Saturday, 14 May 2011

Shambhav - A Cause for Action

By Priyadarshani

The ‘Sambhav’ Movement: Sambhav, as the name implies, is something which ‘is possible’. Over the last six years or so, SAMBHAV has grown to become a major event of inclusive arts in the Indian national capital. It showcases inclusiveness of Indian society and also brings together such efforts by physically and mentally challenged artists in other countries and has established this as an annual event, providing a unique platform. A.L.P.A.N.A. was launched in 2003 as a registered Society and within a short span of its coming into being, it has made significant contribution to its espoused cause.

A.L.P.A.N.A., the name stands for Association for Learning Performing Arts and Normative Action’ one among the few selected organizations which trains specially gifted (Mentally and Physically Challenged) persons in Indian classical and folk dance forms for their holistic development and inclusive growth. The purpose of the above event was to celebrate and show case holistic development and inclusive growth of physically and mentally challenged persons in the society. It is planned to be a unique demonstration of the ‘will to win’ for the Specially Gifted persons irrespective of the region and culture they belong. It is an attempt to establish global synergy for serving this section of society.
Guru Alapna

A.L.P.A.N.A. is led by Guru Alpana Nayak, an accomplished Odissi dancer, who was awarded the ‘Nritya Visharad’ degree in 1980. She is on the panel of Indian Council for Cultural Relation (ICCR), Ministry of External Affairs and she earned the unique distinction of conducting workshops for challenged persons in Japan during her ICCR sponsored tour in 2006. She has performed at Nehru Centre, London in 2000 as a special invitee of ICCR, London. The author of this story had a privilege of attending the event in London. I had a attended While dedicating herself to serve the specially gifted persons, she has been the inspiration and steering force for our organisation’s ceaseless efforts to help the Physically and Mentally Challenged persons to join the mainstream of the society.

The chief guest for this occasion was Shri B.L. Joshi, HE the Governor of Uttar Pradesh and the inaugural session was presided over by Ambassador Suresh K Goel, Director General ICCR. The Chief Guest for the Art Exhibition was Shri Kapil Sibal, Hon’ble Cabinet Minister for Human Resources Development, Government of India and the exhibition was inaugurated in the IIC foyer by Shri Wajahat Habibullah, Former Chief Information Commissioner of India. 
Over the last seven years A.L.P.A.N.A. has organized sixteen performing arts events by specially gifted (mentally and physically challenged) persons at major venues in Delhi. The society presented Sambhav- 006, Sambhav-2007, Sambhav-2008 and Sambhav-2009 events of classical and folk dances by specially gifted persons and these events were timed with the Children’s Day. While Sambhav-2006 and Sambhav-2007 were held at India International Centre and were inaugurated by His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Sambhav-2008 was a South Asian Event with the participation of experts and specially gifted performers from five countries. SAMBHAV-2009 was the fourth event in a row and was conducted as an international event with the participation of ten countries – Nigeria, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar besides Indian states like Nagaland, Chennai, Rajasthan, Orissa and Delhi.
The Performing Art events held at popular venues of New Delhi for two consecutive evenings were major attractions. The Chief Guest for the first evening was Shri Mukul Washnik, Federal Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment while the Chief Guest for the concluding event was Smt. Gurusharan Kaur, wife of Hon’ble Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. Shri Chewang Phunsog, Chairman PESB and Smt. Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary attended the cultural programme as Distinguished Guests.
 A.L.P.A.N.A. hosted an International Event at India International Centre, New Delhi under the umbrella of "Sambhav" for the Physically and Mentally Challenged Persons. The objective of two days event was as follows: a) International Seminar on Inclusive Performing Arts and Dance as Therapy for challenged Persons,
b) International Exhibition of paintings and artifacts made by challenged artists, and (c) International Event of Performances by challenged artists.
Representatives from different countries, working for the Mentally and Physically challenged persons shared their views in the International Seminar held at the Main Auditorium of Indian International Centre. Sambhav received widespread attention of public and participation has increased to 17 countries in 2010 event: USA, Russia, China, Mongolia, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, South Africa, Namibia, Nigeria, Iran, Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Norway, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, India.  Although a deailed report on SAMBHAV 2009 is available at , the summary of the report is as follows:
On the first day of the International Seminar Dr Anupama Singh introduced session one to audience on ‘Shared Experiences on Physically and Mentally Challenged Persons & Inclusive Growth’. Mrs. Leela Venkatraman, a Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee and noted dance critic, chaired the session.
First speaker Ms. Diane Lynn Dupuy, CEO of the Famous People Players (FPP), Canada, deliver the keynote address. She shared her traumatic experienced as a child and from those experiences she found the Famous People Players. She said as a child she was perceived as a slow learner and received failing grades. But it was noting to do with her some sort of disability she was not interested in what was happening in classrooms. She got fed up with the school and ultimately dropped out. She had a very creative mind and began performing with puppets and started entertaining people with her puppet shows and latte formed a company, FPP. She worked with the challenged people who would dress in black and bring a life-size famous person puppet to life. FPP put its first ever performance; they would bring a puppet of Liberace to life and that too before Liberace himself. FPP touched Liberace and he invited the FPP to perform in Las Vegas. The FPP moved on to far greater things like performing at Broadway. Then again they were applauded there.
Next speaker was Dr. Suresh Deman, PhD, Director, Centre for Economics and Policy, London. Dr Deman made a power point presentation to overcome any challenge one might face. He identified two types of disabilities – (i) Natural and (ii) Man made. He highlighted the unfortunate state of the disadvantaged people in India due to lack of anti discrimination laws compared to the western countries. He added that with the work of organizations like ALPANA, India could make a difference. However, we have to develop a new strategy to achieve our goals, e.g., improvement in health status (especially for mentally challenged people) and also getting the NGOs and governmental organizations involved for their help. He then went on identify key strategies for change: (i) giving incentives to companies for having inclusive work force, (ii) educational strategy i.e. making people aware, (iii) need for social activism for change of law, instituting in society moral conduct by creating a culture: ‘stop staring and laughing,’ and ‘they are not one of them but one of us’, and the need for passion rather than compassion. All these were some examples of inclusive strategies not so much for growth but for human development. Dr. Deman believes that without such actions, no program for helping these people will be successful. He ended his talk with various examples of famous people who overcame disability and also cited the example of Paralympics, initiated by USA, England and Canada, which promotes inclusive sports.

