everest has been named after him. On reaching the topmost region of the hill, we could see the lowlands below us - a beautiful sight. At night all of us sat around a bonfire and listened to 'true' ghost stories told by the people there.

The next morning we left for the Jwala Devi temple after breakfast. To reach the temple we had to climb two mountains, a trek of 8 kilometers. We were extremely fatigued by the time we managed to reach the temple and offer prayers to the Goddess. We clicked a number of pictures and then trekked back to base. In the evening we enjoyed playing some fun group games. On the last night we sat around the bonfire and chatted for a while before going to bed. 

On the last day of the trek we again managed to cook our breakfast which consisted of 'poori --aloo'. After that, we interacted with the residents of the surrounding villages. Meanwhile, a funny incident took place - Jayita (who had been tripping and falling on the trek to the temple) tripped again and fell while trying to catch a sheep! We were in splits because it was such a slight!! Finally, after conversing with the village-folk, we had our self-cooked lunch, packed our bags and left for our return journey back to Hopetown. 

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Reality Check! A visit to an Orphanage Home

A report from Wynberg-Allen School, Mussoorie

Imagine a life without parents, a childhood without toys or an adolescence without the support of loved ones! Sounds frightening and disturbing, doesn't it? The Award Participants along with the students of the Wynberg-Allen School's Social Service Club became sensitized to this grim reality after their visits to some orphanages in Dehradun last year as well at the beginning of 2013.

For their recent visit, the members collected sweets, chocolates, biscuits, packets of chips, soft drinks, books and stationery items. They visited the First Orphanage and distributed all the items they had collected during an interactive session with residents. During this session, the children shared their interests with the students and sang songs for them. They were impressed to hear the older children of the orphanage converse in English. Mr Deepak, who runs the orphanage, shared with the students some unhappy circumstances that had accompanied the arrival of the children at the orphanage. One child had been abandoned by the villagers at their doorstep and another had been miraculously rescued from human trafficking. 

Every Saturday the Social Service Club of Wynberg-Allen visits some orphanage and donates items of use. They have visited the Cheshire Homes, Doon Blind School and the Doon Orphanage for Girls during their most recent visits. In addition to being an eye opener, these visits have made the students more appreciative of the numerous blessings they so freely enjoy and take for granted. 

Madhav Bharadwaj


A report by Stuti Das, Gold Award aspirant

North East India offers a comfortable home for diverse tribes in and around its forest ranges and hilly terrains. One such tribe is the Hmar tribe of Noxatila, a hilly village located around a forest range known as Matijuri, situated in the Hailakandi District of Assam, about 40 km from Silchar, the district head quarter of Cachar District of Assam. To study a tribe in their natural habitat is fascinating. The physiological environment in which they live, their way of life, their food, dress and ornaments, their domestic, economic and socio-cultural life, their religious beliefs and practices, health, hygiene and sanitation conditions in and around their habitation, traditional herbal medicines used by them, the role of government and voluntary organisations in their socio-economic upliftment - these and many other aspects constitute an interesting theme for an exploratory study on a tribal community. Based on such study some suggestions may be framed and advanced for their well-being and welfare. In addition, this Residential Project also aims at giving the Award participants an opportunity to render voluntary service to those marginalised sections of the population who do not enjoy all the essential amenities of life.

We started out Residential Project on 29 March 2013 where an introductory session was organised at the Department of Anthropology, G. C. College, Silchar, Assam addressed by Prof. S. Das, Co-coordinator of the Programme, who in her speech impressed us by highlighting salient points such as (i) the need for studying a tribe, (ii) the methods to be followed in such a study (iii) techniques to be adopted in order to make them  comfortable and forthcoming so that they can cooperate with us. In the afternoon session the trainers imparted training on the study methodology, which includes details about various methods such as the personal interview, question schedule, group interview, direct observation and participant. The participants were also briefed about the do's and don'ts of the Residential Project. 

