Syrian Refugee Crisis

STTI Club of Delhi Public School, Gachibowli, Hyderabad – Session on October 3, 2015

The refugee crisis presents a massive political, cultural and economic challenge to Europe, and we wanted to understand the situation better. Taking off from the students’ ideas to explore this topic, we started to learn about it. The following video is a good introduction:

We first had a discussion on what citizenship means in two different contexts: to us as Indian citizens, and to refugees who are fleeing from conflicts to other countries with more stable conditions.

What is citizenship?
What is citizenship?

We then split into three different groups to see the issue from three different perspectives:
1. Countries that refugees were fleeing to
2. Countries that refugees were fleeing from and
3. International charitable bodies

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Here are some responses from students after the role-playing exercise:

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Design Thinking with Viraat

One of the projects pursued this year at our DPS, Hyderabad school club was for the Design for Change challenge.

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Design for Change

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To facilitate the design thinking process of Feel – Imagine – Do – Share, we had a session with Viraat Aryabumi, a design enthusiast and techie from CBIT, Osmania University. Students and Moderators alike teamed up to explore prompts and rapidly prototype solutions to get the creative thinking process started.

Some pictures from the inspiring morning at Lamakaan, Hyderabad

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This exercise gave all the participants a lot more clarity on how to define a problem and work towards a solution. The students finalised their Design for Change as this:12108101_978747968833444_2423170102517414686_n

DFC Project

A school-wide forum was created as a solution. It is being used to share books, electronics, and other items amongst a known community.

This project was submitted as an entry for the 2015 Design for Change India challenge.

These were Viraat’s reflections from his role as a Project Mentor:

Design thinking isn’t a set of principles or codes that you strictly follow. It’s a way of living. Many people often mistake design to mean aesthetics. That’s incorrect. Design is functionality – “how it works”. Here “it” could be anything. That’s the beauty of design thinking. You can apply it to any part of your life (if you have an hour or two free, do check out the crash course at the Stanford Design school). 

The aim of the workshop was to introduce the kids to Design thinking as a process that can be applied to any problem that they see in society. We also wanted to help them come up with ideas to participate in the Design For Change competition. It was great fun watching the kids absorb the simple yet powerful thoughts on design. 
The students came up with 4 ideas that they thought were pressing. They followed a process similar to FIDS (feel, imagine, do, share) while coming up with their solutions. They chose a brilliantly simple solution to a problem that everybody identified with, and built a community of people who were willing to share with others the stuff they didn’t need, and take their first steps towards a sharing economy, as opposed to a consumption economy. 

Divided Histories: How can we look at all sides of a story?

Our last session at DPS, moderated by Kabir David, was themed around the question of our divided histories. It was inspired by the work of Chintan Girish Modi from Friendships across Borders, Kirthi Jayakumar’s The Red Elephant Foundation, and The History Project.

The History Project researches history textbooks, and places narratives of a trans-national, shared history side by side, to highlight the commonality of our past, and the contrast in its perception. We introduce questions to highlight embedded biases and activities geared towards understanding competing perspectives. Lastly, we supplement our materials with illustrations to make it more engaging for our readership.”

The History Project – Promo from Qasim Aslam on Vimeo.

Following this session, one student writer Vishwambhar Anand penned down this story, capturing poignantly the essence of divided histories:

There were two friends, Vikram and Aziz, who studied in the same school and lived in the same apartment. Every day after school, they walked home together. One day something happened on their way home from school, and the boys recount the tale to their respective parents.

Vikram tells his parents this: “On my home from school, I saw a brave man who fought off a crazy dog. If it had been me, I would have run away, but this man picked up a stick and fought back, till the rabid dog ran away. The dog must have learnt not to attack humans anymore thanks to that man.”

That must indeed have been a brave man, but let us look at what Aziz has to say to his parents.

“While walking back home, I saw a cruel man beating up a poor dog with a big stick. I wanted to stop him but he was very big and so I just walked away. I am going to exercise and become big and strong so that I can stop people like him from being so cruel.”

So, you have heard two people talking about the same incident, which one of them is telling the truth?

It’s a tricky question, the answer is – both of them. Vikram told his parents what he thought about what was happening and Aziz told his parents about his views. What actually happened we may never know.

But, now Aziz’s parents believe in the cruel man who beats animals and Vikram’s parents believe in the brave man who fought of the rabid beast, just because this is what they have heard.

No Country for Women: A Workshop at DPS, Hyderabad

Members of the STTI Club at DPS, Hyderabad took part in a provocative invitation to think about gender roles and gender policing by the brilliant Bhamini Lakshminarayan of No Country For Women. They observed the phenomenon through the lens of gender-discrimination and questioned its roots and rules over the course of a two-day workshop. 

Here is a reflection of the workshop by Sanjana Manusanipalli, a Class 10 student and club leader:

“About two weeks ago, No Country For Women (NCFW) hosted a workshop in Delhi Public School Hyderabad through STTI. No Country For Woman is an organization which aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination. Ms. Bhamini Lakshminarayan talked students from classes 9 to 12 addressing the issues faced by women in our society. She enlightened us about how trivial phrases we use in day to day life can be viewed as sexist comments. She talked about everything related to the issue — from how media and movies view women, to how boys are also affected by gender based discrimination. She also discussed rape, its causes, how it is portrayed and how it can be stopped.

