Revathi Ram, a PARI core team member attended the Chennai program for teachers and students on 23rd July and has shared this narrative photos from the talk.
On a Sunday when teachers and students generally relax, SBOA School in Anna Nagar, Chennai witnessed a large number of them gathered at the school’s auditorium. On July 23, 2017, more than 800 teachers from various branches of SBOA schools (managed by State Bank of India Officers’ Association) in Tamil Nadu and Kerala attentively listened to the talk by P. Sainath on ‘Teaching resources in the digital age.’
When Sainath streamed a few stories from People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) on the huge screen from his laptop, the teachers watched them with keen interest. “Do you know that there are only a handful of weavers in Kanchipuram left and many of them are now making Chinese silk saris?” Sainath threw the question to the teachers. There was a shock-stuck silence.
And then, when they saw Kali Veerapadran performing a folk dance on the screen, there was joy on their faces. The inspiring story of Kali, a Dalit, who studied Bharatanatyam at Kalakshetra, a prestigious institution, drew a long applause from the teachers.
The audiences were bowled over when the children of Vidya Vanam discussed rice and its genetically modified versions. Later Captain Elder Brother‘s patriotism at his ripe age hit them and the first-time photographer Jayamma’s photos surprised them. They watched one of the Grindmill songs with awe. After an introduction to the Resources section of PARI, a teacher put up the curious question, “We now know about many of the issues the rural India faces. What can we do to solve them?”
Sainath was quick to reply. “Document them and show to the world all that the people living in rural areas undergo. It will bring up a solution in due course.”
It was the turn of the students in the afternoon to get introduced to the digital archives from rural India. Around 500 students studying in class 11 from three SBOA schools in Chennai filled the auditorium. “How many of you use internet and what is your average time online?” asked Sainath. A whopping 400 hands went up and said their average time on the Net is 8 hours a day! The right group to take PARI to?
The kids were thrilled to watch Karimul’s motorcycle ambulance and applauded when Sainath told them that Karimul received the prestigious Padma Shri award from the Govt. of India for 2017. And they expressed their appreciation for the young team of film makers too.
The translation of each story in many languages and reading them on the same page was perhaps something new to them online. A keen observer found a typo on the screen! The Wall of Faces fascinated the students. Standing up to ask questions amidst a large peer group must be intimidating for the young students. Yet, a girl stood up and asked, “If we want to contribute to PARI, how do we do it?”
There it goes. What better impact could PARI create among the young!