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  • Published 25.02.11

102-year-old maestro charms audience
- A tryst with culture

A lecture-cum-concert was organised by the Society For the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth (Spicmacay), Calcutta chapter, at the International Management Institute on February 13. The event saw Spicmacay’s founder-chairperson Kiran Seth and Hindustani classical maestro Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan taking the audience on a cultural tour of India.

The programme started with an introduction of Spicmacay as a movement. Some senior volunteers of the organisation shared their experience with the audience. Many claimed that joining Spicmacay had been an enriching and life-changing experience for them.

For 34 years, this non-profit, volunteer-run organisation has tried to bring the youth closer to their art and culture. Besides dance, classical and folk music, Spicmacay also strives to promote puppetry, heritage walks, yoga, craft workshops, calligraphy and classical films through various events.

Annually, it conducts around 2,500 concerts, workshops and lectures in educational institutions across 300 towns and cities in India and even abroad. Often, famous personalities have joined in their effort.

In his address, Seth rued the lack of interest among the youth to preserve our culture. “Our heritage defines our nation and our identity. However, there is little motivation among the youth to protect our roots. We need sustained contribution from people, especially students,” he said.

Seth also sought active government support in their effort. According to him, the East connected with the world through yoga and philosophy. “Icons like Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Sri Aurobindo have showed us the way. But their teachings have little place in today’s information-based education,” Seth added.

Post-discussions, a rare treat awaited the audience. Even at 102, Ustad Abdul Rashid Khan’s performance remained flawless. He, along with the accompanists — Bilal Khan on the tabla and Shubhomoy on vocals — mesmerised the audience with the rendition of ragas and bhajans.

On February 12, at a meeting in Raj Bhavan, it was decided that an advisory board would be set up for Spicmacay in West Bengal. Educationists, industrialists, bureaucrats and intellectuals were invited to join in the organisation’s effort.

Those who wish to volunteer may attend Spicmacay’s weekly meetings at Lakshmipat Singhania Academy, every Friday at 4 pm, or mail at spicmacaybengaó

Innovations for a greener future

Meghna Sdhukhan, Afreen Hyat and Umaima Rehman were strolling on the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) grounds, inspecting every project on display.

The trio (Class XI students) from Jewish Girls’ School had come to view the 36th Eastern India Science Fair and 10th Science and Engineering Fair, held recently.

“We came here yesterday, but it was a whirlwind school trip. Today, we have come by ourselves to take time and understand every project,” said Meghna.

“The exhibitions (held simultaneously) have inspired us to try our hands at innovation, too. The participants have used everyday materials to make such wonderful projects,” gushed Afreen.

The four-day event saw a turnout of nearly 14,000 students. The Eastern India Science Fair was mainly for schoolchildren. Students from classes VII to X — from states like West Bengal, Orissa, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya — were seen at their innovative best here.

A lot of visitors flocked towards the model of an eco-house created by Tanmoy Bhattacharya and Raktim Das of Shrimala Shankar Academy in Guwahati. The Class X students claimed their house would help make a greener future.

“Extensive use of conventional energy is depleting its stock and leading to severe environmental problems. So, as a solution, we have made an eco-house with recycled materials,” said Tanmoy.

The model house has solar panelling to make full use of the sun’s energy. There are also provisions for rainwater harvesting and ground-water replenishment. Again, its architecture is such that the house is kept cool by its own shadow during daytime, explained Raktim.

Also on display was a low-cost water spray, made by Dipankar Deb Burman, a Class XI student from Imphal.

“I have used bamboo and pen refills to make my model for only Rs 25. It can be used to water plants,” he said.

Projects on anti-train collision system, rainwater harvesting and how to control LPG leakage also grabbed a lot of attention.

The participants for the Science and Engineering Fair included Bengal Engineering and Science University, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur and MCKV Institute of Engineering.

A crowdpuller in this category was a low-cost multipurpose machine for farmers, devised by the students of Seacom Engineering College, Howrah. “The machine is so devised that it can be used for winnowing, threshing, grinding and also coconut scraping. The energy it generates can be stored and used by farmers to light a lamp at night,” explained a third-year student Anil Krishna Shaw.

The director of BITM, E. Islam, said: “The fair brings out the innovative side in schoolchildren and provides a platform for college students to apply their technical knowledge.”

No serious talk, it’s time for fun

They were in the mood for fun and games. An interesting quiz, music and some interactive sessions awaited them. No, they are not schoolchildren but teachers and principals who attended the HCL Learning Presents TTIS Principal Affair, organised at Hotel Hindusthan International on February 4.

The meet provided an occasion for the principals to unwind and also learn how to integrate technology in education.

The highlight of the day was a quiz. Being asked to identify Sachin Dev and Rahul Dev Burman proved a cakewalk for the teachers. But they were stumped when a picture of Barkha Bisht was shown to them, till they were told that she is the wife of a much-talked-about actor (Indraneil Sengupta).

Around 75 schools participated in the event, including Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School, Calcutta Girls’ High School, The Heritage School, Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School, St James School and Mahadevi Birla Sishu Vihar.

There was a presentation by HCL on how technology can be integrated in the classroom.

“Technology can be integrated into education through multi-touch interactive white boards and interactive language labs. Students can catch up on missed classes through digital diaries,” said Kaushik Chatterjee, the assistant vice-president, HCL, Learning.

The principals were open to suggestions but what they really wanted was more fun. “There should have been more games and interactive sessions,” said Malini Bhagat, principal, Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School.