Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Including the Right Brain - Breaking Boundaries

Students and the Master
Students and the Master

In a mudra
In a mudra

Salaam Baalak Trust put up a dance show last week. It was out of the ordinary performance compared with performances by children from NGOs, that I have typically seen. The youth at Salaam Baalak (mostly kids who either do not have parents or have parents who dont want the kids) were trained by Astad Deboo in modern dance. The performance was brilliant and quite comparable to professional troops from Europe and Americas!! As Astad himself said on the stage that the students had shown immense persistence, hard work and picked up the 'modern dance vocabulary' in a very short time of 4 months. Astad lives in Mumbai and these youth are a mix of girls and boys spread over various Salaam Baalak homes in Gurgaon and Delhi. So Astad had to come periodically to train these youth. And the outcome is amazing.

So then what is so special here?

Let me begin with what I saw -- there were 20 youth - girls and boys who were dancing on the stage like professionals. The demeanor and whole attitude represented confidence and satisfaction in self -- a clear 'am equal to you' feeling. And this with a short training of 4 months. Some of those youth are now going to get into professional dance units and make a career out of it as well. The earning in this profession starts at what a typical Engineer gets on graduating after 4 years of study.

I am thinking that we have been really working hard to give all left-brain skills to the underprivileged with the assumption that such training will raise their being, make them employable, and move towards equitability with the rest of us. The process is slow, and quite frustrating.

But here it was right brain activity and completely broke all barriers that might have been perceived. It appears that right brained activity is accepted much more readily and creates self-confidence and self-esteem. Of course they are being trained by Astad Deboo -- that does make a difference. But when I start looking at cases where students have taken up right brained activity they have actually been more successful -- whether it is photography, or dance or painting or even puppeteering. Salaam Baalak actually thrives on such.

This is a point I would appreciate inputs on.


  1. Hmmm, now why didn't we think of this earlier? Are we also stuck in our left brain approach to problem solving? Or perhaps stuck in our existing paradigms of our surroundings.

    I am guessing that research reports will suggest that the entertainment industry is booming. Growing number of television and radio channels is an indication, as are the number of films being produced in our country. I don't know if there is a report that tells that these professions are also becoming more respectable and less looked down upon but my bet would be on the fact that this is indeed the case. The other industry that we should watch for is the hospitality industry, though it seems to have paused this year due to the economic conditions. So there is definitely merit in exploring these industries to help solve the employment problem.

    I am not sure if skills required for these industries will be any easier to teach or learn but these industries/vocations should definitely open up new and more avenues. And the goal is to make more people employable, not just in specific 'left-brain' areas.

    Posted on April 27, 2009 8:29 PM

  2. Yes Manish!

    Two years back Shaan (the bollywood and pop singer) performed at the NIIT annual day. He made a statement to the effect that in his early youth he too did an NIIT course thinking of becoming a software engineer -- but then decided otherwise. Surely the otherwise has worked so much better for him.

    Now that you link it at the higher level -- I am thinking even sports industry is really growing fast. And I am not just talking about cricket :-).

    The skills are not easier to teach but the demand is increasing and there is also higher motivation from the students to learn such - which makes it look easier.

    Posted on April 27, 2009 10:40 PM

  3. Motivation will definitely be higher for these industries.

    Posted on April 28, 2009 2:55 AM