School students give ideas on what their India should be at a function organised by Amaara Foundation

On a hot and humid Friday kids in uniforms of all hues mill around the various venues of an elocution competition organised by the Amaara Foundation as part of Independence Day celebrations.

‘My India – My Idea', the elocution competition for schoolchildren, started out as an idea that occurred to Resmi Deepak of the Amaara Foundation. The idea, in short, was to offer a platform for school children, Government schools and private (CBSE) schools, to express their opinions on the idea that is India. ‘Endae Bharatham – endae aashayam' was the topic for the participants in Malayalam elocution.

Two categories

The categories were held under two categories, Group 1 (Class 6 – 8) and Group 2 (Class 9 – 12). The Malayalam competition for Group 1 was held inside Amaara, and the stylised manner in which the kids presented their views was interesting.

Listening to a young boy's exhortation for a revolution, demanding education and employment as a fundamental right was thought inspiring. Those are things which we, in our perpetually ‘in a rush' state, have forgotten to wonder about. Justice, better infrastructure (in Kerala and the country), unity, tolerance, corruption, democracy, fundamental rights were some of the ‘points' which came up for discussion. Although the ideas were not so much about the one idea that would change India, it was more about the perceptions that the kids have about India. The earnestness with which the young kids held forth on their views for India was enriching and inspiring. Therefore the ‘Jai hind'(s) were that much more passionate, that wake-up call which gives an adrenaline rush ‘Jago India Jago' was said with that much more ‘josh', as if the kids meant it. Some of the ideas clearly suggested an adult's or rather a parent's perspective, as a parent said, “The ideas are my daughter's, of course we also helped. It is a good opportunity for kids to explore their talent.”

The adult perspective, either the parent's or teacher's, helps as Ms. Sheela, a teacher at the Govt. Vocational Higher Secondary School, Chottanikara, put it, “children are provoked to think about such things which they normally do not have to think about. There is a misconception that children do not read newspapers and are not clued in with what is going on around them. Kids are aware.”

Dr. Jayatilak Secretary, Water Supply, Government of Kerala had an interesting interactive session with the kids. He got their curiosity piqued just by the way he conducted his session. “Why did I count to three when I told you to ask your questions?” Although the kids were initially, hesitant with their questions the interaction got the action going. He spoke about his schooling at Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pattom (Thiruvananthapuram), of how he still remembers and cherishes those early lessons. The interaction with Dr. Jayatilak who was among Business Today's top 20 ideators for 2003 got some of the teachers hooked as well.

Talented kids

The brain behind the event, Resmi says, “The Amaara foundation will create opportunities to identify talented young individuals and provide tangible assistance for them to realise their full potential and be model citizens. This may be academically or in whichever direction their talents may be. We don't know if we are moulding tomorrow's leaders, but we sure are moulding our children into responsible, positive and hopeful citizens.” Around 210 children from various schools and educational institutions in Ernakulam district participated in the event. Resmi maintains that this event will not be a one off, Amaara Foundation will conduct many such events for children. Assistant Solicitor General of India, Adv. T. P. M. Ibrahim Khan, Leela Menon, Editor Janmaboomi and actor Anoop Menon were the other guests who participated in the valedictory. NGOs MAD (Make a Difference) and Snehahastham also participated in the event.

The Village International School, Thodupuzha, won the award for the best performing school, taking away the most number of individual prizes. The other students who took home the prizes include students of Vidyodaya School, Thevakkal, Govt. Boy's High School, Tripunithura and Choice School, Tripunithura. The judges for the Malayalam event were K.C. Roy, Sivadasa Menon and Swami Atmaswaroopananda while for the English competition the judges were Avinash Menon and Vishwanathan Arangatt (both entrepreneurs) and Kanak Ginan (personality developer).

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