Further session B – E were chaired by Dr. Sarita Sarangi, Member Secretary, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Deaconess Linda Olisa Middleton, CEO of the African Theatre Project in Nigeria, Padmashree Guru Smt. Saroja Vaidyanathan, Prof. N.K. Chaddha, HoD, Dept. of Psychology at the Delhi University, Dr. Manjula Krippendorf, Consultant, Pediatrics and Neurodevelopment practitioner, they are eminent people in their own fields. Many others delegates spoke at these sessions: Mr. Prasong Ongpreechakul of Art for All Foundation, University from Thailand, Mrs. Saha began with Bangladesh, Mr. Vilas Janhve, a Resource Person, Theosophical Society Viklang Vidyalaya, Udaipur, Marie Wijeyeratne, Principal, School for the Deaf, Ratmalana, Colombo, Sri Lanka, Ms. Andrea Lucretia Naidoo, Resource Person, from Agulhas Theatre Works (ATW) in Johannesburg, South Africa, Ms. Seinn Mya Thuzar, Principal, School for the Deaf, Mandalay, Myanmar Mr. Vijay Supekar, Resource Person, Shri Chaitanya Parimal, Ms. Judith Schwartz, Resource person from Famous People Players (FPP) based in Toronto, Canada, Mr. Edwin Nathaniel, resource person from the Rhythmic Interactive Spastic Enablers (R.I.S.E.), Malaysia, Mr. Pema Gyalpo, resource person from Tarayana Foundation, Thimpu, Bhutan, Mr. Gankhuyag Namsrai, Resource person from the Art Council of Mongolia, Ulaan Batar, Mongolia, Ms. Aaliyah Rasheed, a Dhrupad singer from Karachi, Pakistan, Ms. Subarna Chitrakar, Resource person from SUNAGAVA, Kathmandu, Nepal, Mr. Aegosa Rakhman, resource person from YPAC, Jakarta, Indonesia, Deaconess Linda Olisa Middleton, CEO, African Theatre Project, Nigeria, Ms. Maria S. Zhiglova, resource person from, the Psychoneurologic home for disabled citizens – 25, Moscow, Russia, and others.

No comments: