Tag Archives: British Council

World Skills India: Fine Jewellery Making regional finals held in Jaipur

Sixteen-year-old Sanjoy Pramanik, a jewellery artisan from Bangalore has come a long way – not just geographically but for also creating better opportunities for himself. Pramanik comes from a small village in the Hooghly district of West Bengal and never stepped foot outside his village, until one day a close relative introduced him to the jewellery industry of Bangalore. Now he is among the four shortlisted candidates who could represent India in the Fine Jewellery making competition in the World Skills UK, The Skills Show, to be held in Birmingham this November.

 

World Skills India, Finals of regional round of Fine Jewellery Making in Jaipur

World Skills India, Finals of regional round of Fine Jewellery Making in Jaipur

This is the first of its kind opportunity created for India as part of a learning and skill building tour created by the British Council and supported by UKIERI (UK India Education and Research Initiative) in partnership with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) to participate in the World Skills UK show. “I come from a small village where my father picks beetal leaves for a living and my mother takes care of the house. I do not have any elder siblings who can earn for the family this so I had to find work outside my village, in Bangalore,” says Pramanik, who recently got selected in the Finals of the regional rounds of the World Skills India held in Jaipur between 18-19th September. Pramanik has been in the jewellery industry as an artisan since he was 13 and works with a private jeweller in Bangalore creating bespoke pieces. Earning money was the best incentive for him to drop out of school.

 

 

Ten participants competed in the regional Finals for “Fine Jewellery making” in Jaipur for a chance to represent India in the World Skills show in UK. Like Pramanik many of the participants come from lower-income families and earn a pittance for working long hours in an industry, which is full of untrained workers. Pramanik earns about Rs 4,000 a month, enough to support himself and save a small sum for his family in West Bengal.

Dr Parag K Vyas, Chief jewellery expert, who has been training artisans in his Design Institute in Indore, points out an irony, “Most participants are from West Bengal. Even though they come and represent different regions but they are originally from West Bengal. There is a lot of talent in that State and not enough job avenues for jewellery skills.” Most artisans in this profession are girls because of the fine craftsmanship required in dealing with designing jewellery.

Dr Parag K Vyas, on the screening process for World Skills India:

Asrof Jamal at the Finals in Jaipur

Asrof Jamal at the Finals in Jaipur

Asrof Jamal is also no different from Pramanik. Pramanik and Jamal work in the same jewellery market district in Bangalore, though in different jewellery stores. Jamal, 16, moved to Bangalore leaving behind his parents in West Bengal’s Howrah district 3-4 years ago, in search of better livelihood. “I am paid Rs 8,000 a month for working long hours. I miss home and this competition will offer me the chance to do better for myself in this profession and support my family,” says Jamal, who is also among the shortlisted candidates for the World Skills UK in November. Ultimately two students will be selected after being groomed by Dr Vyas.

 

Dr Parak K Vyas: “People still prefer hand-made jewellery”

Fine jewellery making skills are an important area when it comes to competition standards on the world scale, says Dr Vyas. Every two years the World Skills competition is held, which tests a range of skills including Fine Jewellery Making. The next World Skills competition will be held in October 2017 in Abu Dhabi. Though India has an upper hand when it comes to the wider global skills set, there is still a lot that needs to be done to train artisans employed in the Indian jewellery industry.

World Skills competitions are important for India: Dr Parag Vyas 

External Links:

Watch : A short video on World Skills UK

Read: World Skills India

Post by: Debesh Banerjee
The writer is Senior Manager Arts, Digital, British Council India

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BBC Arts Hour: How tolerant is Indian Culture of new ideas?

Depending on how you look at it, India is either a deeply divided place where new ideas are constantly held back, or a land brimming with energy and new, diverse voices befitting the world’s biggest democracy.

A panel of artists and commentators came together at the British Council in New Delhi on 17 September, to talk about the boundaries of acceptability of India’s art, books and culture. Is India at a cultural crossroads and how tolerant is it of new ideas?

