Getting in touch with Sunny is a delight after a long time. I have never ever thought I would be in Delhi sometime of my life. But life is one play and we are all actors.
Coming home to the point, this Sunday I was at Maharaja Agrasen College in Rohini Sec 22. A long trip on the Delhi metro and then on the RTV chugging along to reach me near the bus station and then reaching the wonderful campus. I liked the architectural style which is one of the hall mark of any institution which is world class. Having been to some of the most prestigious institutions I think the architectural design in a sense creates an aura for the students studying there.
Banners and posters welcomed people shouting aloud about the event… Navjyothi Community College, welcomes you, Seminar on career counseling, NCC welcomes Dr. Kiran Bediji, all hand made and one could see the passion and interest it had generated in it.
I called Sunny and then joined in the hall while he was busy giving finishing touches to speaker profiles. The hall was all buzzing with chatter among those kids and some volunteers getting them to streamline them.
Few minutes later the Chairman of the college Dr. Garg arrived and took to the stage and the event started off formally with an announcement that Dr. Kiran Bediji is on her way and expected anytime.
It was left to two young people to manage the show. One was Nisha and another Mubarak the master of ceremonies in English and Hindi. When Nisha addressed the crowd as ‘Guys’ in English, I felt a strong similarity in the way I usually addressed my students earlier. Guys for me meant they had to be ready for the class.
So it had begun well with them announcing what’s in store for them that day.
Ms. Neetu took the stage and started the discussion and put questions on what the day is all about. As the question were fielded and answers generated by the time the students got warmed up, Kiran Mam as she was lovingly called arrived.
For me to see an icon I had always looked upto was a dream come true. It was a historical person I was meeting. Someone who broke the shackles of being the first Woman IPS officer in the independent India. Means so much to the people who should have brought her up and the society as a whole. And the Tihar experiment as I would name it was next to Experiment with truth for me. We haven’t seen Gandhiji in flesh and blood so it is always a part of history, but then here is a person who has challenged the norms or so called norms and lent it a stamp of distinction in making prison a reformative place which the law makers initially visualized. It was bonus to hear her talk how she did that and what actually led her to do what she does always the best way.
Clad in Pyjama kurta and her signature hair style, she looked so down to earth, so motherly and so much compassionate about her presence. Exchanging pleasantries with the people and finally to the stage, Kiran Mam had arrived for all of us. Looking at her from close quarters, I always had wanted to listen to her when she was in Coimbatore but unfortunately it had never happened or I get to know the next day from the Hindu second page that she was at GRD answering a volley of questions.
So the programme had the traditional lighting of the lamp, and when it was getting lit a little slowly, in a sense of humour unmatched, Kiran Bedi said its Navjyoti and it takes time. A crackle of laughter filled the hall. Then it was again the students. There were students who took to the stage for the first time n their life to speak English till then an alien and sophisticated language for them.
One student started well and then the inevitable happened she forgot, a scene that reminded me of my first ever recitation competition way back in sixth standard and what follows is the crying. Never the less these kids were competing not against anybody but against themselves which is breaking the barriers of self, that which is built around them by the places of living and so many other social factors. I think that by reaching out to the stage they had made appoint break that self imposed exile and that they can do it. The first step has been made and now the journey for sure will continue.
It showed the innocence and sometimes the right they could have over their very own Kiran Mam. I did feel these kids were lucky to be around someone like Dr.Kiran Bedi at this age which I believe will be a positive pointer in their lifetime. Going forward, this impression of being a part of the initiative of Dr. Kiran Bedi is going to stick on to them in all parts of the life that is the biggest outcome for the initiative called NCC.
Some more on stage made it happen with how it had transformed life and gave them new found confidence in the way they looked at life and one even hinted that they were not missing the college to their regular counterparts in the city. Almost all said they were happy at the place of learning. Quite a compliment to the people who run the institution and also the faculty who have imparting them not just the syllabi but the way to live and take life. Lot of people who spoke reflected the enthusiasm that they are infected with the movement called Navjyoti. Well they did end their speech with I am Navjyoti which underlines a greater impact of being a part of a revolution none the less.
Some snippets of the speeches included ‘try try try again but not cry cry cry’… this when Nisha the girl who forgot her speech was crying. Some message that. One more was Dr. Kiran Bedi she is a flower and a star forever…
There was an inspirational video with achievements of some of the sporting heroes and how they had to push in everyday in their life to get to that achievement. Carl Lewis for example won 4 gold at the Olympics not just a fluke it meant every day practice for how long years only he knew. Those medals are results of those untiring efforts made day in and day out. Some of my favorites found place including Carl Lewis, Bubka, Schumacher and Pele.
