Before the New Dawn

Over the past six years, a developmentally growing sensibility has allowed me to increasingly understand and appreciate the essence of VEDH- the concept. From thinking about it as a ‘different, interview based vocational guidance program’ to developing an insight that VEDH is actually a value-based vocational education, that helps the person not just vocationally, but otherwise and as a citizen, too! One thing, however, has been constant throughout this long journey of insights: the realization that staging such a unique program is no easy task. Rather, the word ‘program’ seems too shallow to describe VEDH. I should rephrase: that offering such an ‘experience’ must not be an easy task. This has led me to think about and appreciate the effort that goes on into the process. But never had I imagined that I would someday be able to witness it up close. 

It has only been this past year, that on account of this ‘VEDH Gujgoshti’ blog series, I have had the opportunity to actively witness the year- round festival that VEDH truly is. Be it through my own eyes sometimes, or through the flowing words of our blog writers, I have keenly observed everything that goes on, on the stage and off of it. VEDH- Vocational Education Direction and Harmony, the brainchild of Dr. Anand Nadkarni Sir and a project designed to impart value- based vocational education; has always been ahead of its times. Today, almost thirty years and ninety- eight VEDH experiences later, it still remains one of a kind. With the globe entrapped in a pandemic, the virtual world gained a lot of significance. The virtual began to connect the estranged together for real. Dr. Anand Nadkarni Sir and the VEDH team saw this silver lining and now, VEDH will soon reach out to millions around the world as ‘Global VEDH’! Currently, there are ten VEDH hosting cities: Thane, Ahmednagar, Pune, Kalyan, Latur, Nashik, Parbhani, Pen, Aurangabad and Badlapur. Only the citizens from those cities and around could attend the event in person. Today, all these cities, have joined hands for one Global VEDH. Their aim: To take VEDH to the doorstep of millions; the movement mustn’t halt- even temporarily. Together, the entire team of Global VEDH as led by Dr. Nadkarni, is trying to reach the remotest districts. It is truly strengthening its roots, while spreading its branches across the wide seas; becoming Global for the Local. Divided by time zones, Dr. Anand Nadkarni and Dr. Jyoti Shirodkar will interview esteemed guests from across different countries and vocations, exploring the universality of the classic ‘VEDH values’. With the achievement of this important milestone just around the corner and the preparations in full swing, I would like to unravel for us all- the process that goes on into crafting this treasure of experiences.

Principally, it would be perfectly apt to say that the “preparation” for VEDH never ends. The preparation, as I see it, is not a line segment. As in, it is not in compartments, each VEDH experience being a different box and each line segment meeting its end the moment that VEDH experience ends. Sure, the arrangements do gain speed as one VEDH experience walks closer to us in the calendar. But the preparation is still more of a line…. flowing endlessly; for in one VEDH hosting city, the other will have found a faculty or the motivation behind a new theme, and some other creative ideas might have sprung in a volunteer’s mind, which finds its way to execution immediately. From the selection of a theme, the faculty, designing the interview, to the actual interview experience, a lot goes on ‘behind the scenes’, as they call it these days. 

Over the years, I have visited Palshikar Sir’s office many times. Mr. Deepak Palshikar, my teacher from tenth standard, my Guru and the keystone in many a students’ support systems is the organizer of Pune VEDH. Upon entering his office, one will see neatly organized stacks and piles of books, magazines, pamphlets, papers…. all screaming “VEDH”. Somewhere in those papers, magazines and books are hidden our future VEDH faculties and themes. Every single time we meet, he tells me about the fascinating work of some personality who he wishes to invite as a VEDH faculty sometime. He will ask me to watch biopics, and lend me books that describe some great work. For him, it is not as narrow as searching for next year’s theme, or faculty. It is all about how he can continue spreading the revolutionary movement that VEDH is, every day. Lord knows every time I was asked what I was up to by him, I have had a different answer. On all those instances, he has been full of stories of successful professionals from that field and the different ways in which I could contribute to that vocation.  Palshikar sir has truly made spreading the VEDH movement his mission for life. Owing to this, Global VEDH has found its six faculty members.

Where the hunt for a faculty member ends, begins the effortful, creative process of designing their interview. From studying their bio data to reading upon and watching all the available material regarding their work out there, our very own Dr. Jyoti Shirodkar does it all. A little about Dr. Shirodkar here; she has designed approximately ninety interviews for VEDH over the past half- decade. For these five years, I have, like an observant child, been watching her conduct the flow of these interviews besides none other than Nadkarni Sir. But in the past year, I have got the opportunity to look past her interviewer’s role into the wonderful person that she is. A woman of her word, she has a strong set of values and adheres to a definite, personal code of conduct, which is set in reason. One of the most respectful persons I have ever met, she has treated me as an equal; and that humbles me. By not willing to preach, she paradoxically makes me want to try and imbibe many qualities that she personifies. Dr. Jyoti Shirodkar madam will be the co- interviewer along with Dr. Anand Nadkarni sir for Global VEDH.

