Tag Archives: neev

Mansi’s Journal on her visit to NEEV !

In my last posting I shared about Mansi and Mehr, the two youngsters who visited NEEV on behalf of Global Giving. While I shared Mehr’s thoughts on NEEV in my last mail, a couple of weeks later, Mansi sent us a journal about her experiences of her stay at NEEV. I am sharing the same with all of you.

Mansi's JournalMansi's Journal 2


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 !

World Consumer Rights Day : NEEV finds a mention in Guardian Magazine & Sarai at Toria

World-Consumers-Rights-DayToday is World Consume Rights Day. I take this as an opportunity to remind all of you the power you hold as consumers to change the world you live in. Your simple act of buying, purchasing or choosing how and where you spend your vacation can be an act of making this world a better place. Even as you enjoy, you can rest with a much deeper satisfaction of having played your part in taking care for the earth.

No purchasing decision exists that does not itself imply some moral choice, and there is no purchasing that is not ultimately moral in nature. So Ethical consumerism can be defined as the practice of purchasing products and services produced in a way that minimizes social and/or environmental damage, while avoiding products and services deemed to have a negative impact on society or the environment.

As you already may know that NEEV being a social enterprise, your decision to buy NEEV products helps in social and environmental ways.

  • Socially : Provides dignified employment to rural women. Helps young women to complete their degrees. Aids housewives to complement their household earnings. Provides a humane atmosphere of work, free from exploitation and in dignified labour. NEEV also runs a low cost English Medium School in the village for Integral Education of children, thereby causing all round development of society.
  • Environmentally : Creates products with absolutely no or very few chemicals. No pollution caused to surroundings. No sound, smoke or effluents produced in the process of manufacture. More and more land being brought under cultivation of herbs, thus leading to greening of the village. At present NEEV grows it’s own Aloe Vera, Mehendi, Rose and some other herbal plants.

NEEV Herbal Products are supplied to various other Social Enterprises, one of them being Sarai at Toria, an Eco Lodge situated in Panna National Park, Madhya Pradesh. Recently one of the travelers to this lodge, Mr HM Jackson, happened to use NEEV products and was enthused enough by them to make a small mention about them in the Guardian Magazine. Since the article mentions several Socially responsible initiatives in India, I thought today would be a good day to share not only the article but also about our good friends – Sarai at Toria.

The article can be found at https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/mar/07/india-local-heroes-readers-tips-delhi-mumbai-kerala

The Guardian

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Joanna, who along with her husband Dr. Raghu founded the eco-lodge, has been a great friend of NEEV and has not only religiously stocked NEEV products at her lodge but has actively been spreading the word of NEEV to all travelers. Our sincere thanks to them for being such good friends and for their wonderful initiative. Their website is http://www.saraiattoria.com

I am including a detailed write-up along with pictures about Sarai at Toria so that if any of you are interested, you may consider spending your vacations here.


Celebrating International Women’s Day : Article on Shikha in Womenia Magazine

Dear Friends,


Today is International Women’s Day. On this occasion, I am reproducing an article on Shikha and NEEV Soaps that appeared in online Womenia Magazine last month. The article can be found at http://www.womeniaworld.com/home/ContentPage?ContentId=1387 . I am reproducing the same article below.

Womenia Emblem

The  aim of Womenia Magazine is to “help the new Indian women to break free of limitations, and disempowering thinking, get in touch with their own needs, and achieve balance and harmony in all areas of her life and get connected to the news world.” It profiles women achievers who have overcome obstacles or demonstrated courage to rise above their circumstances and get where they are today.

Shikha wrote a beautiful forward to this article, which I am sharing below. Following it is the article which appeared in Womenia Magazine. It is Hindi.

