Category Archives: Events

Admissions begin : The Unique ‘5 S’ Philosophy of NEEV Vidyalaya, Hurlung

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A silent revolution is beginning to stir the sleepy little hamlet of Hurlung as NEEV Vidyalaya begins admissions. At Rs. 200 per month, NEEV Vidyalaya is going to provide high quality Integral Education in the village. The philosophy of the school can be encapsulated by 5 S. The 5 S principles are stated in the ascending order of development of consciousness of an individual.

5 S stands for

  1. Sadachar – self discipline
  2. Swadhyaya – self Knolwdge / self study
  3. Svavalamban – self reliance
  4. Swarajya – self governance
  5. Samrajya – Self Realization/Global Mind ( note the capitalization of ‘s’. Self in Vedantic language denotes Brahman or the entire universe. Self realization is the acme of human consciousness in which an individual realizes unity with the whole universe – both manifest and unmanifest.

The 5 principles of NEEV Vidyalaya are the pillars of Integral Education. Being Integral in nature means they encompass development of head, hands and heart. Being Integral also means they encompass psychological, spiritual, social, ecological, political and economic principles. Being Integral also means that they encompass the individual as well as the universe. We have formulated this philosophy after two decades of working in education. I shall be elaborating each one of them in further mails.

The principles are the guiding lights for the way education would unfurl at NEEV Vidyalaya. There is no defined limit to which these principles can be explored and developed. There is no standard form, either; no fixed mould in which the children are going to be cast. Rather each child shall flower in his/her own intelligence as they learn to explore each principle in their own unique way. The pursuit of same principles can give rise to infinite variations and diversity of expression. This shall be our humble attempt at NEEV Vidyalaya.

The teachers as well as students are the students of this path. At no point can one say that the journey has been completed. Theoretically, learning continues till infinity at each 5 S level. Education at NEEV Vidyalaya is not about pomp and show, rather it is about simplicity and silence – a life lived in the oceanic depths of the inner in harmony with the beauty of nature.

I would like to thank all our friends who have supported our journey so far. Without your support it would not have been possible to create a unique school like NEEV Vidyalaya – Hurlung. Our very special thanks to T G Sathish who gave us the strength to convert our vision to reality.

As I indicated in my previous mail, we are trying to raise about Rs. 8 Lakhs this year – apart from the contingency fund of Rs. 50 lakhs we have created – to manage the school construction for this year. We would also require your regular support for further construction and expansion of the school. So I look forward to continued support from each one of you.

I am sharing a few pics just to give you a sense of the rustic surroundings and villagescapes of NEEV Vidyalaya.

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And finally, the pic of the personality we had hired for doing publicity of our school 😊

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Sitting right in front of our school gate, a rooster rooting for our school !

Architects of Future : Children’s Day Celebrations at NEEV

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Collage of some cards lovingly handmade by NEEV School teachers for the children

Dear Friends,

If the world today has to come out of the mess it finds itself in today, it requires new architects who are educated differently. Does education mean training children to develop technical capacity to get a livelihood or does it mean to help them understand the vast significance of life? Is education a means to create docile, imitating minds that fit in society or does education means creating minds that can question and learn? Does education mean creating cogs that service the vast industrial-consumeristic machine of society or does it mean to create sensitive human beings who care and nurture for the earth.

For five thousand years man has not learnt to live without conflict. Wars, environmental catastrophes and social inequalities have been the norm rather than an exception. Instead of developing a life of love, freedom and beauty on earth we have created inequity, strife and destruction. For years we have relied on authorities and experts to solve our problems. We have looked up to kings, priests, sacred books, politicians and scientists to tell us what is life and how to live. The result of abdication of this responsibility has been nothing but a vastly insensitive society where each individual is conditioned to ruthlessly strive and scramble to the top of a heap or else pigeonhole oneself in comfortable social roles that promise security. While the world simmers with wars, reeks with environmental pollution and languishes in poverty and misery, we continue our lives as usual – unconcerned, non-chalant, ignorant and self-seeking.

NEEV Vidyalaya is a place where we learn how not to go to sleep. It is a place of questioning and freedom. It is a place where young minds are not doused by authority and fear to cower down and become meek participants of a society that loves and rewards docility, compliance and imitation. It is a place where children learn to know themselves and discover their conditioning imposed by society. No revolutions in the outer, no system changes by governments can free man of conflict till he himself does not take up the responsibility of knowing himself/herself. Without self-knowledge, there is no transformation, no revolution that can free man from suffering on this earth.

