Friday, 21 November 2014

Podar Summit '14

Let’s get Syria-s, right away.
The delegates at the Podar Summit 2014 stepped out of their (mun)dane closet of sweatshirts and skinny jeans and into perfectly tailored outfits making everyone proud. The Summit shifted between nebulous intellectualism and common-gossip mongering, and we are here to spill it all for you to consider.

The Podar Summit consisted of committees that have been the cornerstones of the United Nations. The  UNSC (Security Council), UNHRC (Human Rights Council), DISEC (Disarmament and International Security) and ECOSOC ( Economic and Social Council) boasted their intellectual and stimulating discussions peppered with wit and humour. Podar Summit put us on a time machine back to the 1930's. Taking us back to the times of the infant steps in International diplomacy: with a large-looming world war, the delegates altered history for a better future, something we are very good at doing at Podar.
Our very own Bir Ma’am, with her ravishing smile, highlighted that the conclave is the true essence of education come alive. Priyanka Chaturvedi, keynote speaker, gave the delegates the perfect metaphorical shot of caffeine they needed. She beautifully portrayed diplomacy as a give-and-take relationship and that the spirit of the United Nations was to take all voices into consideration.

With bright-eyed delegates, flying mentoses and powerful opinions, Podar Summit sailed towards an invigorating and highly productive weekend. The level of debate, the working papers and the resolutions aptly conveyed what Podar Summit was all about. Three eventful days of debating averted the World War 2 and solved the Great Depression (well, yes!), got delegates working and passing full-proof resolutions.
The timing of the Podar Summit could not have been better. As our PM made a historic speech at the UN General Assembly, Podar students, in their own humble yet assertive way, debated. They voiced out their opinions because they understood the power of speech. They knew how a Podar Summit pad, a country placard, a Redbull and a strong opinion could change the world. Like, solving the Great Depression and the Manchurian Crises.

It was hard to settle back into our normal world after those three days but yes, we surely experienced something which is going to stay embedded in us for a very long time. And who knows, we might save the world in the coming future just as we did in the past?
All in all, a mun-tastic experience.

‘A sprinkle of debate, dash of diplomacy and a taste of world power.’ That’s what it was. Period

The Theatre Workshop: A refreshingly unique experience

Drama is considered to be the art of mastering the artificial… however the deeper one delves the more one realizes that it is anything but.
The theatre workshop conducted by the school did indeed excite us all inducing eager anticipation right from the moment of its announcement. It is not often, though, that this excitement is sustained till the very end, although that’s exactly the feat that this session had achieved… an experience indelibly etched into all of our minds.
Conducted by an expert in his field of drama,acting coach Shaun Williams, the workshop was not just an invigorating and an immensely enjoyable experience but also thoroughly productive in developing inherent skills in each one of us. A master of many trades; be it the direction of popular advertisements of even acting in them, our coach managed to keep us engaged in a plethora of varied activities fit in the measly period of a few hours which will last for a lifetime. Waking up early on a Saturday morning had never felt better.
Acting is all about comfort. Versatility. Imagination. And that is precisely what we explored through the very effective means of games… the first rule of acting is never to present any circumstance with the advantage of causing one embarrassment.
We started with walking. Slowly changing our pace, our style and imaginary purpose, situation, location and, of course, effective interaction with our counterparts. Evolving our circumstance according to vague directions to reach that specific destination that let us express ourselves most effectively. Acting, indeed, comes not from without, but stems from every pore within.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Beneath the Camouflage.

