#GlobalSeries Webinars at Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth
In light of the global nature of online communication today, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth (CVV) has launched a global series of webinars to bring in experts from across the world to audiences everywhere. At the moment, what is foremost in the minds of teachers, students and parents is college admission.
Keeping this in mind, the #GlobalSeries webinars provide answers and give direction to youngsters regarding their careers and education. The speakers are highly experienced and well-established in their fields and from different parts of India and the world. The talks are held on Wednesdays (4:30 pm to 5:30 pm) and Saturdays (11:30 am to 12:30 pm).
Talk #1: Skills for the Future Workplace
Prof. Ajay Kapoor, Chinmaya Vishwavidyapeeth’s Vice Chancellor Designate, spoke about how human life has continuously changed over thousands of years – from being hunter-gathers to being agrarian, industrial to IT revolution – each era requiring a different skill-set. He said, “The key question now is to predict the skills that will be required in the future so that the youth of today can master those and lead a successful life. For this, we can learn from the past and extrapolate into the future.” He ended the talk on a strong note saying, “Future work requires both knowledge of your subject and the ability to work with others and solve problems – something which is called the ‘combinatorial skill set’.”
The Q&A session had a lot of questions from the participants. The session was held on 10 July 2021, from 11:30 to 12:30 pm and was moderated by Dr. Satheesh Varma (Assistant Professor, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Heritage).
Talk #3: Math Without Boundaries
The third webinar of the Global Series was held on 17 July 2021. The session titled “Math Without Boundaries – An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching and Learning” was handled by Sri. Vinay Nair, Co-founder of ‘Raising a Mathematician Foundation’. He is a two-time TEDx speaker and author of books ‘The Teacher who Taught us to Think’ and ‘Journey to the Himalayas’. He is also a traveller, blogger, writer and teacher who is very passionate about the history of Indian mathematics.
The moderator for the session, Dr. Pramod Dinakar (Assistant Professor of Education, CVV) set the pace and began by introducing the speaker. Sri. Vinay Nair divided the session into three parts. In the first part he explained how we learn different subjects in schools and colleges through an interesting example. He illustrated the limitations of teaching the subjects in a compartmentalised manner using a mathematical problem. He also showed how a single problem can be viewed from different perspectives.
The second part of the presentation was on ‘Application of maths in other disciplines’ where he described the amazing connection between Math, music and poetry. He explained in detail using the example of Pingala, an ancient Indian Scholar and author of Chandas who used math in forming rules for poetry. He also spoke on different contributions by Pingala and his successors.
In the final part, he spoke on ‘Why interdisciplinary and from where we can learn’. He emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary learning and teaching while explaining the various advantages of learning and teaching two or more disciplines from the same perspective. He ended the presentation by reminding the key takeaways, one of which was ‘decompartmentalised learning enhances deeper understanding’.
The Q&A session had a lot of interesting questions from the participants. The whole session was made encouraging with fun-filled math problems and amazing examples. It was an insightful experience for all.
Talk #4 – ‘Public Policy: A Career Beyond Civil Service’
The fourth session in the Global Series which took place on 21 July 2021 featured Dr. D. Dhanuraj, founding member and chairman of Centre for Public Policy Research, a think tank in Kerala. Dr. Dhanuraj delivered a lecture on ‘Public Policy: A Career Beyond Civil Service’.
Narrating his personal experience, Dr. Dhanuraj talked about his journey from being a Physics graduate working in a software company, to landing in Public Policy and founding one of the leading public policy think tanks in the country. He described the passion he had to understand how the political system worked, governments functioned and how they react and respond to challenges which led him to the field.
He explained how every aspect of our life has a public policy element to it. He underscored the point that anybody with passion, creativity, interest and the urge to know things could contribute to the public policy discourse. He also brought attention to the dynamic nature of public policy which accommodates individuals with diverse interests.
Dr. Dhanuraj stated that the most essential attribute a public policy researcher should essentially possess was the readiness to work hard besides reading, observing and understanding things. He rightly said that instantaneous fame or pay was not a characteristic of the field and that the public policy researchers at the top, made their way up by putting in years of reading, writing and reflection. He also touched upon some of the challenges of a career in public policy which included lack of acknowledgement for the work and the excess information that is in circulation today. However, the opportunities are ample, with 21st-century instruments like YouTube, Facebook channels; it has become easy to influence Public Policy. It is important to be a shrewd observer and get into the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of all elements that touch public life. Framing questions, asking the right question, writing and publishing are the skill sets which public policy professionals need to inherit.
On the career aspect, he reflected it being a newly programmed domain with recent generations getting into it. COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise for public policy because the gaps in government policies are unmasked with debates in and around COVID-19 challenges, preparedness and responses. Issues like data privacy and technology innovation are challenging governments to adopt and adapt public policies to new skill sets of becoming tech-savvy and using data analytics to feed into the policy recommendations. Politicians and institutions like NITI Aayog to national and international think tanks and academia, look forward to having public policy professionals.
