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Showing posts from 2008

Changes, 14th Dec 2008

Dear samanvaya web users, We apologise for this long online hibernation. Much has been going on, two agriculture-related projects and one CSR forum work ongoing, one major change and one new educational venture coming up soon. Watch out for the announcements in these pages soon. sincerely, priya nagesh

Meeting with an Educationist - 6th Jan 2009

Swami Muktanandaji is the current head of Anand Ashram in Kerala. This Ashram has guided many educational institutions through its unique value education scheme known as V-SET. Swami Muktanandaji is in Chennai in the first week of January and will be at Samanvaya office on the 6th of Jan 2009, for an interactive session. He will share his thoughts on value education through mainstream educational institutions and its relevance today. This meeting has been organized by the local coordinator of V-SET in Chennai, Mr. Ravi. We hope to listen to the Swamiji share his thoughts on issues related to value based education on which his organization has been working in thousands of schools across the southern states.

the pause...

last several weeks have been spent on a series of steps towards transition...the detailing of impending changes and preparing internally is a major step. as we step into the last few weeks of this year, the wait is about to get over.  the new year will bring in the changes to the open, new forms and functions are in the anvil...this pause meanwhile...

14th October 2008: Impact of Organic Farming

Samanvaya is looking at the technical and social impact of organic farming among rural communities in northern Tamilnadu. Season wise data spread over a three year period during which an entire village of chemical farmers moved to organic farming is being analysed. A personal interaction with the village to tap their experience and insights will be part of this interesting assignment that Samanvaya will be undertaking on behalf of a Chennai based traditional farming methods promoting group. The publication that will result from this short project will benefit those farmers who are still not convinced about the benefits of organic farming and ensure that they understand the process of conversion from an entire village.

Busy beginning for October, 2008

The first week was rather busy. We had the launch of Community Access on the 2nd october 2008 afternoon at the Adayar Poonga. Business Line carried a nice news article on the launch of the forum in Chennai though the title was rather mis-leading. On the 2nd October morning, Ram was interviewed in one of the city FM radio's on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanthi. 3rd October morning saw Samanvaya making a thematic main speech on the idea of Social Entrepreneurship at the Stella Maris College in the City. This programme had been organized by the Department of Public Relations of the college with whom Samanvaya has colloborated in quite a few programmes in the last few years. Ram made the thematic presentation and set the tone for the day's proceedings in which over 20 prominent NGOs from the city participated. This programme was organized by the SAARC countries Women Entrepreneurship Council whose current Chairperson, Ms. Indira Dutt is also an aluminus of Stella Maris College.

October 2nd, 2008: Scheduled launch of Community Access

A resource centre that will facilitate creative engagement between community based organizations and corporate entities is being launched by Samanvaya along with CCD, Madurai and LEAD, India, New Delhi on the 2nd at the Adayar Poonga .  This forum will organize: 1) regular meetings 2) bring out a newsletter to profile creative engagement using the co-creation paradigm 3) conduct periodic conferences and 4) bring out an annual publication on good practices and lessons learnt from corporate and community engagement This initiative will be anchored at Samanvaya and will be managed by Team Samanvaya currently. Programme Details (3:00 - 6:00p.m.): Welcoming the Guests A presentation on Community Access Inauguration of the Community Access  A short speech by the Chief Guest Short speech by LEAD India representative Short speech by Executive Director, CCD, Madurai A video film on one of the co-creation ventures facilitated by CCD A brief talk on the Adyar Poonga by the Poon

22nd September 2008: Ram lectures Rotary Club of Madras Central on Social Entrepreneurship

Ram, Chief Consultant of Samanvaya delivering a short speech to the Rotary Club of Madras Central on the 22nd September 2008. Ram spoke on the subject Samanvaya as a Social Enterprise, its various initiatives and projects and their impact in society. He also spoke of the learnings and insights drawn from Samanvaya's work.

