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Showing posts from 2013

Women's Collective Meeting - Dindigul

a session on rural marketing with village women entrepreneurs...

Dec 6th, Nadukuppam, Marakkanam block, Villupuram District: had a half day workshop with the amazingly dedicated village women entrepreneurs in Nadukuppam village today. these are the women group who have created and manage the amazing "AMRUTHA" brand of village herbal products including my favourite companion these days, a headache relief balm!! 
this group of women have over the last year created this amazing brand with encouragement and facilitation from the Pitchandikulam team and SEDAB project that was created with the vision of evolving several socially relevant and local resource based enterprises in the village of the bio-region around Auroville.  we discussed techniques of marketing and learning from prior marketing insights and knowledge to do current marketing better. these women have already 'walked' to 100 villages around to market their products thereby creating an unique rural marketing model that is more on the traditional lines and based on building s…

Village SHG women on 'safe food'

Dec 6th, Village Irumbai, Tamilnadu: Yesterday had a wonderful 3 hour interaction with about 200+ village women from the Vanur block in Villupuram district, all members of women's Self-Help Group (SHG) formed by Auroville Village Action Group, yet again reminded of the vulnerability and ignorance of our village women..."my child got low marks, i was asked to meet the teacher at school...he asked me to give my child, 'memory _______' drink (a popular drink that costs a bomb for the poor village women and promises great memory improvement or atleast that is the impression gathered by the gullible teachers) as that will improve my child. i don't know what to do, i have to obey the teachers, they talk with so much authority, but, should they start telling us what to feed our children also? as it is much of what i earn goes into paying the fees!" exclaims a village mother.  
a quick online search found this article (link) on how the popular brands are playing on th…

Meeting with the EKAM RO team for a dialogue on Change Management & Development...

Participated and spoke to the District Regional Officers (RO) of EKAM Foundation in the Sevayoor Herbal Farm of CCD near Kariapatti outside Madurai.  It was wonderful to interact and discuss issues of Development with the young enthusiastic team, with an inspiring leadership and dedicated set of managers facilitating their learning, it looks like Ekam is incubating several future leaders in these ROs. 


Felt quite energized spending this time with the EKAM team. Spoke to them of several aspects of Development challenges in the rural sector today in general and presented a 4-step path to becoming change makers in society. Overall, the response was quite enthusiastic and the team sounded motivated.
Ram 28th November 2013

Meeting with Ekam Foundation, Regional Officers

28th November 2013, Sadhana Kuti, Sevayoor Mulgai Campus, near Kariapatti - It was great to spend a day with the Ekam Foundation Regional Officers (ROs) discussing social 'change management' processes and their own institutional core values and strengths. These young professionals will be working at the district level, creating community based platforms for effective facilitation, monitoring and implementation of health care policies and programmes of government as well as proactively taking up healthcare initiatives, particularly for pregnant mothers and infant care (Ekam Updates in their Blog). They all had just finished a phenomenally successful Joy of Giving Week campaign and its follow-up work in most of October and November (details here). 

In two sessions lasting over 5 hours, we covered a extensive range of subjects centered around the change management processes that need to be internalized by the ROs for their work will community based institutions in the districts of…

150 varieties of Traditional Paddy Varieties conserved in the Sri Sarada Ashram, Ulundurpet

I had earlier registered being asked to fetch some traditional varieties of paddy by a Sister of the Sri Sarada Ashram, Ulundurpet in October. The Ashram had gone on a target of gathering 150 traditional varieties of paddy as an unique celebration of the 150th Birth Centenary of Swami Vivekananda. These varieties acquired from farmers who are already conserving them in different parts of the state and neighbour states are now being conserved at the Ashram in situ.  It was great to visit and understand their conservation activities and the Ashram now plans to multiply these seeds by providing them to farmers in the region is a very welcome move and will go a long way to ensure that the traditional varieties are sustained and farmer's rights over seeds as well in the process. Here are some scenes from the paddy fields...




