Saturday, 29 March 2014

EdX offering a course in Hindi

Wonderful to see that EdX is offering a course in Hindi.

I have often maintained that, education must be available to all.  And that English should be an enabler, and not a barrier.  And that the teaching of many subjects, can be independent of language.

I see too many students studying in our Marathi, Kannada or Gujarati medium schools, learning their subjects superbly, and being able to articulate the same.  The move towards 'semi english', especially in rural areas, for the teaching of science etc, actually harms the students in the manner that, they can then not explain well in any language.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

His Holiness The Dalai Lama will be teaching at Somaiya Vidyavihar

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be spending 4 days with us at Somaiya Vidyavihar from 30 May till the 2 of June, this year.  He will be lecturing on 'Living, loving, laughing and dying - the Buddhist Way'.  We are organizing his teaching along with Nalanda Shiksha.

This is his third time on our campus.  He had inaugurated our K. J. Somaiya Centre of Buddhist Studies.  We are privileged that he will spend time with us, and teach us, guide us, and simply be there with us.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

On our school in Sakarwadi

These are pictures of our Somaiya Vidya Mandir school in rural Maharashtra (one of four that we run in rural Maharashtra).  Where school children come from predominantly Dalit backgrounds.  When I was there earlier this month, I met Ashok Rohamare, who mentioned that his college always wanted students from our school, since the students were good in academics, sports and music.  That they were well rounded, and talented.  Our students have excelled in sports, and have participated at the state level in Badminton and Table Tennis.

All we have done, is create good facilities, and we have very good staff.  Recently, the local Government sports officer, who had herself made it to the Indian national hockey team from difficult circumstances, said that she would herself help coach our students after she saw our facilities, and the students' drive and motivation.  It is so wonderful that we are getting this support and encouragement.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

On the inauguration of the Somaiya Ayurvihar - Asian Institute of Oncology

न त्वहम् कामये राज्यं न स्वर्गं ना पुनर्भवम् 
कामये दुखतप्तानाम् प्राणिनामार्तिनाशनम् ।

This was the thought that Shri K. J. Somaiya, our founder, my grandfather, had when he founded Somaiya Ayurvihar.  The shloka says that he longed not for kingdom, and not for heaven.  Instead, what he desired was to keep being reborn, to alleviate the sufferings of all living beings.

And it was on this basis, that the K. J. Somaiya Medical College, the K. J. Somaiya Hospital, the K. J. Somaiya Nursing College, K. J. Somaiya College of Physiotherapy were started.  The aim and dream, was to create an institution of service, of research, and of medical and health education.

Cancer is a disease that is affecting many among us.  Many of us know of cancer having affected someone in our friends and family.  The causes of cancer, the treatments, are being studied and addressed globally.  My father, Dr. S. K. Somaiya, dreamt of creating a health city, an Ayurvihar as my grandfather had termed it, here in Mumbai.  

The Somaiya Ayurvihar - Asian Institute of Oncology was formally inaugurated yesterday by Hon. Home Minister of India, Shri Sushil Kumar Shinde.  He spoke of our long association with, his earlier visit to the campus, his journey as a cancer patient, his subsequent and complete cure, and his life spent in service.  He gave a very moving and personal inaugural address.  

This Centre is an important step and collaboration, in the fulfilment of my father's dream.  The doctors of The Asian Institute of Oncology are acknowledged to be among the best Doctors in their field.  They are also known to be wonderful human beings.  A wonderful combination of commitment and competence.  Our collaboration helps further create a new synergy, through which Mumbai will get a brand new new cancer hospital.

This centre aims to be a world class centre for the treatment of cancer in Mumbai, and also In India.  In the future, we will create an independent building, solely devoted to the treatment of cancer.  We will aim to create a center that sets a new standard to service and care.  Through this collaboration, our students will get an exposure to the best interventions in cancer care.  We also hope, that many patients, who do not get appropriate care, for lack of access to services or lack of resources, get the care as dreamt of by our founder.  

Thursday, 20 March 2014

On Gandhi

I was reading the chapter on 'spiritual serendipity' in Arvind Sharma's book on Gandhi - A Spiritual Biography, and was curious to see Gandhi's quote: "It is my faith, based on experience, that if one's heart is pure, calamity brings in its train men and measures to fight it."

My grandfather was deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi.  And he used to always say, that if the work is worth doing, उचित, good for society, समाज के हित में, then proceed, even in the face of adversity and seemingly insurmountable odds.  And you would be then helped in the same manner as Gandhi describes.

He said that was the leap of faith that was required.  

I saw this at work, when I worked with him.  

Monday, 3 March 2014

Somaiya Vinay Mandir Alumni and the morning prayer

Vinay Mandir will celebrate 50 years in 2015.  I met many alumni last Saturday, to discuss how we ought to celebrate the year.  In the discussion, one thing they mentioned, was that they all remembered the morning prayer that they participated in (however grudgingly).  They said, that in times of difficulty, it was this habit that helped them through.

They said, that when they returned to visit campus, they remembered to visit the Badminton hall that was used for the prayer.  And since this discussion emerged when I mentioned that we were going to renovate the Badminton hall, they said that the sense of prayer and quiet that they felt when they entered the space, should be protected and celebrated.

What memories?  I wonder whether we can restart the tradition.