I often wonder what is special about Neev Soaps, and what would I want people to know about it. For sure it is a social enterprise giving dignified livelihood to rural women. But every time, I say this much, I feel that I haven’t been able to convey the true essence of what Neev Soaps is. It is surely not about how many soaps we sell and to how many shops. It is about the radiance on the face of each girl who is a part of the Neev Soaps team. It is about their giggles, their unique role in the whole process which they carry out completely on their own, energized by their spirit rather than by any kind of fear. It is about their spontaneity, their natural and true being, their togetherness and their creativity. To my eyes its a miracle what these girls achieve, laboring ever so happily for hours together, producing fragrant experiences for us. The photographs enmeshed in the article catch some essence of the spirit of Neev Soaps. I am grateful to Priya Shandilya for  writing and publishing this article on Neev Soaps.”

 Womenia Magazine

महिलाओं को भी मिला रोजगार

  • 2/15/2017 8:24:30 PM
  • फोकस

प्रिया शांडिल्य

देसी और हर्बल प्रोडक्ट की ओर लोगों का रुझान बढ़ाने के लिए शिखा ने नीव की शुरुआत की थी और आज इसकी लोकप्रियता इतनी बढ़ गई है कि विदेशों में भी इसकी खूशबू फैल रही हैं. शिखा की आठ साल पहले शुरू की गयी हर्बल प्लांटेशन के प्रोडक्ट की  भारत सहित जापान, सिंगापुर, न्यूज़ीलैंड आदि देशों में भी खूब पसंद किया जा रहा है.

anurag and shikha

शिखा मूलरूप से फरीदाबाद की रहनेवाली है. शादी के बाद शिखा झारखण्ड राज्य के जमशेदपुर में बस गयी. साल 2007 में अपने पति अनुराग जैन के साथ मिलकर शिखा ने एक छोटी सी हर्बल प्लांट की शुरुआत की. इससे पहले नीव ट्रस्ट नाम से उनकी एक संस्था चलती थी. जो की गरीब तबके की महिलाओं और लड़कियों के हित में काम करती है. यह संस्था जमशेदपुर के पास ही हुरलुंग गांव में स्थित है. जब शिखा इस संस्था से जुड़ी तो उसके मन में महिलाओं के लिए कुछ अलग करने की ख्वाहिश जागी. अपने इसी ख्वाहिश को नीव उत्पादों के ज़रिये आकार दिया शिखा ने.

जब हर्बल प्लांटेशन की नींव रखी गयी तो इस फैक्ट्री में प्राकृतिक उत्पादों का निर्माण तय किया गया. फिर आस- पास के गांव की लगभग 200 औरतों को हर्बल साबुन, शैंपू, तेल, इत्यादि घरेलू सामान बनाने की ट्रेनिंग दी गयी. धीरे धीरे और महिलायें इससे जुड़ती गयी. शुरुआत में तो दस बीस उत्पाद ही बनाये जाते थे, मगर आज नीव हर्बल प्लांटेशन की अपनी 100 से ज्यादा उत्पाद है. वर्तमान में 30 से ज्यादा महिलाओं को शिखा ने नीव के ज़रिये रोजगार से जोड़ा. आज वह महिलायें खुद का और अपने परिवार को आर्थिक मदद देने में समर्थ है. शिखा की इस पहल से आगे और भी महिलायें को रोजगार मिलेगा.

Shikha with women 1

नीव प्लांटेशन में प्राकृतिक जड़ी बूटियों से हर्बल प्रोडक्ट बनाये जाते हैं. वुमनिया से बातचीत में शिखा ने कहा कि  नीव का मक़सद लोगों को आयुर्वेद और एरोमा थेरेपी का एक मिश्रित स्वाद देना है जिससे लोग अपनी प्रकृति से जुड़े और खुद को स्वस्थ रखें. भारत में 175 जैविक (आर्गेनिक) दुकानों में नींव के उत्पाद सप्लाई किये जाते हैं. इसके अलावा 7 अन्य देशों में भी नीव के उत्पादों की काफी मांग है.