10th Sept 2008: SRI consultation at Samanvaya

Samanvaya is conducting a study to understand the spread and practice of System for Rice Intensifiaction (SRI) in Tamilnadu. This study is being undertaken at the behest of WWF and ICRISAT and is mentored by Dr. Shambu Prasad of KICS. As the first phase of this study, a consultation is being organized with representatives from 5 districts of Tamilnadu that have a seizable SRI practitioners - Erode, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur and Thiruvarur. Select representatives from farming community and organizations in these districts have been invited for a consultation. This would be followed by a series of consultations in these districts over the next 6 weeks.

Memorial meeting on Mosanabu Fukuoka at Samanvaya Meeting Lounge - 23rd Aug 2008

The meeting was attended among others by: Mr. Jaishankar, a software professional turned organic farmer who is adopting methods of Fukuoka in his farm Mr. Prabalan of Oasis books whose founder activist group, Poovulagin Nanbargal translated the 'One Straw Revolution' in Tamizh and Prof. Swaminathan (ex-IIT-D) who has been gifting One Straw Revolution as a philosophy book to many students and friends of his for more than a decade All the three shared their reading and experience of the book One Straw Revolution and its relevance today to many of us caught up in the modern rush based on speed and efficiency. A detailed report on the proceedings will be in our website soon.

23rd Aug 2008: Memorial for Mosanabu Fukuoka

Organic Farmer Mosanabu Fukuoka of Japan is a major inspiration for organic farmers from all over the world. His 'One Straw Revolution' was one of the books on natural farming that has been read and re-read by many who have since then embarked on natural farming themselves.  Fukuoka died at the age of 95 on 16th August 2008. A short memorial will be held in his honour at the Samanvaya office on saturday the 23rd evening between 4:30 and 6:00 p.m. Farmers, Friends and Fans of Fukuoka are invited for this gathering.

6th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture: in Photos

6th Samanvaya Freedom Lecture

12th August 2008: WWTW workshop at Hyderabad

Samanvaya represented by Ram participated in the 1-day brainstorm workshop organized jointly by IBM, NISG and Byrraju Foundation at the Byrraju Foundation headquarters in Hyderabad. The New technology, 'Listen to Believe' promises to eliminate the dependency on keyboard, mouse and monitor for web access. The simple access to a local network through voice and mobile phone is a major breakthrough. If this technology could be further thought out and made into a package of relevant applications and simple content management methods, it could definitely serve the rural community rather well. The rural ICT implementation, RICT for short is almost a decade old and such newer technologies need to build on the learnings from past mistakes (more than past successes) so as to be relevant to the locality and the user community.

Released: LETS TALK SWARAJ - Samanvaya Discourses and Discussions on Hind Swaraj

Swami Vimurthanandaji, editor of Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam released the publication as part of the Samanvaya 10th Anniversary on 8th August 2008. The initial copies were received by Sri. David Barunkumar, Sri. J.Prabhakar, Sri. Jaishankar, Sri. A.L. Rangarajan and Sri. Muthuswamy of Kuthu-p-pattarai. Releasing the publication the Swamiji emphasized that it is important that more discussions take place around the works of Gandhiji.

3rd Aug 2008:Talking about Gandhi to American Scholars

We often get invited to talk to people about Gandhi, we go with different expectations. But, this was a different programme. A group of American scholars on a path of discovering Gandhi in India. I realized that one of the problems we often end up getting frustruated or angry whenever we talk about Gandhi to Indians is that our expectation is rather high. But in this case, we had no expectations from them in terms of either understanding and action.  If anything I was intrigued as to why would American scholars want to understand Gandhi, to me it seemed to be a scholarly adventure into a fascinating mind and visit his land to understand it better if possible. Of course, when one of them told me that she had promised to Dr. Vandana Shiva (whom they had visited earlier at the Navadanya centre in Dehra Dun) that she would never ever drink a Coke or Pepsi because of what Dr. Shiva had told her about these companies, I realized that perhaps there could be quite a few personal journeys embed