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

The BBC Arts Hour panellists at the recording session of The Arts Hour

On the one hand are cases like the exile of legendary artist M. F. Husain, who was driven away after certain of his artworks were forbidden from being exhibited. Senior journalist and columnist Swapan Dasgupta highlighted the contradiction in the fact that painter Raja Ravi Varma was celebrated for his portraits of voluptuous women as goddesses, while Husain was vilified.

BBC arts hour

Senior journalist and Columnist Swapan Dasgupta (left) and NGMA Director, Rajeev Lochan

His image of the naked goddess Saraswati was seen as offensive towards Hindus and led not only to legal action, but also resulted in his home being attacked by right-wing activists.
At the same time, there is a proliferation of new and diverse voices, as writer and journalist Raghu Karnad pointed out. They are difficult to track since India comprises so many languages, he explained, but there is a new explosion of writing by the Dalits. He cited the example of a Kannada lesbian romance film that wholly embraces the idea of two women in a relationship.

Click Here: Listen to the recording of BBC, The Arts Hour:

Although there have been recent cases of conservative reaction to, for instance, the film PK, Karnad said that there has never been a shortage of people in India whose sensibilities have been offended. Such offence should not, therefore, be assumed to be a phenomenon of our times alone.

Artist Sonia Khurana and theatre activist Shilpi Marwaha expressed their desire for women to be liberated from the shackles of tradition. Khurana said that her depictions of naked women were rejected by Indian galleries only to be received well abroad. They were finally shown after that at Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, on the insistence of fellow panellist, NGMA Director Rajeev Lochan.

BBC arts hour 2

The audience listening to The Arts Hour

Against the backdrop of the famous “Delhi rape case”, an incident involving the tragic rape and fatal assault on 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey, there is a heightened level of awareness about the treatment of women in society.

The incident, which sparked intense international coverage and mass protest in India, inevitably reared its head during the panel discussion. According to Shilpi Marwah the way people react to women has transformed as a result of the publicity around the case.

A sensational slam poet and rapper, Rene Sharanya Verma, lyrically captured the moment with her debut performance of the powerful piece Reclaim the Night, which was a call for women to be able to embrace the streets after dark.

She says her work aims to empower women and raise awareness of misogyny in India. The discussion ended on the subject of digital media’s capability to empower huge numbers of people. The proliferation of mobile phones is encouraging and enabling art to be consumed and shared more easily. On the flip side, this can mean more opinions are expressed which leaves art in India open to more criticism.

The jury is divided as to how open Indian culture is to new ideas. A live performance by the two-member electro-fusion band ‘Basanti aur Woh’, fusing Led Zeppelin rock with Sanskrit lyrics certainly left our live audience feeling optimistic about the chances for diverse, fresh ideas to flourish.

Post by: PRIYA KHANCHANDANI
The writer is the Head of Arts Programmes for the British Council in India

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Aisling Fahey: Long Night of LiteratureS

UK performance poet Aisling Fahey who is also the Young Poet Laureate for London, is in India for a session of readings as part of the Long Night of LiteratureS literary event this month. She will also be travelling to three cities: Chandigarh, Guwahati and Pune for readings. She shares how she was drawn into poetry in this blog:

  • Can you tell us about how you got into poetry

Having always loved reading and writing stories, when I got involved in a poetry project at school, the London Teenage Poetry Slam, at 13, there wasn’t any looking back. That vibrant introduction to poetry showed me the power carefully crafted words can have. They are a way to interrogate, understand and record. When you experience the impact poetry can have, and feel the atmosphere of a live event where somebody is holding the whole room with their words, you cannot help but become addicted to the art form. At 15 I joined Barbican Young Poets, a programme run by Jacob Sam-La Rose. This provided a regular space to learn about, read and write poetry, along with opportunities for publishing and performing. Still now, I use the community of writers established in various projects I’ve been a part of over the years, in order to push me, inspire me and keep me motivated.

