Adharshila Learning Centre is a unique school for adivasi children in Madhya Pradesh that views education as a tool for liberation...and a place of fun.

The Adharshila Learning Centre was started in 1998 by the Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan.

The children have an active role in running the school.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Morning at Adharshila - The Morning Battle


Many educators and parents face the question of how much freedom should be given to children ? Rather they face the limit of their own patience and attitudes. We constantly face this question at Adharshila in many forms. One  time is early mornings ..

As of now we have stopped waking up children early morning for a run. But there are enthusiasts who go on their own. And this is really fine with us. (Even if it's not, who cares !)

Actually the first battle was to convince the teachers to wake up early to wake up the kids. To add weight to our effort we also tried to convince them that exercise could be good for themselves too at 20 +, or any age. But it was a struggle. With quite a lot of motivational or long talks, the next one or two weeks someone would wake them up. And once woken children did go for the runs and enjoyed as they came back laughing and looked happy. But whenever we became more efficient and this routine went on for more than a week they would start tricking and avoiding - both the teachers and children. At times it even becomes an issue, strong enough to make it to the weekly newspaper or the fortnightly swashaasan meeting of the children.

Then we would convince ourselves that this is not at all the way to go about this especially in an alternative learning center and lied low enjoying the comfort of our beds early morning. Early morning sleep is great. And what about the freedom of choice of kids etc. Everybody was happy, even the teachers.

But its sort of difficult to just lie in bed if one wakes up at 6.00 AM with great enthu to do something with the kids and then remembers their freedom and reluctance. It's difficult to go by Summerhill or the sayings of great people like Vivekanand, Mao and great educationists who profess lots of sleep for children So after a while we would be again thinking of ways to wake them up early. Who likes to see hundred kids lazing around in the mornings. The whole mood of the day starts to look slow and lazy. The children also become slow and casual. There is definitely this thing about PT that makes the school look crisp and disciplined and orderly. So we came up with putting variety to exercise - some times run, some times push ups and pull ups on the bar, yogasan, standing in a circle and, fun with rope, weightlifting with bricks etc.. a Parle G for anyone who does more than 10 pull ups!

This becomes a cycle. As a parent too we face this.

This works much better than forced running. All the better if one is around and the mood is happy and non persuasive. After a few days there is a group who keeps doing things on their own. We are happy we have motivated them. Actually we too are not the PT teacher types who will be on the ground in uniform and combed hair as if we have been waiting for this the whole night. So we too bunk after a few days.

At times, the cycle of pushing things and letting go is a good strategy. Most of the times its not done consciously but its our nature too. It goes with our levels of enthusiasm and our own highs and lows. Variety too is good. For a while children were even playing kabaddi, kho kho, Frisbee early morning. Needless to say that it's great if the adults are doing it, then even if children don't follow them they see that its something that can be done.

Finally over the year there are groups of children who become interested in various forms of exercise and keep doing it off and on on their own. Films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag help a lot. There was a sudden increase in activity after the film was shown.

Like right now there is group of running enthusiasts. Some of them even run 10 km. Some are on to yogasan and general exercise very early, around  5.30 AM. And then there are others who need more sleep.

The ideal in our heads is that children should decide or feel motivated on their own and do it with self discipline. It's quite tricky. Doesn't happen all the time. But ultimately some children do things on their own some times.

They have to get ideas from somewhere if they are not in their culture. Should we introduce ideas which are not in the local culture? Should there be no compulsion to do things at all ? Should there be no system or routine ? There can be many more  questions.

One of the problems with alternative educators is that they have a lot of questions (a good first step, maybe) but very few answers (which in itself is not a problem) and very little patience to find the answers which might take months/years of practice to work out. Also we are a bit over weary of systems especially when they are made by others though we are happy to make our own rigid systems and become unhappy when others don't follow.