Early the next morning we departed for the Project area and began our journey with a spirit of adventure. The journey was smooth for about half an hour after which our cars took a rough road. On the way we halted at a market place known as Dwarbond to take tea and snacks, and then we followed the Old Mizoram Road to reach our Project Camp. We freshened up and had our lunch by 1 p.m. We then took some rest and set out to meet the local people in order to collect relevant information about our Project Village. Before evening we came back to our Camp, attended the introductory session addressed by our Coordinator, and drew up the plan of work for the following day.

The next day we got up early, did some freehand exercises and proceeded to the Project Village. We had a very busy day ahead of us as we had decided to do maximum study on this day. We took lunch packets with us and decided to take lunch in between our study. After walking 5 kilometres through dense forests and enjoying the eye-catching beauty around us we reached our Project Village. As decided in the introductory session addressed by our Coordinator, we met the Village Headman at his residence. He greeted us warmly and expressed his pleasure to help us in every way. He offered us an interpreter-cum-guide for our investigation. Accordingly, we began our study on historical background of the tribe (Hmar) and stature of the people, their settlement pattern in the village, house type, household materials, their food and drink, their dress and ornaments etc.
The next day's target was to study the family system of the Hmars, their clan system, inheritance, marriage and divorce system, and rituals related to birth and death. By late afternoon we consolidated the day's findings and returned to our camp. Here we attended the learning session and chalked the agenda of the following day.

Day 5 was focussed on studying the language and religion of the Hmars. We reached the Project Village on foot. We went from house to house, interacted with the villagers and asked them questions to get our desired information. We concluded our study before evening and returned to our Camp as usual. After having some rest and recreation, we attended the introductory session where we had a group discussion on our findings and thereafter, we drew up the plan of the following day's work. 

Next day we made an early start to our Project Village. After breakfast we proceeded on foot to our site with lunch packets and other necessities in our backpacks. We spent the morning teaching the students of Noxatila Lower Primary School, the only lower primary school of the village. The school has classes from 1 to 5 and aims at imparting education to the children of the village. All the participants were divided into groups of four and each group was allotted a particular class. We taught the children English and Basic Arithmetic for 2 hours. Then we started training the children for a skit that would focus on the victory of good over evil and the importance of following the path of honesty and truth. 

Thereafter we had lunch and began our study of the social life of the Hmars. We focussed on aspects such as the culture, festivals, dance and music, and other related matters. We conducted a house-to-house survey, interacted with all sects of people and collected relevant information. 

We came to know that the people of the village regard their traditional dance forms, festivals, music, as well as their traditional dresses and ornaments with great respect. Their expertise lies in conventional folk dance and folk songs that are nicely represented through scenes of adventures, battle, love, victory and other experiences throughout history. Their culture is enriched with amazing tribal songs and dance forms. The day's activities gave us immense pleasure. We returned to our camp in the evening. 

On Day 7 like the previous day we spent the morning teaching the students of Noxatila Lower Primary School. We taught the children English and Basic Arithmetic for 2 hours and then trained the children for a skit that would focus on the victory of good over evil and the importance of following the path of honesty and truth. After lunch we embarked on the study of the political life of the Hmars. 

The focus of Day 8 was the study of the economic life of the Hmars. We started our daily work by spending 4 hours teaching the children and helping them rehearse for the skit. After having lunch at around 1 p.m. we embarked on a study of the economic life of the Hmars. With respect to their economic life, our observation is that the economic condition of an average Hmar with his primitive tools and implements and age-old method of cultivation is far from satisfactory. 

On Day 9 we conducted a survey on the state of infrastructure of Noxatila village. We spent the morning teaching the the children English and Basic Arithmetic, followed by the skit preparations. After lunch, we conducted a survey on some specific items that included interleaf, the communication system of the village, health and sanitation system, educational institutions in the village, etc.

On the last day the skit that we had been rehearsing for during the last few days was staged and we really enjoyed the show. In addition, the children had also prepared a short cultural programme for us. We also shared our experiences in their village with the students and teachers present. In the evening we went to the Village Headman's house to organise a short cultural programme for the villagers. All the villagers had assembled there. We sang a few songs and one of our fellow participants enacted a one act play. We expressed our gratitude to them for their hospitality, help and cooperation. We wished each other and then left for our camp.

