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Moving from intent to content: ‘Fit for purpose’ communication

Over the years, I have conducted these freewheeling sessions across different geographies - whether pan India, US, UK, Central Asia or Africa - from the scenic town called Horley near London to a sleepy village called Nakuru in Nairobi, from the Mount prospect locality near downtown Chicago to the central business district of Almaty, Kazakhstan, from the pious landmark of Rishikesh to the tribal pockets of Meghalaya, and from the Haddo market area of Port Blair to the awesome terrain of Alangar in Karnataka - for diverse target groups - whether MNCs or SMEs, PSUs or NGOs, kids or housewives, salaried or self employed, contractors or workers, children of plush societies or urchins from slum pockets...

The workshops conducted for deprived sections are delivered free of cost. 

Some of the popular workshops and modules:

Poetry of Mathematics and the science of languages

From Classroom to Workplace: managing the academia-industry transition

Learning beyond the confines of Arts, Science and Commerce

Learning through Music, Literature, Films & Theatre

Probing the Child's mind: No child's play

Decoding gender sensitivity, financial literacy, career planning, and life & language skills

Why get better at communication? 

o A brief on communication challenges of the ‘playground’ called Workplace

o What is Fit for Purpose communication and how it helps? 

Cutting across cultures: Camaraderie beyond comfort zones 

• The Pivotal Role of Language, History and philosophy in cross-culture communication
• Edward Hall’s concept of low-context and high-context communication
• Persuasion and assertion in a multi-cultural scenario – I, we and us.
• Managing a global team: Consensus stems from cultural relativity
• How to become a culture catalyst – going beyond acceptance and tolerance
• Interactive discussion on interesting specifics of cultural contexts – American, European, Asian 

Thanks to the arid, bureaucratic mechanisms of conventional NGO bodies, proletariat activists and CSR practitioners across the globe, social responsibility, knowingly and unknowingly, has come to harbor several blatant assumptions about the larger cause of end-beneficiaries (often generically slotted as ‘target groups’ or ‘deprived’ communities) Conveniently overlooked in the process is the plain fact that their deprivation is only circumstantial and in no way indicative of the instinctive and intellectual capacities inherent within the community. Contrary to popular perception, the supply-side forces, in the mad rush to emancipate the downtrodden, are themselves found deprived when it comes to even reading the minds of the audience, leave alone identifying its needs,. In peddling their jargon-heavy black and white prescriptions on financial prudence and general well being, they are knowingly and unknowingly oblivious of the expressions of playful amusement and suppressed yawns that the so-called ‘deprived’ reserve for the seemingly ‘privileged’ - - stemming more from doubt than disbelief. 

As always, members of the audience, across all age groups, often surprise you with occasional quips and counter questions that help you learn more than you seek to teach. The more you interact with them, the more you marvel at the depth of their instinctive knowledge, fertile imagination and the zeal to become willful change agents. We are more than sure some of them will become change architects of global credence in good time. Here’re only a few of the lingering echoes:

One bright school girl from Devarjan, a tiny hamlet near Latur in Maharashtra, had a simple argument “Why doesn’t the government simply print more notes to eradicate poverty?” All effort to elucidate the consequent vicious chain of increased spends, demand-supply gaps and soaring prices didn’t seem to impress her. We wished to hold a special session exclusively for her post the session. Unfortunately, the unbelievably wooden and pompous school authorities seemed hardly bothered which was really sad.

A differently abled adolescent, who had accompanied his mother to one session held in conjunction with Don Bosco Technical Institute Kurla, proved a much better listener than most of the other ‘normal’ participants. His sheer effort to get involved, often urging others to be attentive, was truly a moving experience.  

Chinmay Bidarkar, standard VIII student of Sri Ravi Shankar school, Latur impressed one and all with his mathematical genius, solving compound interest problems with effortless authority and yet strikingly unassuming in his replies. Clearly a great Indian mathematician in the making!

Ujjwala from Sawantwadi and Deepak from Jharkhand, astoundingly mature for their age of 16 and 18 years, proactively articulated the value of communication in their own words.  

