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CONTENTS Empowering Farmers 4

IN FOCUS: Farmers in the remote Garo-Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya are being trained by IGNOU in scientific agricultural practices and building market linkages

Ready to Serve 8

SPOTLIGHT: IGNOU’s Certificate courses in the tourism and hospitality sector in Madhya Pradesh have helped rural youth receive lucrative offers at top-notch city hotels

GYAN DEEP...................10


NEWS UPDATES............11

MILESTONES ................16


GYAN DARSHAN............16

IGNOU OPEN LETTER is Printed by Printek Grafix, 148-D, Pocket-F, GTB Enclave, Delhi-110093 and Published by Ravi Mohan, Chief Public Relations Officer, Indira Gandhi National Open University, Maidan Garhi. New Delhi 110068. Ph: +91-11-29535924-32; +91-11-29535062-65 Fax: +91-11-29535933; E-mail: Managing Editor: Ravi Mohan Photos: Rajesh Sharma/Amlan Paliwal Advisory Council: Prof P.R. Ramanujam Design and Production: IANS Publishing


FROMTHE VICE CHANCELLOR s an inclusive institution, it is a part of IGNOU’s mandate to reach the unreachable, the underprivileged and the differently-abled. It is for this reason that the University’s educational and vocational programmes are geared to ensure that people at the margins of our society are able to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills required to confidently join the mainstream. Our cover story this month highlights just one of the many ways in which IGNOU fulfills its mandate. Its School of Agriculture has been reaching out to — and helping improve the lives of — the farming community in the North-east, one of the most neglected and under-developed regions of our country. Our efforts are bearing fruit and we are dramatically and visibly making a positive impact on the lives and livelihoods of farmers in the North-east. This, however, is only one of the many initiatives undertaken by the University in the North-east. Few are perhaps aware that IGNOU has a larger presence in the North-eastern region than any other national institution of learning (see map on page 6) and is contributing significantly to the overall, holistic development of the region. Anchoring these initiatives is the Educational Development of North East Region Unit (EDNERU). Initially set up as the North-East Project in 2000, it was given a larger role, more funds and a new name in 2007. It is under EDNERU that the IGNOU Institute for Vocational Education and Training (IIVET) operates in Shillong. IIVET’s main objective is to identify and develop relevant, needbased vocational programmes and train youth so as to enhance their employment opportunities. IGNOU also runs the North East Centre for Research and Development (NECRD), a think-tank to promote research and developmental activities in the region in collaboration with local policy, educational and developmental centres, NGOs, other research organisations, institutes and universities. There are about 40 Ph.D. students on Research and Teaching Assistantships currently working on NECRD projects across the North-east. The Institute for Professional Competency Advancement of Teachers (IPCAT) provides crucial training for untrained teachers of the region as well as continuous training for those in service, through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode using multimedia technology. IGNOU is also playing a key role in promoting indigenous arts and culture in the North-east. In collaboration with the North East Zonal Cultural Centre at Dimapur, Nagaland, IGNOU’s School of Performing and Visual Arts has formulated the Certificate Programme in Indigenous Art Practices that grants certification to several traditional art forms. The University has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Foundation for the Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore, to offer a six-month residential programme to train unemployed youth of the North-east region as ayurveda therapists. This is a project run under the Department of AYUSH of the Government of India. These and several other focused vocational programmes are creating vast opportunities for unemployed youth, and will hopefully steer them towards gainful employment in this troubled yet strategically important region.


V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai


IGNOU’s first ever inter-school quiz an you name the little lamp that shuttled to fame amid chants for peace or a banker who wrote books like ‘Big Money’ and ‘Do Butlers Burgle Banks?’ Or try this one: identify the person who could fix anything from coast to coast... Tough clues? Well, not for these schoolchildren. In arduous yet fun-filled rounds of general knowledge at ‘Ignite 2010,’ the first ever multi-city, inter-school quiz competition presented by IGNOU in New Delhi, Kolkata and Guwahati, schoolchildren proved their mettle by answering these baffling questions. In the New Delhi round of ‘Ignite 2010’ on April 23, the ‘Slumdog Billionaires’ team of Anshul Kharbanda and Prateek Vijayavargia from New Era Public School won the first prize while ‘Village Idiots’ Apratim Mukhopadhyay and Raghav Gupta from Delhi Public School (RK Puram branch) were declared Runners-up. The winners were given a trophy for their school, individual trophies, book vouchers and a gift hamper from IGNOU and the runners-up received individual trophies, book vouchers and a gift hamper. Vice Chancellor Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai and Pro-Vice Chancellor Latha Pillai presented the awards. “I was amazed to know that IGNOU caters to nearly 30 lakh students and is


Anshul Kharbanda and Prateek Vijayavargia from New Era Public School won in New Delhi.

Jyotika Mansata and Priyanjali Simon of La Martiniere’s School for Girls won in Kolkata.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Khanapara team of Manas Dadheech and Tameem Salman won the first prize in the Guwahati round.

the world’s largest University. It is a matter of pride to be on the campus here,” said Mukhopadhyay. At the Kolkata round on May 3, Jyotika Mansata and Priyanjali Simon of La Martiniere’s School for Girls emerged winners while Somesh Jha and Salman Qureshi of Apeejay School, Park Street, were declared runners-up. The awards were presented by VC Prof Pillai. In the Guwahati round on May 5, 42 teams from all the leading schools of the city participated in the quiz. The first prize went to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Khanapara team of Manas Dadheech and Tameem Salman while Swagata Sarma and Padmini Baruah of Delhi Public School ended as runners-up. The awards were presented by IGNOU Regional Director Dr Vardhini Bhattacharjee. The quizmaster, Adittya Chauhan Mubayi of Quizcraft, who anchored the event in all three cities, had prepared a challenging mix of questions. The organisers put up an exhibition outside the auditorium and presented a flash presentation that gave the schoolchildren a fair idea about what the University is all about, its unique programmes and future dreams. The University will organise ‘Ignite 2010’ in Mumbai and Bangalore once the school summer break in these cities ends.■

Now, write exams in regional languages GNOU has decided to allow students to give examinations in their own regional languages, Vice Chancellor Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai announced at a press conference in Kolkata on May 3. “The University had been working on a series of new and path-breaking ideas to meet the diverse and often daunting expectations of a large number of learners who cannot afford to acquire education from a conventional university,” Prof Pillai said, adding: “Many of the new programmes are being aligned to the needs of industry.” Prof Pillai said IGNOU was keen to reach out to victims of violence and help


them resurrect their lives through education. It has started a short-term training programme for school head masters of the Sunderban region initially on a pilot basis to develop their skills so that they may serve more effectively. The VC said the placement cell of the University was gearing up to meet the employability demand through planned industry presentations and contact drives, and by working out a system of enhancing communication and personality skills — key need areas for students. IGNOU has also decided to waive programme fees for sex workers. The Kolkata Regional Centre runs a study cen-

VC Prof Pillai showing a brochure and a CD with a flash presentation on IGNOU, at the media meet in Kolkata.

tre at Durbar Mahila Samannya Samiti, an organisation of 65,000 sex workers, to educate them as well as their wards.■


“We never knew that even harmful weeds have economic value attached to them. We need to preserve them now.” — Anjani Momin, a Khasi Hills farmer

Empowering Farmers INFOCUS Farmers in the remote Garo/Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya are being trained by IGNOU in scientific agricultural practices, building market linkages, getting an entrepreneurial edge and earning financial freedom

or 25-year-old Ioolanda Suchiang, a farmer hailing from the remote Garo hills in Meghalaya, the frequent loss of crop and livestock and poor farm yield left him and his family impoverished for months. Clueless about what to do with the sudden changes in rainfall pattern, humidity and temperature variations, and problems such as weeds or what he felt were “valueless” flowers like Orchids and Geranium that were adversely affecting agricultural output, Suchiang thought it would be better if he could get guidance from someone with technical know-how about how to improve farm yields and get him better returns. But the inaccessible terrain made his task difficult. That’s when IGNOU came along. “One sunny morning, there were visitors at my village. The team from IGNOU told us they were going to organise a five-day training



Programme on Soil and Water Conservation Techniques and all were invited to join,” recalls Suchiang. Those five days changed his life, and those of others in his village.

