Tag Archives: British Council India

Respect the opinions of others

Debating Matters India was more of a platform to put across opinions than a mainstream competition. Research was given preference over articulation and winning the title of National Champions was exhilarating. I loved how all the participants were all treated equally and every view was respected. I made lifelong friends from across the country, quite literally, and met eminent figures with refined outlooks. Besides this, the night before the Semi-finals and Finals, the groups who had got knocked out and our team just stayed up debating and exchanging points, countering every point and questioning every counter. This journey has so far been the most enthralling experience I’ve had. I just cannot wait for Battle of Ideas Festival in UK!! - Anjani Barhanpure

Debating Matters India was indeed an interesting and gratifying experience. The pyramidal structured competition allowed us to understand and learn about the topic in depth at each and every level. The fact that the competition was solely based on research and not oratory proficiencies was beneficial for students like us. I enjoyed each and every moment of it. The announcement of results kept us at the edge of our seats and left us biting our nails. The competition has allowed me look at the world from a new perspective and has made me a new person when it comes to ideas and ideology.My final take on the competition. Brilliant stuff. Hope  to be a part of it in the future as well. - Avantika Shenoy

Debating Matters India didn’t just change me as a debater; it changed me as a person. I learnt not just to dissect and analyze a topic until it was exposed to its bare essentials, but to appreciate just how much an issue could be read into, as well as an admiration for my opponents and the points they brought up. The competition created an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity which provided a platform for a far greater quality of debate.-  Pratik K Ramesh

The whole experience was exhilarating, as well as an intellectually stimulating and exciting, because we got to watch many smart, opinionated and enthusiastic, not to mention extremely well researched, personalities debate on the matters at hand. The topics were very well chosen, open to interpretation on both ends, with both sides having valid points, which made the debates close fought, fun to watch, and, of course, a genuine pleasure to be a part of.- Sanjay Pitchai

The debate was unique in the sense that the crowd wasn’t drawn into a partisan view, placing one side above the other. All the participants were given the opportunity to hear both sides of the debate in a fair, controlled manner, and were allowed to form their opinion, which, more often than not, was an amalgamation of the best points from both views of the issue at hand. This was clearly seen in the ‘Audience Questions’ portion of the debate, where the same individuals had piercing questions for both of the schools that were debating. - Nikhil Amarnath

I was the only 12th grader in my team. This made the competition harder for me from the outset , since I had very little time to spare for the debates. Also, the competition, both at the regional and national levels, were in the close vicinity of my pre-Boards. However, my team could not have been more understanding and supportive. The competition was a great chance to meet people from all walks of life, each of whom had a very interesting perspective on the issues at hand. Despite the troubles I faced at every stage of the competition, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else in the world. – Ilhaam Ashraf

As a teacher, it was wonderful to watch the students taking a genuine interest in the social issues being debated. The concern for the issues transcended the debate itself. This was clearly visible in the lunch hour, where the students were seen interacting and discussing the issues with their peers as well as the various judges present. Another great thing that the students were able to take away from the competition was the ability to respect the opinions of others, even when they differed from their own opinion. - Poornima Shekhar

NPS Koramangala

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From an orator to an ardent debater

Debating Matters India enriched us with experiences that made us competent in the arena of debating. It was a platform that brought our latent debating skills to the fore. We all started our journey of debating from DMI and hopefully would want to continue with it.

Unlike conventional debates, we were exposed to a forum which demanded thorough research, understanding and knowledge of the topics. We understood that debating was not only about statistics, facts and examples but with what content and passion you put forward your arguments. The topics, of course, were current and thought-provoking. It was all together an intellectual supplement. The unpredictability of the outcome taught us to be well-equipped to face any ‘uphill battle’. It was a test of our ability to respond under pressure which empowered us and sparked our enthusiasm. It developed our critical analysis, improved our confidence and enhanced our presence of mind.

The experts’ seminar was very illuminating and we were extremely fortunate to meet celebrities of various spheres of life. The programme in total was very efficiently organized, well-anchored, the atmosphere- welcoming, and the cuisine- excellent! It was a cross section of ethnical diversity and there was warm cultural exchange.

Walking past the threshold of the British Council, New Delhi, we evolved from what we were to what we have become now- confident, strong, rational, focused, research-oriented and a better personality. We advanced from being a mere orator to an ardent debater.