Samanvaya article in ICFAI University publication

Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme in Information and Communication Technology (REDPRINT) originally published in the Samanvaya website has been published by the ICFAI University Press as part of its publication on Entrepreneurship and Rural Development in India (ICFAI Books 2008, pgs 253, US$18). This publication is available for sale at

The Sixth Samnavaya Freedom Lecture, 13th August 2008

Samanvaya Freedom Lecture has caught the imagination of many of the Samanvaya regulars. Each year we bring one persona who has treated a different path and worked at the grassroot level to come and share his/her experience. This year we have invited Ms. Meenakshi of Puvidham , a rural school in rural Dharmapuri to share her experience and insights in managing a school in a remote rural set-up. Read related news item here Ms. Parimala Rao, Assistant Editor in the HINDU Business Line and a close associate of Puvidham will Preside over the lecture and introduce Ms. Meenakshi to the audience. Ms. Meenakshi will talk on Freedom to Teach under the title, 'Free to Teach' . The programme will be held on the afternoon of the 13th at the auditorium of Stella Maris College. This year Samanvaya Freedom Lecture is organized in collaboration with the Public Relations Department of the Stella Maris College in the city. The event will be hosted and organized by this department, thanks to

Bhuvan bhai comes calling...

Sri. Bhuvan Pathak is not a new comer to Samanvaya. The convenor of the Himalay Swaraj Vidyapeeth had invited Ram for the annual Swaraj Samvad he organizes a few years back in the hills and also volunteered with Samanvaya team in the relief work post-tsunami in Nagapattinam. He was a surprise visitor at the Samanvaya office on the 17-18th of July. This time around he was here to discuss his latest venture to take forward the works of Sri. Dharampal as well as launch an organizational entity to work on the impact of global warming in the Himalayas.

1st July 2008: Knowledge Sharing session on NREGA at Hyderabad

Ram, Chief Consultant of Samanvaya shared his thoughts on the knowledge dimensions of NREGA through a talk followed by interaction at the Centre for World Solidarity (CWS), Hyderabad on 1st July 2008. This session was hosted by CWS on behalf of the KICS forum which is supporting Samanvaya's enquiry into the knowledge dimensions of NREGA in principle and practice.

A Study on the Knowledge Dimensions of NREGA

A part of Samanvaya's enquiry on the social security net introduced through the NREGA is being supported through a scoping study by the KICS forum and CWS, Hyderabad. A MOU has been signed in this regard for a period of six months starting from June 2008 till Dec 2008. The scoping study would provide directions for further research based on the study of the knowledge dimensions of the scheme both in principle and in practice.

3rd August 2008: 'In Search of Gandhi's India' Oakton Community College, USA

Sunday the 3rd August 2008 Samanvaya is organizing a day long programme for a group of academics from USA. Organized as part of the Oakton Community College's Fullbright-Hays USA Project Abroad Programme, the programme is titled, 'In Search of Gandhi's India: Teaching and Learning Non-Violence in a Globalized World'. The fourteen visiting faculty will be in India between the 28th of June and 5th of August. As part of their visit they would be at Sabarmathi and Sevagram Ashram apart from listening to some eminent thinkers and Gandhian workers across the country including Ashish Nandy, Vinay Lal, Vandana Shiva, Ganesh Devy, Madhu Kishwar, Rajeev & Neeru Vora, Banwari lal Sharma, etc. In the last leg of their tour Samanvaya is organizing a day long programme with the team on the 3rd of August 2008. The day's programme titled, 'Gandhi for the 21st century' would consist of lecture and interactive sessions with Ram, Chief Consultant, Samanvaya and also tw

Picasa Web Albums - Krishnan - Sitaram Thath... - DSC01600.JPG

Sitaram Iyer turned 95 recently. He is the oldest well-wisher of Samanvaya around. He is a frequent visitor to the Samanvaya office and has a wide variety of interests and large number of contacts strewn across Tamilnadu. Picasa Web Albums - Krishnan - Sitaram Thath... - DSC01600.JPG Here is a nice photo of Sitaram thatha, as he is called by everyone around shot by the popular photographer Krishnan. The photo was shot during a small gathering of friends and relatives organized at his house in Egmore early June 2008.

