(Note:- As such, this post has been written to address my dear fellow ‘135 crore desvasi’ (Indians), especially a populace of 261 million amongst them. Why 261? Keep reading to find out!
That being said, readers overseas are welcome to read and absorb the essence of the post for it’s (hopefully) intellectually stimulating and may have an interesting takeaway for you guys too!
It’s been nearly 6 months since I have posted anything on this website and I really don’t have any ‘new’ excuse for being AWOL anymore.
I am lazy, that’s it. Oh, and also lousy at keeping a schedule of any kind.
And if it hadn’t been for the workshop organised by an entity this post is titled after, I may not have posted anything at all for God only knows how long.
So which workshop was it that did the unholy, sinful task of making me rant over here again?
If you have read my post titled ‘Man’s search for meaning‘, you might vaguely recall that I had (unfortunately) reappeared on this blog after (yet another) gap and the very reason I had written the blog post was because it had been handed to me as an assignment so as to qualify to attend the said workshop.
And it was held by the very same organisation about whom I am going to blab today.
But before we get to them, there’s something I would like to talk about first. Call it a set up, maybe.
For it would definitely explain a lot regarding the ‘why’ of the organisation, and the very reason I would urge all eligible readers to apply for participating in this workshop.
(Disclaimer:- This post is NEITHER a paid NOR a free advertisement of the organisation. It is just an honest account of my opinions and experience about the workshop and has been written completely voluntarily with no expectations of remuneration of any kind from the organisation or any of it’s members. The only returns I hope for is your attention and kind consideration about what I have written below. Thank you! 😊)
Part 1: The ‘why’?
The date marks an event of great importance for more than a sixth of the global population.
Or does it?
Because for many of our fellow Indians, it’s importance seems restricted to that of a practically ubiquitous national holiday, simply meant to be spent ‘chilling’ with your loved ones. And if it’s clubbed with a weekend/another public holiday, it gets even better!
Pack your bags and set out to your favourite destination!
(So unfortunate that this year it happens to be on a Sunday! Darn it!)
But in some households and communities, vestiges of the true spirit of this ‘holiday’ have indeed survived.
Then be it in the form of unfurling the tricolour in our schools/houses/workplace (followed by delicious snacks and gossips of course!) Or by listening to some patriotic songs /watching a movie centred on the same. Or simply talking about our rich history, cultures, traditions and the challenges our nation currently faces.
Regardless of the way we ‘celebrate’ it though, by the time the clock strikes midnight, the spark of patriotism ignited by the occasion has been already extinguished. We wake up the next day as though it were any other.
As if there was never a day between it and the 14th of August….
One of the most important things we are taught at NIRMAN is to NOT do exactly this.
What do I mean?
Have a look at the image below
If you will observe the graph carefully, you will realise that the area of the graph in the ‘+’ and the area of the graph in the ‘-‘ is exactly the same.
Simply put, that if added, they cancel each other out. Leaving the net sum a big ‘0’.
And that is EXACTLY what we do when we ‘celebrate’ our Independence Day for 24 hours and do nothing thereafter.
A momentary spurt of inspiration followed by absolute inaction, thereby nullifying anything that we could possibly contribute to this great nation.
But then, you may ask,
What can I do as a ordinary citizen about the humongous issues infesting our country anyways?!
And isn’t it supposed to be the job of our government to address the same?
I am barely able to identify myself, how the hell do you expect me to even identify with others, let alone solve their problems?!
Remember that at the very start of the post I had hinted that this post is meant specifically for the populace of 261 million?
Well, now it’s time for me to elaborate on the same.
This novel concept, involving ages 18-29 states that between adolescence (late childhood, age 13-18) & adulthood lies a stage of human development called as ‘Emerging adulthood‘. It is a stage where we, as human beings struggle to discover ourselves, our society and try to establish our roles in the same.
This is also the stage of life where our physical and mental capacities are at their very best. Our values and morals though established, are mainly based on the impressions we have acquired from our family and our society. They are still not completely our own and hence are flexible and open to change. This is the stage of our lives where we can truly flourish and excel in whichever endeavours we deem ourselves capable of.
And this is the stage in which 261 million Indians currently are. A number which only 4 countries of the world currently exceed and that’s when we consider their TOTAL population.
That is the potential we have.
But not for long.
Take a look at the graph below
Our median population currently stands at 28.4, which is closer to the higher end of the age group of emerging adulthood, but still well inside.
At 2025, however, the same will reach 30, barely out of the stage.
And from then on, it simply goes on escalating, going even more outside the limits of this stage.
What does that mean?
It means, that the phrase,
You are never going to be as young as you are today
is not just true for us as an individual, rather it holds true for us as a nation as well. That is the reason why the decade of 2021-2030 is labelled as ‘The decade of youth‘
So the best time to act for the benefit of our nation is NOW
I think I can fathom what might be passing through your minds right now.
So you have convinced us that we have to act. But that still hasn’t answered any of the questions you have written above!
My point, however, wasn’t to answer those questions at all. Rather, I wanted to make you acutely aware of the presence of these questions hidden inside your subconscious and to bring them out in the open so as to make you restless about your inaction regarding the same.