Guns blazing, adrenaline pumping, protected by a uniform of leaves and grease… isn’t that how we imagine our soldiers due to the image publicized by popular movies?? But just like Sylvester Stallone in ‘Rambo’, not everyone who survives gets the respect they deserve. Some become martyrs and some remember the battles they fought every single time they look at their handicapped limbs. But most importantly, they are forgotten by the people they protected and the country they love. And this injustice is exactly what the students of class 12 D and E wanted to bring to the limelight and change.
So while we sat in the classroom, shooting ideas for possible topics, the reason this suggestion definitely got our attention was because it was unconventional, as not many would dare to think that something worthwhile could be done about it and hence was unique. Once all of us decided that we wanted to follow through with this, with the help of our class teachers and Akanksha Ma’am, we got down to the business of exactly how we go about presenting our definitely avant-garde topic.  
As the discussions began only a few days before “D Day”, we began to realize that unless we actually got the perspective of the people who've experienced the things we've only read about, we wouldn't be able to be able to send out a heartfelt message. So some of us decided to interview ex army and ex navy personnel about the things that proved to us that pride was more than just a feeling and that discipline took a lot more than following a routine. In the 2 days that followed, other than informative placards, 10 minutes of making others reflect upon their actions (or rather the lack of them), countless hours of editing videos by the tech team and hectic preparation, we also spent almost 3 hours debating with our beloved Ajit Sir, asking questions on the true definition of patriotism, that begged us to look into our minds to find something more than electrical impulses, which ergo helped us put forth meaningful questions to the others.
As for the assembly, the presentation was twofold, with class 12 and parts of class 11 basking in the aura of our chief guests, Commodore Homipal Singh and P. K. Mishra, father of our classmate Shashank Mirsha, while class 11 experienced a first-of-its-kind assembly within the classroom itself. The presentation, which began with a play/mime, set to the reverberating recitation of a poem saluting our soldiers and their sacrifices, showcased exactly that in a wonderful manner and was followed by little tidbits of information regarding existing campaigns to stop the injustice retired defense personnel face, job opportunities present and the changes others would want to see in the three tiers of defense forces. Everyone listened in rapt attention (and silence) to everything our chief guests had to say, because it brought up some interesting points about the meaning of war and patriotism, the necessity of peace and discipline and the need to follow orders which helped fuel the avid discussion that followed.
With the help of about 8 questions covering a wide spectrum, from financial to ethical to practical aspects of war and the military, the diverse views and ideologies of young minds were revealed, since so many of them offered a mixture of opinions and raised questions that definitely got everyone’s grey cells firing up, getting ready to contradict or to support another’s point of view. And with our chief guests also joining the conversation from time to time, it really seemed as though the mike was a vital life source, proving exactly why this issue needed to be addressed.
Since the point of our assemblies is not just to present a particular topic, but to do something before and after its completion to keep the ball rolling, we have taken the initiative to write letters to the real stars of our country and invite you to join us in our mission to bring about a small but essential change with the help your own letter; to make sure that our brave hearts know that we truly respect them and are grateful for their service to this country, because showing them we care is truly the need of the hour.  

-          - Ananya Kar and Anushka Gangwal ( XII E )

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

From a cherished initiative to a business concept.

Here at RN Podar, each student is constantly achieving something or the other in various fields. While we have quiz champions, we also have three students who continued an initiative they undertook for their special assembly all the way to a social innovation relay. 

Take a look! 

"We call our trio (Mahima Dev, Aryan Agrawal and Shreya Bansal), Team Alchemist because we believe in good health, growth and sustainability just as the medieval chemists pursuing the elixir of life. Project Samriddi was a cherished initiative we took up as a part of our Special Assembly, Little Experiments of Change. But our attachment to it didn't end at that. We jumped at the opportunity of participating in the HP Social Innovation Relay. And yes, Project Samriddhi it was! We amalgamated our basic concept of Financial Inclusion with an Organic Movement involving the formation of an Organic Producer Company to benefit the Indian farmer. Our school teachers encouraged and supported us all the way. Behind writing all the concept papers, surveys, analysis, presentations, interactions with international mentors there was so much we learnt. And before we knew it we had made the Top 10! I guess, we got lucky. 

Hopefully, it's just the beginning of a long journey"

- Mahima Dev. 