World Environmental Day meeting at Samanvaya

Recent weeks has seen the renewal of interest on the cultural aspects of conservation. Prof. G.D. Agarwal's campaign has had much to do with this. This june 5th, we decided to call for a simple meeting in our office of like minded and active people to think together towards launching a movement that can look at the link between conservation and culture much more closely. June 5th, 2008 Samanvaya Lounge, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Prof. Sultan Ismail, New College and Sri. T.M. Mukundan, Sanjeevani Ayurveda & Yoga Centre will be the chief guests.

The campaign to save river Ganga: Prof. G.D.Agarwal's fast-unto-death

When a renowned teacher, scientist and a deeply spiritual human being wants to give up his life for a cause, the nation should stop to take note of his concerns. Prof. G.D. Agarwal of IIT-Kanpur had announced a fast-unto-death to protest against the damming of the river Ganges in the Uttrakhand region. A blog has been set-up to highlight the issues he is protesting against and managed by Team Samanvaya and an on-line petition too has been set-up .

10th May 2008: Changes in the Samanvaya Website

Our on-going revision of our website continues. Currently, the Work section in the website is getting revised with the Services section fully done and a new client list added. The partnership and initiatives pages are being re-done and as can be seen by the work-in-progress sign board at the bottom of both the pages, they will go through the process and we will finish the process soon. The Information section with the News Room, Help Section and Feedback is also fully done. The RSS help for both the news room and knowledge alerts are now available. The Learning and About Us sections are long overdue for revision. We know that some of the pages have been carrying 'will be up shortly' for too long, well, we will get around to doing that too in this round of revision we hope. Keep coming back to check up for the revised website. There is a vast amount of original material that is getting added to the Learning section as part of this revision. Ram

7th May 2008: Mr. Davidson, CCD: A friend of Samanvaya passes away...

It was as shock to hear about the sudden and untimely demise of Mr. Davidson, the administrative office of CCD, Madurai on the early hours of Monday the 5th, May. Mr. Davidson was the communicator for CCD, writing all the mails that went from the central office, responding to queries and holding the post when many of the CCD core team members were out in their various projects. It was our pleasure to get to know this warm elderly gentleman who with his rich voice immediately put anyone who called for information to CCD at ease. A conservative Christian, Mr. Davidson had earlier worked for a few years in West Asian countries where practicing of any religion apart from Islam was banned. He along with a few more had been part of a under-ground church, regularly meeting for their prayers and service. On being caught and imprisoned, he preferred to return to India rather than suffer not practicing his faith in such a country. During those days he had even released religious albums in whic

1st May 2008: New Internship

I met Gopal Singh Chauhan in SIDH Sanjeevani programme many years back. Recently met him again in the meeting at Sarah. He has expressed interest for a short term internship with Samanvaya during the months of June and July. He is currently pursuing a scholarship before embarking on a change programme in his native town of Bikaner in Rajasthan. - Ram

1st May 2008, Updating the website

It's great to be back at the old Samanvaya office in Madhavaram, and working on the website like old times. Not to forget the endless cups of Coffee. It's Labour Day, so we labourers of Samanvaya are hard at work. Please do visit the output of our labour, and dont forget to leave your comments and thoughts.

1st May 2008, Samanvaya web updates

Samanvaya website The Samanvaya website was completely rehauled with a new design and web features. However, it has been in Beta all these days. We are out of beta!! We welcome you to visit the new site, make use of the resources and references in our knowledge section, or if you prefer lighter reading, take a look at our team columns and anecdotes, or just browse through for new ideas and possibilities. And, dont forget to leave your comments for us through the feedback section.