Shun all ignorance Jointly organised by the Centre for Research and Training in Agriculture (ICRTA), the IGNOU Institute of Vocational Education and Training (IIVET), Shillong, and the Meghalaya Rural Development Society-Livelihood Finance Company (MRDS-LIFCOM), the programme targeted community-based organisations such as Self-Help Groups (SHGs), Village Employment Committees and other traditional groups. The training sessions and the questionand-answers sessions with experts were an eyeopener for the villagers from the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills. They were

Farmers from Garo Hills during a field training.

surprised to know that the “harmful” weeds they worried about the most actually had economic value owing to the medicinal/aromatic properties inherent in their composition. Another revelation was that the flowers the farmers considered “wild and valueless” had the potential to bring them out of economic deprivation. Next came field visits, where the farmers were given first-hand information about how they could help conserve the rich biodiversity of this region by growing plants having medicinal and economic value. “I wish others were as lucky as us, to be able to attend such beneficial programmes. The training has been very useful,” says Suchiang. “We never knew that even weeds have economic value attached to them. We need to preserve them now,” adds Anjani Momin, bemused at the startling facts being unraveled before her eyes. Khraw Pyrthah Rani, another participant from Khasi hills, supports Momin’s views. “I hope such programmes can be arranged at the village or cluster level, so that such knowledge is shared with other villagers.” “This is exactly what we are planning

activities to a great extent. to do in the near future. We “The state is deficit in would now go to the village foodgrains by 1.37 lakh tonnes level, with the help from annually to feed a population of 23 SHGs, to impart soil and lakh. This is owing to several water conservation training constraints like the undulating to all the villagers,” says topography, transport and A.S. Guha, Regional communication problems, Director, IIVET. population dispersal pattern, “The Soil and Water “Today, farmers inadequate credit support, poor Conservation for marketing system, etc.,” says Watershed Functionaries’ are selling an official of the state’s Programme helped the Lakadong Department of Agriculture. participants learn Turmeric at IGNOU saw an opportunity modernised methods to Rs. 60/kg with and set up ICRTA in Tripura in conserve soil and water. It also helped them study the help of bank November last year to develop human resources for usage of medicinal plants officials. This is agriculture and agro-based for water conservation, a huge margin industries through ODL in the soil preservation and North-East region. enrichment,” says Guha, compared to who has been working for earlier returns.” Pot of Yellow Gold the farmers’ cause in — Prof Debjani Roy, the region for almost IGNOU soon spotted another OSD, IIVET-Shillong 10 years. opportunity, this time in the The North-Eastern Jaintia hills of Meghalaya that region, comprising eight states, covers is home to a unique variety of turmeric — 7.7 percent of India’s geographical area Lakadong Turmeric. but produces only 1.5 percent of the Grown in the Lakadong area, this country’s foodgrains. variety of turmeric has the highest Since 70 percent of Meghalaya’s curcumin content (7.4 percent) in the population depends on agriculture, world and can be grown commercially on employment and income generation also a large scale. But the farmers there depends on agricultural developmental were unable to increase the yield due to

