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Reflections August 29, 2012

Posted by shonaliganguli in Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century.
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Contributor: Rachit Sai Barak, participant at the Re-Imagine Edinburgh Youth Summit

A month and a half ago when I was informed that I was selected for Re-Imagine Edinburgh Youth Summit, I was elated that I would be visiting the city at the time of Fringe and Edinburgh International Book Festival. Yes, I had thoughts about my contribution in the summit and if it was possible for a group of 12 young people to define a vision for UK-India Cultural Relationship in just 4 days.  But, mostly, I was excited about attending the festival. Over the course of the summit my expectations completely changed.

On the first day when I met the other 11 participants (Well, I met 2 of them on my way to Edinburgh), I was a little bit skeptical, because of the sheer fact that we came from 12 different backgrounds. Of Course we had similar interest and some of them were part of changemakers, but we all had different agendas or so to say issues that we were supporting. We were told that over the next three days we would try and envision UK-India Relationship and highlight the areas of possible partnership. On Day 4 we had to present these outcomes to various stakeholders.

By the end of day 1 my expectations had changed, I started absorbing a lot more about our shared cultural history. In the next four days I learnt a lot of things both consciously and sub-consciously.

One of the first exercises we did was to visually depict what we were proud about our country. A question that I hadn’t answered before, call it arrogance, ignorance or insecurity. I am proud of certain individuals and emerging sub-cultures but I am not a patriot. The summit actually motivated me to see beyond my experience and discover things that I love about my nation.

On the first day, we visited National Museum of Scotland. One of the most interestingly curated museums I have ever been to. The idea was not to segregate it by period/era but by themes. The museum is not just easy to navigate through, but it also creates an image that you can remember. They have used personal stories to highlight history, one that I particularly remember is that of Jean Jenkins (1922-1990), a renowned broadcaster and museum curator whose passion was capturing and sharing music traditions from across the world. The gallery allows you to learn more about Jenkins’ travels, listen to recordings, and even mix your own global music track using our World Music Composer.

In India we don’t have any academic course on art curation, it’s not a mainstream subject that we consider important. But clearly it’s something that needs attention. Museums are accessible but are not interesting for us as students, because what we are taught in our history books is remotely close to our day-to-day lives. One of the major points of discussions was that India and the UK share a diverse cultural history and the fact that British ruled India hardly holds any relevance in current times. Our education system doesn’t highlight how India’s culture has influenced the UK and vice-versa.

Museums play a vital role in providing information about the same. We all felt that it was important for us to strengthen documentation and curation in Indian museums as well as promote exchange of exhibitions between the two countries. In the past, curators from the both the countries have collaborated; but I believe that it is important, particularly in India to engage young people in that process to foster interest in cultural relationship.

As part of our presentation, me and another participant from India, Arpita Das decided to make a short video about what people from both the countries think about UK-India Cultural relationship, we went around in Edinburgh asking people what were they proud about their country, what they liked about the other country and if they thought UK-India cultural relationship was important to them.

While most of them were deeply interested in knowing about the other country and felt that it was important for the governments to invest in cultural initiatives, there were bunch of citizens from both the countries who weren’t really interested in cultural relationship. One of them even felt that we knew enough about each other’s culture and it might be irrelevant to invest further.

Embedded media — click here to see it.

Going out and interviewing people was a reality check for us. We might feel passionately about investing in cultural relations but does it hold any importance for people who live in smaller cities and rural areas, who have bigger struggles and concerns? How can we become more curious about each other’s cultures? Currently, we don’t have answers to these questions and it might be impossible to find an absolute answer. Therefore, it’s important for us to start from somewhere. As one of the participants, Heather Kitt mentioned that we shouldn’t take UK and India’s cultural relationship for granted and that we should invest in innovative programmmes that creates an open environment for people from India and the UK to communicate and learn for each other. These are the values that we feel are important to create a quality relationship between the two countries.

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Rethinking Re-Imagine: The Edinburgh Youth Summit August 27, 2012

Posted by shonaliganguli in Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century.
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Contributor: Maherunesa Khandaker, participant at the Edinburgh Youth Summit Re-Imagine: India-UK Cultural Relations in the 21st Century  

Before the ReImagine Edinburgh Youth Summit, I admittedly was not entirely sure about the project’s aims. After listening to the keynote address on the India-UK relationship given by speakers from the British Council and Edinburgh University however, I started to comprehend why we do need to think about the relationship, my understanding of which grew over the time of the summit.