Aisling Fahey

Aisling Fahey at a session from the Barbican Junior Poets in June this year ©Susana Sanroman

  • How did you become Young Poet Laureate of London? What has your role entailed?

There is a relatively lengthy application process for Young Poet Laureate for London. It involved initial applications, a long-listing day where you perform for a panel of esteemed judges, then a residential week for the shortlisted six filled with workshops, before a final interview. Last year, it was Lemn Sissay who announced the result on National Poetry Day in October. The role has entailed interaction with various communities and groups in London, from five to six year olds in my old primary school, to sixty year old women from Ireland, where my family is from. It has involved performances, events, workshops, panels, talks, and what has underpinned all of this is an engagement with poetry and people. I hope that I have successfully shown some of what poetry can do, and how it fits snugly into so many different environments.

 

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

Aisling Fahey © Leonie Morse

  • What are you looking forward to about your trip to India with the British Council?

I’m looking forward to discovering, learning and immersing myself as much as I can in a way only travel allows. I am also interested to see how my work, with its influences and references, will be received by new audiences. How will the sharing of my work in such a different place transcend any cultural differences that may be present? The literature that I love most is that which may be very far from my scope of experience, but still manages to speak directly to me. It will be really interesting to see if my work manages to do this in any way.

Also, the Long Night of LiteratureS event taking place in Delhi on 25 September will be incredible. That event brings together artists from across Europe and India, I’m always excited to talk to artists from different places and learn from their practice and experience. Most of all I’m looking forward to letting all of the new people and experiences soak in, I’ll be collecting stories that I can bring back home to savour, and retell as winter settles in an attempt to conjure back some of the heat.

 

 

Extract from Cab Rides At Dawn

 

In the place where dawn breaks continuously,

I am relearning the properties of light.

I used to go hunting for stars on my aunt’s farm,

come back with them between my teeth

like the flesh of an exotic fruit.

We dont have these in the city, I’d say,

swallowing them until they settled in my belly,

before exploding, making me shine outward.

I confess more to strangers than to friends.

 

I am discussing Poetry and God in a cab
with a driver from Bulgaria.

If I recorded my conversations with cab drivers

I think I’d be closer to my dreams.

I always ask them where is home 

as they drive me to a place that is meant to be mine.

 

 

Extract from Foreign Bodies

When a stranger pronounces my name right

I want to cut our ears off,

dig for other sounds we share.

 

There are names I cannot pronounce.
Each time, my tongue becomes a guilty weight,
I score a tally on my thigh
of all the countries I have not been to.

We love what is foreign
because it reminds us of ourselves.

 

III.

My face is my parents’ homeland,

sometimes they look at it and cry

for all the things they’ve lost,

their lost things crawl under my skin,
look, there is the river we never did swim in,
I don’t know which one of them spots it,
the vein at my temple,
but by the time they turn around
the other one has long gone.

Entombed in my face is what they built together,
when they were in the business
of making love and lives
in foreign lands.

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Thereby hangs a tale

We never stop telling stories, do we, small and tall alike?

Once upon a time I went to Scotland. There, in a castle in the dark, misty highlands, actually a modest hotel in Edinburgh, I found my flesh creep as I walked down its sinister corridor. We’d had dinner with Jock McArthur only the previous night, and the next morning he’d been found with his throat slit. The chill finger of suspicion pointed at all of us. Oh, all right, there’s a wee bit a yarn-tellin’ here. We were part of a ‘murder weekend’, then still a new tourism lure. ‘Silly gimmick’ i’d thought to myself when i was invited to it, but we were all unwittingly drawn into the plot by the wicked witches, aka the professional players pretending to be guests like us.

Literature delegation in Edinburgh

Bachi Karkaria (centre) with the other delegates at Edinburgh. Image courtesy Momentum/Festivals Edinburgh

Once upon last week, i was once more in Edinburgh, again at the heart of storytelling as actors and artists, clowns, kings and queens of all sexes created the fairy-tale world of the Festival’s ‘Fringe’. Like all good stories, theirs made us laugh, cry — and think. A bunch of us litfest organisers had wound our way from Kolkata, Kuala Lumpur, Bogota, Bucharest, Budapest, Bali, Lahore and Mumbai to a gypsy caravan called Momentum Literature, hitched for four days to the International Book Festival.