नीव की खासियत है की ये फल फूलों से बना होता है और इसमें किसी प्रकार का कोई केमिकल नहीं इस्तेमाल किया गया. शिखा को नीव हर्बल प्लांटेशन के लिए उन्हें बेस्ट खाद्य विलेज इंडस्ट्री के लिए राष्ट्रपति से भी सम्मानित किया गया है. शिखा को फेमिना मैगज़ीन के लिए भी नामांकित किया गया था. इन सब के अलावा शिखा को उनके कार्य के लिया काफी सराहना मिली है.

shikha with women 2


Architects of Future : Children’s Day Celebrations at NEEV


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.



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


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


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


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


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


Shikha wishing the children a Happy Children’s Day


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


Biscuit eating race for children of Kindergarten


 Balloon blowing race for children of LKG


Wearing the shoe race for children of Std. 1


Hopping race by students of Std. 3


Bursting the Balloon Race for Std. 2


 50 m dash for Std 4


Spoon and Marble Race for Std. 5


 Three legged race for Std. 6 & 7


 Musical Chairs for Std. 8, 9 & 10


 Shikha commenting on the state of affairs


 NEEV CIL Members and teachers giving cards to their students


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

Silent Diwali Wishes and much more from village Hurlung – NEEV !


A Diwali House made by the children of village Hurlung where the new NEEV CIL School is being constructed (no school, education or engineering degrees required for this construction J)

I am a tad late for Diwali wishes from NEEV ! Nonetheless, since my mails on all festivals are thinly veiled excuses for speaking something quite beyond festivals, I decided to post this, regardless of the fact that I am a day late. Festivals created by man come and go: what is more important that we humans discover a way of living that makes every moment a festival, an unceasing joy of discovering life.

Far from the ruckus created by the city folk, Diwali in villages is a more serene affair. Unadulterated by the  pompousness of city revelry which adds nothing but a load of toxic gases leading to global warming, Diwali in the villages is still connected to the eternal rhythms of nature. Diwali in the villages is marked by the beginning of harvesting of the rain fed crop of rice.

As we negotiate a meandering village dirt road, we see a field in which some rice plants are cut and lying. Around the same time, the owner of the field, a friend of ours, happens to pass by. We inquire into the reason as to why some rice crops have been harvested. He satiates our curiosity by saying that these have been harvested as an offering for their Diwali puja. Instantly Shikha plucks a few grains of rice, some still green and some already golden brown and tastes them to find out the difference. Women I guess are more cued to taste and smell. As a male I remain largely cued to my visual sense. I watch with piquant interest as Shikha chews the grains. According to her the green grains of rice are sweeter than the golden rice grains which have already ripened. I ruminate on the way senses offer the greatest education. No amount of sitting in classes, in agricultural universities or chemistry labs can offer an insight into the workings of nature than our senses can. Holistic education is not centered only around mind and intellect, not cubbyholed in class rooms. Nature is the laboratory for true education.


A farmer’s plot of land where some rice – already turning golden – lies harvested as an offering for Diwali puja


Another field where a part of the rice crop has been harvested for offering in Diwali Puja

As I continue walking on the meandering village dirt track unlike the straight and linear city roads on which we whiz in our cars and bikes, my thoughts continue their unhurried meandering on education. I remember how the other day I saw a father and son returning from the market with a thermocol Diwali house. What a far cry it is from the way things are at the village. Where city bred brats purchase thermocol Diwali houses, the ‘uneducated’ village kids demonstrate such creativity, enterprise, ingenuity and enthusiasm in making Diwali houses out of natural materials. When education is made into a commodity no wonder, kids learn only commodification as a way of life. And the market is all the more happy. Education, market, business, technology and environmental pollution – all go hand in glove. Have a look at some of the Diwali houses made by the children


 Diwali House 2 – made by children of village Hurlung


 Diwali house 3 – made by children of village Hurlung

As I walk along, I wonder what will NEEV CIL school teach the village children. Will it teach them to become purchasers of thermocol Diwali houses or will it teach them to flower in their inherent ingenuity? Some of my friends tell me that education should ‘uplift’ children and make them ‘successful’ in life by uplifting them out of their ‘poverty’. We urban folks have become quite glib in the usage of words. Words like “upliftment”, “success” and “poverty” are laden with assumptions which we never care to explore. What is “poverty”? Is purchasing Diwali house made of thermocol poverty or making houses out of mud poverty? What is success – making Diwali houses or purchasing Diwali houses? What is upliftment – creating consumers or creating producers?