Lecture at Gandhigram University, November 2013

On 26th Oct at Gandhigram, amazing legacy and spirit in rural constructive work, several small initiatives...old ideas being re-invented for the contemporary lifestyle, good...though had a reality check when i spoke to the management students (I was there to talk to them on Rural Livelihood careers)...they hadn't heard of J C Kumarappa. Their seminar hall had small wooden decor with quotes from Dale Carnegie to Steven Covey, couldn't see a single quote of any Gandhian, the management institute is housed in a building named after J C Kumarappa!!


March Against Monsanto,Chennai on 12th October 2013

March Against Monsanto,Chennai on 12th October 2013 Images
It was great to see such a large turnout of crowd for the March Against Monsanto organized on the eve of the World Food Day in Chennai by the Safe Food Alliance. The March  in the Marina Beach had a drumming session at the beginning and culmination. It has farmers, activists, students, journalists, housewives, performing artists participating. The street theatre group, Kooth-u-pattarai performed a small skit highlighting the plight of farmers post-Monsanto and GM crops at the Gandhi statue where the march ended.
A good news report below and some images shared in the link above. 
City says no to GM cropssource: http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/city-says-no-to-gm-crops/article5229476.ece A number of farmers, students and activists hit the streets on Saturday, taking a stand against genetically-modified crops. The marchagainstMonsanto, a multinational chemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, is being held in hu…

Visiting Sevagram Ashram after a few years...

Sevagram Ashram near Wardha in Maharashtra is special for us. It is here we have spent several months with the late Gandhian thinker Sri. Dharampal. It is here that we re-learnt Gandhi and discusses several issues on Development with amazing co-learners and activists including, late Sri. Rajiv Dixit, Sri. Shivdutt Mishra, Sri. Pradip Dixit, Sri. Sanjay and many others. 

Here we had met with several amazing individuals for the first time and since then these people have become friends forever. 

It was great visiting the Ashram after many years (oct 4-7). Here are some pictures from the visit...




something cooking in hyderabad...

At the beautiful retreat centre of Jiddu Krishnamurthy outside Hyderabad for a discussion...nice sunset watch here...


MKSP Workshop for the TNSRLM

Had a whole day workshop for the Tamilnadu State Rural Livelihood Mission (TNSRLM) district officials in Chennai on the Mahila Kisan Saskahtikaran Pariyojana (MKSP). The workshop was organized at the request of the CEO, TNSRLM and for the district level officers of the projects of MKSP that have been already accepted by the State Government under the Annual Action Plan (AAP) for the year 2013-14. 
It was an insightful encounter with the different district level officials, it showed quite a bit of lack of understanding amongst some of them and there were far too many lacunae. There was much apprehensions expressed by officials coming from other district departments who were not sure about the speed and scale of the implementation that was being projected by some of the Pudhu Vaazhvu Project (PVP) district managers. 
The programme was moderated by myself in the capacity of the MKSP, Consultant for the TNSRLM and facilitated by the JD, TNCDW, Mr. Lakshminarayanan. The Addnl. Director, Mr. …

meeting the curator of live museum..

"See if you can get some traditional seeds of paddy during your visit to Mysore", said the Sister from the Ulundurpet Ashram over phone when I spoke to her the day before leaving for my treatment, Ananthoo with whom I was in a Irula village at that time, immediately gave me the phone no. of SyedGhaniKhan, saying "see if you can meet him and get something". Thus I landed in GhaniKhan's village on the 4th day of my treatment with permission from the vaidya..

35 kms from the city of Mysore is this small village, predominantly agriculture and Ghani starts to tell his story like most converted organic farmers..."i was studying archaeology and wanted to become a curator of a museum, fate struck,  my father died and as eldest son, i was called to take his place and take care of the family farm, i was 22 then and my four brothers were all in their teens.", this region was bequeathed to the families by the great king Tippu Sultan and known for the amazing varie…

Encounters on an Independence Day...

It was a rare honour to be invited to hoist the national flag on the Independence Day at the JSN School of Management.. I was initially meant to join the faculty and few more from other nearby colleges for the launch of the 'knowledge network' among such rural management schools that would eventually be able to supplement each other through networking and sharing of resources, projects and knowledge. However, later Mr. Pravin, the faculty member who invited confessed that I was also supposed to hoist the flag and deliver a lecture to the students and faculty.