Paljor Namgyal Girls’ School
Debating Team, 2012-13

Students:
Nistha Sharma
Leah Grace Tenzing Namchyo
Rachel Ongmu Sangay Lepcha
Priyanka Chettri

Teacher co-ordinator:
Ms Alka Chhetri

Paljor Namgya girls

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Jubilee Scholars: Indian students visit Downing Street

Priyank with the other Jubilee Scholars outside Number 10 (image credit: Frank Noon)

Priyank Hirani, who is studying for a master’s at Imperial College London on aJubilee Scholarship, writes about visiting Number 10 Downing Street. The scholarship allows young Indians to study in the UK for a one-year master’s degree in management, manufacturing, science and technology.

A sunny day would be enough reason for a smile on a Londoner’s face. But for me, it was more than just a sunny day. It’s not every day that you are invited to tour 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official residence and office in the UK. Like nearly everyone else, I had only stood on one side of those black bars at the security entrance before, but the feel of being on the other side was, to put it plainly, absolutely incredible! The visit, organized by the British Council for the Indian Jubilee Scholars, came in after a couple of days of David Cameron urging Indian students to come to ‘welcoming’ Britain. Needless to say, we were excited to be the privileged few to get access to such an important place.

One cannot help but feel special (read: lucky) when one’s tour guide for the day is Conrad Bird, the director of the GREAT campaign. After a warm welcome from him, we entered the house that can be considered one of the most important decision-making places in the UK, and with little doubt throughout the world as well. The furniture has been well-maintained since centuries, each room is carefully and specially designed – some have a lot of symmetry, some glowing with golden shades, some extremely artistic – each with an elegance I have never seen before. There are conference rooms, dining halls and offices, but the one room that gives me goose-bumps is the cabinet meeting room. Come to think of it, this room has seen the likes of Winston Churchill take some of the most important decisions in world history, among many other historic decisions over centuries. I could certainly smell an air of power there.

Mr. Bird introduced us to Larry, the cat (apparently it was Larry’s birthday and I wondered if we were invited to celebrate that), showed us the mementos from the heads of various countries, the silverware, the collection of art works including paintings and wooden sculptures, and fascinatingly enough let us sit on those chairs, each valued at THOUSANDS of pounds – yes, you read that right! We learnt about British history, and finally how each Prime Minister gets his picture on the walls upon leaving office. The tour ended with a few pictures outside 10 Downing Street, and we thanked Mr. Bird and the British Council staff before going back to our busy university lives.

It is true that weekdays can get quite hectic with lectures (from some of the best professors in the world), labs and submissions looming over your head, but I try to take out time on weekends to go around London; after all it has so much to offer – from museums to palaces, to parks, to the London Eye, and so much more. Having enjoyed a traditional Christmas celebration with a British family in the Lake District, I feel I have experienced not just ‘Knowledge is GREAT Britain’ but also ‘Countryside is GREAT Britain’.

I have learnt a lot in these past few months from friends and classmates, from situations and experiences set in a truly multicultural environment and I have a wealth of knowledge to take back home.

Find out about other scholarship opportunities for Indian students.

Search for scholarship opportunities through the Education UK website. The scholarship search box is on the right hand side.

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Gearing up for Champloo

champloo changed againAfter an immensely successful run of 4 tours from the UK, we are eagerly awaiting the last and final tour by Champloo, who with their explosive & unique production are a fitting end to this exciting season of dance titled impulse.

February will be a bittersweet month for us as we gear up for one of the biggest dance companies from the UK to hit Indian shores.

Bristol based Champloo is one of UK’s leading B-Boying dance companies – founded in 2007 by Wilkie Branson. Highly regarded for his dance film work, White Caps represents Wilkie Branson’s first major live work. Integrating lyrical film with explosive breakdance, White Caps is a multimedia experience that follows the journey of two young men as they embark on an epic and gruelling personal adventure.

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Protein Dance Company – Performances

Protein

3 big screens that create a wall like backdrop. Facebook, Emails, Twitter.. The ever familiar sound effects of an email pinging in your inbox, a facebook notification, people liking your status, your photos, the awkwardness of online dating sites and the reality of the people you meet online.. All this and much more formed the crux of Protein’s LOL.

An extremely well written, witty take on the social mores in an internet age, LOL was performed by versatile actors/dancers who kept the audience engaged and connected with their quick moves and breathtaking dialogues.

Director Luca Silvestrini also made appropriate changes in the script to connect to the audience of the city they were performing in with words like Dosa and Big Bazaar featuring prominently.

Protein is a must watch performance for all internet users. It makes you laugh yet think at the same time.

