REPORT OF 50TH KNIT INDIA 2017: DECEMBER 27 TO 31, 2017
Knit India 2017 was a significant land mark in the history of Universal Solidarity Movement (SUSM) of Value Education for Peace. It was the fiftieth Knit India and during this Knit India the Silver Jubilee of USM was celebrated. 276 persons, consisting of students, teachers, principals, friends and USM team members participated in the five days live-together for sharing, learning and celebrating unity in diversity. This Knit India witnessed a generational shift in the organization of Knit India. Young leaders like Neetish Barole, Ishmit Singh Madan, Nikita Gagneja and Iram Khan, who are continuing their studies in different higher education institutions, played a key leadership role in the planning and implementation of 2017 Knit India programmes. Releasing a book on USM, ‘A Movement for Civilization of Love’, edited by Jacob Peenikaparambil and Neetu Joshi was another speciality of this year’s Knit India. USM’s evolution, growth, vision, goals, spirituality and activities are systematically documented in this book.
The curtain for Knit India 2017 was drawn on December 27, 2017 at 5.00 p.m. with the inaugural session. After the inter-religious prayer for peace and the National Song, Vandemathram, Ms. Neetu Johsi, the chief trainer of USM, extended a hearty welcome to the participants, the Chief Guest and other distinguished guests. Mr. Ashikho PJ, the Director of USM, took the audience for a quick journey through the history of Knit India from 1994 to 2017 with the help of a power point presentation. The guest of honour, Rtn. Shri Satya Narayan Lathi, appealed to the students to strengthen Bharat Mata by building harmony among the Indians while the chief guest, Rtn, Dr. Zamin Hussein told the audience that the strength of India is its diversity and religion should not be allowed to interfere with the unity and harmony of India. He also told that instead of saying, “Hinudu, Muslim, Esaai Bhai Bhai”, say Ham Hindustani hai aur aaps mei ham Bhai Bhai hai. The inaugural session set the tone for Knit India 2017.
Testimonies of Personal Transformation by Students, Teachers and Principals
The heart of Knit India is sharing by many participants their story of self transformation due to the influence of USM. This year also the sharing by the participants of their transformation story was the most inspiring part Knit India. 45 students, three teachers and three principals shared their transformation story. A glimpse of the sharing is as follows.
- I am now aware of the difference between enjoyment and happiness and try to live for the sake of happiness. (Yshi Upadhaya)
- As a result of becoming a USM member I have understood the value of money and I do not buy branded clothes but buy simple clothes. My parents say that the changes which they were trying to bring about in me for many years could be achieved by USM within a week (Sidhi Yadav)
- USM taught me to evaluate my failures and to rise up whenever I fall down. I made a choice to become an entrepreneur when I passed class ten and switched over from CBSC Board to MP State Board and started my online business. Today I earn along with my studies. (Ishmith Singh Madan)
- After taking part in the leadership training in USM I was motivated to formulate my vision. “I envisage a society in which everyone is accepted in spite of the differences” and I am trying to realize that vision. (Lipika Agrawal)
- I have decided to face criticism. I want to be myself and not blindly follow anyone. (Tianne Fernandez)
- USM taught me to be human above everything and to respect all religions. (Kavyia Agrawal)
The principals shared the practices they have introduced in their schools taking inspiration from the USM like starting programmes in time, giving plants to chief guests during the functions, gifting books, reading from different scriptures during the school assembly, annual evaluation along with the students and the staff, asking each child to write his/her short term and long term goals, treating all staff members as partners, giving every child a chance during the school annual day etc.
Fr. Isaac Arackaparambil enlightened the participants on the ‘Joy of Giving’. Through four small video clippings he explained four types of giving: giving out of plenty, giving by sacrificing one’s desires, giving in order to empower others and making ‘giving’ a culture in the life of a person. One can give his/her time, talents and treasures. The session of Fr. Issac motivated the participants to become givers.
Fr. Varghese motivated the participants to ask themselves ‘why not’ and to do something which no one else has done so far. He told them that impossible will be made possible if everyone maximizes the divine within himself/herself and believes that everyone is an incarnation of God. He appealed to them to stop saying “I am young and I will do after my studies”.