So on Children’s Day, I thank all the friends who have come together to create NEEV Vidyalaya through their sponsorships, a unique and vital space for a work of such tremendous importance because it is only through right education that humanity can be transformed. I am including some pics to help you get the feel of what it is to be a child or a teacher at NEEV.

Love,
Anurag

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Card on Children’s Day created by a NEEV CIL Member using natural colours

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Some of the Cards written by me to Std. 10 students who are going to leave school next year

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Teachers of NEEV singing Kishore Da’s song – Aane Waala Pal Jaane Waala Hain for children

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Anjali and Simi – NEEV CIL Members and NEEV Vidyalaya Teachers singing the song Yeh Jo Des Hai Mera

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 Myself talking to children of NEEV Vidyalaya on what makes our school special

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Shikha wishing the children a Happy Children’s Day

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Our daughter Harshal who has passed NEEV School having a happy reunion with her friends of Std. 9

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Biscuit eating race for children of Kindergarten

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 Balloon blowing race for children of LKG

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Wearing the shoe race for children of Std. 1

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Hopping race by students of Std. 3

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Bursting the Balloon Race for Std. 2

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 50 m dash for Std 4

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Spoon and Marble Race for Std. 5

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 Three legged race for Std. 6 & 7

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 Musical Chairs for Std. 8, 9 & 10

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 Shikha commenting on the state of affairs

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 NEEV CIL Members and teachers giving cards to their students

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 The NEEV Vidyalaya Senior School Students and Teachers – A Happy Community

The NEEV-NIOS Revolution in Education : Visit of Prof C.B Sharma (Chairman NIOS Board) to NEEV

Prof C. B Sharma – Chairman NIOS Board, India being shown the Aloe Vera field of NEEV by Shikha

Dear Friends,

Last weekend we had a surprise visitor to NEEV – Prof. C. B Sharma, who happens to be the Chairman of NIOS Board India. He was on a tour to Jamshedpur for his work when one of our NEEV friends Jayashree, an ardent supporter and customer of NEEV Soaps talked to Prof Sharma about our work. Piqued by this, he graciously decided to pay us a visit. Unfortunately or fortunately, it being a Saturday, NEEV Vidyalaya was closed, so he came to visit us at our NEEV Herbal Cosmetics Unit in Hurlung.

For us it was a bolt from the blue but something that could not have delighted us more. Given our penchant love for NIOS, his visit, like so many incidents in NEEV was a godsend – an event that happened at the right place and at the right time, with a precision that can be manufactured only by the cosmic will.

What followed after he came was a freewheeling discussion on issues relating to education, the aims and objectives of NIOS as well as the unique vision of NEEV’s education. There was also an interesting discussion on how NIOS faces the daunting challenge of providing education at such a low cost of Rs. 1500/student for registration and Rs. 1800 as exam fees when the operating costs per student is much higher.

Our daughter Harshal who is due to appear for her NIOS Board exams in October 2016 as well as our five teachers – Anjali, Babu, Simi, Sourin and Suraj who just passed NIOS Secondary examinations and due to appear for NIOS Senior Secondary exams in 2018 were also present in the meeting. They got the rare opportunity to raise questions and discuss issues about NIOS first hand with Prof Sharma, who answered all their questions with remarkable patience and concern.

It is rare to come across a man of such humility. Not only was he a proactive and eloquent speaker but also a great listener. The NIOS website gives a brief of the amount of work he has done in education. I am just culling a certain portion from it.

“Dr. Chandra B. Sharma the Chairman is Professor of Education on deputation from the School of Education, Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi. He has recently been on a three member committee constituted by the Government of India to draft the Distance Education Council of India Bill 2015, likely to be placed before the Parliament . This Act will set the future of distance education in India. He has been the Director of the Distance Education Programme of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (DEP-SSA) an MHRD-IGNOU project. DEP-SSA was a national project of the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) Government of India. The project assisted all Indian states in preparing master trainers for quality improvement of Elementary education. He has served the open distance learning (ODL) system for nearly two and half decades. Before joining the ODL he taught at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) New Delhi. He has been on various statutory bodies (Academic Council, Board of Management/Board of Governors etc. and also the Visitor’s (President of India) nominee on selection committee) of various ODL as well as traditional institutions. He has been nominated by IGNOU as well as invited to national committees on various areas like 11th Plan, Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA), Rastriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyaan (RMSA), National Mission on Education – Information and Communication Technologies (NME-ICT), UGC Visiting Committees, National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) teams, National Council for Teacher Education planning as well as visiting teams, DEC-UGC-AICTE inspection committees etc. He has written as well as taken part in many national as well as state level educational planning discussion and brainstorming. He has also been invited to be Visiting Professor at various universities, besides been invited by international agencies like the World Bank for research studies.

