Jan 13, 2009. 3:30pm. I entered the temporarily erected air-conditioned tent that was huge and ready to accommodate over 1000 people. This was nothing compared to the tent of the inaugural session where 15000 people were accommodated, including over 100 dignitaries – prime-ministers and presidents of various visiting countries, industry leaders like Ratan Tata, Ambanis, Mittals etc…on stage. I am talking about Vibrant Gujarat, the annual summit that happens in Ahmedabad wherein Indians (Gujarati’s predominantly) from all over the world and also the governmental heads of the nations which have seen significant contribution from Indian Community assemble every year. The session that is about to commence is that of Human Development and Social Infrastructure sector, one of dozen such sessions on various areas of development. I could see eminent personalities of various institutions in the areas of Health, Education around, a few were there to address the gathering, and many more were there to ink an MOU with Gujarat Government to contribute in the development of Gujarat, by executing a few projects.
In a few minutes the MC of the event, a pretty elegant lady civil servant, started calling the organizations that have been selected through a stringent process for their abilities to contribute to the growth of the vibrant state of Gujarat. There were three columns in the arena. The left most was to be occupied by the representatives of the invited organizations for the MOU signatures. First row filled, then the second, then came the name of Career Launcher Education Foundation. I went and occupied the second seat in the third row. I just introduced myself to the gentleman sitting to my left. To my surprise, he was the director of NIFT Ahmedabad and he had come to sign an MOU wherein they are going to help artisans of Gujarat. My eyes fell on a familiar gentleman in the row ahead. I went and wished him, and he pleasantly reciprocated and recognized me as I had attended one closed door meeting of IIT-IIM alumni body a couple of years ago. Then this gentleman was director of IIMA – Dr. Bakul Dholakia. Here in this conference, he is heading an entity that is setting up a university.
The session commenced with addressing by a few gentleman including a couple of ministers. The one that impressed me most was that of Dr. Devi Shetty, Narayana Hridayalay in Bangalore. Here is a gentleman whose endeavours of heart operations and transplants save 40,000 lives every year. He is also going to sign an agreement to set up one of the largest hospitals in Gujarat.
Then the time for signing MOU’s came, there were four tables with secretaries of the government ready to sign and various names to be called. Mr. Narendra Modi entered the tent to a thunderous applause and took the designated seat on the stage, while people started signing the MOU’s in front of him. In a while the MC announced the name of Career Launcher Education Foundation that will undertake setting up of nine schools in the state of Gujarat for a project worth of Rs. 176.85Crores over the next four years. I headed to the table, signed the docket, exchanged, and headed to shake hands with the Chief Minister. A new page in our movement added.
It was momentous occasion for every mentor and every facilitator of our school movement. I was just a signatory representing our movement. All the wonderful work done thus far has yielded this result.
Every thing started in the month of October in one of the education sessions at CII, where I met a resident commissioner of Gujarat government in a session I spoke in. At the end of the session he asked me whether we will be interested in setting up schools in tribal districts of Gujarat. I readily shared our interest. After a few interactions, that were very positive and developmental, the government created a committee to head to one of our schools to observe and evaluate our institution.
Jan 02, 2009, 9am, the two-gentlemen team landed in Indore and immediately started the day at the school with the very first event of the day, morning assembly. They were taken in by the whole atmosphere, that I could see a great amount of appreciation on their faces. At the end of the assembly one gentleman asked Smita whether we allow parents in the assembly?!! To his surprise he discovered that all the elegantly dressed ladies who had so many children on their laps and shoulders where mentors and not parents!!
We let them lose with a broad agenda for them to select and evaluate. They interacted with a couple of mentors; they went and sat in the classes to observe; they entered the kitchen to see what is happening; they dined at the same time as children and noticed how mentors were interacting and facilitating children make choices and eat responsibly; then they sat through and observed from sidelines a QCT (quality Circle time) of class 3 wherein children were airing, sharing and resolving their personal differences amicably and promising to make a behavioural shift that will help the class. They spent time in the mentors room and were impressed with the co-learning that happens along with usage of laptops.
It will come as a surprise to you to know that, most of the mentors or staff of IWS Indore, did not really know who the two gentlemen seen around the corridors and classrooms for the two days were, unlike most other institutions that I know off, where a big announcement would have been made in advance to maintain decorum during the visit of dignitories!!! Most of the school team in fact realized the identities and gravity only after the Gujarat team left. The Gujarat team had a lot wonderful things to share about an environment that is a vibrant one promoting learning not only among children, but for every individual in the school. They wrote their feedback in the school visiting diary.
While parting, to head to the airport on Jan 3rd evening, they shared that they were delighted by the whole visit and that by Feb first-week we would get a call to visit Ahmedabad to take the matter ahead. To our utter amazement, the call came on Jan 7th, saying that we have to reach on Jan 12th to sign the MOU as the Chief Minister and the secretary of the department want it to be signed during Vibrant Gujarat. That is how I landed in that Air Conditioned tent in Ahmedabad!!
If all goes well, we will have ‘community enabling centres’ at a few locations that goes beyond just schools and also many more schools may get hooked onto our endeavours, as the preliminary interactions indicate, during the recent visit to Gujarat by GP and Sachin!! We have to move into the execution mode very soon.
Join me in congratulating the entire IWS team at Indore, headed by Ms. Smita Rathore, the entire CLEIS and school team at Delhi, the technology team, the finance team supporting the endeavours and also the vocational team under Arindam that played an important role in the interactions and followups at Ahmedabad, and finally every member of the Career Launcher family.
Hurray!! We are set to facilitate the Governments!! We are set to facilitate the larger communities. Let us Deliver, Let us make a difference to every child of this nation.
Looking forward to your comments… that will help me to ‘swamanthan’ more, leading to learning.