Every night, we gathered in a baroque tent for Jura Unbound. ‘Jura’ was the sponsor, the fairy godmother needed by all real-life events. Professional storytellers ‘unbound’ the tales of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm and recast them for the here and now, which has its own rags-to-riches stories — and certainly no dearth of ugly ducklings swanning around.

So, did the golden coaches turn into pumpkins during the day? No! We continued to be bewitched by the luminous passages read by authors from their new books. Skilful moderators drew out the writer’s own stories of wandering through dusty, musty archives, finding the Aladdin’s lamp of inspiration, and the magic kiss of publishers who don’t easily fit the description of ‘Prince Charming’.

Very grim and no fairy tale were the Amnesty International panels dedicated to writers and journalists killed for their courage. Not everyone lives happily ever after, but the story must be told.

Post written by: Bachi KarkariaCourtesy: The Times of India.

(The writer was part of the Momentum Edinburgh Festivals International Delegate Programme, delivered by the British Council in partnership with Festivals Edinburgh and Creative Scotland in August, and participated in the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other events.)

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World Voice Project: Manchester residency programme for trainers

WVP trainer Shubhangi Tewari looks back at her residency programme in Manchester

The week-long Manchester Residency programme, brought together master trainers from nine countries with World Voice UK trainers and vocal leaders from the Greater Manchester Music Education Hub (GMMEH). Each of the overseas master trainers’ worked in a ‘celebration school’ chosen from nine boroughs of Greater Manchester — Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Tameside, Wigan, Stockport, Oldham, Trafford and Salford.

World Voice Project residency

World Voice Project residency programme in Manchester

I worked in the borough of Stockport with students from Cale Green Primary school, whom I taught a song in the pahadi language spoken in Himachal Pradesh, India. The students also learnt about some Indian musical instruments and some features of north Indian classical music. There were also one-off workshops in other schools in Stockport — Mersey Vale, Prospect Vale and Back Lane Primary schools.

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

The World Voice Project aims to promote learning through song. By learning a song from a different culture and using it as a springboard into the learning of various aspects of that culture and country made learning much more joyful. One could tell by the twinkle in the students’ eyes and the complete focus with which they learnt the song, asked questions and also by their impeccable behaviour.

I also had the opportunity to observe some activities carried out by the Stockport Music Service — like observing a Guitar Wider opportunities session in progress and also attending a squad performance by children at St. Joseph’s Primary School. It was a privilege to be invited to performances by the GMMEH brass band and “It’s a Musical World” event at the Macron stadium in Bolton, where many schools from the borough of Bolton participated in and presented music from cultures as diverse such as the Carribean, Colombian, native American and South African, among others.

On the final day of the residency, we had performances through the day at the University of Manchester, with students from every celebration school from the Greater Manchester region, performing the songs they learnt from India, Jordan, Palestine, Senegal, Nepal, Ethiopia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. They even sung local songs and a number specially written for the World Voice Project called Starlight.

World Voice workshop in Manchester

World Voice workshop in Manchester

It was incredible to watch so many young children from the UK sing in different languages — Pahadi, Amharic, Wolof, Arabic, Spanish and Nepali, which they had picked up within a matter of four sessions. The experience was and deeply moving, re-iterating for all to see, the immense power of music and song in cutting across barriers of language, culture and all other markers of difference and creating sheer joy, a positive inquisitiveness into lives’ and cultures’ different from one’s own and a sense of remarkable achievement.

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Building bridges through dance

Vanessa Mirza, Director, Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India 2015, writes about her experience of organising a multi-dimensional dance festival in Kolkata. The British Council was one of many partners of the festival, which concluded recently. 

