With a brave new vision in their minds, these individuals have stepped against the tide and recreated a positive reality for thousands, breaking traditional confines. Here is how they shaped 2013.

Music for all

Anil Srinivasan

In a path-breaking turn of events, 30 under-privileged children from the city’s corporation schools will step on to the stage at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to give a carnatic music recital on the 28th of this month. The person who made this possible happens to be ace classical pianist Anil Srinivasan, through his recent initiative Rhapsody – Education Through Music, which came into existence in July. Rhapsody has taken classical music to children in numerous corporation schools in the city. Assisted by the NGO Nalanda way, Rhapsody trains children in music as both a means and an end. Anil says, “Many concepts can be taught through music. For instance, Doppler effect in physics can be demonstrated by tapping plates with spoons in a descending scale. It is great fun, and a great way to reinforce learning. I want to pass on the joy and benefits of music to all kids, be they rich or poor”.

Smiles all around

Dr. M.B. Aswath Narayanan

This year, almost all the dental colleges in the state set up their own Tobacco Cessation Clinics. Meanwhile, 266 Primary Health Centres in the state began to employ dentists among their health care personnel. Likewise, the rural health mission recently included oral health in their school health survey. And thanks to the incorporation of a behavioral change module in the Tobacco Cessation Clinic at the Government Dental College and Hospital, there has been a 10 fold increase in the number of patients who persist with the final sessions of the de-addiction process. Well, the person credited with bringing about these far-reaching changes is Dr. Aswath Narayanan, Prof. and head, Public Health Dentistry, Government Dental College and Hospital and Secretary of the Indian Association of Public Health Dentistry, who worked relentlessly with the Rural Health Mission to make this happen. He says, “My next objective is to develop a national oral care system that can give standardized oral care across the country”.

She creates champions

Madhavi Latha

In the 11th National Paralympic Swimming Championships, just four participants represented Tamil Nadu. In its 13th edition held this year, Tamil Nadu had 40 participants. They won 26 medals which put Tamil Nadu in the 5th position. This is a fantastic achievement. In fact, most of these participants happen to first-time swimmers from small towns and villages. They were spotted and trained by the Paralympic Swimming Association of Tamil Nadu, the brainchild of Madhavi Latha, a paralympic swimming champion herself. Now, thanks to her lobbying with the government, the Tamil Nadu Government has mandated that all disabled kids below 16 years can use government swimming pools free of cost, while those over 16 years get a 50% concession. The government has also agreed to build an exclusive and barrier-free pool for persons with all kinds of disabilities at the Chennai’s Nehru Stadium. Madhavi says, “Swimming is therapy, fitness and fun for disabled persons. Every disabled person deserves this chance”.

Giving care-giving its due

Rama Murali

Today, if care-giving is recognized and talked about in a city that had taken it for granted, the credit largely goes to young Rama Murali, who set up the care givers support group CARE3 in January this year with the guidance of Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala and IIT’s Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI). Its monthly meetings have brought relief to hundreds of care givers, giving them the chance to discuss their challenges and share best practices. Someone who gave up her job abroad to take care of her grandma incapacitated by a stroke, Rama Murali mastered in public health at the Harvard University. Rama says, “The family system in India is changing. Instead of shared responsibility for the elderly and the sick, a single person often ends up shouldering the entire responsibility. Abroad, there are extensive support systems for care givers, in terms of supplementary manpower and stress relief mechanisms. I want to make it happen in India”.

Pie Sivaraman

The Gift of Education

Between writing books on math and mathematicians, creating math puzzles for students, attending math conferences and running the various activities of the Pie Mathematics Association, Prof. R. Sivaraman, member of the American Mathematics Society and math teacher at D.G. Vaishnav College, finds time to teach math every evening to poor but dedicated school and college students from slums, absolutely free of cost. “The kids are responding excellently and I see great promise in them”, he says happily, adding, “The best part is, four of my former students now settled in jobs wish to join me in this, so as to educate more kids”. Earlier this year, his book Enngalin Ennangal bagged the State Government award for the best book written on science. A colourful, interactive book that brings out how numbers play a role in various aspects of life, it is a first-of-its kind book on math in any vernacular language in the country.