With a history spanning over 400 years, the relationship between India and the UK is full of intricacies; there have been many victories and failings along their journey together. The relationship has seen many shifts of power, from being partners in trade to the deeply troubled Colonial relationship; from the long awaited independence to the eventual emergence of India as a power, with Britain slowly becoming a supplement. One cannot deny that the UK-India relationship has seen periods of reinvention and rethinking.

Now the question remains – where is their shared journey taking them through the 21st Century? When rethinking the future, one must celebrate what has been achieved. This is what the British Council’s ReImagine Project is all about – it’s looking at the relationship between the UK and India in the past, and where it is in the present, to inform where it is going in the future. The project involves research, publications and debates, with input from 12 participants at the Edinburgh Youth Summit providing the youth perspective to the project, after all it is our generation that will be living the future relationship between the UK and India.

Looking at the present relationship, it cannot be doubted that so much of India is ingrained in British culture, and so much of the UK’s culture is intertwined with Indian culture – from food (after all chicken tikka is the UK’s national dish), to language (hands up if you put shampoo in your hair this morning) or to sport (cricket anyone?) and so many other countless areas of life. The relationship has produced some crucial elements of who we are in both cultures.

Nonetheless there remains potential for both cultures to continue benefitting from a relationship – perhaps the most straightforward reasons for a stronger collaboration in an increasingly globalized world include that it is vital to have strong relationships between countries for economic growth and working jointly towards advances in science and technology. Though perhaps one of the most overlooked and important reasons to consider UK-India cultural relations and their future is because there are plenty of people from an Indian heritage living in the UK and vice versa. Although we have a wonderfully diverse and multicultural society, the truth is that prejudices, apathy and hate do still exist in some parts of society and therefore must be challenged. Once these obstacles are fully broken down, the relationship between India and the UK will bring countless more benefits to all aspects of society and culture.

The ideal relationship would be a mutually beneficial one, essentially a diverse, informed, integrated, open society that cooperates for the overall betterment of both countries’ societies.

We explored a variety of different routes into achieving the vision we aspire to – the key routes including history, education and soft power. I’ll dedicate a section to each of these areas in which I will combine a summary of our discussions with some of my own points of view.

ReImagine Education: “Education, education, education changes mindsets”

(For our world café discussions on education, click here)

Whilst speaking at the Edinburgh Book Festival, A.C. Grayling highlighted that education is about relationships with other people. In a way, the more we learn, the more we want to learn, the more you learn, the more you think – this sums up why education can play a key role in rethinking India-UK relations – after all to fight prejudice and nurture openness we must be direct in the way we teach India-UK relations, how else can people rethink India-UK cultural relations if they are taught nothing about it, if they have little to no awareness of how the two cultures interweave and share a long history together?

There is no doubt that education changes mindsets, and indeed mindsets do need changing. For instance, the amount of people that asked me whereabouts in India I come from the moment they met me troubled me, then in response to informing them I’m from the UK, the usual response is “No really where do you come from?” I was born here, I’ve lived here my entire life and want to grow old here – how can someone think its acceptable to tell me directly I’m “really from” somewhere else? This is a mild example, but it shows that preconceptions do exist in people’s mindsets. Preconceptions and prejudices are enemies to a successful relationship.  By reminding each other about either the UK or India’s influence and importance in the other’s culture in an honest and unbiased way we can celebrate how far relationship has travelled, our diversity and accept openness.

Language is also an effective way of understanding another culture. In the UK,  few places teach the Sanskrit languages. Though English is one of many Indian official languages, surely we can have greater access and understanding of the great Indian philosophers if we could speak some Hindi for instance.

The importance of study exchange programmes was also highlighted – whilst many Indian students come to the UK to study, very few British students will travel to India to study, and this is something we felt needs to be explored.

It is important that cultural education starts with the youngest in society, but it cannot end with the youth either. The importance of celebrating our shared culture and history needs to be reinforced throughout education, and needs to reach the greater society.

