Sunday, 29 June 2014

Incubating ideas and the Fablabs in Barcelona

Proud to say, that the Somaiya Vidyavihar entry, 'Ecomappers', through our incubator RIIDL, has been chosen as one of the winners at the Global Fab awards. Congratulations to them. They will be going to Barcelona next week. See more about the competition at

Gaurang Shetty and Dhiraj Gehlot will be going to Barcelona to participate in this. THe whole idea is, how do we create an environment, in which teaching, the classroom, the world around us, seamlessly come together, so that we can Research, Innovate, Incubate, and Design (RIIDL) a better world for all of us.

Friday, 27 June 2014

On meeting Yogita (student of Somaiya Vidya Mandir, Sakarwadi) and her husband

Met Yogita, a student who passed out from the 10th standard, from our school, Somaiya Vidya Mandir, at Sakarwadi.  This school is located in rural Maharashtra, and much of the community that comes to study here, are quite poor.

She stood first in the school.

She was married early, but still went on to pursue her diploma, and now wants to do engineering.  I asked her, what she would like to do next, and she mentioned that she would like to join the civil service.  Amazing.

And her husband, a polite and small farmer, was there, behind her.  Supporting her.

Too often, we here stories about people being obstacles.  Here was a quiet man, fully supporting and standing behind the dreams of his wife.

Monday, 16 June 2014

On Dr. Mrs. K. Shankarnarayan

I have just returned from Bangalore, where I went this morning,hoping to see Dr. Mrs. K. Shankarnarayan, our Founder Director of Buddhist Studies, before she 'left'.  But she had passed away already, in the morning.

I have known her since the K. J. Somaiya Centre for Buddhist Studies was founded.  It was the same year I joined my father in the family business (1993).  In the past few years, after my father's passing, I had worked with her more closely.

In the past few weeks, there was a particular occurrence that I would like to share.   I mentioned to her, that we would run a competition for a new building for the Centre for Buddhist Studies, and that we would ask His Holiness to lay the foundation stone when he came to campus.  She came back to me, and said, that it would be better to have a building that would house all the three centres, Bharatiya Sanskriti Peetham (Hindu Studies), the Jain Centre, and the Buddhist Centre, along with the centre for Interfaith Dialogue.  She did not have to volunteer to add these centres in this new building, the new building, as I had suggested was for her centre to keep.  But she generously suggested, that the building house all our centres of spiritual learning, and that learning spaces would be better used, if shared.

What a wonderful memory, and what an example.

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, laid the foundation for the new building 'Sanskriti', when he visited us earlier this month.  

Saturday, 7 June 2014

His Holiness at Somaiya Vidyavihar - Post 1

It was amazing to have His Holiness The Dalai Lama on our campus for 4 days and 5 nights.  

The was he connected with all of us was superb, and even more so, was the way he connected with students.  The questions they asked, and also the questions we all asked, reinforced my feeling, that our education system, weak as it is is, only focuses on the vocational and skill aspect of eduction.  And it does little to address the emotional or psychological aspects of learning.

Students, and indeed all of us, are in need of guidance and teaching.  His emphasis on compassion, and the cultivation of patience, was particularly motivating.  He mentioned that the cultivation of patience and the elimination of anger, are things that have to be worked on.  Continuously.  

His emphasis, that we must separate the actor from the action, that we must view the actor with compassion, but if his action is wrong, then the action deserves a counter.  But never to develop an ill will towards the actor.

Lessons similar in many religions, but he connected and communicated beautifully.  He asked us to investigate everything, then experiment, and then, only then if it makes sense, to accept.  And that our beliefs in the concept of a creator, or Brahman, or no creator (or anatman), were our personal business.

Thank you for your guidance.  This was his third visit to Somaiya Vidyavihar.  We hope he comes again soon.