Before you accuse me of being completely bonkers, I would like you to read the questions written in the image below and see if you can relate to one or more of them:-
If you can, then congratulations!
You have finally understood the ‘why’ of NIRMAN!
It exists to help us solve all these questions that we as emerging adults constantly struggle to figure out.
Part 2: The ‘How’
Now that we have understood the ‘why’ of NIRMAN, let’s have a look at what NIRMAN really is and the complete process behind the same.
Started in the year 1986, SEARCH (Society for Education, Action and Research in Community Health) was established by Dr. Abhay and Dr. Rani Bang in the taluka of Dhanora, in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra with the aim of understanding and solving the problems of rural and tribal population of the district (Gadchiroli). You can refer to my post, Sevagram to Shodhgram, for a more detailed account regarding the same.
But their approach to problem solving didn’t simply end at conventional medical health. Rather, they wanted to change the mindset of the people. To inculcate and nurture values, morals and a sense of social responsibility amongst the people so as to change the society at it’s core and uproot the problems altogether.
And that was how NIRMAN was born.
Since 2006, NIRMAN has been functioning as a joint initiative of SEARCH and Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) to identify, nurture and organize the young change makers to solve various societal challenges. It is an educational process to train the youth to take up crucial issues and problems in the society. NIRMAN provides guidance, expertise and environment to inculcate self learning and encourages youth for social action.Source:- http://www.nirman.mkcl.org
How to apply?
The application process for NIRMAN is pretty simple and straightforward, though it’s definitely not a piece of cake. Have a look at the image below to understand the complete programme in a nutshell.
Step 1: Application form
First of all, let me start by telling you that you have to fill in a LOT more than just your biodata. The form contains some very interesting questions based on real social problems and situations which require brief but serious answers. It may take you a few days or even a couple of weeks to answer everything, so keep that in mind before beginning to fill it. And trust me when I say that it’ll be completely worth the efforts.
Last date:- 31st August
Step 2: The interview
Based on the quality of your application form, you will receive a call/message from the selection team and an interview will be scheduled depending on mutual convenience. The interview may be based on your answers in the form or your reasons for joining the workshop/involving in social work. It’s held in a semi-formal format and the interviewers are truly a delight to talk to, being friendly and supportive. Will last around 30-45 minutes.
Last date:- October end
Step 3: Assignments and Final selection
At the end of the interview, you will be given a book and a couple of articles which you will be asked to read and opine upon in writing. You will be given around 2 weeks time for the same. Based on the interview and these assignments, the final call regarding your selection will be made.
In my batch, 1050 people had filled the application form of which 450 were selected for interview and 160 made it into the workshop. That is the usual ratio, so don’t be disheartened in case you don’t get selected. There’s always the next year to apply!
Timeline:- November 1st/2nd week.
Step 4….. The workshops themselves!
3 workshops are held at 6 month intervals, spanning a period of 1 year, usually starting from January of the next year to the January of the year following it. You will be assigned some homework which you are supposed to complete BEFORE coming to the workshops. The selection for the same is progressively selective, so it’s important to be active and attentive during them.
How to get there?
The nearest town is Gadchiroli itself, located 17 kilometres away. But the main transport hub is Nagpur, which is located 4 hours (180 kilometres) away. Buses (both private and government) ply regularly between the two. Chandrapur, located 2 hours (70 kilometres) away, is the nearest railway station but has poorer connectivity.
The batch usually books an entire bus from Nagpur right until Shodhgram campus (the home of NIRMAN) and that is the best and the recommended way to travel.
But I guess that shouldn’t really be the most pressing issue right now. Because for that, you’ll need to get selected first!
Part 3: The impact
One may wonder, after reading the somewhat arduous journey that one has to undertake for being a part of NIRMAN and even afterwards,
Is it really worth it to go through so much trouble?
Will this really help me as an individual to solve the questions I have in my mind regarding myself as well as the society?
Let’s have a look at some of the pretty self-explanatory statistics below to get an idea about the same.
A. Benefits for the society (Social impact)
The three 8 day workshops not only make us realise the severity of the social problems we are surrounded by, but they also gift us the intellectual tools required to tackle those issues head on.
Like a bucket of ice-cold water thrown over our heads, NIRMAN snaps us out of our self centred selves and motivates us to do ‘something’ for the greater good.
What makes NIRMAN different from other ‘typical’ approaches to so-called social work is it’s clinical, research based and systematic approach towards solving the ‘actual’ problems of society rather than a short lived, haphazard publicity stunt of ‘help’ that basically helps no one but themselves.
In short, NIRMAN is not a Sinusoidal curve.
It aims at a long lasting, sustainable impact in not only the individuals it selects for the workshop, but also for the society at large.
It’s ultimate aim is ‘Swarajya’ at it’s most primitive level.
Meaning, to make every individual self sufficient and capable of making and owning their views and life decisions and living a positive, socially oriented and contended life.