Prof. Sharma was invited by the Linnaeus University (Sweden) to deliver the key note address on Entrepreneurship and Education in India, and half a dozen other Nordic Universities to lecture on educational collaboration with Indian universities during March-April 2014.”

There were three more short paragraphs describing the work he has done, but I stopped short of quoting them because I guess this is more than enough to give an idea of the breadth and depth of work Prof Sharma has done in education. But despite this, I could see how keenly he listened to my views on education.

After our discussion, we took Prof Sharma around to show around the NEEV Herbal Cosmetics Unit and the land site where the new NEEV CIL School is being constructed.


                                          Above:  Prof Sharma being shown the Herbal Fields around NEEV Herbal Cosmetics Unit, Hurlung by Shikha

            Below: Prof Sharma visiting the land site where the NEEV CIL School is being constructed


The trip of Prof Bhushan ended with a cementing of relationship between NEEV and NIOS because there is a great communion between the vision of these two organizations. Both of them are concerned about a revolution in education. The communion of visions was manifested into a concrete reality when Prof Sharma suggested that we become an accredited centre for NIOS Board’s OBE (Open Basic Education) course. This would provide NEEV with accredition to teach, conduct exams and certify children as well as adult neo-literates at three levels – upto Class 3, upto Class 6 and upto Class 8.

This morning we received a letter of invitation from the Regional Director of NIOS Ranchi, to become an accredited institution for NIOS OBE Program. We see this as a step in a direction to cause a revolution in education. Below is a write-up on why we require a revolution in education and how the communion of NEEV and NIOS can cause such a revolution.

REVOLUTION IN EDUCATION – NEEV + NIOS

Education and revolution are perhaps two words that do not seem to share much in common at first sight. While education springs up images of children with their heads buried in books, revolution conjures images of flags, protests and angry mobs charging at barricades. We hear of social revolutions, political revolutions, religious revolutions and cultural revolutions but we have yet to hear of something that the world today needs the most – an education revolution.While the word education evokes the goodwill and empathy of most thinking people and there is scarce a soul that does not nod his head in agreement for the need of educating children, very few are willing to find what education is all about. What seems to be an innocuous activity of mere transfer of knowledge, actually holds the key to the transformation of man and world. This is because education mirrors the state of society – it’s priorities, it’s politics, it’s economics, it’s culture and it’s religion.

Is education today a mere appendage of an industrial, capitalistic regime churning out selfish individuals interested in mere self advancement and serving the system or education retains the right to create minds that can question and lead a life of freedom and self reliance?

Looking at the four roomed enclosures we call classrooms, stuffed with benches and desks in neat rows, one cannot miss seeing how it resembles the production line of a factory where products go through various stages of finishing by applying standardized procedures. Not a grain of autonomy is afforded to the ‘products’ of the classroom. Everything is predetermined, standardized, assessed, measured and waste products discarded as in a factory. The skills and capacities of children are attended to like the wrapping and packaging of products, intended to lure people by looks and outward gloss while the real thing inside, the soul, the heart, the love remains slumbering. Image result for education
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And then what about the politics of education? Is it mere transformation of knowledge and information to all or is it mired in consideration of class and wealth? Is there universal access to education or on the contrary, education has become the machine for engineering class distinctions, where the rich can buy degrees and rise up the socio-economic ladder. Image
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So what we need today is education which is democratic, flexible, holistic and all inclusive. We need an education that cuts across barriers of age, class, that is sensitive to the needs of an individual, that nurtures and cares for him rather than make him cower with fear under the cane of a teacher. We need an education that can happen anytime anywhere at any pace, without mounds of investment. We need an education that teaches self reliance as a way of living rather than giving the message that it is your class, status and money that determines the life you are going to lead. And last of all we need an education that confers equal respect to the work of hands, head and heart so that we can bring about a world without inequality.

And we get all of this in NIOS.

Considered to be the largest open schooling system in the world, the NIOS Board conducts exams for about 5 lakhs students every year.

The certification given by NIOS is at par with two National Level Boards – CBSE and ICSE

Now lets consider the vision and mission of NIOS. I have highlighted in bold the key points which match with NEEV’s philosphy of Integral Living

Vision

  • Sustainable inclusive learning with universal and flexible access to quality school education and skill development.”

