The Beginning

Ten words begin to describe the goals of the Niswarth program: context, community, perspectives, complexity, voice, action, resilience, empathy, humility, discovery. After long delays in London, we arrived in Mumbai in two groups on Sunday night and on Monday morning.  Energized and tired at the same time, we met students and teachers from the American School of Bombay and The Cathedral School at 9am on Monday morning.

After reading a poem, The Blind Men and the Elephant, the discussion revolved around the importance of multiple perspectives, humility and how our perceptions can be partially correct.  This was reinforced by Chimamanda’s Adiche’s TED talk, “Dangers of a Single Story”.  What are India’s single stories? Slumdog Millionaire, poverty, software boom, booming economy, …

Infrastructure of Opportunity.  Juxtaposed Inequality.  Context.  These ideas move us in Mumbai where our senses are on high alert.

Students worked in groups to discuss and write about the following questions:  What is the purpose of schooling? How can we begin to get to know an unfamiliar community?

We ended our first day’s session preparing for the Reality Tour of Dharavi.  What can be the impact of “poorism”? What are we peeking into?  Can this be a tour of Dharavi as well as tour of ourselves?

The beginning of the Niswarth program.

Raj Mundra