Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Manovikas-IGNOU Community College - People who chose to take action

When I was invited to the Ist Convocation Ceremony for the students of Manovikas-IGNOU Community College for Developmentally Delayed, I was delighted. In the past as well, I have attended events where Manovikas, founded by Dr. Alok kumar "Bhuwan", played an important role and I have always come back enriched and humbled. So I was looking forward to this event. 


The convocation took place in the India International Centre on January 13th, 2013 at 1:45 PM. The event started with invocation of "Om Tat Sat", which means "Supreme Absolute Truth", or more literally "all that is". This was followed by a beautiful dance performance by the students of the Community College. The theme of the dance was National Intergrity and the unity amongst all religions. Through this dance performance, I got the first glimpse into what these children were actually capable of. I was touched by their elegance and grace.

On the dais, sat eminent people from various walks of life. Mr. Arvinder Singh Lovely, Revenue Minister, Delhi Government was the Chief Guest at the convocation. He was joined by Mrs. Stuti Narain Kacker, IAS, Secretary, Disability Division, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment; Dr. G. Narayan Rao, Chairman and Managing Director, ALIMCO and NHFDC; Padma Shri Dr. Uma Tuli, former Chief Commissioner of Disability GOI; Mrs. Aruna Dalmaia founder Chair of Akshay Pratishthan; Mrs. Poonam Natarajan, Chairperson, National Trust; Prof. Dr. P.R. Ramanujam, Pro Vice-Cancellor, IGNOU; and Mr. Chris Sims, Manipal Global, City & Guilds. Mr. Vikram Dutt, Chairman, Manovikas-IGNOU Community College and Dr. Alok Kumar "Bhuwan", the founder of Manovikas, joined the guests on the dais. Most of these people have devoted their entire lives in making a difference to other people's lives. 

However, the real stars of the event were the children for whom this was the day that would mark their stepping into the world as independent employable young people and their parents who have stood by their wards through all achievements and disappointments, without wavering from their stands. Here's one beautiful quotation dedicated to them:

"Anyone can give up, it's the easiest thing in the world to do.  But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength." - Author Unknown. 

The ceremony started with the welcome note by Mr. Vikram Dutt and talking about the Community College he said, "Respect is achieved through learning, activities, social skills by being good at what you do, by conducting yourself professionally and above all, by having the capacity to earn in the bazaar that is LIFE! So at Manovikas we pondered long and researched what courses of study to adopt and then pursue that would enable every disable person passing through our portals to meet these goals."

The convocation ceremony was emotional and humbling. Seeing each student being escorted up to the dais to receive their certificates and to know that if not for this college, society would probably have marginalized these persistent, intelligent, and dedicated students, was an eye-opener. Many schools offer special classes for students with development disabilities, but few think beyond making them self-sufficient at home. The fact that several students of the Community College are now employed or are on their way towards getting a job indicates that our society has taken a few baby steps towards the economic empowerment of the marginalized. Gaurav, who is currently employed at Haldiram, and Saurav, who works at Barista, are signs that there is hope, solely because of people who choose to take responsibility rather than look the other way. 

After the convocation, several awards were distributed amongst the students. Some of the awards and their winners are:



  • Dr. Reeta Peshwaria Memorial Award: Ms. Shweta Taing, Hospitality training programme   
  • The Outstanding Achievement Award:  Mr. Dhruv Ahuja, Office Attendant Training programme

Manovikas Trophies winners are:
  • Lal Advani Memorial trophy for best overall student: Ankur Khanna
  • Tishya Raina Memorial Trophy for the best all round student: Riya Saini
  • Indira Mathur Memorial Trophy for the best inmate in the Living Centre: Harish Vij
  • Sujata Maskra Memorial Trophy for academics and functional skills: Soham Deb
  • Shobhanand and Deonarayan Trophy for vocational skills: Rajiv Duggal
  • Sai Trophy for the student with best social skills: Gaurav Bansal
  • Natraj Trophy for the best student in cultural activities: Riya Singh
  • Mohammed. Ali Memorial Trophy for sports: Abhishek Chadha
  • Valentine Trophy for the most affectionate student: Tushar Jain

The event ended with the closing notes by the dignitaries. 

Professor P.R. Ramanujam, who himself is a wonderfully rehabilitated man after a severe polio attack when he was just 15 months old, acknowledged the parents of the disabled children (he expressed his disagreement with the term "differently abled" as according to him, every one is differently abled) for "their struggle and perseverance." He also added that completely unnecessary and useless negative procedures keep us busy 90% of the time. If we show restraint and control over our individual egos, we can progress. 

Mrs. Stuti Narain Kacker acknowledged the innovation of certification. She, however, stressed upon the need for economic empowerment, which leads to self-esteem. She acknowledged the courses offered by the community college and said that "they have matched the requirements of the industry and the training that needs to be given."

For reference, Manovikas-IGNOU Community College currently offers the following courses for disabled students and school dropouts:


  • Certificate in Basic Business Program 
  • Certificate in Office Attendant Training Programme
  • Certificate in Retail Assistant Programme 
  • Personal Management
  • Certificate in Hospitality Training Programme
  • Certificate in Peer Sexuality Tutor 
For more information regarding eligibility and dates, please refer to Courses Offered by the Community College.

The ceremony ended with the ceremonial hat toss and even though all of this happened yesterday, but something changed for me forever. I have new respect for people like Mr. Vikram Dutt and Dr. Alok Bhuwan. They are the people who rather than pointing at the others, don responsibilities and are the source of change.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2012 Nights by Vipul Rikhi: Stories that make you think

Even though the book is categorized under short stories, it has a very strong central narrative that runs through these short stories and connects each to another. All tales in the book pivot around the narrator's crumbling life in the backdrop of the seemingly inevitable disintegration of the entire realm of existence. The drunk narrative sucks the reader into its hallucinatory vortex and relentlessly makes one confront the very real questions one would rather avoid. The imagery used is powerful, disturbing, and beautiful at the same time. 


2012 Nights by Vipul Rikhi


The themes that the stories and the central narrative touches are at the core of many problems plaguing the world today. Without being didactic or preachy, the author effectively makes the readers stop in their paths and wonder about where the world is coming from and where it is headed.

Even though the book is a serious work and deals with serious topics, the author's matter-of-fact vocal tone is refreshing and provides a much-needed relief. In spite of constantly dealing with darkness, the book manages to make you smile at many places. Casual mentions of the state-of-art technologies such a Google Maps in the midst of powerful, fable-like tales and other such cheeky play of words spring a surprise upon you when you least expect and prevent the weighty narrative from becoming overwhelming.

I would recommend that you read this book if you appreciate the fragility and intricacy of layered writings and enjoy making the journey through these layers to reach the crux of the matter.



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