Ms. Neetu Joshi shared with the participants the vision and spirituality of USM and Fr. Jacob Peenikaparambil explained the Five Paths of self transformation. As many students were new to USM the session helped them to understand USM. Rtn. Dheeran Dutta shared with the participants the tips for motivating others.
Medha Pathkar in her highly inspiring speech explained to the participants, especially to the students, what education means. Education is making a person capable of taking right choices and decisions in life. Hence it is important to know what is happening in life and in the society. School is a jeevan shala, she told. Career oriented education is for making money and it often makes a person inhuman. Education should enable the students to ask questions related to inequalities, discriminations and injustices in the society and respond creatively.
Mr. Nikita Gagneja of Delhi University, Iram Khan of South Asian University, Kavaljeeth Kaur of Loreto Convent School Ranchi, Heena Kauser of Sankalp Project of USM and Gyanendra Purohit of Anand Society, shared how they are making a difference in the society. Their sharing motivated the participants to have a vision in life and struggle to realize the vision by facing challenges with courage and determination.
A speciality of Knit India 2017 was the social awareness songs sung by Ms. Charul and Vinay Mahajan. The songs not only made the participants aware of the plight of working children, debt ridden farmers and people uprooted from their villages in the name of development but also changed their attitude towards the marginalized sections of the society. The song on the preamble of the Indian constitution helped the participants to appreciate its richness and relevance.
Chintan Baitak is something which makes ‘Knit India’ a unique experience. At the close of the day the participants were guided to reflect on the whole day’s events and experiences and share their insights, learning and resolutions with other members in groups. They got an opportunity to reflect in silence, which deepened their convictions. The sharing in the groups also contributed to the bonding of the participants from different parts of India.
Knitting India through Cultural Programmes
Working in groups for preparing and presenting cultural programmes based on various social issues was an opportunity for the participants from different states and backgrounds to interact with each other and understand each other more closely. Within a short time they presented excellent cultural programmes with a lot of creativity, humour and clearly communicating a powerful message. The topics on which cultural programmes were presented are Importance of respecting women, Inter-religious harmony, Social media-pros and cons, Child labour, Save nature, Cultural heritage of India, Vision and ambition, Clean India, Fundamental duties, Road safety, Freedom of expression, Social inequality, Importance of mental strength, Eye donation and Media-fourth pillar of democracy.
Creative Work and Creative Writing
One of the most thrilling items of Knit India 2017 was the game of preparing a mask by every participant. From this exercise they got an insight into the masks people often wear and the need to differentiate between the real self and the projected or false self. The game helped them to learn to focus on developing the real self. The participants enjoyed the game and at the same time they learned a great lesson for making their life successful and meaningful.
The participants were given an opportunity to express their view through creative writing on the following topics.
- India of my dream
- My contributions for a peaceful and prosperous India
- Youth as change-makers
- The role of education in transforming our future
- The role of parents and teachers in the creation of a violence free society
- How to live a value based and righteous life in this era of proliferation of mass media and social media
Silver Jubilee Celebration of USM
The main celebration of silver jubilee of USM was held from 6.00 to 8.00 p.m. on 29th December. Besides the participants of Knit India a good number of prominent citizens of Indore city were present for the function. The beautiful dances presented by the students of St. Xavier’s School, Bhopal and of Jesus and Mary School Petlad, Gujarat could instil patriotic feelings in the audience.
It was very fitting that Srimati Anuardah Shankar IAS, ADGP of Madhya Pradesh, an ardent supporter of USM, was the chief guest of the function. Dr. Vincent Kundukulam, in his felicitation highlighted the universality, solidarity and the movement nature he could experience in USM. Ms. Ambika Piparsenia shared with the audience how USM motivated her to become a writer, a voracious reader and a person with focus in life. Kastubi Khani told in her felicitation how USM has influenced her life by making her very sensitive to the needy. Mr. Harinarananchari Mishra IPS, the DIG of Indore, extolled the role of USM in inculcating the ethical values in the students. Ms. Anuradha Shankar in her address applauded the contribution of USM in building visionary leaders and pledged her continued support to USM.