Reimagine history: “You have to look back to look forward”

(For our world café discussions on history, click here)

The problem with the way history is taught in both countries, and most likely all over the world, is that it is biased – essentially the educator will teach their version of events (or at take the stance they have been told to teach). The Indian delegates at the summit said there is too much focus on Gandhi for instance, though there were many other vital figures that played a strong part in India’s independence and that there are political motives underlying the current curriculum. In the UK, it is important to have an education about the UK’s relationship with India, yes it may be uncomfortable, but after all that history was made by the actions of different people of a different time, there needs to be open discussion of it to it so there is a mutual respect and understanding between cultures. For instance, few school children in the UK learn about the soldiers of the Commonwealth nations who died fighting for the Crown, and this is something that must be highlighted.

Reimagine Soft power: “To watch us dance is to hear our heart speak”

(For our world café discussions on culture and sport, click here)

One cannot deny the importance of soft power when it comes to working on relations – this describes a nation’s power to attract people through a variety of mediums including through culture, political values and foreign policy for example.

Soft power primarily through traditional cultural mediums, is something we considered very carefully after our visits to the Scottish National Museums and to the Edinburgh Book Festival. Museums indeed provide a distilled snapshot into the culture of a country, and we felt UK-India cultural relations could indeed benefit if there was an exchange of museum exhibitions from the UK to India to which the wider public should have access, arguably it is difficult to accurately portray culture in a confined space.  The director of the Edinburgh Book Festival suggested that, “each book, like a small mirror, reflects a small facet of the world” and we felt that British school children should be encouraged to read the literature that Indian schoolchildren read, and vice versa. The director also highlighted that most Indian literature that is widely available and popular in the UK tends to be written by authors with privileged backgrounds, so suggested encouraging a greater diversity of Indian authors should be introduced to the wider market. Being in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Festivals demonstrated the importance of drama, music and literature festivals in offering the opportunity to express often unspoken issues.

It was suggested there should be an exchange of museum exhibitions from the UK to India – to which school children and teachers, as well as the wider public should be provided.

Sporting culture is a key area that was discussed at the summit as now, more than ever, is the perfect time for sport to be used as a medium to place the focus on UK-India relationships. Between now and the next Olympic games, the Commonwealth Games will be coming to Glasgow and it is in these games that India have traditionally excelled. The group discussed the possibility of “sports exchange” programmes, similar to study exchange programmes, as well as increasing access to opportunities to participate in culture specific sport, for instance Bollywood dancing in the UK, and perhaps Gaelic football in India.

Whilst we discussed many innovative ways of rethinking and strengthening the relationship between India and the UK, one cannot deny that there are major obstacles to be faced. Some of our biggest challenges include the practical issue of funding and the more complex problem of apathy.

Though there are obstacles, even where we can’t face them head on, there’s nothing to stop us trying to, or moving around them and finding alternatives. For instance, when it comes to Study Exchange programmes, in our connected world there should be nothing stopping us from participating in study programmes using the Internet.  When tackling apathy however, there is a need for a paradigm shift, with education (particularly of history) playing a key part in this. Additionally, this may be where soft culture can come into play, by highlighting the aspects of each other’s culture in every day life and increasing opportunities to access sport, art or food in each other’s every day culture, perhaps we can start turning the wheels of appreciation for culture in society. For our discussions on apathy, do have a readhere for more in depth details.

This is a mere summary (albeit, still a long one) of what we touched upon during the Edinburgh Youth Summit 2012, however whilst reading this you might have come up with your own thoughts, which you’re invited to share and inform the ReImagine project. So come join the dialogue at http://reimagineyouth.posterous.com/ or by emailing reimagineyouth@posterous.com.

Something to remember from the summit –

“We start with ourselves, we move together, learn from each other and form a dialogue”

 

Register now! Seminar on Investing in India’s Creative Entrepreneurs November 29, 2011

Posted by rwituja in Young Creative Entrepreneur.
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The British Council has been pioneering to build a strong community and professional network of creative businesses, through the reward programme Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards. The YCE programme aims to reward innovative work by individuals and nurture emerging enterprises across seven categories – design, music, fashion, screen (film, TV and animation), interactive (software, entertainment, games and social media platforms), performing arts (theatre, dance and “live” art) and publishing.

To build an eco-system to support entrepreneurship with the creative sectors, a half day seminar on Investing in India’s Creative Entrepreneurs is being organised on Friday 9 December from 9.30 am – 2 p.m. at the British Council, New Delhi

The seminar will include the following panel discussions between India and the UK aimed to address and debate the two major issues facing the growth of India’s creative industries. To register email yce.india@in.britishcouncil.org 

Does India need an umbrella policy for supporting entrepreneurship within the creative industries?  