JSN School of Management is a rare management school started in a rural atmosphere by a courageous academician who dreamed of it becoming an institution that can shape the enterprise spirit and management capacity of rural youth in the Kancheepuram area. Prof. Nandakumar, had quit his corporate job to join the Sankara University B-School earlier as faculty in Kancheepuram itself. After a few years, he launched the JSN Scho…

Tenth Samanvaya Freedom Lecture

A big thanks to all the friends who made it to the 10th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture (FL10) and many others who sent their greetings and wishes. It was a wonderful evening and the lecture by Swami Vimurtananda was full of insights and thought provoking. 
His presentation on the 'compartmentalized' education and 'over education' of our students leading them to 'sa-ksha-ra' which has to be only be flipped and read in reverse for accomplishing a negative role in society was well received. His presentation on the core ideas of Swami Vivekananda on how India lost its swaraj only due to the ignorance of its knowledge and spiritual core was wonderful. 
For those who missed the lecture, we will soon try and put it up online.

The Samanvaya Freedom Lecture each year is accompanied by a Quote and a Theme Song. Though we don't make an announcement about this, every invitation so far has been accompanied by a theme that sets the tone for that year's lecture and the th…

Ratnam Pens, Rajahmundry...

Ratnam Pens, Rajahmundry started making pens in 1932! The jeweler brothers started to manufacture pens in response Gandhiji's 'swadeshi' policy to ensure that there are local pens of good quality available as a replacement to the foreign ones that were available in the market then.
Ratnam Pens continue to make pens of a very high quality till date! Their high quality ink pens (and ball pens) come with wonderful craftsmanship and in very simple colours and forms. It is sheer writing pleasure to use these ink pens. 
In what may be considered a remarkable honour for any product manufacturer in India, the company has got a hand written note by Gandhiji himself (and he got the Ratnam pen given to him by none other than Kupurappa!) stating that the pen writes very well!!


Not many use pens these as writing seems to have gone down altogether. However, for those who still seek pleasure in using pens and are happy to have a good pen, an ink pen at that. Here is an opportunity to ho…

10th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture - 10th Aug, 2013

The 10th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture will be delivered by Swami. Vimurthanandaji, Editor of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai. Swamiji is the Editor of the Tamil monthly magazine brought out by the Math, "Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam", that has a printed circulation order of 1.5 lakhs per month. It is the spiritual - cultural magazine with the largest circulation in Tamilnadu. He has over the last decade created and sustained an annual students /youth essay writing competition across tamil speaking communities across the world in which this year over 12 lakh youth are participating. From its earlier days of 'competition' this essay writing opportunity has increasingly become a non-competitive event where recognition is given for original thought and ideas. He had introduced in the magazine very poplar student question - answer column which boldly addresses contemporary student issues. He has also constantly highlighted issues on environment, waste management, safe food and sust…

10th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture - 10/08/2013, Chennai

10th SAMANVAYA FREEDOM LECTURE
The 150th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda was celebrated earlier this year with much fanfare and several organizations and institutions have made it a year long celebration 2013-14 in commemorating the works and inspiration of Swami Vivekananda. This year the SAMANVAYA Freedom Lecture too will be celebrating the spirit and work of Swami Vivekananda and its application today.
The 10th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture will be delivered by Rev. Swami Vimurtanandaji, a monk of the Ramakrishna Order, Chennai and the Editor of Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam, the Tamizh cultural magazine of the Order. Swamiji is also a long time well wisher of SAMANVAYA.
The Swamiji who took over as the youngest editor of Ramakrishna Vijayam, has shaped it into a social – cultural magazine that reaches to a large Tamil speaking youth population with a printed circulation of 1.5 lakhs every month. He has several publications to his credit and is a well sought public speaker carrying the …

Getting involved with relief work again...

Team Samanvaya got involved with organizing relief material collection as a response to disaster yet again. This time after the disaster in Uttaranchal flash floods and landslide. The major disaster that struck Uttarakhand in the Hindu pilgrim centres of the Himalayas, particularly Kedarnath, Badrinath and Haridwar between the 15th and 18th of July.

On 22nd July, we set up CHENNAI CARES a citizen's initiative on disaster related relief material collection in collaboration with several wonderful people and groups all over the city and state. For us with our earlier experience of BHUJ relief work and TSUNAMI relief work, this was only a reiteration of the fact that in the moments of disaster a careful organization of information and communication does get enough interest from people all over.

In the next two weeks, thanks to free air lifting of the relief materials by Air India, about 7.7 tonnes of material was sent to GOONJ, a voluntary organization based out of Delhi.

It was grea…

Archival material of Sri. Dharampal...An explanation on dharampal.net

We often get requests from far off places regarding the archival compilations of Sri. Dharampal. This is primarily due to the fact that search engines still fetch our contacts based on an earlier website that no longer exists. 

The facts are as following:
1. We had worked quite a bit in digitizing the archival material of Sri. Dharampal between 2000 and 2006 when he passed away.
2. At the time of his passing away, we had a series of compilations that he himself did during these years.
3. These 'compilation' were by no means to be published or in a stage of publication. Many were work in progress and some he himself recommended for further research while others he recommended only for a note of introduction (a style of writing he adopted was to have a large introductory note followed by a sequence of archival documents which corroborated the summary)
4. After his passing away, we suggested making these compilations 'open source' by writing and seeking permission with several…

photos: workshop on bio-diversity and sustainable agriculture, auroville - 29,30 May 2013

more to come...

Meeting with a Jain Acharya at Amarkanthak...Apri 2013

Had a great meeting with Jain Digambar Acharya Sri Vidyasagarji at the Amarkanthak camp (he doesn't stay in one location for a long time) for two days in early April. Discussed Hind Swaraj, Gandhi, Organic Farming, preserving native varieties of cattle, spreading the knowledge on Indian heritage and culture....he spared over 6 hours on two days amidst many visitors and his daily kriyas to discuss these issues. Yet again felt humbled by a highly respected spiritual guru having such deep compassion and concern for society. It was a surprise to be honoured at a large gathering of the community later in the evening.


Ram's lecture at VSC, IIT-M, March 2013

Ram's lecture at VSC, IIT-M available online now...

VSC lecture by Ram, 21st March 2013: IIT-M

"Poverty of Imagination", 21st March 2013, IIT-M. CSIR lecture hall.

Viveka Virudhu 2013 for organic farming...

The certificate of appreciation and the cash award was given by Sri. Alagar Ramanujam at the annual NDSO  meeting of voluntary agencies in Trichy on the 6th January 2013. Receiving the award (here for Organic Farming) is the Nalla Keerai team that has been supplying Organic Greens to Chennai city, the team consisting of Jegannathan, Gowtham Balaji, Thirumalai, Punitha, Sivakumar and many others.




Viveka Virudhugal 2013 - for education being given to Sri. Raja, the visually challenged student who is supporting and strengthening education for visually challenged students across the state like himself.

Samanvaya VIveka Virudhugal, 2013

Samanvaya is happy to announce two awards in the name of Swami Vivekananda as its celebration of his 150th birth year in 2013. 
The awards are primarily meant as an encouragement and appreciation of small efforts by individual or groups that are making large difference by their dedication, novelty, passion and capacity to inspire. The award consists of a small cash award and a certificate of appreciation.
The two awards that have been instituted by Samanvaya and were awarded on the 6th Jan 2013 at the annual NDSO Conference of Voluntary agencies held in Tiruchirapalli. Over 1000 volunteers and agencies from across Tamilnadu  participated in this event.  
The two awards are in the following categories - 
1. Organic Farming - for individuals and groups involved in inspiring work to promote organic farming and food during the year from across the state. 2. Self-reliance in Education - exemplary work in the field of education (not limited to schooling alone) that has led to self reliance in pe…