Mission

  • Providing relevant, continuing and holistic education up to pre-degree level through Open and Distance Learning System.
  • Contributing to the Universalisation of School Education.
  • Catering to the educational needs of the prioritized target groups for equity and social justice.

Let’s take a look at the NIOS song

To fill our lives with light
And illuminate our path
Let’s be our own light
And choose the road to tread upon

The school free from constraints of time, resources and coffers
Offers to read anytime anywhere
With plethora of choices at any age
Friends let us arise and awake
And discern the destination

The door is always open at NIOS
With the options of learning and getting assessed
Not once but again and again
Of the many centres on the globe
Let’s opt for one of them

The song abounds with a sense of generosity, an inclusiveness and care. Rather than being a system of elimination, one can see the spirit of invitation and great patience. The thrust here is not to fail you as an individual but to provide you with every opportunity to empower yourself. The song talks about being self reliant, about helping oneself rather than relying on on infrastructure, money and teachers.

Textbooks that raise fundamental questions – Snippets from NIOS Text Books

Not only does NIOS have a grand and noble vision, it also has absolutely amazing course content. Unlike text books of other boards which a blind worshipers of human progress, unquestioningly hailing advancements in science and technology as the ascent of man, the NIOS text books raise fundamental questions for children to think about the direction man has taken. The NIOS books

In fact I read some paragraphs to Prof. Bhushan to show the subtlety and nuanced nature of questioning that NIOS brings about. Here I am providing two examples of questioning done in their social science textbook of secondary level.


Look at the respect accorded to the life of Paleolithic people. Look at how progress is not just blindly assumed. Look at the respect that has been accorded to nature. And all this has been done in the form of an open ended question. To me this is revolution !

And here there is another example

Look at how progress has not been hailed unanimously and pompously. Look at how the luxuries of the few have been contrasted with not even basic amenities lacking for many. Look at how the text makes us realize that we cannot be resting on our laurels of science and technology. There are many, many problems to be addressed in the world and these problems are about things as fundamental as water, health and education.

And the next snippet I am providing is the clincher. It is enough fuel for a true educator to engage children with for the whole of their life. A school like NEEV which wants to develop leaders, social entrepreneurs and change agents who shall help the world towards Integral Living cannot find a better check list of tasks they need to undertake. Those who feel that there is nothing that needs to do in the world and everything is hunky-dory can dip into this list and try solving at least one of these problems. I haven’t seen anything like this in the text books of ICSE Borad which I used to teach earlier.

There is a line which almost entirely states Integral Living philosophy – “The relationship of humans with self, society, and nature should inspire us to create a society in which all of us rather than only a few could lead a gainful life” Just this one sentence is enough for me to be a die-hard NIOS fan.

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I do have a different view on Nationalism and love for country. I believe we can substitute it with Global Family and love for the whole earth. Leaving this, I think the list is brilliant.

I could go on and on with one brilliant snippet after another from the Social Science as well as Science, English and Hindi Textbooks of NIOS pointing to the Integral Living philosophy of NEEV. But I guess, I shall reserve this for future posts hoping that I have sufficiently made my point of the unique nature of NIOS Textbooks to spark questioning and self inquiry in students. For me it was pure joy teaching Social Science to my kids and for Shikha, teaching Social Science became a life changing experience. Hopefully she can write about it someday.

Not only Social Science but also Science, English and Hindi books have gem like material to develop an Integrated, sensitive human being with leadership qualities. For example take a look at this exercise. This is a kind of situation that I have seen actually developing in our school.

Other student friendly features of NIOS

  • From classroom to anywhere
  • Freedom from the tyranny of schools who hold the power of certification
  • From teacher centric to learner centric
  • Students can pace their learning and appear for selected subjects in their board exams
  • From teacher as an instructor to teacher as a facilitator
  • From fixed time to anytime learning
  • From “you learn what we offer” to“we offer what you want to learn”.
  • From education as one time activity to education as life long activity
  • Equal stress on vocational education
  • Free access to learning material from website. No buying of expensive books from different publishers

To sum it up : in NIOS we have a board which is inclusive, inexpensive, universal, flexible, generous , responsive and with an amazing course content. I consider it a matter of great ignorance that parents and children are stuck with the notion that good education comes by paying money and getting children admitted in schools with glossy buildings. I consider it a matter of great shame that parents who consider themselves ‘educated’ are not able to discern the enormous intelligence and opportunity for learning that is embedded in NIOS.

