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Abhyudai Dhawan

Gandhi Fellow 2010

PG/UG - History, Philosophy, Literature, Sociology (Ethnography)

University of Delhi, University of Freiburg, FLACSO

At that point in my life, fresh out of the cloister of pharisaic educational institutions, I was taken in by the complexity of the societal organism/ mechanism and yearned to look, experience and examine the parts of the whole that were faulty. My own personal answer to the problem was education; and KEF serendipitously was offering a tailor-made opportunity to explore and immerse into the field.

Well, the Fellowship was the appropriate beginning to an exploration that I believe will last a whole lifetime. I invariably have various interests pulling me in multiple directions and i constantly struggle to find a position of balance and celebrate life (in my own way) irrespective of the circumstances. I think the single most valuable experience was that of the village immersion. My level of engagement was deep and the response as evocative. The relationship with the headmaster comes a close second, with many invaluable moments of authentic interactions around education and philosophy both inside and outside the classroom. However, the consistent experience with Fellows and the rest of the KEF team from around the country was the most enriching.

Immediately after the Fellowship and a spirit awakening walk from my home town Dehradun to Ladakh, I felt that i needed to go deeper to the roots to develop an authentic understanding of the primary domains of societal life. That took me to the agricultural sector where I was able to live work and interact with farmers, the backbone of the current unsustainable world system, to see how they were coping with the frenzied changes that mark existence today. I had the chance of working with an international team of researchers at Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Bija Vidyapeeth, where I helped develop both rural and urban innovations for sustainable agricultural practises.

After this brief stint I spent my energy trying to create an initiative that worked with the default surroundings of my home where on the peripheries a slum had grown over the years. I, along with friends, formed ‘Lokmasti’, an enterprise that immersed deeply with the target group on various levels such as alternative education, urban gardening, gift-economy, world cafe. We did this by collaborating with other organizations working in the area and offering full and part time consultancy services.

Currently, I find myself at the other end of the world, weaving threads of my experiences together, studying a Masters’ degree in Globalization (Global Studies Program). I currently also intern at Fundacion Cambio Democratico in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is a substantial civil society network that focuses on getting large global actors together to create space for meaningful dialogue over issues of climate change, sustainability and democracy.

Well, there is the timeless rift between theory and practice and after four years of being in the field I find myself on the other side of the fence. Deeply influenced by the idea of praxis that I was first introduced to at KEF I find myself, in the tradition of Gramsci, Gandhi, Shiva and others, at the beginning of a journey which I hope will end up bridging my calling as a person of letters and as one who feels the responsibility and need to engage in direct action.
“The fellowship was a turning point in my life that allowed me to clarify the direction I should take in my life. Each day working hard providing field support to Headmasters and then reflecting about the same in the evening really churned my life. The outcome was a clearer vision towards my future. Today I am working in my area which is youth, as a Program Director in an organization called Masoom. I am sure that through the training that have I received as a fellow, I can genuinely contribute towards the success of this initiative.”

Pallavi Gandhalikar
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The people and experiences in the fellowship was a real life changer for me. My area of interest had always been working with orphans, and during my last 6 months I was able to research and study that area. I was also given an opportunity to work with organizations and experts dealing with orphans. The entire journey has fortified my inner resolve to accomplish what I set out to do. Through all the support I have received at the fellowship, I have clearly moved in the direction that I can relate to. Today I am working with India Sponsorship Committee’s Vidayapeeth Project that is committed to protecting Child Rights in Pune.”

Mayuri Joshi
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“The experience of Gandhi Fellowship proved to be useful because it has made me capable of making my own decisions. I have also learned the true meaning of working with a team of diversely qualified and capable individuals. It has been a very valuable experience to understand how each individual stands at his/her position in the context of life and the society around. It has made me realise that change is possible with a strategic and constructive approach. It has certainly added a page in the journey of my life and it has given me the right direction to move along the path.”

Kshitij Ramkrishna Patil
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)

“Fellowship brought clarity and conviction towards my life’s goal. My interests lie in creating models of self sustained village so as to control migration happening from villages to cities and to make it an interdependent economy. I have taken a first step to understand youth and learn how to convince others of one’s idea; working with fresh college youth shall give me a perspective of what they want and what I need to do so as to convince them of my idea.”

Atul Kotnala
Gandhi Fellow, Batch 3 (2010-12)