During the second session a week later, many of the students voiced their opinions as well. They had an opportunity to express their views with group presentations. After these sessions, the students are now more aware about the problems that people face as a result of gender based discrimination and will hopefully play a role in combating them.”

New chapter at Symbiosis Institute of Technology, Pune

With much excitement we present to you the newest STTI chapter at Symbiosis University, Pune!

The session kicked off with a discussion on sanitation in India, followed by a demo presentation. As members took part in their very first‪#‎SymbiBaatCheet‬, we re-asserted our belief in the value of questioning and of discussion. Because this is where change truly starts — in our conversations, our analyses, and in our perceptions.

Nero’s Guests: A screening and discussion on the agrarian crisis

“Who were Nero’s guests? What sort of a mindset did it require for you to pop one more fig into your mouth as another human being burst into flames? What sort of mindset did it require for you to drop those grapes into your jaws as another pathetic person on a stake burned to provide you illumination?

These were the sensitive elite of Rome. These were the poets, the singers, the musicians, the artists, the historians, the intelligentsia. How many of them raised a protest? How many of them put up their hands to say, this is wrong and this should not happen and cannot continue? To the best of our knowledge … nobody did that. For me, I always wondered, who were Nero’s guests? After five and a half years of covering farmer’s suicides, I think I have my answer. I think you have the answer.

I tell you this — We can differ on how to solve this problem. We can differ on even our analysis of the problem. But maybe we can make one starting point. We can all agree that we will not be Nero’s guests.”
~ P. Sainath

Watch the documentary here:

The first STTI School Club at Delhi Public School, Hyderabad

We are extremely excited to announce the launch of our first school chapter at Delhi Public School, Hyderabad at their Gachibowli campus.

I am deeply humbled and stimulated with the interaction with students at Delhi Public School where the first chapter of STTI (Student Think Tank for India) was launched 2 weeks ago. The students are intelligent, thoughtful and concerned about the larger issues of society.
https://www.facebook.com/StudentThinkTankForIndia
I wish STTI all the best and I am certain these young people will build a new India in which all children will fulfill their potential and there will be no unnecessary suffering.

Dr. JP launching the first STTI School Club at DPS, Hyderabad.
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan launching the first STTI School Club at DPS, Hyderabad.

Posted by Jayaprakash Narayan on Wednesday, August 27, 2014

After addressing all the senior students of DPS, he had an engaging conversation with some of the students regarding pressing social, political and economic issues. With his wishes and the enthusiasm of over a thousand students, we are excited to have kicked off our an effort to promote a culture of measured deliberation and social involvement in Indian schools.

Powering India: Energy subsidies and their consequences

Based on a recent group discussion, the STTI Chapter at Purdue explored the issue of fuel subsidies in India, and its long-term systemic consequences.

Energy subsidies have wide-ranging economic consequences. While aimed at protecting consumers, subsidies aggravate fiscal imbalances, crowd-out priority public spending, and depress private investment, including in the energy sector. Subsidies also distort resource allocation by encouraging excessive energy consumption, artificially promoting capital-intensive industries, reducing incentives for investment in renewable energy, and accelerating the depletion of natural resources. Most subsidy benefits are captured by higher-income households, reinforcing inequality. Even future generations are affected through the damaging effects of increased energy consumption on global warming.

Energy-subsidies in India
The long-term effects of fuel subsidies in India are graver than we realise.

 

Domestic Violence: Why, how, and its related laws

Beyond the final crime: what are the structural causes of domestic violence in India? A group discussion at the STTI Chapter at Purdue University.

According to a UNICEF study, nearly 3 out of every 5 male teens in India think wife beating is justified.

The typical dodge that we tend to use on hearing such appalling numbers is to say that the “cultural elite” are disconnected from the evil ways of some distant segment of our population who cause these disturbing figures. But based on observations from our own lives we realized that if we really open our eyes, India’s “cultural elite” (aka you and me) are definitely guilty of propagating troubling misogynistic attitudes.
In this context we discussed, a survey by the United Nations Population Fund, that revealed that two-thirds of married Indian women claimed to have been beaten, or forced into sex by their husbands. We unanimously emphasized that every women should have the liberty to just say NO! and have her rights protected. We discussed the realities of the sex trade industry in India that is completely based on the exploitation and oppression of women.
Through the course of the discussion we also analyzed the concern that the patriarchy in our society is so phenomenally powerful and pervasive that a lot of the times women do not even realize that they are being pushed into adopting stances that compromise their dignity and liberty. The fact that in the same UNICEF study, 53 percent of GIRL teens think wife beating is justified illustrates this point.

As a further exploration, we have created this infographic on Marital Rape:

Marital rape_Infographic

References: 

Section 375, Indian Penal Code, 1860:http://www.indiankanoon.org/doc/623254/
Women Cruelty Statistic: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Men-can-still-rape-their-wives…

Hindu Marriage Act:
http://blogs.wsj.com/…/why-india-allows-men-to-rape-their-…/
Women burnt or beaten to death reference: http://www.indialawjournal.com/…/i…/article_by_priyanka.html