6th Honesty Award Function
Every year Honesty Foundation Goa gives awards to honest students during the Knit India. Selecting the awardees and organizing the award function are done by USM. This year 10 students from ten schools were given honesty award for their honest way of living during the honesty award function held on 30th December at 4.30 p.m. The awardees were selected based on the criteria decided jointly by Honesty Foundation and USM. On this occasion Ms. Domina D’Souza, the Trustee, Honesty Foundation briefly explained the objective of Honesty Foundation and its genesis. Bishop Chacko Thottumarickal congratulated the honesty awardees and appreciated Bernardo D’Souza and family for establishing Honesty Foundation. Shri. Chinmay Mishara, the Chief Guest of the function, appealed to the students to be aware of what is happening in the society so that they could be honest in fulfilling their responsibility to the society.
Recipients of Honesty Award 2017
- Yashy Upadhyay, Carmel Convent School, Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh
- Vaishnavi Nayar, Sophiya School, Khetrinagar, Rajastan
- Sophia Babor, Donbosco Academy, Alirajpur, MP
- Yash Bisla, St. Antony’s School, Faridabad, Haryana
- Dibiyendu Roy, St. Jame’s School, Binnaguri, West Bengal
- Siddi Yadav, Auxilium School, Lonavala, Maharashtra
- Rathwa Rushik Kumar Harrisingbhai, Donbosco School, Dacor, Gujarat
- Kastubi Khani, St. Mary’s Convent School, Nainithal, UK
- Ayushi Sathe, St. Jude’s School, Khargone, MP
- Priyali Shrivastav, St. Mary’s Inter College, Allahabad, UP
Birthday of Fr. Varghese
December 30th being the birthday of Fr. Varghese, the founder of USM, the participants of Knit India greeted him with great enthusiasm and joy. It added more colour to the Knit India 2017.
In the concluding address Fr. Varghese appealed to each participant to become a USM brand instead of blindly copying others. He shared with them tips for becoming a USM brand: maximize the divine within, dream big, be fearless, practise time spirituality, never compromise etc.
Dr. Vincent Kundukulam was the chief guest of the concluding function of the Knit India 2017. Jacob Peenikaparambil presented a comprehensive but brief report of the Knit India 2017. All participants were honoured with certificate. Bishop Isidore in his address appreciated the organizers as well as the participants for the orderly and systematic conduct of Knit India and making it a golden opportunity for learning and building relationships. Dr. Kundukulam in his concluding address observed that every participant got the opportunity to come to the stage and thus all were recognized. He also mentioned that in spite of the tight schedule of programmes from 9.00 a.m. to 10 p.m. great enthusiasm and smile was reflected on the face of the participants.
New Year Celebration
Bidding farewell to 2017 and welcoming the New Year 2018 was a unique experience for the participants. From 11.30 to 12.30 the participants sat in a round with a lamp in the middle and prayed for peace in the world. The prayer consisted of readings from eight different scriptures, singing inspirational songs and silence. Then they went in procession with lighted candles and stood on the boundaries of huge map of India. Extending their right hand towards the light in the middle they took the following pledge.
“I,…… aware of the of the negative forces dividing and destroying the society through corruption, fundamentalism, violence and exploitation of the marginalized commit myself to build a civilization of love by building character with will power and sensitivity. I shall practice ethics in my personal life and profession to stand tall and strong as a mountain in moments of crisis, develop deep and dynamic identity like the ocean, always standing upright and firm not to be carried away by the crowd, ever growing rooted in spirituality and doing my best to develop all my talents which come from God, the source of life. I pledge to accept, appreciate and promote the pluralistic heritage of our country, a unique gift of God! I commit myself to transform the world by transforming myself first. I shall practice first before preaching to others”.
The participants could experience the unity that binds them as human beings and as Indians. After greeting each other they revelled in dance for an hour. That was the grand finale of Knit India 2017 in the silver jubilee year of USM.
Report prepared by Jacob Peenikaparambil and Mariella CJ