Despite my having written this article, I know that the trenchant class divisions shall still rule, that parents will still bother about status quo rather than true education in choosing for their children. When I decided to switch from ICSE to NIOS Board, I faced difficulties from all quarters – teachers, students and parents; several teachers left school, 40 children were pulled out by their parents. But I remain wedded or perhaps welded to the democratic vision of NIOS Board. What is at stake is a movement, a revolution to make this world a better place through education.

At least I shall depart with the sense that I left no stone unturned to do my bit in this great cosmic drama.

Love,

Anurag

The Tricolour Unfolds in NEEV Vidyalaya: 70th Independence Day Celebrations

Dear Friends,

The 70th Independence Day was celebrated at NEEV Vidyalaya under a blue sky and warm sunshine. For yet another year, the rain gods spared their downpour on August 15th; unleashing their waters a week before and a week after this day.

Amidst parents, ex teachers, ex students and well wishers from NEEV the programs unrolled with characteristic simplicity and charm; the greenery of NEEV Vidyalaya providing a backdrop for melodious notes, frolicking dances and solemn speeches.

Just to give you all a real feel of how the program of that day, this time I am intertwining the photos with the anchor’s speech. The text of the anchor along with the pictures captures the collage of humble school celebrating a great day, not forgetting the solemness of the occasion. It also brings about the philosophy of NEEV Vidyalaya.

All the programs from Std. 6 to 10 were entirely conceived, practiced and presented on stage by the children themselves with absolutely no teacher supervision and guidance.

Love,
Anurag

Introduction, Welcome, Hoisting of National Flag and March Past

Good morning everyone: Our esteemed Principal Sir, parents, guests, teachers and our lovely students. We have assembled here, in NEEV Vidyalaya, on this solemn occasion to celebrate the 70th anniversary of India’s Independence Day.

How different is this morning? You shall discover this yourselves as the events of the day unfold just like the tricolours of our national flag.

I now request our school’s Head Girl, Harshal to escort our Principal Sir Mr. Anurag Jain to hoist the National Flag. I request all of you to please stand up for the national anthem.


1. Aazadi ke Rakhwaale – Poem by NUR, LKG and UKG

Highlighting the duty of every Indian to protect and preserve the hard earned freedom of our country, let’s begin our day’s program with an innocent yet patriotic performance by the tiny tots of Nur, Lkg and Ukg, who shall sing – Aazadi ke Rakhwaale

Thank you children. I hope we have taken the message given by these young children and let’s take a resolve to never take freedom for granted but to protect it with all our energy.

2. English Speech – Tannupriya Std. 9

Now I would like to invite Tannupriya of Std. 9 on stage to deliver a speech in English

Thank you Tannupriya for such a wonderful and inspiring speech about the sacrifice made by our noble leaders of the past. Do we have such noble men in our society today who are willing to devote their lives for the development of our country? I would like to leave you with a question, “Freedom comes with a responsibility of preserving it. Who shall take this responsibility?

3. Mera Desh Mahan – Song by Std. 1 and 2

Carrying on, our next program brings out the great spiritual and cultural heritage of our country. We must be proud to be a citizen of such a great and ancient nation. To honor this pride, the students of Std. 1 and 2 are going to present the song Mera Desh Mahan


Thank you children for giving us the message of being proud about our country. How many of us actually feel fortunate to have taken birth in a nation of such greatness, today?

 

4. Woh Kisna Hai – Dance by Std. 4 and 5 Girls

Now I would like to call upon stage the Radhas of Std. 4 and 5 expressing their love for Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna was not only the prince charming but also a great teacher who showed the path to real freedom from ignorance through the immortal words uttered by him in the Bhagavad Gita.

Thank you girls. What a lovely and graceful dance that was. When the spirit of freedom throbs in the minds of the citizens of the country then it find expression through the myriad forms of arts and dances. Like Krishna, I hope the youth of today develop the seriousness to defend freedom and at the same time develop the grace to rejoice in it, the way Lord Krishna did.

5. Hindi Speech – Riya of Std.7

Now I would like to welcome Riya, a student of Std. 7 on stage to deliver a speech in Hindi

Thank you Riya for your thoughtful words. Truly education forms the backbone of freedom and independence. Young minds and bodies twisted and tortured by a thoughtless and inhuman education system can hardly be the fore bearers of freedom. We need to bring a radical change in our education system so that children can flower in freedom and self responsibility.

6. Andher Nagri – Drama by Std.6 to 10

And now lets come to the theatre of life. Actually life is a drama when led in ignorance. Our next program is a skit which depicts how an ignorant leader creates darkness in the life of all. Please gear yourself up to watch a tragic yet humorous masterpiece of Drama – Andher Nagri

Thank you boys for an admirable performance. I hope all of us have taken the crucial message that when we blindly follow our leaders, there is chaos, darkness and ignorance. Unfortunately most of us are scared to question those in power. Therefore we have to develop the capacity to question and not merely follow authority. In a democracy, it is the people and not the government that rules. It is in our hands to create an Andher Nagri in India or an India that shows light to the world.

7. Yeh to Sach Hai ki Bhagwan Hai – Song by boys of Std. 2,3 and 4

Indian culture is steeped in God and religion and this can be seen in it’s 33 crore Gods. We have built grand temples since ancient times to worship statues of God, bestowing our faith in his infinite wisdom. But, Where is God? Who has seen him? In what form does he exist? To answer these mysterious questions we have students of Std. 2, 3 & 4 singing the song “Yeh to Sach Hai ki Bhagwan Hai”

Thank you boys for a truly appreciable performance

8. Dance on Sau Dard Hai by Std. 4 and 5 boys

Next we have a power packed dance performance by Std. 4 and 5 boys on the song Sau Dard Hai

Thank you boys for a truly thrilling performance

9. Hai Preet Jahan ki Reet Sada – Song by Std. 6 to 9

After receiving an education in the western model, the youth and children of today are blinded by the developments of science and technology of the west. They look down upon Indian culture and fail to recognize it’s profound wisdom as well as the enormous contributions it has made in the development of mankind.

So, to bring back the pride in the achievements of our country by understanding it’s glorious past, the students of Std. 6 to 9 are going to present a heart-warming song – Hai Preet Jahan ki Reet Sada

Thank you boys and girls. I hope after listening to this none of us shall remain ignorant about the immense contributions of our country. It was our country which realized that more than machines, gadgets and bombs what humanity requires is love. The greatest gift India has given to the world is the possibility of living on this earth with Truth, Freedom and Love.

10. Chak Dhoom Dhoom – Dance by Std. 2 & 3

Next we have on stage the students of Std. 2 & 3 to delight us with an energetic dance performance of getting soaked in the rains, now that we are in the midst of a rainy season.

Thank you students for entertaining us with your light hearted dance on a truly melodious song.

11. Mohe Rang do Laal – Dance by Girls of Std. 6 to 9

India is a land of numerous dance forms. One of them being the classical dance form called Kathak. Classical dance and performance arts, states this ancient Hindu text Natyashastra, are a form of expression of spiritual ideas, virtues and the essence of scriptures. Our next performance by girls of Std. 6 to 9 brings alive the delicate nuance of Kathak dance on the song Mohe Rang do Laal.

Thank you girls for a really graceful performance.

12. Tribal Dance by Std. 6 to 10

Continuing our exploration of various dance forms, we have a totally refreshing Tribal dance of Saanthalis of Jharkhand. Characterized by delicate, graceful and extremely co-ordinated steps of a group of dancers, tribal dances celebrate communion with each other and nature. The tribals have been custodians of nature since ancient times. They have protected the trees, rivers and forests for centuries. But with the onslaught of modern science and technology, the tribals are losing their culture and wisdom. This dance is a way of honoring their great culture and contribution to mankind.

Thank you students for such an adorable performance. I am sure we can all feel the beats of the drum still vibrating in our hearts and our feet just waiting to dance to the tribal tunes.

13. Gaaye Ja – Song by Nisha of Std. 9

The last program of the day is a truly amazing song sung by Nisha – Gaaye Ja. The song starts out with a sad note, about difficult times that lie ahead in a person’s life. There are times in all our lives where we face a sea of difficulties. The world we live in today is not an easy one. Numerous challenges lie ahead, especially for people who want to live their dreams.

Thank you Nisha for a deeply emotional and heart stirring performance. I hope we all receive the positive message at the end of this song which begins with a sad note. We do not have to stop dreaming. We have to dream as well as develop an unbreakable spirit that can withstand all challenges that lie in the way of completion of our dreams. To get up after getting knocked down by every challenge of life and to move again in the direction of our dreams is the path of the brave.

14. Speech by Principal Sir

The freedom fighters who gave up their lives for their country had seen a dream of a free and independent India. They did not give up till India got free. What dreams do we have for our country and the world? To talk about this I invite upon stage our Principal Sir to end today’s Independence Day celebration by his speech.

