A funny thing happened on the way to the Anganwadi

Along the way to the anganwadi in Appalagraharam,  we saw a group of children playing outside, in civil dress.  A rare sight, and not just because it was a weekday.   They were all girls.  We often see boys running and playing outside, but rarely do we see girls playing games that take up more space than the front porch [1].  Here they were deep into a kabbaddi match.

What’s the occasion?” we called out to them.

“Picnic!” they replied.  We walked further and saw another group, this time both boys and girls, playing various games.

Two adults stood nearby wielding sticks.  I went to chat with one of them.  What are they playing? Whose  turn is it?  Why are you holding a stick?  He dropped the stick.  We must not hit.  We agreed.  I turned back to find that Ravi was chatting with the other teacher.  I found them engaged in the same discussion!  I went to join them.

When we use force, we teach only how to use force, I explained.  We may think we are teaching some right way or right principle but all we teach is that when you have power over another, you may use force.  Maybe this is what we experienced as children and are now practicing upon others.  But we can change these dynamics, once we are aware of them.

Though the teacher dropped the stick when I questioned him, would he have done so if a student had questioned him?  Does the environment of the school allow the student to question?  That would stimulate critical thinking and responsibility on the part of the student and the teacher.

When I walked back from the Anganwadi, I noticed the stick was back in his hand.

1.  See also R. Ramanujam, “Gender Construction In The Informal Curriculum,”  Education Journal — Gender and Education, Volume 1, Number1, April 2005, p. 49.  Accessed online on Dec 30 2013.

and Position Paper 3.2 of the National Focus Group on Gender Issues in Education, National Council of Educational Research and Training, November 2006, Accessed online on Dec 30 2013.


The grammar of non-apology and the penance of Tarun Tejpal

Aravinda Pillalamarri examines Tarun Tejpal’s letter to Shoma Chaudhury to reveal how much accountability he has taken for his actions. Continue reading

In Memoriam

Remembering Hansabehn …


Remembering Hansa behn Mazgaonkar
Hansabehn, yours was no ordinary light…..

With a heavy heart we are sharing the news that Hansabehn Mazgaonkar passed away today. We were privileged to see her at home last week where she greeted all of us with her characteristically bright and overflowing smile in spite of weakness and failing health.

We feel very fortunate to have known her – someone who had met Gandhiji during the freedom struggle, served as a life-long Sarvodayi, war resister, community organizer, and one who spun and wore only khadi all her life, along with her family. She continued to work for the benefit of the community till the very end. Ten years ago, we had the good fortune to hear sing આ વિશ્વ અમારી શાળા  (The whole world is our school).

Like Gandhiji, Hansa behn’s was no ordinary light and her selfless service and tremendous passion for truth and non-violence and simple living will contine to guide us.

Our sincere condolences to Daniel Bhai, Anand, Michael,Swati and the entire Sarvodayi family, NAPM and world-peace seeking community.

Picture: Daniel Bhai and Hansa Behn from the Kisan Swaraj Yatra meeting in Mumbai.

Letter to Editor

The Clamor we have always with us

New York Times

Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis

Published: November 16, 2013 575 Comments

Dear Editor,

In 2002 I had the opportunity to observe the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties aka “COP 8” in Delhi. I remember how dry the proceedings were and how shocked I was that rather than taking decisive measures towards changing energy policy, they talked about “emissions trading” as if this was some kind of a stock market. At the time, I was shocked. But I was young and believed that the delegates at such meetings would be at least as courageous and dedicated as the most hardworking campaigners in the movements for environmental and social justice.

I gradually came to recognize that the passion of activists and grassroots organizations working outside the system would not be found inside such conventions.

So it is like oxygen to hear Philippine delegate Yeb Sano bridge the two worlds, demanding accountability for the impacts of climate change.

Isn’t this the point? But even the media was surprised to see the convention become newsworthy: “a routine international climate change conference here turned into an emotional forum.”

Now even UNEP director Achim Steiner admits the pointlessness of these conferences:

“We are at these climate conferences essentially moving chess figures across the board without ever being able to bring these negotiations to a conclusion.”

The only question left to ask is “but who,we?” Because conclusion is coming, often without notice, for millions of climate refugees every year. Forgotten pawns on this imaginary chess board.

Aravinda Pillalamarri

See also

“We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw.”  Yeb Sano speech at 2013 UN Climate Convention broadcast on Democracy Now!
Eco-warriors: A Different Conference of Parties that Actually Addresses Climate Change  (Rajasthan, 2013)
and “If not now, when?” from 2012: