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Ram's Lecture This Month - July 2012

"The Traditions We Teachers Belong To", Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. 16th July 2012 morning 10 a.m. Teacher's Workshop on the Ocassion of the 150th Birthday Celebrations of Sri Ramakrishnananda Swamiji, the founder of Chennai Sri Ramakrishna Math. (more details here).


coming up - awareness and training programmes

Looking forward to training on 'Food & Nutrition' to several batch of NSS students who as part of their annual camp will carry 'health and nutrition' awareness in the villages in Kancheepuram district. These students are drawn from several engineering colleges in the district. In all over 250 students will undergo intense exercise on skills and information that they will pass on to the villages, including, emergency first aid, resuscitation, knowledge on local nutritious food, etc. 
Apart from these, we will also be training the field survey personnel for the health research work in three districts of TN next week, teams of about 20 people will work in each district gathering grassroot health care management and governance data.


Prajna - a joint venture...

Current understanding of health care in society is based on parameters of illness. Most of know more terms and reference points of illness than health to even describe our status of health - 'my blood sugar is fine', 'my BP is so and so', 'my ...'. such indicators are meant to see if we are ill, not to measure if we are healthy! absence of illness is not the only definitely of healthy life, a conscious living even with physical ailments certainly is possible and has proven to be valuable in the life of many great souls.

Prajna is a joint attempt by Samanvaya and Ekam Foundation to try to understand health of humans that is linked to their environment, polity, society and economy...factors that adversely impact health, which however are not always factored in while measuring, analyzing and / or understanding human health. 

Currently we have initiated studies in two blocks each in  three districts of Tamilnadu, as a beginning of such an understanding along with gra…

a moment to cherish...

Over the last couple of years, most friends of Samanvaya have been aware of our work with several units in Auroville - in shaping a enterprise centered development project that will roll out the larger bio-regional work in the kaluvelli bio-region in which Auroville is situated.


it was a moment to cherish when last week we had the MOU signed between the Tamilnadu Corporation for Development of Women (TNCDW) as the nodal agency and Integral Rural Development (IRD) unit of Auroville for the execution of this project, known as SEDAB (Sustainable Enterprise Development in the Auroville Bio-region). 
the project over the next three years will aim to create over 50 community based enterprises in over 11 eco-friendly domains including earth block production, herbal cosmetics, creating village botanists, etc. through the community outreach units of Auroville. over 10 Auroville based units are combining forces, bringing their expertise, knowledge and skills for the purpose of villages in the are…

Rose of Ridvan Service Award for Social Research & Writing to Samanvaya

It was a surprise honour to be invited and feted for 'Social Research & Writing' by the Baha'i community of Chennai. 


On the 1st May 2012, in an elegant simple ceremony they honoured several people in the city for their contribution to the social sector, including Arun (of KFI fame, now managing eco-restoration and a school near Tiruvannamalai) for his work on sea turtle conservation, Aparna Nagesh for her social initiatives through dance as a medium, Dr. Sailakshmi and Ekam team for its work in saving infants in government hospitals across the state among others. 


Samanvaya was honoured for its work in social research over the last 14 years that has shaped / influences several social ventures, initiatives and organizations. We thank the organizers for this honour and the wonderful evening. Any word of appreciation strengths the resolve to do what one does and inspires others to perhaps dive in.

when someone 'leaves a body'

'Njal left his body' said the simple subject line of this morning’s mail from Auroville announcing the death of a German origin Aurovillian, Njal. Immediately the mind went back to the time I met with Njal and his partner Rita about a decade ago during the peak of the Endosulfon controversy at Kasargod. They had been fighting usage of this deadly pesticide in the Auroville region, particularly in the cashew farms. Their fight was against this POP being so liberally used while alternatives were available.
I remembered meeting them and being gifted with several crudely stitched cloth bags in various sizes which they had made with unbleached coarse cotton as an alternative to carry bags. This was still a time when talking about these things hadn't caught large scale attention (and plastic carry bags were just getting to be seen as a menace in society). I still use some of these bags.
When I saw the message this morning the immediate feeling was sadness, that despite being in …

coming up: "community based social enterprises", a samanvaya publication

Between 2009 and 2011, Samanvaya team along with CCD co-created and managed the programme, "Community based Social Enterprises" (COSE, for short) - an intense monthly workshop on social enterprises to practicing and aspiring entrepreneurs in rural Tamilnadu. The programme developed and adopted several innovative tools and methods of learning locally relevant and sustainable enterprises in rural Tamilnadu. The entrepreneurs spent 4-5 days with the faculty each month in a series of intense workshops where their work through the month became the case studies and their hands-on knowledge of managing the enterprises threw new challenges each month.

The record of these sessions, the learning pedagogy, case studies, presentations and lectures provide for some very interesting insights into social enterprises, particularly those based within the community. The same was compiled last year thanks to the effort of a volunteer intern at Samanvaya, since then the compilation has gone th…

Lecture by Prof. Hans Peter Durr, 09/03/2012

Listened to this amazing lecture by the German Prof. Hans Peter Durr, it is amazing that someone of his age (89), could stand and deliver a lecture for over an hour in the first place. And then he spoke on "Nuclear Power and the Hunger for Energy" in Chennai when the TN govt. is about to make the critical decision on whether to go ahead or not with the Nuclear Power Plant at Koodankulam.

His ridiculing the entire idea of Nuclear energy being for any 'peaceful purpose' in complete scientific terms and with unambiguous contempt will go a long way in helping the cause of the anti-Nuclear protesters in Koodankulam. It was great to listen to him dismiss each one of the arguments of the proponents of the Nuclear Energy with a wave of his hand and clear scientific reasoning.

I do hope the TAG - VHS Research Centre for Diabetes that organized this 'oration' will publish the lecture in a some form (or better still make it available online as a video), it will be very…

Release of Report on Food Safety & Security

The students of the Public Relations Department of the Stella Maris College did a village survey on food security and safety in Villupuram district along with the SHG members associated with the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG). This process was facilitated by Samanvaya. The findings and report were released on March 2nd, Friday in the College. 
Mr. Radhakrishnan, IPS, heading the vigilance of the Civil Supplies Corporation of Tamilnadu released the report. Ramasubramanian, Chief, Samanvaya participated and spoke on the occassion.  Seen in this picture along with Ram, Sr. Susan, Secretary, Stella Maris College, Mr. Radhakrishnan, IPS, he faculty and students of Public Relations Department. 



BAINGAN SWARAJ - release - 24th Feb 2012. under the green tent @ Upasana, Auroville

The publication "BAINGAN SWARAJ" - A Common Sense Understanding of GM Brinjal was released this afternoon at a simple ceremony under the green tent at Upasana in Auroville.
I had started writing this as a small note many months back in Auroville during one of my several visits there, hence it was appropriate that it got released there and thanks to Uma and all Upasana staff family for making it such a elegant and warm event.
Dr. V. Suresh, Secretary, PUCL and Supreme Court appointed advisor on Food Security to the Government of Tamilnadu released the book formally and the first copy was accepted by Uma of Upasana. Several friends in Auroville, including Joss Brooks of Pitchandikulam attended the simple release function.
Please write to chief@samanvaya.com for booking copies of the publication.

"Why make a festival out of Exams?" - Interview in DinaMalar

Recent spate of violence in classroom and amongst the student community to do with the exam stress has created several dialogues, I was interviewed on this by the leading tamil news paper Dinamalar. I spoke of the festish and festive air that surrounds the exams, particularly school leaving exams each year and the unnecessary hype surrounding the same that inflicts major stress on the student community. My primary complain has been on the parents, however, I had pointed out that it was a larger social issue that needs to be urgently addressed and parents are but the immediate environmental manifestation of a larger social illness that ails our social ethos today.


Baingan Swaraj by Ram

Two years ago, on this day the Government of India placed a  moratorium on the introduction of Bt Brinjal in India. The process of public consultation that preceded such a decision was also a rare gesture of deepening a democratic process of decision making on a technological issue. In the process several common sense voices were heard that showed the there-is-no-alternative-to-technology voices for what they were - misplaced, misrepresenting and unnecessary. 

This (not so) fictional work captures the essence of this dialogue and in its easy to read mode provides the lay intelligent reader a quick understanding of the different arguments surrounding the GM debate. Seek friends who can pick up copies in bulk for distribution.
Thank you.

Ram's Talks in Jan 2012

On the 12th of Jan, I gave a talk to the Jacees in Kuthalaam, a town near Mayiladuthurai. This was organized on the occassion of the National Youth Day and I spoke on the works and words of Swami Vivekananda.

On the 22nd of Jan, I spoke in the Sri Ramakrishna Math in Mylapore Chennai on the ' Living Presence of Indian Spirituality' on the occassion of the Public Celebration of the Birthday of Swami Vivekananda.

Swaraj Lecture this weekend...

Talk on Swaraj...07/01/2012
Ma Foi Foundation organizes monthly talks on different subjects for college youth under the title, "மெய்பொருள் காண்பது அறிவு" ("to comprehend the truth behind is knowledge", the second half of a famous thirukkural of poet Tiruvalluvar that has "regardless of whatever you hear from whomsoever", as the first half ).  These meetings are aimed to create a serious dialogue of ethical nature amongst the youth in the city, particularly in the industrial belt in northern Chennai where the youth are exposed more to the economic, social and political conflicts of a unsustainable metropolis life.

This Saturday (07/01/2012), I will be taking them through the fundamentals of "Hind Swaraj" as an introduction to a dialogue on the bases of development.  - Ram, Chief Consultant, Samanvaya
Published in the Hind Swaraj Blog