P.S - This team has reached the finals of the Social Innovation Relay. Top 10 teams in the country. See more here -  

Crowning the New Champions

The Landmark Quiz, one of India’s largest open quizzes, is organized annually across various Indian cities since 1992 and is hosted by the well-renowned , No.1 quizmaster of India- Dr. Navin Jayakumar. The Mumbai Round for 2014 was held at Rangsharda Auditorium in Bandra which saw teams from various walks of life competing for the title. With teams from corporate houses, quiz clubs, colleges and other institutions, school teams like ours definitely felt out of the final race standing absolutely no chance in front of such experts. With a thin ray of hope and confidence but with the determination to win big, we made it to the venue at the last moment (courtesy Mumbai traffic) when the Preliminary rounds were just about to commence. While we were just coming to terms with the intense competition we were being subjected to, the Preliminary round was enough to floor the bits of confidence we somehow had managed to save from the nasty pangs of reality. With a projected score of 11 out of a possible 40, we had lost all hope to make it to the Stage finals. With exit on our minds, we had almost packed our stuff by the time the results were to be announced. But destiny’s script had our roles extended even after the interval, as in the most unexpected turn of events, we had not only managed to make it to the stage rounds, but had also scored the  highest score for the day, which was not 11 though(9). Also, we weren’t competing with the seniors in the finale, but with teams from other schools and colleges! Once on the stage, it was a completely different game altogether. By the third round of the five-round finale, we had achieved a good lead from the other college and school teams. But then again in an unpredictable turn of events, another team managed to break the lead and despite us answering each and every question in the final buzzer round, the finale ended in a close finish with the team from Campion School, Fort winning the title prize by a margin of 5 points while we had to settle for the silver medal. But losing out on the grand prize wasn’t that disheartening, as the journey from a state of no hope to emerging as one of the winners in India’s largest open quiz was more rewarding. And when as a result of your efforts, your school’s name is uttered with respect by the most talented and sharp brains in the room, you know you have achieved something big.

- Aditya Trivedi, Arpit Jain, Hindol Hazra.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

XII-A takes on politics and 'Modi'fied elections!

Amidst the ongoing political drama and Modi Sarkaar slogans, kindled by the need to select a topic for our special assembly, some of us from class 12 A decided to hold an election in the school. The idea was pitched to our own class first, and the excitement spread like forest fire. The idea was simple – 3 parties, 3 leaders, campaigning and voting. For the main assembly, what’s better than a face off among the three party leaders!
Every one of us got into the preparations. Like always, time was an expensive luxury. But we were determined to put up a good show. We divided the class into 4 groups, the three parties - Bhajipav, BAAP, and Cornflakes (I’m sure you can see the pun) and an Election Commission. The excitement at the start was tremendous, but as time passed, we realized that things weren't that easy.

Our goal was to make other students aware of the election process. The EC laid down a code of conduct, which the parties were determined to violate. The debate for the assembly was prepared. Through the process, the leaders realized a great truth - politics isn't easy. Even making false promises isn't easy. The scrutiny by the opposition is indeed tough to handle. Moreover, the media! Media is one huge problem in itself.
As the days passed, the parties got ready for the campaigning. With all sorts of slogans and promises in mind, we set out, with the EC always behind our backs. We were all around the school, in the corridors, in the classes, on the terrace, going to students and begging for votes. The students were bribed with chips, and the teachers with fancy cards! Speeches were narrated in each class, trying to get the most attention from the students. The EC then went around with our high-tech voting machines…smartphones! You do have an app for everything!
The fun ended here. Now was the time to be serious. The final assembly was near, and we had to yet script the debate. This was the crux of the whole idea. This is where we open the students’ eyes to the ongoing issues and debates. The leaders now had to become the actual leaders they were imitating. We researched day and night about our respective parties, following the news and discussing the political issues and views among ourselves, with our parents and teachers. What issues to take? What questions to put forth? The task was difficult. After a lot of input from our teachers, we finalized a script.

