Archive for May, 2008

‘Hasmukh Kala’ initiative brings music and dance to Savda Ghevra

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Remarkable People!

Music and dance take over the lives of 50+ children on weekend afternoons as they learn intently from their ‘guruji’, Mr Lal. These kids, mostly girls, learn music and dance as part of the ‘Hasmukh Kala’ program launched at Savda Ghevra.

Hasmukh Kala launch

The brainchild of my friend and IIM classmate, Hemu Javeri, Hasmukh Kala builds on the vision and experience of his family’s decades-old Swami Samarth Foundation in Mumbai. Hemu and his friend Shailja Dutt( the Delhi-based CEO of Stellar Search, the reputed executive search firm) first visited Savda Ghevra few months ago to get to know the community better. Thereafter, Hemu and Shailja quickly gave shape to the ‘Hasmukh Kala’ program, identified the right teacher, and got started.

Guruji and Shailja Dutt

Hemu has articulated his vision  upfront,”Hasmukh Kala is a unique initiative that is dedicated to a woman who has inspired me over the years. Music is universal, and Hasmukh Kala is focused on using music, dance and drama, to empower women and unite communities. Through guru-shishya based training methods, and with instruments from both Indian and international music, intense learning is imparted to students to enrich their lives. The goal would be for our students to reach the pinnacle of music, dancing and acting and empower them to achieve their dreams!”.

 One hour each of singing, dancing and instrumental music is now the regular routine on Saturdays and Sundays. A few boys also join in to play the ‘bongo’. While most of the talent at Savda Ghevra is raw, ‘guruji’ has already spotted some real bright sparks. Everyone is pretty excited - the kids, guruji, as well as Hemu and Shailja.

Hemu and Shailja are busy planning a big community music event on August 15th, as well future roll-out of Hasmukh Kala, in tandem with Growth-for-All’s own expansion in 2008 and 2009.

For me, personally, it is immensely gratifying to have committed people like Hemu step in and complement the Growth-for-All movement, with their own thoughts and vision. This is a virtuous cycle which lends great strength.

Ran away from school years ago; Savda Ghevra’s Shyamwati is now back in class, thanks to TCS.

Monday, May 5th, 2008

CSR that works! 

Fifteen women from the Savda Ghevra resettllement colony( North-West Delhi) assembled in a room, in early-April, to begin a new chapter in their lives. Growth-for-All, in partnership with TCS, launched an Adult Literacy Program.

Shyamwati, who lives with her husband and four kids, is a classic case-in-point. As I chatted with her, a Bollywood-style story emerged. Her husband runs a tea shop; eldest son, Bhola, is a part-time security guard; other three sons are at various stages of schooling.  She hails from Etah district of UP, and recalls moving to Delhi a year after Indira Gandhi was assasinated. Illiteracy has its virtues: the mind relies on significant events as  anchors!

I was keen to find out why she had been never been to school.  Actually, she did have chance to attend school. For a few months,  she would walk 2 km to the next village , where the school was located. Until one day, the school master caught her plucking fruits from someone else’s tree. He whacked her. In anger, she hit him on the head with an iron rod, which resulted in 18 stitches on his head. Scared, she ran away from school, and never went back.

Gayatri’s tale is sadder. This mother of three kids dropped out of school for financial reasons when her brother died of polio.

After all these years, Shyamwati, Gayatri and thirteen other women are determined to achieve functional literacy through TCS‘ Adult Literacy Program( ALP).

Shyamwati & Gayatri with TCS’ Vivek and Bhavna

The TCS ALP is a fascinating program. Originally conceived by the legendary F.C.Kohli, TCS now has a complete set of structured, PC-enabled content that teaches adults to manage their lives satisfactorily. No degrees or diplomas are earned, but each adult is equipped to do basic things like reading signboards, application forms, and other simple messages so that they are no longer helpless.

TCS volunteers get involved in training a community trainer, and running some of the classes during the 40-hour module. The TCS model is a great example of CSR which plays to an organisation’s strengths. TCS know software; so, its only natural that they go out and create a software that helps fight illiteracy, using animation, sound and puppets. TCS has a massive work-force; so, it makes sense for them to engage them in voluntary efforts. The end-result is a great CSR effort whereby adults learn to read and write in as many as nine Indian languages.

TCS volunteer, Bhavna, teaching at Savda Ghevra

Vivek, Bhavna, and other volunteers from TCS- who write software during the week - travel quite a distance, during weekends, to get to Savda Ghevra, and train the community trainers. By doing so, this sincere bunch is doing its bit to ensure that the benefits of the economic boom are shared with their not-so-fortunate brethren.

At Growth-for-All, we are privileged and delighted to have TCS with us.