But right now we are happy with Totaram, Rakesh, and many others who go for a run on their own and are happy to do it for themselves. We are trying to figure out sport schools for them visualising them as future marathon runners (another problem of parents and over enthusiastic mentors, which many children don't like).

But as kids will be kids, so parents will be parents and the twain shall constantly battle !


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Multiplying Incompetency...The Bottom Up view of Education

We are not anti reservation, anti free education or anything.. we just think there's a big farce going on out here in the name of education which is harming the prospect of getting educated leaders, thinkers from among the adivasis, dalits and other poorer sections of society via the education route. Of course social, economic and political situations throw up leaders and nobody is waiting for good schools...still we have this crib for whatever little education is worth. 

This story is about the tragedy of rural children who somehow manage to pass. More than 90% don't complete school. They enter the 'World Work Bank'. Very few are able to break this and get into good colleges or jobs.  

Chhaatra, the hero of this story studies in a village school. But Chaatra is able to go there only on special occasions like the New Dress Distribution Day or Cycle Distribution Day or to take the Chhaatravitti (a scholarship amount which has nothing to do with his being a scholar or not). The rest of the days he has to look after farm jobs, tend the goats/buffaloes, or some odd job at home. Not that the teacher comes every day. Still.

But don't worry

Thank the new law of education Chhaatra cannot be failed and he knows it. He can only be asked to study more in the summer vacations and give the exam again. But as this is an extra burden on the teacher, the chances that he or anyone will fail are bleak.   

Conversation with a 9th fail Chaatra-

    - Bete, how come you can't even recognise numbers till 20           having studied till 8th class.
    - Silence with head down.
    After more than a fortnight of knowing each other ....
    - Sir I never went to school till class 5. The teacher came         home and gave me the certificate. Then father told me to go       to school. But I couldn't read or write so didn't                 understand anything till 8th class. Went to school very           little.

In spite of all hahoo and Right To (Useless) Education.. the condition of such schools is pathetic to say the least. Any 9th class teacher will vouch for the utter incompetence maybe illiteracy too.

So the problem is that Chhaatra is 8th pass but almost illiterate.  

But dont worry. Chaatra got admitted to the 9th class in a nearby Middle School. The teacher cannot refuse admission. Then somehow he passed the Xth and took Macks(maths) like other students. Some friends took Bayo(biology). Vow! he has cleared the XIIth board exams. Thank the stars of education - guidebooks, 20 Questions and coaching classes. There are other options for the bold - cheating, finding the examiners and getting your marks upped etc.

Now our hero, Chhaatra is XIIth pass and that too with Science, Macks and English. He has bought a new set of latest style jeans and check shirts (only the latest is available on all local stores or thelas of the smallest town. Thank the martyr labor of China, Bangladesh and our very own too). He looks intelligent and smart but.. sorry to say, the problem is that he doesn't know anything. Any damn thing.. i.e. related to books, happening around, current events.

What will he do now ? Suspense !!

But not to worry. 
There is a local engineering college/ pvt. college/Ayurvedic medicine college/ B.Ed. college/ MSW college in your tehsil town. You have never seen it or heard about it. The names of these colleges usually start with World..., Global.., International...etc.
  
They came to Chhatra's school on their own, took a test and declared him passed and you won't believe it but our dear Chhaatra got into an engineering college. His other friends got into Pvt. Ayurvedic Medical College/ Bio-Tech course/B.Sc./Eng. Literature course/MSW. It can be anything..just anything, depends on the colleges in the town.

You are thinking......But private colleges have high fee. How can tribal and other poor people's children pay the fees? You think I am gassing ?

Dont worry.
They just have to pay a nominal fees. The rest the Govt. pays to the college based on the number of students enrolled. This is about Rs. 30,000/- or more per student. Just do a little math and you will understand the enthusiasm of the Private collegewallahs going around schools helping tribal students to get admissions. 

Met on the road the smart young, enthusiastic, boy. (conversation in Hindi)
   - Namaste sir
   - Namaste beta, so how are you / what are you doing?
   - Engineering sir.
   - Engineering ?(almost choked. i remember till 8th he was          generally struggling to read) Very good. Wah. Which branch ?
   - Blank look.
   - Which engineering course are you doing ?
   - Engineering sir.
   - ok. ok. But most engineering books are in English or very        difficult Hindi. Do you understand anything?
   - That is the problem sir. Some teachers teach in English. We      don't understand anything.

Most Govt. college students know that there are hardly any classes. They go to give CC and the semester exams. Many Govt. college teachers teach in the private colleges.

Some students look for side jobs while studying. One went to a small pvt. school for teachership. The interview was like -

   Q. What is the capital of India - Bhopal or Delhi ? ( Q asked       in MP)   ..
   A. Confused look.
      confusing hmm.
   Q. What is your name ?( asked in English)
   A. What is your name Subhash.
   .
   .
   .
I'm not joking i have gone through this many times. The likes of Chhaatra don't know how to multiply or divide large numbers or even add or substract 10000 - 1. Forget decimals, fractions and company.

So now the problem is that Chhaatra and is friends are  graduate/ engineer/ ayurvedic doctor/MSW/ BEd. Most of them know almost nothing about the subject of their study. Who the hell is going to give them a job ? 

Frustration in the offing..Rebellion of Youth... Climax.. Now Chhaatra is stuck. His education is lousy and he has also lost the ability and interest to do farming or other manual labor work. What will he do ?   

No, no, not yet.. Don't worry.
The Govt. will give him some job..Contract teacher/para medical worker..(experience says good chance of becoming permanent)/panchayat secretary/ NREGA. Or some ngo on some mission will take him. Then there are the numerous Pvt. companies selling rabbits or emu eggs. If nothing else.. security gaurd. If nothing works in the village he is determined to go to the city or the Industrial Area. He has lot of contacts there. (His seniors in school and college).   

So now Chhatra has a job and it doesn't matter what he knows or doesn't know. He will learn the two three things he will be required to do on the job.

Mission Job Accomplished. Student happy. Family happy.
Govt. happy. Human Development Index happy.
Company happy.

So why bother about quality education in Govt. schools as long as you can complete the incompetency cycle with some job. Doesn't matter if it was previously done by a 5th pass now a graduate can do it.

And so no one has a problem. 

We have a problem because we want to see these tribal/dalit and other children from poorer families go up to take leading roles in society. 
At Adharshila we are trying, trying hard against many odds to change this story. 



Friday, October 4, 2013

Annual Report Highlights 2012 - 13



Highlights 2012 -13


Some Numbers

No. Of students              85 boys and 12 girls
Teachers/Mentors           7 (6 women and one male, and the male is not the head)
Other Staff                    5
Volunteers                     2 for two months

Academic - 

§  Ex Student gets admission in BHU for Masters in Economics. He topped the MA Entrance test of DAVV, Indore. Came first in BA final in Sendhwa, Khargone region. Another ex student is working as trainee at THRIVE, Hyderabad - a company manufacturing solar lamps. Another student came in merit in BA final and got admitted to MA Hindi in DAVV, Indore.
§  High School topper of Chatli High School is ex Adharshila.
§  16 students were given scholarships by SRUTI. The students were from 10th – MA. They were ex students of Adharshila who were also contributing towards running Adharshila while studying.
§  One teacher enrolled for D.Ed and BA exam.

Student Projects -

§  Students installed drip irrigation on a vegetable plot.
§  Middle school children made 1000 liter bio digester with the help of a volunteer, and it worked. We can now cook daal for 120 people, once a day almost daily. They learnt a lot of Math, Science and English words by way of the gobar gas. We also realized why most of them fail in villages. The accuracy required in their daily maintenance is impossible in villages.
§  Documenting folk stories, traditional seeds and agricultural practices etc.
§  Methi plots maintained by children of 3rd – 5th grade.
§  Drip irrigation using used saline bottles.