The session will explore the current parameters of existing policies and governmental interventions and examine the different ways in which policy-making can support the development of the creative industries thereby leading to their recognition as key economic sectors.

What India needs to bridge the gap between creative entrepreneurs and investment opportunities?

Discussion will focus on developing a suitable financial infrastructure for the creative sectors and understanding different models that facilitate creative businesses’ access to capital, why it is considered inherently risky to invest in creative industries (or what makes them uniquely different), explore how different creative businesses are more suited to different types of financial investment and support.

The speakers include:

John Newbigin is a freelance strategist and cultural entrepreneur.  He is Chairman of Creative England, a publicly funded agency to support creative businesses, particularly digital media, across England. Other positions he’s held include being Head of Corporate Relations at Channel 4 Television, Special Adviser at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Executive Assistant to David Puttnam, erstwhile Chairman of Enigma Productions Limited. Currently John is the Chairman of Culture24, one of the UK’s leading cultural web publishers and on the board of various arts and educational bodies.  

Adarsh Kumar is the founder and CEO of Livelihoods Equity Connect (LEC), an advisory group that seeks to invest in the Indian agricultural sector and promote models connecting small farmers to mainstream markets. Prior to LEC, Adarsh helped establish the All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association, a membership-based policy research and advocacy body that brings together the private sector, civil society and the government to find innovative solutions to bridging the divide between poor rural producers and mainstream markets. At AIACA, Adarsh served on various Planning Commission working groups to look at ways in which creative and cultural industries can provide more employment to the poor. He holds a bachelors degree in Business Management from GeorgetownUniversity and a Masters Degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Adarsh has also been awarded the Echoing Green and Ashoka fellowships for social entrepreneurship.

Rohit Prasad is an Associate Professor of Economics and Chairperson of the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Management Development Institute Gurgaon. He has a Ph.D. in Economic Theory from SUNY Stony Brook, USA where he had an opportunity to study Game Theory under the Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Aumann. His thesis provides a framework to address questions related to the optimal fiscal and monetary policy choices of a government in a free market.  He has worked in the software industry in USA and India in senior management positions before joining MDI Gurgaon.  His research interests include the theory of taxation, spectrum policy, ICT for development, and special economic zones. His papers have been published at leading international journals including Telecommunications Policy. He has delivered seminars and talks at Harvard University, the Centre for Game Theory at Stony Brook, India Telecom 2009, Future Com, Brazil 2010, and The Next Billion, Indonesia, 2010. His articles appear regularly in The Economic Times and the Economic and Political Weekly. He recently served on a high powered Committee of the Department of Telecommunications, Government of India to make recommendations on spectrum allocation and pricing in India, and on two Expert Panels for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India to study the value of 2G spectrum. 

Aruna Vasudeva, noted journalist was the editor-in-chief of Cinemaya, an influential film magazine established in 1988 devoted exclusively to coverage of Asian Films. It aimed to promote Asian filmmaking internationally and to help Asian national cinemas gain wider international recognition. As an active member of the Indo-French Initiative Forum she contributed to building cooperation between the two countries in the field of cinema and was conferred France’s top cultural award, the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. She went on to become the director of the annual festival of Asian Cinema, ‘Cinefan’ – that has evoked popular and critical acclaim. In 2006, she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 8th Cinemanila Film Festival at Manila, Philippines and honoured with the Kalpana Chawla Excellence Award for women in 2007.

Sanmit Ahuja is the Chief Editor of TI Corridors and the Chief Executive of ETI Dynamics Ltd. His key areas of interests include to Emerging markets, globalisation, international trade and investment flows. He holds an Executive MBA degree from London Business School. 

Anurag Batra is an entrepreneur, media observer and a journalist rolled into one. He completed his B. Tech in Computer Sciences before joining Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon. He is the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of exchange4media group which includes exchange4media.com, PITCH, IMPACT, Realty Plus and Franchise Plus. In 2006 he was awarded the “Most Distinguished Alumni of the Decade Award” by MDI, Gurgaon. He is a member of the Sales & Marketing committee of the Delhi Management Association, President of the Franchising Association of India, Northern chapter, on the Executive Committee of the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) and the Chairman of the Advisory Board of Futuristic Media Communication Centre, a leading Media and Communication School in India.

