Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Date: 15th May 2007

Let me introduce myself. My name is Narayan R. Desai. For 8 years I have been working voluntarily for Mensa India as executive council member, Gifted Child Program. By Profession I am a restoration Ecologist and heading Society for Ecological Restoration-India chapter for 10 years.
Mensa India Pune Chapter is working in Tribal area of Pune district (Maharashtra State, India) for last five years. During that period, Mensa International recognized tests were conducted in Sevadham Tribal Residential School in year 2003. Surprisingly 4 girls scored 98 and 99 percentile score. That means there are qualified as Mensans. Mensa India Pune Chapter which is charitable organization based in Jnana Prabodhini is thinking of conducting Mensa tests for 2000 tribal students from Pune District (Khed, Rajgurnagar, Andra Maval and Junner). Identification of tribal Mensans will be pilot study which will in turn help in nurturing this intelligence in societal benefits.
The mission of the project entitled “Tribal Intelligence & Aptitude: Identification and Nurturing” is to identify talent among tribal children & youth with help of standard testing methods and nurture their talent for their own and community development.

This is to request you that please provide support, guidance and advice to the project. I am looking for help in following areas; (Age Group: 10-15 years, tribals)
1. Children story books and activity books
2. DVD, VCD’s on Nature & Science
3. Educational DVD’s, VCD’s
4. Back issues of National Geography
5. Intelligence Games & Puzzles

Soliciting your cooperation,

Yours truly,
Dr. Narayan R. Desai
Executive Council Member, Gifted Child Program,
Principle Investigator, Tribal Mensa Nurturing Program
Mensa India, Jnana Prabodhini Bhavan,
510 Sadashiv Peth, Pune 411030 India
Ph. No. 091-20-24477691, 24478095
Email: nrd1675@hotmail.com, nrd1675@gmail.com

“The Journey with ASMAE”

New Chemical Reaction is taking place

Introduction with ASMAE -: People always say that there is a network of good people existing in the space. It is a matter of opening your receivers and trying to catch those signals from that network. This network does not have boundaries and limitations, it is the fastest network than any existing network which began in 2000, and two modes of this network got directly connected by different servers. The servers were placed distinctly apart from each other, sometimes I wonder how this works! Anjali from Chennai, Devasena from Pune, Pauline from ASMAE France, Dr. Narayan from Mensa India, Dr. S. V. Gore Sevadham Trust made this journey happen.
Here onwards the journey begins ---

Concept formation- Three organizations, ASMAE France, Sevadham Trust, Pune and Mensa India, Pune have one commonality that is care, comparison and concern about human beings and holy Mother Nature.
This common factor has played a role in conceptualizing, crystallizing and compiling the idea of workshop for the tribals. Brainstorming, creativeness and communication skills of representations of their organization formulated the workshop structure and functions.
Innovative and creative ideas of ASMAE volunteers, expression ability of a MENSAN and enthusiasm of Sevadham Trust are the three main points of the triangle. The sides of this triangle are health, education and environment. Keeping this triangular concept, the unique consortium started its journey.

The Consortium -: Responsibility sharing, respect towards each other and recognizing the abilities of each other forms one more triangle which holds three points, that is Mensa, ASMAE, and Sevadham Trust.
The Chemistry -: For effective execution of the concept, the consortium comes up with a chemistry of work. In this chemistry there were two components, reacting with each other with a help of catalyst on a substrate that is TRIBALS and the end product was nurturing their capabilities. This chemical reaction is additive and ever lasting. This reaction started its journey in the year 2001.

First step of the journey-: With triangular concept in mind, the consortium with the help of its chemistry started journey and took its just step not on moon, but in the world of tribal. I think this step carries same significance as the first step on moon. In both this worlds one has to have three C’s Concept, Consortium and Chemistry.

In year 2002 a group of seven ASMAE volunteers more than so Mensans and 80 tribal along with their teachers tool part in this journey. The journey started to know each other, to share with each other and develop with each other. So there was no hierarchy. Singing French and local songs, sharing stories, exchanging ideas, puppet shows, enjoying Indian food, playing on ground, made this journey memorable. In this chemistry of consortium life time bonds were created, which are very difficult to express. I think experiencing and being a part of this bond one can explain to himself how it works. This bond will strengthen the network in some in future and trigger off some other consortium, some other concept and some other chemistry of some other journey.

Second step of the journey -: If only once something is done we call it luck or coincidence. But if we repeat that then surely we can call it a journey. If the concept, consortium and chemistry are accepted then the journey can progress with other travelers. In the year 2003 different French volunteers, more than 25 Mensans of different age groups and new tribal group of 100 students took part in this journey. Repeating earlier year’s activities, religious procession and overnight stay of ASMAE volunteers in the school campus tightened the bond more strongly.

The achievements -: It is said that when Lion starts its journey after covering a distance it turns back and looks behind to evaluate the mileage. When this consortium will turn back and evaluate not mileage but the achievements [mile and stone] surely it will see that it has covered much longer distance than expected.