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Scottish Dance Theatre

A group of warm, friendly and down to earth people who get up on stage and with intense physicality and fluid grace perform to a crowd of more than 1000. Just another dance show, you may think. But thats where you are wrong. With every consequent move they transport us to another world where we connect with the very real and human emotions that they portray. Performance is not just their strong point. With a heavy outreach programme, traveling around the city in pouring rain and maddening traffic, Scottish Dance Theatre managed to wiggle their way into this city’s heart with their commitment to teaching and sharing their love and passion for dance and movement.

Arts is supposed connect people and encourage knowledge sharing and Scottish Dance Theatre does exactly that. If the rest of the tour follows the pattern of Chennai, then it wont be just a city that loves them but an entire country.

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Impulse – a new movement in dance

season of UK Contemporary dance

Impulse – the influence of a particular feeling or mental state. What better word to describe a dynamic, versatile season of dance. A season that explores all the avenues of dance and dance performance including the process of putting together a production.

Performance, teaching, artistic connections and building relationships. All of these are key factors in “impulse”.

Right from the conceptualisation stage to the launch and process, impulse has resembled a flexible rubber ball, bending and shifting shape to accept and incorporate new ideas, thoughts and processes in the field of contemporary dance.

A unique opportunity for young dancers, choreographers and arts organisations to meet, interact with and learn from established and world renowned contemporary dancers from the UK, impulse is setting the trend for a new movement in dance in India. The time is ripe for change and growth in the dance sector in India and impulse comes at the right time to feed and nurture young minds in contemporary dance.

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British Council India launches international research on education change management

I write this on the morning flight from Calcutta to Delhi, on my way to the national launch of our global research publication on English language, Managing Change in English Language Teaching: Lessons from Experience, edited by Dr Chris Tribble.

Am lucky to have a window seat. On a clear summer day like this the vast Gangetic plain lies spread out like pages on an open atlas. The snow-capped Himalayan peaks, Mt Everest among them, masquerade as clouds that fringe the far horizon.

As

I fly over West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh on my way to Delhi, I cannot help but think that what lies beneath is one of the most densely populated human habitations not only in India but perhaps the whole world. And that the British Council has substantial English language projects in two of these three states – in Bihar and in West Bengal.

Over the next few days, as this itinerant launch programme travels from Delhi to Chennai to Patna and culminates in Chandigarh, we will be taking a hard look at critical questions on education change and demonstrating the value of project interventions to all manner of stakeholders. At each stop, the panel will feature Dr Tribble and joined by several leading policy makers, ministers of education, academics, consultants, NGOs, funding agencies.

The key areas of our enquiry at each stop will be clustered around the four major strands raised in the book:
•Policy and Design
•Implementation
•Monitoring and Evaluation
•Embedding and Dissemination
There will be lessons for all of us in these discussions and I suspect that at each stop there will be more issues added to the agenda.

The book itself comes at a time of great change and even greater expectations in the public provision of education in India, against the backdrop of intense debates on the implications of Right to Education Act and an increasing attrition of pupils from free government schools to fee-paying private schools, almost all of them flaunting an ‘English medium’ badge. The compilation looks at the larger issues of education change and management through the prism of language teaching and many of the conclusions drawn have far wider practical application than just English language teaching.
Managing Change will be launched at the following locations in India:
City Date Venue For invitation contact
Delhi Mon 21 May British Council
nataasha.southwell@in.britishcouncil.org

Chennai Tue 22 May Hyatt Regency
kumaran.sriram@in.britishcouncil.org

Patna Wed 23 May Hotel Chanakya
Joydeep.bordoloi@in.britishcouncil.org

Chandigarh Fri 25 May Hotel Marriott
bipin.kumar@in.britishcouncil.org

The panellists in Delhi are:
Dr Christopher Tribble, King’s College London (editor of the volume)
Dr Rukmini Banerjee, Director, Pratham ASER Centre
Prof Rama Mathews, University of Delhi (she is also a contributor to the volume)
Colin Bangay, Senior Education Advisor, DFID India
Clare Woodward, Open University UK (also a contributor to the volume, by videoconference)
Mike Solly, Lecturer, Open University UK (also a contributor to the volume, by videoconference)
Chair: Alan Mackenzie, Senior Training Consultant, British Council India

The panellists in Chennai are:
Dr Christopher Tribble
Clare O’Donahue, British Council Senior Training Consultant and contributor to the volume
Dr Kannappan
Mr Sundaraman
Dr V Bharathi Harishankar
Chair: Nirupa Fernandez, British Council Head English and Examinations, South India

A hard copy version of the book will be made available to all those who attend the event.