Kick-off for Kolkata Goalz July 21, 2011

Posted by British Council India in General.
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On a hot and rainy July afternoon inKolkata,UKForeign Minister Jeremy Browne kicked a football into a muddy field at Shibtala community ground in Topsia, one of Kolkata’s more deprived neighbourhoods. For the three hundred youngsters who had gathered there, it marked the beginning of a chance to change their lives through the game.

Minutes later, Madan Mitra, Hon’ble Sports Minister, Government of West Bengal, Sovan Chatterjee, Hon’ble Mayor of Kolkata and Rob Lynes, Director British Council India took turns to kick balls to the coaches and young people on the ground, signalling the launch of Kolkata Goalz, an inspirational initiative by the Premier League and British Council to encourage young people from across Kolkata to aim for a more positive future.

Kolkata Goalz is a new strand of the Premier League and British Council’s hugely successful Premier Skills programme, which uses football as a tool to engage with and develop the skills of young people. It is inspired by and modelled on the groundbreaking Kickz programme in theUK, a partnership between the Premier League and Metropolitan Police that targets youth at risk in deprived parts ofUK.

In Kolkata, the project has been launched by the Premier League and the British Council with the Kolkata Police, Kolkata Municipal Corporation, All India Football Federation and Indian Football Association (West Bengal) in association with six Kolkata Premier League Football Clubs, who will directly be involved in the delivery of the project. The six Premier League Clubs are Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, East Bengal Club, George Telegraph Sports Club, Mohammedan Sporting Club, Police Athletic Club and United Sports Club. Children’s charity Future Hope will support the project in an advisory capacity.

This is a project for young people in difficult areas. Youngsters in the age group of 12 – 18 years will join the programme. The youth, identified by the police, are those at risk, and in some of the most deprived parts of the city.

Kolkata Police have selected six neighbourhoods in Kolkata where the project will be piloted and helped in selection of the youths. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation is providing the ground and infrastructure for the project in these areas.

The clubs have provided their most experienced coaches who will train the young people in the neighbourhoods, thrice a week round the year in the evenings in football and engage with them in a range of other constructive activities.

The coaches involved in the programme underwent a three-day Induction training with Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club, both of who work with the Premier League.

In this intensive but fun training programme the coaches focussed on the essence of community sports, worked on a delivery plan, learned through role play about engaging, challenging and mentoring hard to reach young people and techniques of developing volunteers. The trainers also stressed on the importance of monitoring and evaluation to measure success.

“In this room we are all experienced football coaches but you have opened our eyes to social inclusion through community sports. We will try our best to apply the learning in the training sessions with the young people,” said Kalyan Chaubey, former Mohun Bagan and India goalkeeper, speaking on behalf of the Indian coaches while thanking the trainers.

Speaking at the launch, Rob Lynes, Director British Council India thanked the partners for joining hands to achieve the key objectives of the project.

R K Pachnanda, Commissioner of Kolkata Police thanked the British Council and Premier League and reiterated Kolkata Police’s support and commitment for the project.

Kushal Das, General Secretary, All India Football Federation, speaking on behalf of the football fraternity, wished the project all success and committed their support.

Sovan Chatterjee, Hon’ble Mayor of Kolkata representing the Kolkata Municipal Corporation lauded the Kolkata Goalz initiative and said he was happy to support the project by providing the infrastructure.

Madan Mitra, Hon’ble Sports Minister, Government of West Bengal commended all the partners and stated that the Government of West Bengal was delighted that the project was being piloted in Kolkata and that his department would extend all possible support to make it a big success.

Speeches over, dignitaries took turns to demonstrate their skills in football and kicked the ball to the coaches and young people in the ground. The coaches then gave a mini-demonstration of their coaching techniques with the young people.

The training will begin soon at the six venues. As the young people wait excitedly to join the programme, we at the British Council wish the project all success. Our endeavour will be to set up a sustainable model in Kolkata which could then be potentially replicated across India in collaboration with other police departments, municipal authorities and football clubs. We hope that in the future we will be able to encourage young people from across India to aim for a more positive future.