Unfortunately the urban folk are not only glib about words but also proceed with an arrogance of a missionary zeal to promote naked market consumerism as a way of life. Thereby we have created an ugly and fractured society where the work of hands is relegated and debased and the intellect is put on the altar. So while the city folk display their festive zeal by lighting up their houses with Chinese manufactured electric bulbs, the rural folk do what they are best at – decorating their huts and houses with their hands and natural colours. Here are a few pics of the simply decorated houses whose humility, innocence and aesthetics cannot be matched by the harshly glaring electric bulbs.


A house in village Hurlung decorated for Diwali


 Same house from a different angle


The exterior of the same house in village Hurlung


A woman in village Hurlung painting her house for Diwali

The degree to which we move away from work with our hands and the degree to which we pollute the earth decrees our rise to wealth, status and success. Lavish use of electricity to light up Diwali houses – electricity which comes from making large dams displacing villages or from burning coal which comes from rapacious coal mining after clearing forests – is a sign of affluence and education, in a classic inversion of values. Whereas a villager plastering his/her mud earth causing no pollution and using one’s own hands and ingenuity is considered an ‘uneducated illiterate’ in need of education by our corrupted norms.

 While the uneducated villagers venerate nature without the need of learning environmental science and without getting a noble prize for doing research on global warming, the educated urban folk with all their degrees and all their supercomputers and their vain research on climate change have not yet learnt the simple act of loving and protecting nature. See how the people in Hurlung village love and respect nature


A mud pedestal around a tusli plant newly plastered for Diwali in Hurlung


 The pedestal containing Tulsi plant newly painted for Diwali in Village Hurlung

My walk is almost over. After another rejuvenating round of walk in the fields of village Hurlung, we are making our way back to the unit. The familiar sights of a village quietly settling to receive the dark and starry night greet me. The goats are tied in front of the houses, resting blissfully after nibbling the whole day. Smoke quietly and mysteriously billows out of the tiled huts. Out in the city, at the same time, one would witness the angry traffic rush of people gushing of their offices. The fact that tomorrow is Diwali does not make a dent to the life which is set on eternal rhythms. Electric lights adorn one or two houses of people who have become tainted by the urban mentality. The lights look garish, very out of place in a village which is nestled in a pool of darkness. I rue at the fact that the winds of ‘development’ are out to claim their latest victim.

I wonder if we can stop this rout. I wonder if the NEEV CIL school can do anything to preserve and take forward the wisdom that lies buried in Village Hurlung. I wonder if there are other people in a world gone out of limits who can get what I am trying to say and lend a helping hand in this mammoth task of education. We need to create a new world, a world without conflict. It seems to be extraordinarily impossible. But I have already made the choice for myself. It is not about whether one shall succeed or not, whether one can change one or many, whether the world will change. What matters is that one enters the path to create a new world. The road shall be made by walking.

As I just about to reach the NEEV Herbal Cosmetics unit after our walk, I come across a simple rangoli made to celebrate Diwali. The rangoli adorns the threshold of another world. A world waiting to be born.

A very happy Diwali to all of you. To all our friends who have helped us at NEEV to chart this road. May this Diwali lead you from darkness to light.


 Rangoli decoration in front of a village Hurlung house beckoning a new world

And finally, here is my Diwali gift to all of you. As you know that Diwali also coincides with the blossoming of lotus flowers. So when our NEEV CIL children went for a walk, they collected some lotuses from the village pond. I lovingly offer them to you.