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival is a new initiative for dance and the performing arts in Kolkata by Dance Alliance Kolkata. The theme: “Talking Points in Choreography; Dialogues Across Cultures” emerged from a personal curiosity as a choreographer to know more about the creative process of different artists and how cultural influences affect choreographic works.

In curating performances for the Festival, I selected works that highlight this individuality and specificity, sometimes in subtle ways in others more overtly. Artists for the Festival included Van Huynh Company (UK), Anarchy Dance Theatre (Taiwan), I-Fen Tung (Taiwan), Sydney Skov (USA), Janet Reed (USA),Tomas Danielis (Austria), Rocio Berenguer (France), Prasanna Saikia & Buoyant Performing Arts (India). There were also special presentations and workshops by Waileth & Bardon (Sweden) & Meghna Bhardwaj (New Delhi).

Every artist and piece carried a different flavour that is a result of a personal history of dance training, choreographic style, creative decisions but also a reflection of cultural perceptions, thinking and infiltrations. It has been a great pleasure to network with different artists and provide for their needs creating an international experience for performing arts right here in Kolkata.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

A very special part of the Dance Bridges Festival, was a three-week residency with artists from the Van Huynh Company in Kolkata with local dancers. Choreographer, Dam Van Huynh created a beautiful work titled “Resonance” with a company of five local artists and dancer Ieva Navickaite for the Festival. The 20-minute piece has original music accompaniment by Martyna Poznanska created from environmental sounds she recorded live in Kolkata.

Along with performances, the Festival included a section of film screenings with 20 dance films from over 14 countries. The dance films were curated in collaboration with Screendance Festival Sweden, Goethe Institut Kolkata, Gati Dance Forum and other independent artists. This was a truly unique part of the Festival and brought audiences insights into choreographic developments in dance as an art in the medium of film from across the world. During the Festival there were also several workshops in eastern and western styles of dance at different studios in the city providing another platform for sharing knowledge, connection and exchange.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company Tanaya Bhattacharya

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

As the artistic director and producer for the Festival, it has been a long process of connecting with sponsors and partners. The Festival was possible due to the support and collaboration of Swar Sangam, ITC Ltd.,Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, the Austrian Embassy & Austrian Cultural Forum New Delhi, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), Alliance Francaise du Bengale, British Council, Screendance Festival( Sweden), t2 Telegraph, 91.9 Friends FM, Soni Power, Add Life Caring Minds, Rhythmosaic Dance Company, Buoyant Performing Arts Centre, Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts, The Calcutta School of Music aHotel Nest International, Chaitown Creatives and Berger Paints.

It is my intention to host this Festival as a biennial event and the next edition is due to take place in 2017. I hope the Dance Bridges Festival grows from this first edition to continue in building artistic bridges and cultural exchanges within creative communities across the world.

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Changing lives through teacher development

A book launch and panel discussion which spanned two countries and reached out to others through a live webcast proved how easily technology could be used to connect teachers and teaching communities smoothly across  different time zones and across continents, helping them to share ideas and learn from each other.

From left: Prof Amol Padwad, Prof Santosh Panda, Rob Lynes and Alison Barrett launched the global publication Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers in Delhi on 28 November.

From left: Prof Amol Padwad, Prof Santosh Panda, Rob Lynes and Alison Barrett launched the global publication Innovations in the Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers in Delhi on 28 November.

The book was launched simultaneously in Delhi and London with a live audience in both cities listening to a panel of eminent speakers talk on “Can continuous professional development change lives?”

The occasion was the launch of British Council’s global publication Innovations in the Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers simultaneously on Friday 28 November in Delhi and London with a live audience in both cities listening to a panel of eminent speakers talk on “Can Continuous Professional Development (CPD) change lives?”

Rob Lynes Director British Council India, welcomed the audience in India, and spoke about “looking forward to engaging with ministry of education, school leaders, training organisations and teacher bodies in assisting their work in continuing professional development, in collaboration with the UK.” Prof Santosh Panda, Chair of National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), gave a short introduction on the context in India, adding that “CPD was both the responsibility of individual teachers who needed to take the initiative and institutions who needed to provide support”.