Partners celebrate the launch with football balloons

Partners celebrate the launch with football balloons

UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Browne kicks a football into the Shibtala community ground in Topsia at the launch of Kolkata Goalz

Rob Lynes, Director British Council India, kicks off the programme in the presence of West Bengal Sports minister Madan Mitra, Mayor Sovan Chatterjee and Commissioner of Kolkata Police RK Pachnanda

Premier League trainers Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club

Premier League trainers Rubel Ahmed from the Active Communities Network and Michael Nyarko, the Social Inclusion Manager of Crystal Palace Football Club

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Children from different areas who will be participating in the programme in club jerseys

Tomb Raider, Hitman and TouchMagix April 21, 2011

Posted by British Council India in Young Creative Entrepreneur.
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Recently I was fortunate to be a part of the YCE awards arranged by British Council and was also lucky to be the winner of “International Young Creative Interactive Entrepreneur 2010” award in London. I feel along with the award, it was the journey that was quite exciting and here is a summary of my experience and thoughts of the tour.
On winning the national YCE awards, 12 winners from different countries like Poland, Columbia, China, India, Mexico and many more assembled in London to compete for the International YCE award and go on a 10 day creative industry road-trip in UK. This full trip was sponsored by British Council to promote cross border collaborations in creative economy.

On arriving in London on 13th, our first meeting was with Ian Livingston, who is regarded as founding fathers of interactive entertainment in UK. His company is well known for creation of game characters like “Tomb Raider” and “Hitman”. The key learning was how he took his hobby of traditional games to modern computer video games to create a successful venture. We also met the UKIE, the trade body for UK’s interactive entertainment industry on the same day.

After our presentation day, we had a some free time to explore London and places around. I also found some time to visit our customers in Cambridge and a few more companies who were intending to do business with TouchMagix in London. On 17th, some of us took an early train to Edinburgh so that we could explore the beautiful city. I met with Shadab, a friend of mine who was studying at University of Edinburgh. He showed me around the university and we were discussing the similarities and dissimilarities between the UK and Indian education systems. On 18th morning we headed out on a road trip to Albertay University in Dundee. I was quite amazed to see a college who was training talent for the interactive and gaming industry. This kind of education is unheard of in India. We visited their game development studios and got an overview of the type of courses that were being offered there. We met with some interesting companies in the area like Digital Goldfish, a start-up who develops iPhone games and Tag games which was a big company developing mobile and online games. After quite a busy day, we headed back to Edinburgh to catch a train to Middlesbrough.

On 19th morning, we visited the Teeside University, which was one of the highlights of the trip. Dr.Simon, the dean of School of Computing was kind enough to give us a tour of the university and the various activities that were happening out there. We met with some students who were part of an entrepreneurial fellowship program conducted by the university. This program was conducted to encourage creation of start-ups in interactive media space. We then visited a cluster called Digital City, which was a hub for many start-ups in interactive media. We met with founder of Assyria games, Twisted and Iguana who were based in the cluster.

After returning to London on 20th, we visited several digital agencies like RGA, Unit9, PlayGen, IShift, Trampoline Systems, Moving Brands to name a few. It was very interesting to way these companies were working to serve different niche needs of the growing interactive creative economy. There were wide range of target customers these companies were serving. PlayGen was a company who was specialized in making serious games especially for the government sector where as Moving Brands was a company who were helping brands connect with people through interactive media and fun. On 22nd we visited Wired UK the popular magazine which showcases latest innovations. We also met with Paul Croft from Mediatonic who design online games and work with large publishers to tailor and distribute their IP. The day ended with a networking event of people from digital media industry. Made some new friends there and also got a change to present our companies in brief.

Just to summarize, the whole trip was filled with great learnings and following were some key ones –

  • Interactive industry is evolving as a modern story telling mechanism.
  • Forming small and efficient teams is the way to start a business in game development.
  • Creating your own IP or riding on someone else’s IP is an important part of being in creative business.
  • Talent hunt problem is common everywhere. Universities like Albertay and Teeside are helping reduce those by imparting right training.
  • Interactive industry clusters are a neat way to create good companies who contribute towards creative economy.
  • UK market is a growing market for creative companies to work with.
Anup
Post by – © Anup Tapadia

Culture Connection: understanding and respecting differences October 9, 2010

Posted by nupurs in Connections through Culture.
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Unlike the mainstream schools where education is easily accessible, Bandhyali is a school on the outskirts of Jaipur which caters to the children for whom school is a palace and education a dream. Bandhyali School, in Bandhyali village, is a primary school for 325 children, 201 girls and 124 boys. All these children are from educationally, socially, and economically disadvantaged communities from the surrounding villages. Bandhayli is a free school. No fee is charged, and all books, notebooks and stationery are provided by the school.