IGNOU’S NORTH-EAST INITIATIVES The School of Agriculture is actively involved in organising several programmes in the North-East. All these are sponsored by the North-East Project (NEP), IGNOU. Listed here are some of the programmes:  Training Programme on Dairy Farming  Training-cum-Awareness Programme on ValueAdded Products from Fruits and Vegetables  Training Programme on Watershed Management  Training Programme on Pickle and Jam Making  Awareness Programme on Marketing Management of Horticultural Produce in North-Eastern Region  Awareness-cum-Training Programme on Water Harvesting  Awareness-cum-Training Programme on Water Harvesting for Farmers of North Eastern Region  Awareness-cum-Training Programme on Integrated Farming System  Training Programme on Rain Water Harvesting and Watershed Management  Training Programme on Vermicomposting  Training Programme on Aquaculture at ICAR Research Complex for the N-E Region  Regional Training Programme on Extension Methodology for Extension Functionaries in the N-E Region  Awareness Programme on Marketing

Farmers in Jaintia Hills on a field visit.


Management of Horticulture Produce in North Eastern Region Training-cum-Awareness Programme on Watershed Management Training Programme on Technologies in Increasing Milk Production Training Programme on Sericulture Training Programme on Hygienic Meat Production and Processing Training Programme on Poultry Farming Training Programme on Fruit Preservation Training Programme on Production of Value Added Products from Fruits and Vegetables Training Programme on Pig Rearing


IGNOU in the North-East

Regional Centre Programme Study Centres Regular Study Centres Special Study Centres Project Mode Study Centres

ignorance about scientific agricultural practices, lack of market linkages and an entrepreneurial drive. Realising its potential for the global market, IIVET decided to train the farmers, especially women, on how to increase the yield using systematic scientific agricultural practices. “IIVET organised several training Programmes on Production and Postharvest Technology for Lakadong Turmeric farmers in past one year, enhancing their skills and knowledge to improve productivity,” says Prof Debjani Roy, Officer on Special Duty, IIVET. “The

“As part of our future plans, we would go to the village level, with help from SHGs, to impart soil and water conservation training to all the villagers.” —A.S. Guha, Regional Director, IIVET

Meghalaya Cooperative Apex Bank Limited (MCABL) met the farmers and took the responsibility for the formation and registration of the Indigenous Turmeric Growers’ Group (ITGG), opening of bank accounts for the farmers in the Jaintia hills and sanctioning loans of Rs. 20,000 to each farmer,” she adds. According to D.F. War, managing director of MCABL, three ITGGs have already been established and are functioning well. “Several members of the ITGGs have repaid their individual loans of Rs. 20,000 and have asked for fresh loans for double the amount they received last year, expecting that the yield from this year’s crop would even be better. The rest of the ITGG members who have not repaid the entire amount are servicing their loans regularly,” says War. About their learning experience, the farmers said that earlier, they never felt encouraged to grow turmeric because it did not give them good returns. But the training had helped them understand agricultural practices and market needs. “After attending this programme and listening to the experts’ advise, I’m prepared to grow turmeric on a large scale from this year onwards,” says Bhailok Tangs, a Lakadong farmer. In the Indian market, this variety is extensively used in extracting curcumin and manufacturing Turmeric Oleoresin, that is often used for flavouring and colouring in the cosmetics, food and medicine industries. Four farmers from Ri Bhoi district, who attended the training, decided to plant turmeric for the first time and were provided micro-loans. Demmon Pala, a SHG member from Mowkyndeng village, is a living example of the financial liberation the Lakadong

ICRTA: A BEGINNING IGNOU set up the Centre for Research and Training in Agriculture (ICRTA), a national centre for Open and B.S. Hansra. Distance Learning, in Tripura in November last year. The idea was to develop human resources for agriculture and agro-based industries through ODL in the North-Eastern region.  Under the guidance of its Director, Prof B.S. Hansra, ICRTA has organised several

training programmes in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on crops for the farmers in areas like Tura and Champai in Meghalaya last year. It has also organised programmes like cultivation of passion, banana and grape fruits; Programmes on Nutritional Home Garden; and Scientific Agriculture and Honey Production for the farmers in Meghalaya.  IGNOU has started special courses on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in the North-East. The courses include horticulture nursery management, honey production


Farmers during a training session at Tura, Meghalaya. (Right) A farmer learns about how to bait the rats in the fields, in Tripura. and processing, value addition in fruits and vegetables, biofertiliser and bio-pesticides production, livestock production and management, fish production and management,

mushroom production and marketing, production and marketing of turmeric and orchids, pig farming and production and value addition to the famous chillies of the region.