Media

Theater - About 25 children and teachers performed the play Bhanai  at the State convention of IPTA in Indore, Annual Conference of Ekta Parishad in Gujarat and 3 other places. Two theater workshops were held for the preparation of the play. Theater artists – Avijit and Aakash, held the workshops for 8 and 6 days respectively.
CGNet Swara Workshop – Participants from about 12 districts of MP participated in a two day workshop organised in collaboration with the CGNet Swara team and SRUTI.
Calendar – 1000 copies of a regular calendar with glossy photographs, highlighting the importance of local markets was printed. It was received very well amongst urban as well as rural settings.

Administration

Local team runs Adharshila on its own. We take a back seat and provide special effects and planning meetings. Volunteers also spent about 2 months at Adharshila. Then it needed more intervention from us, mainly interpersonal problems. Also many parents were not convinced that local teachers that too women (they look like girls even when they wore sarees) could do a good job.
A team of about15-20 student karyakartas assist the adults in the various daily tasks like looking after sick children, kitchen, evening assembly etc.

Organic Farm

Students learn organic farming by working on the farm and seeing the results. They learnt to make Jeevamrut, organic pesticides and a magic potion which promotes branching in plants.  We got to eat veggies for about 5 months and daal for two months. This is a considerable feat considering that 15 years ago the land was almost barren.

Tree Plantation

Like every year, we planted about 100 trees on the campus. In all there are about 1500 trees of app. 5o varieties. We are trying hard to collect more species and more fuel wood trees.

Poultry

A poultry was set up under the leadership of two senior students who had gone for training last summer. A team of six children raised the number from 6 hens to 80. Recovered the costs and some profit but could not manage viral infection. They also did the masonry work for setting up the 6’ x 10’ cage. The poultry was a favorite sitting place for the smaller children who watched the small chicks, counted eggs, fed them, grew medicinal plants and generally kept themselves busy.

Bulls and Cows

It’s never easy to guess what strikes them and no amount of care or medicine helps. Anyway many children saw a vet for the first time though they learnt the word in Book 1. In spite of a lot of effort we couldn’t save the bull. We have 5 animals. The main benefit is the dung for the farm. We also sold one bull and got some cash. Everyday

General

§  An Adharshila project chosen for EIFI award from more than 800 applications.
§  Discovered that Adharshila inspired some young people to start a similar school in Tamil Nadu.
§  Women leadership training, Satna.
§  Collected folk stories related to the Holi festival from various districts of MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat for a booklet. Couldn’t be printed due to delay in getting material. Maybe next year.

Exposure tour

Senior children - Mandu Fort and Dinosaur Museum
Juniors – Badwani and Sendhwa.
Teachers and senior students – Organic Farm of Vandana and Vasant Phutane

Participation

Seed festivals in Hyderabad and Nagpur.
IPTA State Convention, Indore
Azadi Bachao Andolan meeting, Indore
SRUTI Saathi Milan, Rajasthan.
Adivasi Ekta Parishad, National Convention, Gujarat
Adivasi Sammelan, Pansemal.
Adivasi Sammelan, Burhanpur.

Volunteers

Harin, 2nd year student from Azim Premji Institute.
Christian, Engineer from the US. Taught the children to make the Gobar Gas plant and install solar lights. Also taught the theory.

 The Naatak India Company and the Calendar

Last year it was Yuvaniya, a magazine written, read and distributed by adivasi youth. This year we freaked out on the Naatak India Companies production – Bhanai and the Haat Calender.
The Play, Bhanai is a satire showing the pathetic condition of schools in the adivasi villages and how they were a dead end and no go for adivasi students.. How the school system belies the hopes and aspirations of the parents and children, who ultimately become factory labor or are trapped by criminal elements.  The play goes on to show an interaction of people with the Minister who says that the Govt. school system is irreparable and hence proposes privatising the whole system which the people oppose.
The Naatak India Company was invited to stage the play Bhanai at the State Convention of IPTA – the Indian Peoples Theater Association- in Indore. It was a great honor for the NIC and Adharshila. The play had the audience applauding and laughing for one hour and was given a standing ovation.
The same play was invited again at the annual function of Jan Vikas, Indore, an NGO working with slum dwellers and rag pickers. Later the play enthralled adivasi audience in Pansemal and Gujarat at the Adivasi Ekta Parishad conventions. After the play was staged most speakers based their speeches on the play.
It was a great educational experience for the children who also got to visit new places.
Theater, we once again realised was a great hit and a very potent method of communicating ideas. In spite of the mobile, TV trying to dominate the entertainment industry, theater is theater and is still very relevant in villages as well as cities. Especially in the villages where we could share the critique of the education system with an audience who was mostly illiterate. There is a hoard of literature and glossy reports which is circulated amongst the intellectual and already convinced group of people. It is of no use for most laboring people. Theater holds the key to communication in a rural setting.
The Haat Calender was an attempt to take alternative ideas to the homes of people living mainstream lives.                                                                                                                                           

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Some Pictures ...


Trikon Khidki Waala School

Children's Energy - Written by stencil made from newspaper

Map of Sakad village made in student project


Film Making Workshop



A play based on the Bhima Naik's struggle in 1857


Naatak India Company (Adharshila in the back)

Naatak India Company Team

Tantiya Bhil Kabaddi Competetion for village youth 2011



Exposure Tour



Collecting Local Varieties of Seeds


Rock Collection - waiting for a Geologist


Making a Mask - Craft


Roping the Gymnasts 1


Head Stand on Rope


Favorite Sitting Place 


Another Favorite Place


A volunteer taking a class



Saturday, June 8, 2013

Solar Prakash - Finally follows his heart


Prakash was one of the 32 adivasi kids, the first batch, who came to stay and learn at the Adharshila Learning Centre in 1998. I still remember him in his green shirt and knickers, sucking his thumb. Dark, short with bright eyes.

His flair for things mechanical came to the fore when we were going on a trip and found that the zip of our handbag was broken. Promptly some one in the crowd ( which was a permanent feature in the verandah, more so on a special occasion of our going) said, “ Prakash can do it”.  And in less than 10 minutes he did something and the zip was moving freely. 

At age 10 or 11 he was one of the children who had their own individual programs and did not follow the class routine. He went to class as and when he felt like. The main thing in his program was origami. He was a master at it. He was able to follow complex diagrammatic instructions of origami books and make things. We even contacted some friends to keep him as apprentice but didn’t work out. Besides learning origami he took a class in Adharshila on origami and also went to a Public School in Sendhwa to teach origami. But still sucking his thumb. In those days we tried to make individual learning programs for children, if they too agreed.

Prakash testing and repairing a solar lantern at Adharshila

He was a regular candidate for the model making for the annual function exhibition for parents. He was invariably in our house late nights helping in school chores, binding books, repairing kerosene stoves with Jayashree, watching me at the computer. He was the natural choice to help the guy who came to install the first solar panels at Adharshila or the electricians and plumbers who came to do fittings. Since then he became the local maintenance in charge. From this he graduated to changing bulbs, fuse wires, checking faults when some room didn’t have electricity which could be as often as every day. By the 10th grade(which he did as a pvt. Candidate) he was the Chief Electrician at Adharshila (of course there were limits to his fiddling).

By the time he was in 10th class he had apprenticed at many places - Takli Karyalaya, Dhule, Maharashtra to make a Solar Cooker. At Sampark, an NGO in Jhabua, MP, to learn about solar fittings, at the workshop at IIIT, Hyderabad, at a TV repair shop near his village. ... This is part of the philosophy of Adharshila to place children, according to their interests, in places where good work is happening. It is part of making children strong and as much a part of the learning pedagogy.

