Bluebells Youth Convention

As its Golden Jubilee celebrations are drawing to a close, Bluebells School International hosted a three day Youth Convention this year, in the last week of January.

“Learning to Live Together” was the theme of the convention that brought together students from 8 other schools within Delhi, and 4 schools from outside. The Delhi schools included Springdales School, Pusa Road & Dhaula Kuan, Mater Dei Convent, Delhi Police Public School, Bal Bharati Public School, St. Mary’s School, Ramjas School, Pusa Road and Sun City School in Gurgaon. The outstation schools were represented by Maharani Gayathri Devi, Jaipur, Mallya Aditi International, Bangalore & the Mayo College girls & boys, Ajmer. Two visitors from Pakistan, Mr. Syed and Ms. Faiza Shahrukh added the international element to the convention!

The Tehelka Foundation worked closely with Bluebells School to devise a 3-day programme for the students. Two main themes were chosen as focus areas – Communalism & Peace, and the Right to Information Act. Accordingly, key speakers like Aruna Roy, Teesta Setalvad, Dr. Vikram Soni, Saurabh & Suchi Pande from Josh & the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information respectively, were organized, so that practical experience was shared with the students along with the concepts.

The Convention kicked off with a stimulating talk by Professor Ram Puniyani, a Professor from IIT Mumbai, who is a leading social activist working for secularism today. He stressed on the urgency for communal harmony, integration and the need to work together for a prosperous society.

Swami Agnivesh took the podium next, and spoke about issues that were closest to his heart – of hunger, poverty, child labor, issues of untouchability and the disrespect of women in the society. He also encouraged students to take pledge against dowry, and to promote communal harmony.

The screening of Rakesh Sharma’s film on the Gujarat riots “Final Solutions” was followed by an interaction with lawyer-activist Teesta Setalvad who spoke at length about the Gujarat riots in 2002, the sequence of events actually leading up to the conflagration at Godhra, the role of the law enforcement agencies and where the various legal cases stand today. This was a disturbing session for the students as they realized that even to date, justice has been denied to many of the riot victims.

The next day, Suchi & Aheli, activists the National Campaign on the People’s Right to Information, worked at arming the students with the tool of the Right to Information Act. They explained how the movement has spread in rural Rajasthan, to demand accountability and transparency from the Gram Panchayat, and how this Act is enabling rural poor from different parts of the country, to actually access information kept hidden from them for years!

The afternoon was handed over to Dr. Vikram Soni, eminent physicist & conservationist. He screened a film on how the Delhi ridge is being destroyed and corrupt builders carrying on with their plans, regardless of a stay order from the court and the government. A group of 50 students left for the banks of the River
Yamuna, where Dr. Soni explained at site the import of the flood plains of the Yamuna for the city of Delhi to have constant ground water supply. The construction for the Commonwealth Games Village spells doom for all us Delhiites! The children were very moved by the pollution and the damage being done by construction of Metro rail line. They decided to carry forward Save Yamuna campaign in their respective schools and communities.

The evening also had meditation session by Dilip Shankar where students shared their dreams and aspirations in life.

At the Valedictory ceremony, all the schools presented an Action Plan, as to how they would carry forward the learnings of the Convention. Magsaysay Awardee Aruna Roy, and her collegue Nikhil Dev from the Mazdoor Kisan Shakthi Sangathan shared their experiences on working with the Right to Information Act in Rajasthan, and the process of empowerment it has begun amongst the rural poor. The Convention wrapped up with a brilliant performance by Valentine Shipley, who made students and teachers rock to his music.

All in all, a great beginning, paving the way for similar conventions in the future. The Tehelka Foundation intends to follow up the Action Plans presented by the various schools and keep those fires burning that were lit in these 3 days.

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