This school is run by an organisation called Digantar which aims to develop educational opportunities for children from the nearby villages. The purpose of education is to make every child a self-motivated and independent learner with the ability to think critically. Digantar strives to develop educational opportunities for all children based on this idea. Every child is capable of learning to live in the society, defining his / her goals for life, finding ways of achieving the chosen goals, taking appropriate action, and of being responsible for the actions taken.

Children at Bandhyali School had never visited another place outside their village. They were hesitant to ask questions and make any decision. They lacked creativity and had never shown interest in learning English language.

Nobody had ever envisaged that a visit by a group of teachers from the UK in 2004 would change the classroom environment and improve the quality of education in Bandhyali School. This group of teachers was led by Mr. Paul Whitcombe, Head teacher of Lord Scudamore Primary School, Herefordshire who proposed the idea of partnership with Bandhyali School. Both schools were formally partnered under the Global School Partnerships programme.

The staff  at  Bandhyali were excited with the prospects of this alliance as it would not only give an opportunity to the students to engage with contemporary issues but also enable the teachers in developing new skills among the students. The aim of this partnership was to primarily evaluate and improve teaching-learning practices, and this was truly in line with the philosophy of education at Bandhyali. This wide-ranging aim would provide endless opportunities for integrating new forms of expression, creativity, exploring diversity and other global issues and supporting formative assessment.

The Global School Partnerships programme, managed by the British Council has provided an opportunity to both schools to work collaboratively in raising awareness about both countries and develop a strong global dimension in the primary curriculum. The programme has benefitted 759 students.

Interaction, creativity and empowerment are the three cornerstones of this six-year old partnership between Bandhyali, a rural school in the Jagatpura district of Rajasthan and Lord Scudamore Primary School in UK. The partnership has come a long way since then; it has laid the foundations of the education dream for the wider school community.

Teachers from the UK school worked on various subjects with the students at Bandhyali. Interaction with teachers from the UK has motivated the students to develop an interest in English language. Various activities were conducted which resulted in improved skills in speaking and writing. The teachers also planned dramas and poems which has improved students’ creativity skills.

Activities in subjects like history and geography has increased children’s knowledge not only of their own country but of UK as well. Locating their partner country and knowing about the geographical conditions taught the students to use a map. They learnt about the similarities and differences between each others’ culture.

The staff at Bandhyali, during their visits to the partner school in UK, learnt a lot about new teaching-learning practices and inter-disciplinary approaches to curriculum transaction; major part of the curriculum is now thoughtfully designed around major seasons, festivals and other events.

The children are now so confident. They are always curious to know more about things around them. They don’t stop questioning until they are satisfied with the answer. They enjoy studying. They don’t shy away in exploring and expressing themselves creatively.

The programme has also benefitted the teachers. The exchange visits have helped in teachers’ professional development, taught them to bring creativity in to the classroom and to make optimum use of each and every resource available.

This partnership has had its positive impact on the community as well. Parents of these children have now become open-minded. They once never agreed to send their daughters to school, are now ready to send them to the UK.

Abdul Gaffar, Senior Academic Co-ordinator, Bandhyali School reminisces asking a parent of a student – “until a few years ago you didn’t even want to send your daughter to school, and you now want her to visit England?’ Prompt came the reply, “I want to give the best education to my daughter and I want her to see the world…”

The mind-set of women in the village has radically changed. They are no longer scared to ask questions and are actively involved in discussions on topics like why men don’t undertake household tasks and why women do more work than men?

Bandhyali School has had an exemplary involvement with the community. The village folk now freely interact with the visiting teachers. The village elders help students with their projects on understanding the changes in lifestyle, education, industry and agriculture practices. The village community has done some significant fund-raising to set up temporary structures for classrooms while a new building for the school is being constructed.

The literacy rate in the surrounding areas in 1992 was 14% for men and 2% for women which has now shot up to 47% for men and 38% for women, as per the survey done in 2008. There is now a long waiting list of students wanting to seek admission in Bandhyali. There are about 197 children waiting to seek admission in this school.

Children of both schools now feel interconnected with each other. They have an urge to visit their partner school in UK. This partnership has developed a holistic perspective among the students of both schools. The activities have helped in develop social ethos and respect and understand the culture and traditions of another country.

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