We already had a dream (like all foolish  parents) that how Prakash will be working to solve energy problems of the villages of his area when he grows up. How he will learn while working with the best people in the field of alternative energy. Accordingly we advised him to do ITI diploma after 10th as he was not being able to cope with science and math subjects. But this he refused due to the influence of a bright student, the unofficial mentor of most students whose main mission was to put everybody on the regular school track rather than follow one’s interests(which was the crux of our advise).After 10th he was at Adharshila through 12th and also in his first college year helping out at Adharshila while studying in the town. By now he had become more adventurous. His spirit of adventure overtook his skills and he was responsible for ruining many chargers, solar lamps, speakers, torches and we were wary of letting him handle such fancy stuff, alone. Learning, we consoled ourselves. Hadn’t we heard stories of discovers and scientists breaking clocks, radios and other home gadgets in their childhood ?

After school we again tried to convince him to pursue his interests by interning for longer periods at various organizations working in alternative energy, solar, mechanical workshops etc. We had a long plan for him for the next 3 years of non institutional learning through apprenticing. But now he wanted to experience college life and got admitted to the useless degree college of Sendhwa for a BA course which he hardly attended. (He didn’t take math in 12th as he couldn’t cope with it). By now we had learnt many lessons and understood what peer groups mean ! So we had become more resigned than disappointed.

Hey this was supposed to be an inspirational success story ? Wait. We are almost there.Anyway last year he went to Indore and got himself admitted to MA Hindi ! What ? Why ? Because his bosom friend was also going to Indore for the same course.. But thankfully in two months he realised that he was on a blind trail and when we asked him if we should look for some work for him in the areas he was interested in, he finally said yes. Vow. At last!!Now through friend of friend of friend we got in contact with the person who runs THRIVE, a company making solar lamps and like his name Prakash is now working with them for the last two months. We are keeping our fingers crossed. Will he stay ? more importantly will he go beyond soldering and master its science and engineering aspects also ? Will he be able to or inclined to use his skills more usefully than just for his livelihood ?
Prakash at THRIVE with Abhishek a 10th class student at Adharshila

There are other stories like this, and we hope they will keep happening but by no stretch this story can be said to be the genral story of children at Adharshila. This shows what we are striving for. This is what all schools should strive for. This shows that it is possible without a regular school, school books, in remote villages.. anywhere.

Its a very long journey. For us, its hope and patience. His journey has just begun. Most children don’t reach this point which may or may not come after 15years of schooling.  Can every child be like Prakash ? Can we build institutions which take out what the child has in him?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Veena player at Adharshila

I was happily sitting in a train bound to Kota when I got a call from Mr. Niranjan Haldar asking me when he can go to see the school ? Vow. Hardly anybody says this. Usually we are calling people to come over.

Aikla choulo re.....
 The next Saturday after much ghabrahat (usual in middle age men before a journey) we were in a bus to Sendhwa. I forgot to tell that Mr. Haldar or Haldar Sir, as he is popularly known in Indore, is a musician of great repute besides being a regular artist at the All India Radio. One of the few in India, definitely in Madhya Pradesh who play the Vichitra Veena, guitar and the synthesiser with equal ease. A true synthesis of the traditional and the modern. We got acquainted with him as our children learn music from him.



Reached Sendhwa by noon and from there to Adharshila in an auto-rickshaw, waiting for us at the bus stand. What luxury !

The children had a two hour session with him in the evening where he taught them the famous song - Aikla Choulo Re. Initially he was sceptical about teaching a Bengali song, that too Robindra Sangeet to adivasi children but the scepticism vanished in the first ten minutes seeing the ease with which the children picked up the lyrics as well as the tune. We helped them by writing the lyrics on the black-board.
Presenting the Haat calender to Mr. Haldaar





We were not so surprised as we had seen them pick up Marathi, Tamil and Chattisgarhi songs which earlier visitors had taught them.