The next speech was by the chief guest was an inspirational one when I also got to know who Maharaj Agrasen was. That it was a 5000 year old legacy was a great surprise, and more than that he was keen to touch on the cultural heritage of the country in terms of secularism and other things he brought to the discussion was a worthy one. He went on to add he was willing to give the campus free for any activity like this and also announced a scholarship for the meritorious needy students during the course of his speech which was very kind and generous of him.
He also reminded students to bring glory to their home, village, city and country starting with home. A very touching way for an academician who was also a political figure before he took the plunge to education and charity. May the likes of Dr. Garg’ tribe increase.
The next was Kiran Bedi Mam herself, personally I was waiting to see and hear and feel the voice. And I wasn’t disappointed when she started off thanking the students and especially so because if not for them this would not have happened. He went on to relate how she does things with minimum resources at disposal and stretch it to the max. It had happened at all levels in her lifetime. Be as a student, studying to the max, playing to the max, be the IPS officer do to the max with the minimum resources and of course the life changing aspect at the Tihar jail to do the max with the minimum.
She went on to give what she called the gurumantra of her life ‘be Samajdhar’ only those who have been that were successful. She was once that samajdhar student, a samajdhar daughter, a samajdhar police officer and the list goes on. She also underlined the importance of reading and studying, rather updating, reflecting how she had continued herself after being an IPS officer went on to do a LLB, then a MA then a PhD and then second PhD and then of course decided to write her book. So the same habit continues till day, reading atleast 4 hours a day. She quoted from the Inspirational video which was shown little earlier on having to practice everyday.
She urged the students to continue studying whatever opportunity presented them and how NCC was willing to make it affordable so that they can make it happen in the life. Updating them would be the real power they can have for themselves.
The students too promised to take home the promise of being samajdhar and implement it wherever possible.
As she finished we had a guest who had accompanied Kiran Bedi Mam, one Mrs Nirupama who was introduced to the crowd by Bedi Mam as a representative of India in Tennis, in her days and was an Asian Champion.
She narrated an incident from their timeline when she had defeated Kiran Mam the first year in the quarter finals. But the next year it was different and it was in Calcutta. That day she was humbly taught a lesson as she said that Kiran was indeed the samjadhar as she just had told students. Luckily that day the other Kiran (the sun) was less bright and saved her day. But she had learnt her lesson.
She also had a moment of awe for all of us when she narrated how Kiran Bediji’s mom used to comfort her daughter and also massage her legs when she’s taking rest. I was left wondering how many children get that kind of parents or how many kids deserve it the other way. It was a touching moment very literally when people later told her that every one was almost moist in their eyes.
With that the formal ceremony was over, and ofcourse in between was the felicitation of the speakers who had taken time off their Sunday and a well deserved token of appreciation with the book ‘I Dare!’ signed by Dr. Kiran Bedi and ofcourse a Thulasi Plant was given. I wanted to know the significance of presenting the Thulasi Plant though I do know that it’s a sacred plant of the Hindu tradition and so dearly loved by Lord Krishna himself.
I also had the opportunity to listen the speakers and Dr. Kiran Mam at the conference hall, wherein people were able to contribute to the way the things can shape up at NCC. Lot of nice ideas and more on how IGNOU was helping the certification etc…
Kiran Mam acknowledges the fact that the team of three people in Navjyoti – were in fact making it happen on their own devising plans and executing them. Call them the three musketeers – taking the mission and vision of the organization forward.
So as the discussion wound up and the speakers waited for the sessions, it was my moment to be introduced to Kiran Mam. Sunny introduced me as a Volunteer from Chyk, and from Coimbatore.
She asked me how I came to know of the days’ events. I told her Sunny had invited me, and as we walked I told her I was well aware of her GRD visits and she said she was going again may be next month.
So it was a dream comes true when I had first spoken to Sunny about meeting Kiran Bedi mam. Also had felt Sunny and the folks were lucky to be a part of such a project.
After Kiran Mam had left, I was back at the places where sessions were going along with Sunny. Some classes had already started and I went to listen to the Hair dressing and beauty, for someone who had thought about this it was a revelation as a career as I was listening to Mr. Rajiv.
One thing I noted was time had gone by me not knowing how fast it had gone by. There are some times when you enjoy doing thing or enjoy some thing time does fly past you by and you won’t know and the same happened.
It was John Milton in his on his blindness who said those also serve that wait and stand, may be I can consider myself like the one to start with.
Thanks Sunny for a wonderful Sunday… there’s so much sun and its rays there – Dr. Kiran Bedi… and literally it has been ray of hope for so many people and Wishing a great success to all that the rays touch on.