Lotus flowers that blossom even in the muddiest waters


The Blooming Kash Phool of Hurlung Riverside Beckons Durga Puja – Help us save village Hurlung

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Madhubani Folk Art Style Durga Ma painted by Babu – a NEEV CIL Member

(Do you think we can sell paintings like these to help make NEEV CIL Community sustainable? Please let me know)

Maa aschhen (Maa Durga is coming home) is the expression that reverberates on the lips of every Bengali as Durga Puja approaches. Every festival of India is inextricably woven with nature. Urban folk have lost this connection but those who have the rare privilege to stay in the rural areas can participate in the wondrous harmony of Indian festivals and nature. At the slightest hint of a clear blue sky, pleasant cool breeze, and scattered white clouds, a Bengali villager will announce to the world Maa aschhen( Maa Durga is coming home). It has now become sort of a ritual, clear blue sky, cool breeze and scattered clouds equate to Durga Puja. Doesn’t really matter if it rains the next day but as soon as the sun rises again and there’s this blue sky with scattered clouds, the villager will again reassure himself “Maa aschhen.”

But there is an even more spectacular occurrence that predates the Durga Pooja. It is the blossoming of the Kash Phool. Kaash Phool or the Kans grass (Saccharum Spontaneum) is something every Bengali will identify Durga Puja with. Kaash Phool is a type of grass that grows during this season and is mainly found along the banks of the rivers. The sight of Kash Phool will send any Bengali into a nostalgic frenzy. However, one doesn’t need to be only a Bengali to be enraptured by the beauty of this grass. Adorning the riverside like a tuft of snow against a crystal clear blue sky and fluffy clouds, the sight is magical to behold. One has to see it in order to appreciate it. Words and photographs cannot even begin to do justice to it.

However our advancing materialistic and technological ambitions are wiping out such sights. Where are the riversides where the Kans grasses can grow and beckon Durga Ma, the one who slays the evil. When we have finished with polluting the last river on our earth with toxic chemicals and destroyed our riversides, the Kans grasses will stop growing and there would be no one to beckon Durga Ma to help us from the Mahishasura of technology. Already the riverside of Village Hurlung is prey to indiscriminate sand mining. On a few fortunate days – when the greedy tractors have not scraped every last grain of sand for constructing concrete jungles – we are greeted by a sand bank; on which we can lay down and watch the night sky bejeweled with stars.

I am pasting a few photographs of the Kans Grass adorning the riverside of Hurlung. Several visitors have come to NEEV and have been mesmerized by the sight. You can help us save these natural wonders in a small village by supporting the NEEV CIL School construction. The NEEV CIL school will be the centre for a different kind of education for the village kids, an education that would help them appreciate and conserve nature, an education that will help them adopt a sustainable and ecological lifestyle, an education that would raise an army of children who can redress the wrongs we have done to the earth, an education that would seed a new civilization based on Integral Living – a life without conflict. We spend thousands of rupees buying dresses, making pandals and eating food; none of which is going to save the earth from environmental destruction. If we grasp the real essence of Durga Puja, then we shall join hands with an endeavor that can help save the earth. That would be the real Durga Puja.


The Kans Grass adorning the Swarnarekha Riverside silhouetted by the Dalma Mountains and clear blue sky


The silver splendour of Kans Grass shining in the balmy autumn light


 The Kans Grass shining against a threatening monsoon sky

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 The Kans Grass growing along the Swarnarekha riverside

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The Kans Grass in warm sunny weather bordering the paddy fields of Hurlung

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 The Kans Grass shooting like a white flame besides a Hurlung Village house


 A dragon fly clutching a straw of Kans Grass against an evening sky

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Picture of our friend Manjeet and NEEV Intern from Germany Eva against the sea of Kans Grass


Our friend Vinita with the CIL members with the background of Kans Grass