14. Thanksgiving

Thank you sir for your thoughtful words. With this we come to the end of today’s Independence Day Celebration in NEEV Vidyalaya. I would like to thank our guests and parents who took out their valuable time to watch the program. Your presence does a lot to motivate us. I would like to thank all the teachers who trained the students for the various performances. Last but not the least I would like to thank all the students who worked hard to put up a delightful performance today and made the 70th Independence a memorable day for all of us.

Teachers of NEEV Vidyalaya

Our Chinese Intern – Lin, trying Tribal Dance with the Children after the Program

Shikha with our Friend Manjeet from Bangalore enjoying the programs (Lin – Chinese Intern and our friend Monica in background)

The Youngest Spectator and and a Proud Indian at NEEV Vidyalaya Independence Day Celebrations – Akshat (Son of our friend Ashish)

A Man Is As Good As His Word – T G Sathish and the Dream of NEEV CIL School (A Temple of Learning)

T G Sathish
T G Sathish – My Friend Who Is Helping in Building NEEV CIL School through his financial contribution

 

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Construction activity being carried out for NEEV CIL School

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws will be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings.” That is what I think freedom really is.

This is what Henry David Thoreau wrote in the concluding chapter of his classic Walden.

He concludes the paragraph by writing

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

When I began envisioning a different kind of education system a year ago, I was building my castle in the air. I say so because there was nothing in my visible world that indicated towards any materialization of this vision that was unfolding in me.

But as Thoreau says, when a man advances “confidently” in the direction of his dreams and “endeavours to live the life which he has imagined”, he will meet with a success in “uncommon hours”. Again and again this maxim has been validated for me in the journey of NEEV.

In our normal lives we barter our dreams for the corroded shell of security. We never “pass the invisible boundary” that Thoreau talks about because we do not want to put old things behind, even though we know that we have outlived their significance. We do not dare to dream for a new world.

When I started seeing the limitations of the present system of education, it became an imperative for us to create a new school where the vision can be lived. But the “uncommon hour” had to come. It finally came one day when I received a call from a place as uncommon as one could expect – from my college friend T. G Sathish.

T. G Sathish, myself and Shikha were batch mates in college – REC Kurukshetra. At the time Sathish called me up, I could have added just another line to this pithy introduction; Sathish had recently become a sponsor in NEEV’s Rural Kid Sponsorship Program. Though he was on NEEV’s mailing list for the past ten years, his sponsorship had started quite silently and mysteriously a year before in 2015.

While in college, I can’t recollect having not more than two conversations with him, so I could safely describe our relationship as nothing more than an acquaintance. But of late, towards the end of 2015, I started observing an increasing frequency of donations by him. In 2015 he became the largest donor to NEEV by donating Rs. 3 lakhs in a single year. I felt that some boundary was being pushed, the relationship was shaping up to be something more than an acquaintance. Sensing this, I went beyond my customary thanksgiving for the donation to share the vision of new NEEV CIL School.

A few rapid fire mail exchanges took place between us as Sathish tried to understand my new vision. Then finally the invisible boundary was surpassed. A new, universal, and more liberal law began to establish itself around and within. The confirmation of it came to me when I got a mail from Sathish with the following lines

I believe in destiny and God has his mysterious ways in telling me what to do. Many years back an astrologer predicted that I will help build a temple in my 40’s. Now based on your mail, I realize that there is no greater temple than the temple of learning”

Within a few days of this mail, Sathish booked his flight tickets to Jamshedpur to visit NEEV.

At Jamshedpur, Sathish stayed at the NEEV Soaps Unit, spending time with the NEEV CIL members (Anjali, Babu, Simi, Sourin and Suraj) having dialogues with them, visiting the land site that I was proposing for the new school and also visiting NEEV Vidyalaya.

We all were struck by Sathish’s sense of candour, humility and genuineness. In one of the many conversation we had, Sathish asked me, “Tell me Anurag. What assurance do you require from my side that I shall help you in every possible way to bring up the new school?”.

“Nothing”, I replied.

In my two score years of life on earth, I have met and interacted with thousands of people, from the poorest to the richest. So I know when I am in the presence of something pure and genuine. But the financial sum involved here was no joke. We were talking about Rs. 30 Lakhs of donation for the land and the construction.