Amol Padwad, Head, Department of English, J.M. Patel College, Bhandara, provided an insight into the innovative work and research of the continuing professional development policy think tank in India. This was followed by an illuminating talk on the professional lifecycle of teachers by ELT editor, writer and teacher Tessa Woodward, who spoke the important stages of CPD through a teacher’s life from the young entrant seeking to better their skills to veterans providing a mentoring role for colleagues.

The panel discussion followed with Alison Barrett, Director, English for Education Systems, British Council South Asia, Rama Matthew, Faculty of Education, Delhi University, Delhi and Amol Padwad in India, and ELT experts Rod Bolitho, Loraine Kennedy and Tessa Woodward in London.

The barrage of tweets #ELTCPD, over 140 transmissions of the webcast live and lively debate in London and Delhi made the event a compelling one for any teacher or educator in any country.

You can listen to Alison Barrett discuss her ideas on CPD, related to her experiences from her extensive work with teachers and policy makers in India here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/podcast

The book can be read online here http://issuu.com/britishcouncilindia/docs/e168_innovations_in_cpd_final_web

The recording of the webcast is available here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/seminars/can-continuing-professional-development-change-lives-webcast-recording

More information on the British Council’s work in Continuous Professional Development is available here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development

 

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An impulse to dance. Again

Hofesh Shechter Company: Political Mother

Hofesh Shechter Company: Political Mother

We’re set to go. Over the next three months India will be enjoying the best of contemporary dance from the UK. Not just by watching the performances which are a rare treat, but also by interacting with performers through a range of activities planned with dance organisations in India and young people across the country, including workshops, master classes and networking events.

All this is part of Impulse 2, the British Council’s new season of contemporary dance. The season is built around 15 performances by leading UK dance companies — Hofesh Shechter Company, Scottish Dance Theatre and Avant Garde Dance.

The first series of performances — Political Mother by Hofesh Shechter Company — brings the sound and feel of a rock concert with gritty, fast-moving visual movements and is described as “especially appealing for young people (14+) because of its fast moving, highly physical choreography”. Watching this video would definitely make anyone agree.

The tour launches in Hyderabad on 5 September and travels to Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. Find out more about show dates at www.britishcouncil.in/impulse2.

In October, the Scottish Dance Theatre, Scotland’s national contemporary dance company, returns to India (they were here as part of Impulse held in 2012 along with Akram Khan Company, Aakash Odedra Company, Protein and Champloo, where we took contemporary UK dance to seven cities over eight months). The tour will be from 1-11 October 2014 and the performances will be held in Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata.

In November, we have Avant Garde Dance, a London based company pushing the boundaries of hip-hop and contemporary dance. The tour will be from 1-21 November 2014 and the performances will be held in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Lots to look forward to. Follow this blog if you want to keep abreast of everything that’s happening around Impulse 2. And do send in your comments and thoughts.

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Customer Service Week Writing Competition

We had an incredible 35 entries for the CS Week Writing Competition in Delhi, with students sharing their best ever experience at the British Council in 100 words or less.

You can read the winning entries below:

Pooja Nehra
Chetna’s Evolution U3 class Tuesday/Friday, 11.30-1:30
‘Learning at British Council was a wonderful experience. The reason for joining a course here was to develop and regain my confidence while communicating in English. The mixed and loving culture of British Council exposed me to the vast world outside. I met people from different parts of the world and learnt a lot by making them my friends. Thanks to British Council for providing this wonderful service to people like me, without putting a bar on age, culture or religion. I transformed my personality after joining British Council. Thank you.’
Judge’s comments: Pooja articulately and succinctly matches her own customer experience to the core values of the organisation.