Pranjal Garg of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Rishikesh, Amit Kumar Singh of Port Blair Kendriya Vidyalaya, Anjali A R, Naveen T, K Venugopal and A Santosh of Kendriya Vidyalaya Adoor were among the sterling scorers in the quiz held in schools all over India. 

Ms. Varsha Dixit, a key official of the Thane Municipal Corporation showed exceptional vision and extended all help in organizing offbeat communication skill workshops for the corporation staff. Similar sessions have been planned for the Safai Kaamgars on stress management and financial literacy.

Sharada, Anagha, Geeta, Savita and Varsha, all enthusiastic lady entrepreneurs, actively participated in an innovative role play enactment during a Don Bosco session at Borivali, realistically simulating a loan proposal meeting with a bank official and summarizing the learning for the benefit of the audience.

Mr. Chandrasekhar Burande, noted architect and citizen activist, took the lead in successfully organizing IIFL workshops in the schools and colleges of Latur, Devarjan and Udgir.

Ms. Sonali Kulkarni, Principal, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar School Latur and Mr. Amarr Prabhu, Principal, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Kurla – both young and dynamic achievers have raised the bar for their noble profession with their untiring and selfless devotion to the larger cause of their institutions.  

Ravi, serving staff member from Goa’s Tourism Development Resort in Miramar; Raju, Vada pav vendor from Varangaon near Jalgaon; Giri, auto rickshaw driver from Pon Nagar, Pondicherry; Rai, an ever-smiling steward from a hotel in Shillong’s Polo Ground area; Joshiji, a PSU employee from Rishikesh; Nishigandha, a health and hygiene activist from Thane’s Manorama Nagar; Dinesh, a clerk from Alangar, Mudbidri in Karnataka, Sandeep, a local vendor from Belgaum in Maharashtra, Alex, a transport business agent from Pune - all showed exceptional leadership qualities in assembling their respective communities in real quick time for short sessions on value-added communication.

Kalwa Pipeline case study

But the most satisfying of all initiatives till date was the theatrical intervention exercise we did with the children of Kalwa Pipe Line, a discarded slum pocket of Kalwa, Thane’s neighboring suburb. Their slum is adjoining a pipeline and hence the name. Ironically enough, proximity to the pipeline has done little to solve their recurring water scarcity problems which continue unabated. But their inventive reconciliation with reality and their ingenuity to work around it amidst the despondency and disappointment is a wonder story beyond words.  

Meet the Kalwa Pipeline champions of change: Asif, aged 11, is one of the most vocal and vociferous social activists we have ever met. A pocket-sized dynamo, he is a born leader when it comes to enforcing discipline and urging his peers to stay focused during the life and language skills workshop for ‘jyada se jyada fayda’ (maximum gains) as he succinctly puts it. Arif, Asif’s elder brother aged 20 works as a scavenger and runs errands for money but has now taken the lead in explaining the value of money to the community. Chandni, a child laborer, a promising girl of 16, now provides coaching to little children in dance and music, Sonali, 17, explains the virtues of small savings to ignorant adults and Afreen, 18, has taken upon herself to teach English to her folks. And last but not the least, thanks to Santoshi, a housemaid of over 35, who got all these kids together at her matchbox place for the sessions as also the slum theatre experiment. The kids, who obviously had no prior experience of public speaking, went on to deliver a hard hitting satire called “Jhagde pe jhagda” (squabble upon squabble) in the vast auditorium of Thane Municipal Corporation following rigorous practice in a short span of time. Today, almost all of their long standing problems yet remain unanswered but the new-found vigor from the slum theatre and financial literacy experiment has made them even more determined to fight all odds with greater resolve. 

Of all things, they are now extra vigilant about saving money for productive purposes like quality food and essential household utilities and constantly check their fascination for things they don’t need but long for, thanks to tempting TV ads and peer pressure.  


This post first appeared on The Lost Accountant, please read the originial post: here

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Moving from intent to content: ‘Fit for purpose’ communication


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