Seeing and interacting with Sathish, I put my trust in him the way a baby puts in it’s mother. But I must admit that having received so many knocks from the world, there was still an iota of doubt remaining. And this iota of doubt too got obliterated when we got the first transfer from Sathish for the land purchase. On 2nd June, 2016 Sathish made the first transfer of Rs. 16.25 Lakhs for the land purchase. A dream of a lifetime (something which I had held for 20 years) became a reality in a single second.

Not only this, as the school construction work starts, there are requirements of funds at a weekly basis. I just have to ask once for my requirement and the funds are transferred by Sathish at the speed of light. With every transfer I receive, I see the dream shaping up into a reality; the borewell digging, the handpump installation, the boundary wall construction…..forms dancing, whirling and coming into existence from empty space.

There are times when my eyes become moist with gratitude and I try to express my heartfelt thanks to the one whom God sent and this is what Sathish has to say

Whatsapp Message

But despite the tremendous contribution of this one man, we still need to raise Rs. 15 Lakhs more to finish construction of our unique school.

If one man can do this much, I wonder what we all can do together to bring forth a new kind of school – a temple of learning. I am sure that all friends of NEEV have the capacity to raise half the amount of what one man has committed to this vision. And I know Sathish is not a multi millionaire 🙂

Help us build the temple of NEEV CIL School. These kids are waiting for it……………………………………………..

Kids
Children of Hurlung Village – Eagerly waiting for the new school to come up

Relationships are more vast than the earth : thank you all for your birthday wishes

No silver foils, no tinsel, no spangles and no glitter bedecked my birthday. What deluged me though was a huge wave of wishes and love from people across time and space. The forty and one years I have lived on earth kind of resembles an archaeological site where I can find all layers of my past, delicately preserved, as well as relationships attached to all these layers, right up to the time I was born. As I was sifting and responding to all the birthday wishes on internet, phone etc. I was replaying all the moments I have had with people who wished me. They stretch from times when I was born, crawling on all fours and learning to take the first baby steps to walk in this world – to the times when I started going to school, college, job, teaching, principal-ship, NEEV and my spiritual journey – to becoming a teacher of children who have started bearing kids 🙂

J Krishnamurti, the philosopher, seer and my life’s inspiration had once remarked – relationships are more vast than the earth. Like so many of his cryptic, mystical and poetic utterances, this one reverberates in my mind and grows over the years to reveal its sublime beauty. Life is all about relationships. No money, no material can ever provide me with the richness relationships have poured in my life. Yes, I have seen pain, sorrow and suffering in relationships. But equally, in fact more so, I have seen the human capacity to love, to break boundaries, to reach out to the other.

I would have remained bitter and skeptic had it not been for NEEV. It got me in touch with all of you. It got me in touch with this resilient human goodness that lies buried under all the violence, brutality and competition that animates the world. No, I am not a romantic. I would not make haste in saying that humankind is redeemed; that we have made the kingdom of God on earth. We are far from it. But what I can say with confidence is that if we extend the hand of love, there is an answer from the other side. LOVE WORKS. But one has to move through sorrow. When we deny real sorrow in ourselves, we can never see the blossoming of love.

I am just pasting a few pics of some gestures by my school kids as well as a lovely video by my friend Eva along with her adorable friends from Bulgaria. Of course doing so is kind of unfair. It does not do justice to all the love that was showered through mails and messages. I am sure my friends shall pardon me for this act of omission. I post the gestures of the school children because these are the children all our friends of NEEV have been supporting. I am sure they shall find joy in their tender expressions.

Thank you all for making the panoramic landscape of NEEV, for creating a network of relationships that one day shall truly live up to Krishnamurti’s words of being vaster than the earth. For then only, we shall wake up to a new dawn of humanity.

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By my students of NEEV Vidyalaya – Std. 8, 9 & 10

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My students are very fond of flowers. These are delicately perfumed flowers of the Indian Siris Tree. The Peepal leaf and the flowers capture the environment and mood of nature during this time of the year. These exquisitely scented flowers bloom only during this time of the year. The peepal tree at this time has shed off it’s old leaves of last year and looks resplendent with shapely and shiny green leaves, with the younger ones having a beautiful tinge of red.

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The Indian Siris Tree, inscrutably also called the Woman’s Tongue was one of the many trees planted by us in NEEV Vidyalaya ten years ago when we moved into the school campus bereft of all trees. Today it graces my birthday with flowers. It is one of my senior children 🙂 looking after the nursery and junior school kids who frolick under its shade during school dismissal.

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A card made by one of my Std. 10 students

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And finally a cute, little video of my friends from Bugaria. The video can be watched at