It was great to hear the anthemic song, Aikla Choulo whispering out of the door and jaalis of the hall. How easy it is to be one... with total strangers. Of course music makes it so much easier. Listen to the music -
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=428391290581649

Bareli folk, filmi and patriotic song session.
Prakaash, presenting a mud horse used in tribal ceremonies,
with Jayashree. .
Next day again we had a session with another song - the Hindi version of another Robindra Nath song - Anand loke mangala loke and later as we were chatting in our verandah there was an impromptu session of Filmi, Folk and Patriotic songs. The children, Haldar Sir on the harmonium, and visitors from Bangalore, students of Azim Premji Institute - were all in it together.

But there's always more ... especially when you are at Adharshila, the heart of rural and that too tribal India - there was no electricity when we reached. None at night and not the next day too ... No electricity means no water as it has to be pumped. But HS was quite sporting and was even ready to visit the field in typical rural style.. but fortunately there was some water in the drum. Teachers enjoy some privileges.

The cot under the million star sky always makes up for the inconveniences of the day. We too on our part made it up with the traditional tribal feast for guests - kookdi and kudri (chicken and rice).

Hope we have more interaction with him in the future.

Calender -2013 - Haats - Weekly Markets

Great things and VIPs always arrive a little late ...and always manage to make a place for themselves in the front rows! and then like the traffic guys keep reminding us - better late than never ! so...finally the Calender -2013 is out.....and finished.. all of the 1000 copies. The money raised will be used for Adharshila.
                                                                   




 It is based on the theme of rural weekly markets or haats - a vibrant place for economic and social exchange in rural areas. The word Haat seems to be derived from the word Haata/Saata which means to exchange goods in place of each other or barter, in the bhilali, bareli languages of the adivasis of western India.

It seems there are about 47000 haats in India which come alive everyday with farmers, artisans and small traders living in the remotest of places. Everyday after the dust and noise of laughter, bargaining and fights, the market falls silent only to be resurrected the next day at some other place. People gather and disperse and trade worth crores happens without any middlemen. 
Who needs retail chains ?


Haats are democratic markets where producers sell their ware directly to consumers. Baskets, pots, vegetables, seeds, cloth.... anything.

People converge at the Haats not just to buy and sell but also to meet relatives, friends, a daughter married in a distant village, resolve feuds and for many other social reasons.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Naatak India Company

Naatak India Company - the theater group of the children of Adharshila is going strong this year. This year's new production - 'Bhanai' is a play based on the state of education in rural areas. The play has been staged in 5 places in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in the last 3 months and has been performed by one group in Shahdol - district of MP.

Father and Son fighting after the son fails to get a job and wants to set up a liquour shop.
About the play
The play shows how the dreams and aspirations of the adivasis and the lofty ideals of the constitution and the post independence leaders are betrayed by the education system. It has hilarious scenes of stereotypical Govt. schools in villages. The teacher holds the play and sends the audience in fits of laughter. The second part of the play shows a TV panel discussion with the minister about the abysmal condition of Govt. schools where he proposes that privatization is the only alternative. The panelists refute these suggestions based on their experiences with private services in health and transport. The play ends with exhorting the parents to take a more pro-active role in improving the schools and to protest against privatization of education. The best part of the play is that it brings out the education scenario in a very entertaining manner.

The play has been written by Amit with expert comments from Jayashree.

We were lucky to have Avijit and Aakash to help in the rehearsals, sets and costumes for the first performance. The play was staged first at the State Convention of the Indian Peoples Theatre Association at Indore in October 2012. After that it was staged at Jan Vikas, Indore, Adviasi Sammelan - Palsud, District Barwani, Adharshila Learning Centre and National Adivasi Mahasammelan, Sagbaara - Gujarat.

We are game for going anywhere to stage the play, provided the hosts bear the costs of travel, hospitality and honorarium!

Have a look at the some photos of the this and other plays at -
http://www.facebook.com/NaatakIndiaCompany