Next day after breakfast, we started for our return journey to Silchar. I am grateful to the Anthropology department of G.C.College, Silchar, Assam for giving me the opportunity to participate in this exploration. I owe my debt of obligation to Prof. S Das, Coordinator of this exploration for her unstinting help, guidance and cooperation. Above all, the pleasant memories of this exploration will forever remain imprinted on the canvas of my mind.

Wednesday 8 May 2013


26th April - 3rd May 2013

Programme Manager Bivujit Mukhoty visited a number of schools in Assam and Kolkata between 26th April and 4th May, 2013. Beginning with a visit to Maria's Public School, Birakuchi, Naregni, where he met with the Principal, Moushumi Banerjee, Aparna Khairkar (Award Leader) and Binod Baruah. At Sarala Birla Gyan Jyoti School, Amingaon, the Programme Manager met with Jayashreeta Guha (Award Leader) and Award participants and led a discussion on how the Award promotes all-round development. At Miles Bronson Residential School, Borjhar, he met Lipika Barah (Award Leader) and ran two orientation sessions for Award participants.

Mr. Mukhoty met with Ms. Khullar Principal of Akshar School and Neena Singh (Director), briefing them on their role as a YES Centre. The meeting was followed by briefing with Award Leaders and the Award participants as well as the Supervisors and Assessors in the school. He also visited Emanuel Ministries Special Project, Kolkata, where he met with Ms. Elora (Coordinator), Shajan George (Associate Director) and Thrimoti Barretto (Award Leader). The Programme Manager also interacted with nine Gold Award participants who had completed their Award Journey. 

At The Heritage School, Kolkata, Programme Manager met with the Principal and Kavita Arora (Award Leader), which was followed by an orientation session for the Award participants. He also visited Modern High School For Girls, Kolkata, meeting with Saugata Banerjee, Chandirma Sood (Award Leader) and Devi Kar (Director). They discussed their role as a YES Centre and shared the Award process in the Unit. The Programme Manager also visited Calcutta International School where Chai Eng Dutt (Award Leader and member NTP) and Mrs. Gungali were present. Mr. Mukhoty also visited RKMBBA Nerandrapur Special Project, and met with Biswajit Ghosh (Principal), Chandan Majumder (Award Leader) and also with Sarvaga Nandaji Maharaj (Secretary, RK Mission). He also attended an orientation session with the Award participants along with the supervisors and assessors of the school.

At the Sri Sarada Math, Rashik Bhita Special Project, Mr. Mukhoty met with Asheshaprana Matajee (Principal) and Nityamukta Prana Matajee followed by meeting with Award Leader Adrija and Award participants. He visited Sushila Birla High School for Girls, Kolkata and met with Shashi Khanna (Award Leader) and Sangeeta Sood (Award Leader). The Programme Manager also visited the All Bengal Women's Union Special Project and met with Sumita Roy and Sabitre Mandal (Award Leader) and discussed the role of the Centre in running the Award Programme. 

Gold Award Holder Anwesha Ghosh, (NAA Intern, who assists the Special Project Unit) accompanied the Programme Manager during this meeting.


Imagine a world full of plastic bags, layer upon layer of toxic molecules refusing to disintegrate for the earth below to breathe freely and easily. These plastic demons stick out like a sore thumb, marring the landscape that otherwise would yield a breath-taking spectrum of scenic wonders. Well, that is what awaits us if we do not wake up from our money-induced slumber to take stock of the situation. Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants on earth and what makes it even a bigger threat to the environment is the fact that it is non-biodegradable.

The Award participants and other students of Wynberg-Allen sensitive to the environmental threat of plastic waste, are organizing plastic collection drives on campus and along the hills that surround the school. Every Friday groups of students clean areas that are littered with plastic bags, cans, bottles etc. A basic kit comprising collection bags, disposable gloves, sticks and iron hooks are provided to the leaders of each group so as to create an efficient waste collection system. The filled bags are secured with twine and stored in a shed till the van from the Municipal Corporation comes to collect them.

Thus far, the Award participants along have collected five truckloads of plastic and will continue this crusade every Friday under the guidance of their teachers. These students are contributing their efforts to conserve the environment in the hills of Mussoorie.

Madhav Bharadwaj