Concept of teacher training program and execution of the program for one year regularly is one of the outcome of this journey. Tribal teachers from different schools were nurtured and helped to explore their own capabilities. To make them more effective in their teaching this journey is with different concept. Different consortium, and different chemistry, but off shoot of the main journey.

Concept of tribal intelligence, identification and nurturing of the tribal intelligence is the outcome of the main journey. First ever four tribal intelligence girls [Mensans] were identified from Sevadham Tribal School.

I am thinking of a new journey, with a concept that identifying such Tribal intelligence, nurturing them and fostering them for their own community development. For this journey I am requesting ASMAE to be a fellow companion.

Looking forward-:
In a journey one has to look forward and decide milestones and put full efforts to achieve those.
Tribal intelligence nurturing program
Teacher training program for other schools.

ASMAE workshops, are three milestones that one should look for .The journey has just begun like an eagle let’s spread the wings in this beautiful horizon, let’s have the birds’ perspective, and let’s concentrate on the target and dive with help of gravity to achieve the target like a bird. But all these things for tribal, with tribal.

Sacred March

We Started Restoring the Degraded Sacred Groves by Restoring Ancient Rituals & Festivals.
The Students organized Tree March from one Sacred Grove to unother one, taking gift from deity (in form of tree) to unother deity...........Exchange of indigenous plant species from same landscape......

Lets Draw Our Colourful Dreams on Paper

Tribal Students Nurturing Activity with ASMAE, France

Collect Indigenous Plant Seeds

We are Growing in Numbers

Lets Pray for Knowledge

Lets Pray for Good Monsoon Rain

Lets Go For Swim

Tribal Mensa Girls & Narayan Desai

I am Sita: Wildflower in Tribal Niche

I am Sita: Wildflower in Tribal Niche
Sita is a religious and mythological name, very common but very much appropriate as far as I am concerned. Well you know Sita as the wife of Rama but another meaning of Sita is a land which is suitable for tilling that is, a cultivable land.

This is my journey, from potential cultivable land to productive, cultivated land. I am going to narrate my experiences to you, how I was identified and nurtured for my capabilities by mentors and psychologists.

I live in the village, Jambhure. I am 10 years old and have a younger sister, Shilpa and brother Harish who study in the village school, which is up to class 4.

There is a river that flows near my village. Even in the hot summer the water is cool and I like to go and sit on the banks of the river with the other girls. There are lots of fields in my village. My Aba’s (father’s) field is right next to the river, so we have enough water. This year I have become as tall as the bajra crop in my father’s field. My field is surrounded by four Peppal (Ficus spp.) trees and one Mango tree. I climb the mango tree in the afternoon and sit there. I like to sit alone and listen to the koyal, (bird) or see the squirrels running up and down the trees.

Last year in the rains, the river overflowed. The buses couldn’t reach up to my village. A lot of work needed to be done on the fields. I went to school a month late. This year they are building a new dam there, so maybe the fields will not have excess water and the bus will come and I will reach school on time.

At home, my aaji (grandmother) tells me a lot of stories. At night I sleep next to her with Harish and Shilpa. Ajoba (grandfather) sits with the other elders all day near the huge banyan tree outside the village. He is always telling us to do ‘the right thing’ and ‘to be a good person’.

After passing class 4 in my village school I came to the Tribal Ashram Shala at Aasane. The teachers from the tribal residential school had come to my village and convinced my parents to send me there. My parents agreed as I would get to stay here free, free food would be given; clothes and books would be free too.

The Ashram school is very far away from my house and any human settlement. So we all go home only during long holidays. My school is surrounded by mountains called Western Ghats which is one of the major biodiversity hotspot of the world, with rare and endemic flora and fauna.
We have an open ground in the centre which is surrounded by classrooms. Unlike in my village, there is only empty land around my school. It looks all green after rains but in summers it is all brown and the ground becomes very hot. When it rains the water makes a rhythmic sound on the tin roofs and sometimes it leaks too.

We sit on mats in the classroom and all the girls sleep in that same room at night. In winters it gets very cold and the wind from the mountains is chilly. The roads here are like the ones in my village bumpy and with stones. Our school has toilets only for girls as they must not go out in the open.
Our Maushi (residential school lady cook) makes good food and when there is something sweet to eat, we know that it is a festival that day. Recently, we have got some computers in school; I have seen them in our office. I don’t know what they are as only children in the 8th, 9th or 10th Std. can use it. Those children also have benches in their classroom. I wonder how it would feel to sit on the bench. It would be easier to write, and especially in the winters it would keep us away from the cold ground.

Only two government buses pass my school everyday Once when the school starts and the other at sun set and of course few vehicles such as Milk collecting van, jeeps where people are sitting on each others lap and private landlord vehicles. My Aba sometimes comes in the jeep to meet me on Sundays. He always brings me some god khau (sweets). I share these sweets with my friends who are in class 7. We sleep together in the same class. Sushma is from my village but Amruta is from Kolewadi and Manisha from Ushire. I have not been to their house as it is too far away.

Sometimes I play with the girls in my class, though they don’t talk about things that interest me. They don’t listen to what I say. I don’t know why? Am I different? Why do my interests differ from others? Aai says I always say things too old for my age and I shouldn’t ask so many questions.
It was April 2007, my examinations were over, and I was eager to go home. I would go home and teach my brother and sister what I had learnt in school that year. I hope Aba would send them to my Ashram Shala after they finished their 4th class like me.