Coming back to the preparatory process, Dr. Shirodkar’s research regarding the faculty’s body of work culminates into a preliminary set of questions. Days before the interview is recorded, Dr. Nadkarni sir along with the Global VEDH team use this set of questions to have a free- flowing, informal first conversation with the faculty. “The first interaction has a fundamental role to play in determining the flow of the interview”, says Dr. Nadkarni. “It helps in three things. Firstly, it helps the faculty truly bond with us. Next, we are able to observe the communication style of the guest. Lastly, the content of the interaction along with their communication style helps us in finalizing the flow of the interview.” On the same lines adds Dr. Shirodkar, “Finalizing the set of questions is not aimed at ‘interviewing’ the faculty, it is not a question and answer session, not a mere interview. It has to be an experience that highlights their thought process and emotions along with their body of work.” As an audience, I can say that Dr. Nadkarni and Dr. Shirodkar help us connect with the faculty members, sketching their personality in our mind’s eye. This holistic, value- driven approach is what makes VEDH- ‘Jeevan ki Paathshaala‘.

Let us now come to the actual recording of the interview. In a candid conversation, Dr. Shirodkar tells me, “Sometimes the interview goes completely like designed on paper, at other times, spontaneity makes it nothing like planned. Either way, it is a rich experience for all of us involved, including the faculty. They always report that the interview has been delightfully unique; that it has been different from the quintessential interview” She goes on to say, “My role is clear. In a musical concert, the musicians have a supporting role to that of the singer. There is but one rule on the stage, the musicians have to adjust the notes of their instruments according to the note of the singer’s voice that day. The instruments cannot overpower the singing.”

While talking about the differences between an on stage VEDH experience and the Global VEDH, Nadkarni sir says, “An on stage VEDH can be compared to a theater performance and Global VEDH to cinema. For Global VEDH, we have the liberty to enjoy our conversation and to let the faculty be, without having to worry about the time. In addition to this, for an on stage VEDH, when will an audio- visual aid be used, has to be marked beforehand. For the Global VEDH however, we edit the photos and other media into the recording later. Spontaneity of the conversation is preserved during the recording process.” 

This brings us to the technical aspect of the process. Technicalities have surely gained priority, considering that media is the most widely used mode of communication during the current times. All of us have enjoyed staying connected to VEDH throughout the year, courtesy- ‘AVAHAN IPH’, the YouTube channel. Team Avahan has taken special efforts to make Global VEDH a rich experience for us. From setting up a studio at Dr. Shirodkar’s home in Pune, to guiding the faculty through the technicalities of the recording process, battling heavy rains to reach the Avahan studio at Thane, it has been there done that. The Global VEDH interviews as taken by Dr. Nadkarni sir and Dr. Shirodkar madam will surely impart wisdom in millions. And the efforts taken by the Avahan team, like, taking care of the sound, light, positioning, editing, and so much more, will not only make the event technically superior but the experience aesthetic.

To conclude metaphorically, the flower is but one part of the tree. It gives the tree its identity, provides the passers- by bliss and solace. But the being of the tree is much greater than that. Similarly, the concept of VEDH as envisioned by Dr. Nadkarni Sir is much greater than the experience we take home and then cherish for the year to come. On the perennial, evergreen tree blossoms a wondrous flower, the medium through which the tree will find its well- deserved glory.

The one giving the flower his Midas touch is none other than Nadkarni sir. It is Sir, who weaves the pearls of the faculty’s thoughts, emotions and work into a string, that is class apart! Without him, one wouldn’t know how to swim in that sea of infinite vocations, let alone get to the oysters. And the string of pearls in question is more like the famous Elizabeth- II necklace- one wears those pearls of wisdom every minute of every day, not just to work.

Oh, you are probably more VEDH years older than I am! Need I tell you what is in store for the world after Global VEDH dawns on us? One thing is for sure…. we don’t need any prophets to tell us that this new dawn shall alight the sky around the globe!

-Ketaki Joshi,
Volunteer,
VEDH.

Use the following links to know more about Global VEDH

First Faculty of Global VEDH: Shree Paradkar |Teaser| https://youtu.be/r8B5HPO1rDQ
Global VEDH Promo 1: https://youtu.be/nB43AHVpnYE
Global VEDH Promo 2: https://youtu.be/tt6QR3xRMlM

Published by VEDH गुजगोष्टी

Vocational Education Direction and Harmony (VEDH) is a now thirty year old project brought to the audiences by the Institute for Psychological Health, Thane. Brainchild of eminent psychiatrist and activist Dr. Anand Nadkarni, VEDH aims at imparting vocational education among students, teachers and parents. Now hosted by over ten cities across Maharashtra, VEDH is looked at as much more than a means for quality vocational education. Its larger function as a community building project has been beautifully encapsulated in its tagline- 'Jeevan ki Paathshaala'! We will soon be hosting the 100th VEDH!! This blog was started with the objective of celebrating this landmark by facilitating an exchange of ideas and experiences about VEDH, from the pens of audiences, students, parents, teachers and faculty members. Come, be a part of the VEDH experience!

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