B. Benefits for the self (Personal impact)
Humans, by definition are ultimately selfish animals. We usually don’t tend to do anything unless there’s ‘something’ promised to us in return as well.
So what does NIRMAN have to offer to you, as an individual?
I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Located in the midst of a dense, evergreen forest, the campus of Shodhgram gives an impression of a dainty, elegant hamlet which blends in perfectly with it’s surroundings. A well balanced composite of urban and rural architecture, it is aesthetically appealing and homely to both the local villagers and distant travellers (like us) alike.
The accomodation may not be at par with your ‘holiday resorts’ and ‘vacation homes’, but is definitely comfortable enough for you to spend 8 days without complaining even once, I assure you.
(Well, that is unless you are ‘that’ type of person, in which case you will be doing a favour to everyone by not even bothering to apply.)
The food is unexpectedly good and varied for a place so distant and cut-off from the urbanised world. The preparation is simple, but filling and is of much better quality than the ‘Veg. Thali’ of your college canteen. Again, this ain’t Maharaja Bhog. So please keep your expectations realistic.
There are 2 ponds and a well where you can swim and a vegetation rich campus which you can explore in your (precious) free time.
Also, we do play group games on some days during the evening and it’s a LOT of fun. Trust me when I say that you’ll definitely uninstall all modified versions of PUBG if you get to play these games daily.
(Just an example. We do NOT play laser tag here, if anyone is getting any such ideas.)
You get all this, for 8 days, at a token cost of just Rs. 2500! (As of Batch 11, 2021)
Oh, one last thing I would like to add here is that the schedule of the workshop is pretty hectic. The day starts at 6:30 am and ends at 10:00 pm and is almost completely packed throughout. It’s definitely mentally and emotionally exhausting, so be prepared for that.
Anyways, I guess you are wondering,
Why did I suddenly start describing the NIRMAN workshop as though it was a tourist place?
Simply to make you realise that it is also probably the best vacation/getaway life will ever present to you!
At NIRMAN we are told:-
We are here to do serious work, but not with a serious face!
Cheer up guys!
Engaging in social action definitely does NOT mean giving up all the pleasures of your life and being studious and sincere all the time!
At SEARCH, as well as at NIRMAN, your work is your life, yes. But it is so much more than just that!
At NIRMAN, one gets to meet different people from all extremes of socioeconomic, educational and cultural strata, spread out across several states of the nation. You get to know their experiences, both in social as well as in their personal domains and enjoy as well as enrich yourselves with that knowledge. You establish a bond of friendship with several people that you hope will last for years to come.
And above all, at least for me, was this takeaway:-
Interacting with several like minded people of my age who were either planning to or were already actively engaged in social action gave me the courage to believe that the world may not be doomed after all. For I wasn’t the only one who really wanted to do ‘something’ to make it a better place.
The workshop boosted my self confidence and self esteem. Though I appear to blab here a lot, the truth is that I have a bad case of stage fright. At NIRMAN, however, I was one of the most outspoken and also performed confidently on the stage during the last evening of our stay.
NIRMAN alleviated my anxieties of ‘Work-Life balance’. It cleared my misconceptions about losing a part of myself or failing to fulfill my obligations towards my family and friends if I chose to engage ‘full time’ in addressing social problems.
The workshop solidified my positive values and drives for engaging in social action and eliminate those which were self centred.
NIRMAN not only made me aware about the acuteness of social problems, but also introduced me to a clinical, research based approach towards addressing the same.
In short, for me, the workshop was a holistic experience that combined fun, learning by doing and social interaction into one hell of a ride.
And it’s not just me who is saying it.
For below are the links of few of my batch mates who have written their personal experiences about the same. Please show some love and visit their pages too!
Also, if you would like to go back in time or read testimonials of people whom NIRMAN guided on the path which they are now, then here’s a link to the same:-
Neither am I saying that NIRMAN is the only approach towards learning about ourselves or the society, nor am I proclaiming that it’s the best one.
For I am an ordinary (Well, not that ordinary per se) 24 year old with hardly any first hand experience of living the tempest that is life.
What I am saying, however, that if you are amongst the millions, nay the billions of people who while away their time by simply gossiping back and forth or procrastinating about the issues within and around you, then now is the time to rise.
Take a pledge.
Take that first step.
Swear an oath that on this Independence Day you will NOT just sit helplessly with one hand upon the other, enslaved and imprisoned by your own school of thoughts. Swear that you will not wait for the government to be your Messiah and solve the problems in our society. Swear that you will be the change you wish to see in others.
For what else is ‘Swarajya’?
What else is Independence, but the ability and the willpower to stand on your feet, to make your own decisions and shape your life the way YOU want it to?
And once you understand that, once everyone understands it, my friends, that will be the day when we no longer need to celebrate an ‘Independence Day’
For every day will be one.
Don’t you think so?
(That finishes my rant at long last! BTW, NIRMAN according to me is only a baby step in the right direction. For nobody can save the world by attending just 3 weeks of workshops. But it is a step. So my sincere to appeal to all readers in the age group 18-28 will be to click on the link given below and apply for this workshop. Thank you!)
Until next time!