Feeling like real, kurta-clad politicians, we took charge of the stage. The debate began and the satires were well received by the active audience. But most intriguing were the students’ responses in the following group discussion. Should we compromise a clean government for a youth government? Are the freebies offered by the political parties to lure the poor into voting justified? There were varying mindsets and opinions on many such questions, which got a chance to be voiced out in the assembly.
On the whole, the experience was a mind opener. The healthy debates among ourselves, discussing political parties, going to the depth of an issue, reading about the allegations and speeches of the leaders was indeed fun. We learnt a lot about the working of the Election Commission. It was a hard time managing 700 students; imagine a country with 400 million voters! What can be a better ending than – Jai Hind!

- XII - A

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Stumbling on Happiness.

The alarm goes off. She lazes around in her warm blanket and slowly opens her eyes as the sun peeks through the orange curtain. She casts a casual glance at the clock and her lips curl into a smile. She does her daily giant morning stretch accompanied by stupid noises. It cracks her up. She bounces out of bed and catches faint fumes of her mom cooking some delectable food. She smiles and gets ready for the day.

“Are you sure you don’t want a break from studies?” her mother asks, care and concern well depicted in her face.

“I do, Mumma. I want a break from studies but, not from school” she replies with a sage smile.

She scrambles through her scrambled eggs, and with a cold-coffee moustache and a quick smile to her mom, she’s out of the house. A dull autowallah stands outside her gate. 20 minutes later, she’s where she wants to be. She enters school and looks through the cabin window of her favorite teacher. The teacher’s absence gives her an idea. She hides a small note inside her keyboard shelf, saying, ‘Good Morning! I know you’re smiling seeing this, so please keep that smile on.’ She enters the room, now her workplace for the next three weeks. She feels a bit more mature, more responsible, more I-am-like-an-adult. She looks at her watch and she’s happy she’s before time for the first day of her first internship. Ideas cross-pollinate across the room. There is a certain buzz in the room, right from talking about school infrastructure audits to a student blog.

“I’ll take charge of the student blog” she said. She loved words and getting an opportunity to be surrounded with them infused a sense of invigoration in her. “I’ll come in too” her best friend said. Her best friend was as equally passionate about the language as her. She loved the idea of working with her on the student blog.
They munched on a big bag of imported Cheetos and experienced a giant, neuron-splattering dopamine rush. She felt amazing about working for the school in her holidays rather than clicking selfies or hanging around at Starbucks. It was wonderful how she was at the brainstorming and ideating end rather than the receiving end, they would say to herself. She would speak to the staff about current problems and get a Oh-my-god-you-are-such-a-good-student look in return. She loved that deal. She would pen down problems and come up with effective solutions for them.

She would return home and feel like a 25 year old back from work. She’d pour out a glass of juice for herself. The crackling sound of ice in the tall condensation covered glass always fascinated her. She would jump right in front of the computer and start to work again. She felt like the marketing head of a food giant or the chief manager of a big MNC, a feeling she loved. She felt a shoe size bigger. As she rested her head behind a Comic-Mumbai print cushion, she thought how lucky she was to get this opportunity.

“The internship turned out to be so magical only because I felt the ownership and responsibility shifting to me. I felt like a part of the school in a very different non-student way. My involvement with the school increased at an exponential rate with this internship. It was a beautiful way to get us to real life problem solving. I possibly cannot explain how much I loved this internship and how much I learnt. The only thing I can say is that I really love my school. Really” she said to the camera lens as it recorded the experience of all interns on the last day.

Before she knew it, daily school life beckoned. She loved her school life but she felt bad her first internship was over. She would miss drawing a work plan with deep purple, olive green and electric blue markers. She would miss her daily bite of samosapav with extra green chutney. She would miss playing Mastermind and Taboo in her break. It all seemed like a distant dream. But she came away knowing that she can always look back, and find nothing to fault in those precious few days.
“And that feeling is priceless” she said.

- Arshita Malhotra