Gunel Aliyera
Tapsi’s Evolution I4 class Monday/Thursday, 09.15-11.15
‘On a rainy August morning, while I was coming to my English class in New Delhi, a woman asked me the way to the British Council. I mentioned to her that I was going there and she could accompany me. We both started walking together sharing my rather small umbrella and getting a little wet. Continuing our walk, we got to know a little about each other. She mentioned that that she had lived in Istanbul, Turkey. I was amazed to know that she had lived in the same apartment as me three floors above mine for over a year. As she walked, I was wondering what a small world we lived in. Owing to the British Council and my umbrella, we are now friends.’
Judge’s comments: Approaching the task through a reminisced personal narrative, Gunel produces a sweet, anecdotal work of micro fiction.

Rabiya Khan
Arun’s Evolution P1 class Tuesday/Friday, 14.30-16.30
‘It has been a pleasure while learning at British Council, as I would never forget the time spent here during my course English Evolution Pre Intermediate. It has been an extremely enriching experience both academically and professionally. My best ever experience at the British Council has been the learning experience while attending classes of my teacher Arun Ganapathy as I greatly appreciate the help and hard work. His dedication and commitment has provided me immense satisfaction. As a teacher he exhibits deep understanding of learners like me and strives towards exceeding our expectations. Arun sir – you just rock.’
Judge’s comments: A sophisticated choice of lexis for this level – and recognition of our learner-centric and dedicated teachers – makes Rabiya a deserving winner.

Congratulations to all of our winners. Gift wrapped books will be working their way to Pooja, Gunel and Rabiya!

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Insecurity or Unconscious Impact: How and Why does Peer Pressure affect us?

People tend to create their own definitions these days, definitions that go beyond the meanings made available in conventional dictionaries; definitions of what needs to be done, what ought to be done and what is the ‘cool’ thing to do. Especially as a student in formative years in schools and colleges, we come to be greatly affected by and in turn, influence those in our seemingly large worlds, often unconsciously. Society and the process of socialisation instil in us from the very beginning the need to be accepted, especially by those around us, to follow certain dos and don’ts. In this regard, peer pressure is a very important part of socialisation.

I’m not saying peer pressure is necessarily bad. It’s just that when we, out of either compulsion or choice, spend a lot of our time with certain people, they often end up impacting us more than they should be. It is in fact often unconscious. There is no harm in learning good stuff from our school and college mates, as long as it’s about discipline, drive or focus. Peer pressure begins to harm when it overshadows the ‘I’ in you. You begin to speak the language that you’ve been told is cool. You stop thinking for/about yourself. Just like alcohol, or drugs, it is a matter of being a part of the ‘hep’ gang in school or college. The primary motive behind this is, not being one of those annoying spoilsports and often most of us fall prey to the ‘herd mentality’.

Science is the way to go. Doesn’t matter if you can’t tell sodium from sodomy, but it is the only track life has to offer or Chartered Accountancy, at best. That is as experimental as you can get after all, everyone around you keeps telling you of the various exams you could take. You will crack some of them and then there are interviews and the bait of great perks. It doesn’t matter whether you have the aptitude or not, or does it?
There is a lot we imbibe from our friends; career and education are among a few choices, but definitely the more important ones. A writer, a blogger, an actor, a dancer would inevitably find himself lost, if not outcast in a group. There is plenty of appreciation in school and college for creative talent and I’m not saying friends are not supportive, but everyone after school wants to know how fat the pay check is.

Peer pressure often stems from insecurity. If we feel that people of our age know their mind, and since we don’t seem to, the easiest thing would be to follow them. After all, we’d be starting at the same points as them. So why not take the same road? And when you are a part of close knit units such as educational institutions or departments or even social circles, it’s normal to get swayed. What we as peers need to develop is sensitivity and the ability to encourage our friends to dream, to think for themselves. We always talk of getting influenced; maybe it is time we introspect about how much impact we make and in what ways.

I don’t think it is right to condemn or look down upon those who succumb to peer pressure in terms of education or career choices. It is a fairly easy way of dealing with stress in life. And it is better than substance abuse, for sure. The only problem is you feel as sick with the results, probably more, and for much longer.

Post by : Lata Jha

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