Insights from the Q&A session provided a message that exploration through internships will provide exposure and strong fundamentals and regular reading of current affairs will add value to public policy professionals. One needs to start the journey as a generalist, however, deciding and getting deeper into specialised subjects will always be worthwhile. A drastic difference between a civil servant and a public policy professional entails investment in research and academia; the former doesn’t get ample time to delve into it while the latter builds the foundation on it. Specialisation in civil services is the need of the hour and reforms in this direction are awaited. Decentralisation has to be used innovatively for the efficiency and effectiveness of the policies at the grassroots. Dr. Dhanuraj concluded his talk by saying that the job of a public policy researcher “is a very responsible job, it impacts millions for ages”.
The session was moderated by Sri. Sreenath Namboodiri, Assistant Professor at CVV’s School of Ethics, Governance, Culture and Social Systems.
Aswathi Prakash (First-year MA PPG)
Veena Mahor (First-year MA PPG)
Talk #5: Mother Earth is the best teacher. Are your antennas open? – Dr.Harish Shetty
The fifth talk of the Global Series held on 24 July 2021 had Dr. Harish Shetty, one of India’s leading psychiatrists and an active champion for the rights of children, speak on ‘Mother Earth is the best teacher. Are your antennas open?’ The significance of opening our antennas to mother earth was explained at different levels – personal, interpersonal, community and cosmic.
Dr. Shetty began by congratulating students for having been able to empathize and engage in prosocial behaviour during this pandemic. He explained that outcomes, learnings and memories in life are not limited to just the tangible kind, rather enlightenment happens through intangible aspects when we align with Mother Earth.
While discussing parent-child interactions, he explained that while we may face a communication collapse, building a wall does not work. It comes down to listening to and understanding our parents, to facilitate a space of open communication backed by patience, love and compassion. A locked antenna is much more dangerous than a small antenna. To overcome this, parents must encourage their children to pursue their quest for curiosity rather than deadlines and balance sheets.
In social settings, it is not about the ‘I’ but about ‘we’. When our antennas are open, we respect and accept people for who they are and become tolerant to the play of the cosmos. He said schools and colleges are laboratories for emotional development. Most schools are still stuck with Macaulay’s system. In rare cases like in CVV, there is an ability tracking curriculum. While emphasizing friendship and network building, he provided the audience with strategies to solve interpersonal conflicts. Union and separation are inevitable in life. Opening our antennas enables us to step out of our comfort zone, embrace growth through exploration and not limit our decisions to that of our friends.
While deciding about our career, it is discipline, sacrifice and conviction that yield single-pointed focus. Life is all about reframing and accepting that gap years and shifting careers are acceptable. One must have self-belief and remember that without struggle, there is no change and without suffering there is no sunrise. Mental health fitness can be practised by adopting inclusive communication, respect, disagreeing with logic rather than an attitude of blame. He stated that ‘being alert to micro doses of love is man’s greatest quality’. Acknowledging the micro, mini and little joys fills us with love.
The Indic Knowledge Tradition was built by grasping knowledge from the cosmos and not from double-blind studies. By regularly practising Yoga and not just limiting it to a retirement plan, we reap many benefits. By reading about history and drawing inspiration from eminent individuals such as Shivaji Maharaj, Jijabai, Arjuna and Shri Krishna, we open our antennas. As India is on the threshold for a great tomorrow, we must realise that we are the architects. By the synchrony and symphony of Eastern and Western philosophy and science, we can enrich ourselves and reach global heights.
There were many takeaways from the question-and-answer session. Building emotional wealth and practising emotional equity will make us more compassionate and there will be fewer illnesses. What we require today is a people-based, community-oriented mental health service and a collaborative effort by psychiatrists and psychologists to accelerate the breaking of stigma. A massive mental health effort is required in light of the pandemic situation. Obstacles are inevitable and some amount of stress pushes us forward. Those who are not bothered by what people say are better equipped for facing obstacles. He also discussed strategies to combat financial loss. He concluded by wishing everyone a happy Guru Purnima and stated that every soul is a Guru. As a spectator, the insightful and enlightening talk had me glued to the very end!
The session was moderated by Dr. Kavita Shanmughan (Assistant Professor, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Heritage).
Report by: Arthi Krishnan, MSc Applied Psychology
Talk #6 – Beyond Studies: Breaking Conventional Notions of Education
In the sixth session of the Global Series career-guidance webinars, Ms. Anaka Harish, Graduate Research Assistant at NORRAG addressed the gathering on ‘Beyond Studies: Breaking conventional notions of Education’.
Ms. Anaka began her talk by acknowledging the privileged position that she speaks from and opined that learning should never be confined within the four walls of the classroom. She gave a brief background of her education starting from her higher secondary to graduate and postgraduate and the various internships that she immersed herself in during this period. She spoke about the skills one acquires when they move out of their hometowns for education and on the transferability of these skills. The turning point in her career was attributed to her experience of working with Tibetan refugees in India which ultimately helped her find her passion. She talked about the importance of trying out different areas of work to understand where we fit best and emphasised that everything comes with learning. She highlighted the difference between the nature of education in India and Australia where she did her postgraduation. She briefly spoke about the projects that she is currently a part of at NORRAG. She underlined the crucial role played by hard work and resilience in her journey and the importance of exploring and experimenting to find a career that resonates with you. She concluded by once again underscoring that critical learning often takes place outside the four walls of a classroom.
Some of the queries of the audience concerning the workload in foreign universities when compared to Indian universities and important things to keep in mind while applying to them were answered in the Q&A session.
The session was moderated by Dr. Sandhya Shankar (Assistant Professor, School of Linguists and Literary Studies).