About the editor

Dr Christopher Tribble is a lecturer in Applied Linguistics at King’s College London. He has worked as a classroom language teacher in the public and private sectors in France, China and the UK, and has extensive experience as a manager and evaluator of English language projects, and as a project management trainer.
Chris also has a column in the Guardian called Weekly Words: http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/tribble
Chris Tribble’s current major activities include:
the development of a photographic archive of the work of the Teatr Polski in Warsaw
a photographic and documentation of the work of community groups associated with the new King’s Place Arts venue in London’s King’s Cross.
Chris Tribble is also a documentary photographer and provides a comprehensive photographic documentary service for organisations involved in education, social development and performing arts.
More on Christopher Tribble at http://www.ctribble.co.uk/
For more information on Managing Change launch programme in India or if you interested in contributing to the dialogue on managing change in education, write to Debanjan.Chakrabarti@in.britishcouncil.org

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Track, engage, inspire – Revolutionary Social Media

Information is power, said Robin Morgan. And this power is gaining more and more momentum online or in the ‘new media’ sphere. It engages and empowers millions of internet users. Internetworldstats.com pitches the figure at 2267 million users worldwide.

The mediums are many- blogs, video blogs, youtube, social networking sites, online petition campaigns. This medium is fast gaining recognition for lobbying for environmental action. We all are familiar with the power of the ‘share’ and ‘like’ button, thanks to a certain Zuckerberg.

The COP meets for past few years had a number of civil society observers and independent bloggers. There were a lot of independent videos and documentaries produced. There are now official ‘tracking teams’ at such summits, each responsibly and dedicatedly reporting back to their home countries from these international forums. Though traditional media continue to report at the forefront of such events, but the dynamism and the connectedness of the online media is unmatched. Especially among the youth, it continues to be the top most source of their daily news dose.

Off late, I have realized the power of the audio-visual media to tell inspiring stories and the power of sites like Reddit, Digg, Stumble upon and of course Facebook to spread this work around.

I participated in a two month online film-making course by noted environmental film-maker Nitin Das, organised by the British Council for select climate champions from India. Short documentaries were prepared by all participants and we have been circulating this work through a group called ‘Circle of good’ on Facebook and other social media tools. It was formed with the objective of creating a platform to find an audience for our creative work (mostly of environmental and climate change advocacy category). This viral experiment is on-going and we hope to take our stories to a wide audience using social media.

I chose to make my documentary on the subject of solar energy called ‘Solar Sangh’ which tracks an initiative of two young postgraduate students trying to spread solar energy technology to the masses. In India, the target audience for solar technology is associated with villages and the rural poor. We miss out on the urban poor that form a sizable segment in our cities.

There are many such stories waiting to be told. In the coming times, youth will play a major role in taking mitigation and adaptation actions for climate change. And social media will humbly be the medium of their messages. ‘Medium is the message’ coined by Marshall McLuhan holds a new meaning.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o__3IeGP1c]

Rozita Singh is British Council’s International Climate Champion.
If you are an environmental filmmaker (professional or amateur) or are simply interested in watching environmental films, you too can join the Circle of Good group on Facebook.

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After Dickens Writing Competition

In the range of activities that the British Council India hosted to mark the 200th birth of Portsmouth’s favourite son, a writing competition for young Indian authors tested the spirit of creativity and tribute to their favourite Victorian novelist – Charles Dickens.

After Dickens online writing competition ran across the  length and width  of India, engaged over 170+ writers between 16-21 years. Submissions ranged from short stories to poetry, reportage and documentary and even accounts of  Mr Dickens’ visit to India and his candid Tête-à-tête with  legends of Indian literature.  Some accounted even candid conversations between Dickens.

Armed with exciting entries, we reached the doors of academic Sajni Kriplani Mukherji. Sajni Di  (as she’s fondly referred to) is a Dickens expert and her appetite of all things Dickens made our vision even stronger.  ”Things are a little   tight Arnab. She said to me as I sipped the hot Darjeeling tea sitting beside her study-cum-work desk. I am occupied with a range of family priorities that are not too pleasant.

I’ll try to finish these within 5 days but if I don’t, then we’ll have to work things out slightly different. I grinned with excitement and nervousness hoping certainly for the best of times and not the worst. But as things go, Sajni di smilingly handed over the entries on the fifth day! Hurray!

As a promise, we bring to you her verdict that goes out to all our contributors and their untiring efforts.

A big ‘thank-you’ to you Sajni Di

We present to you the winning entries from the competition.

Happy reading!

- Arnab Banerjee

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