While I was sitting out on the playground of the school, waiting for my Aba to come and take me home, I was looking at the deciduous Palash (Butea monosperma) tree, and suddenly my eyes saw a moving object at a far distance. I saw a white car come winding up the road to the tribal school.
The car approached towards my school and stopped at the place where I was sitting. Three people climbed down the car. I had never seen them before, they looked like government officials, and they had some papers in their hands. They seemed to be coming from the city. I was able to figure it out from their dress and their language. One tai had worn a red color band in her hair. My hair is long and I also like to tie them with a red ribbon.

The visitors appeared tired and thirsty. They could have been traveling a long distance and really appeared cooked up in the hot April summer. They asked me about the principal’s cabin and went straight into the office. Why were they here? School was already over now. I was curious so, I followed them.

They told the principal that they had come from Pune; they were working on a project for Mensa India Pune Chapter. Hmm, so I was right about that. They asked the principal a lot of questions about the number of classes in the school, the number of children in each class, the facilities the school had for us like free textbooks, uniforms, when our exams were, etc.

After they came out they looked around the school and kept writing on their papers.
I asked one of the tai’s, “What are you writing?”
She turned around and asked my name. I told her “Sita” then I asked her who she was.
She said “My name is Sashi and I am a Psychologist”. I am just filling this form, we are noting down some information about your school”.

The form had different blocks and lots of blank space to write. Tai had already written down the name of my school, the address, the name of the principal, information about teachers, transportation available to reach my school and much more.

She then pointed to the other tai and said, “She is Sameena and she is also a Psychologist.”
I also got to know that the third person in their team was Sachin dada and he was the Coordinator for their project. Then I asked them if they work for the school inspector.

They told me, “No, we don’t work for the government. But we work with the government. Like you must know Mr. Kapse, (Project Officer, Ghodegaon) he is giving us guidance for our project.
She said that all three of them were working on a project for children like me who study in Ashram schools around Pune.
“Which other schools?” I asked.
Sameena tai said, “We have been to 15 Tribal Schools like in Malegaon, the school run by Sevadham Trust, Phulwade, Rajpur and have met many children like you. Would you like to do some interesting new things, Sita?”

I smiled and nodded my head. She said that they would be coming back to the school in June after the school had started and would bring with them some interesting games. And if I wanted I could play with them.

Then Sashi tai said, “Sita if you play those games thoughtfully there will be special teachers and special classes for you.”

“How will that be?” I asked.
She said, “We have completed four visits to Tribal schools in Maval, Ambegaon, Khed and Junnar talukas of Pune covering 1,500 Kilometers. From 2000 children who are between 10 to 15 years of age, some would be selected. If you are selected, Sita, you will get to meet all the other children.”
“Would you like that Sita?” asked Sameena tai.
“That would be fun!” I said.

I asked them if they had some new books for us. They said they would get some the next time. I wondered who would give them the books.

They said, “There are a lot of people in the cities who want to provide more resources to children studying at Ashram schools. A person (Mr. Santosh Naik) in Mumbai from Disha Foundation has provided us help to come here and meet you. There are others like Kartik dada who is working in the U.S.A and Viren dada in Muscat. They are working outside the country but are eager to give funds for our project so that we can come here the next time and bring those games for you.”
Sachin dada said, “There are going to be others who want to come and talk to you and teach you new things. And you could meet them once a month.”
“So many people are waiting to meet me! I hope you come in June, I will wait for you. And I will prepare myself for those games”, I exclaimed.

Sachin dada said, “You know the best part about those games is that you don’t have to prepare yourself or study for it like exams (Mensa Testing Requirements). You just need to be attentive and thoughtful to do it.”
Sashi tai was telling Sachin dada how difficult it was to find this school. They kept looking for boards or signs but there weren’t any. I told Sashi tai, “It’s simple to remember my school, you should look for the “S” shaped Neem (Melia spp.) tree, and 10 minutes in the bus after that one can see the Tribal school gate. Did you see it on the way?” She said she hadn’t but she will remember it the next time she comes to my school.

They said they would come back later with a lot of different new things. I wonder what they would bring. Just another set of books that we keep locked in the cupboard or more benches? These people seemed different. They wanted to look inside me, to know me. Shall I let them take a glimpse inside? Even I will have to look inside to see what there is. They seemed to know and understand the thirst inside me.
“The thirst of curiosity, the thirst to know, the desire to free myself, to get out of my own mind!”
Will these people take me there, a journey to tread, a path to be led.
Well if you want to talk to me, please write to me at nd1675@yahoo.com

Sita (Wildflower in Tribal Niche, Looking for Disha, to experience Santosh in My Life)

(Monthly Report, April 2007)
Written by: Sameena Manasawala
The format for Monthly Reports for this project is drawn on the Concept of Sita, a girl from the Tribal school who will experience the nurturing program and narrate it to us as her story. Hope this creative endeavor keeps up your interest in our venture.