HEALTHTO WEALTH  India accounts for about 80 per cent of

An expert addressing queries on Lakadong Turmeric. (Right) women farmers during a Q&A session with the ICRTA personnel who informed them about scientific agricultural practices.

Development Finance Corporation Ltd. Turmeric has brought to some lives here. (NEDFCL), the total production of Pala is now president of the Laskein Lakadong variety stands at 8,752 tonnes Federation, a group of 16 SHGs actively per year. The Erode Turmeric market, on involved in producing, processing and the other hand, produces around 1.5-1.75 marketing Lakadong Turmeric. “My task is lakh tonnes of turmeric per year. to provide direction to my fellow “The scene is slowly members to work together as a changing now. Today, farmers team,” says Pala. like Empor Tang, Melin Lamare “The IGNOU programmes and Rani Dkhar are selling the have not only given financial variety at Rs. 60 per kg with stability to the farmers, but the help of MCABL. This is a have also helped them huge margin compared to understand agricultural the earlier dismal returns.” practices and market “The initiatives “They have also needs,” says Prof Roy. approached the Khadi “IIVET is constantly are aimed to monitoring interacting, strengthen the and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) to extend motivating and conducting capacity of the them loans of Rs. 25 lakh to awareness programmes on the relevance of the farmers, leading buy the state-of-the-art cultivation of the Lakadong to a sustainable machinery,” informs Prof Roy. Turmeric in relation to the development global economy, since the Tap the future and livelihood indigenous farmers are still “As agricultural education a long way from being self and extension services play generation.” sufficient,” adds Guha. an important role in making —Dr Jayashree Kurup, The problem is put in agriculture an instrument of Deputy Director, perspective when one social and economic EDNERU considers that, till now, the development, the extension, production of Lakadong Turmeric was low education, awareness and research and sold for just Rs. 100 for 100 kg. systems need to be strengthened, Compare this with Erode in Tamil systematised and updated,” says B.S. Nadu, which is the world’s largest Hansra, a Professor at IGNOU’s School of producer and most important trading Agriculture. Hansra, who is also the centre of turmeric in Asia, where, a Director of ICRTA, adds: “IGNOU’s main 100 kg bag of turmeric sells for about objective is to reach the unreached Rs. 14,000. farmers, entrepreneurs, unemployed people According to the North-Eastern and various stakeholders through diverse

world turmeric production, with about 1.5 lakh hectares under cultivation.  In 2009, the industry estimated a total production at 51 lakh tonnes as against 46 lakh tonnes in 2008.  India is also the largest turmeric consumer. Domestic consumption accounts for nearly 93-94 percent of the total production.  India exports turmeric for medicinal and other purposes to developed countries.

modes for sustainable development of agriculture and allied sectors.” “The initiatives are aimed at strengthening and updating the knowledge and capacity of the farming community to adopt environmental-friendly technology leading to sustainable development and livelihood generation,” stresses Dr Jayashree Kurup, Deputy Director, Educational Development of the North East Region Unit (EDNERU). IIVET has now initiated the process of registering the Lakadong Turmeric in the Geographic Indication (GI) list. “This can change the lives of Meghalaya farmers,” says Guha. Rani is happy to know that one day, Lakadong Turmeric may bring global recognition for his village. “We not only want our children to learn scientific agricultural practices, but also wish that one day they become a successful entrepreneurs,” he says, smiling. “Improving the livelihoods in rural areas is central to poverty reduction. These livelihoods are mostly farmingdependent and agricultural extension is still largely based on face-to-face communication and demonstration. Communication technology has a great role in these areas of agricultural extension and sustainable development,” says IGNOU Vice Chancellor Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai. Will the farming community from the ‘Abode of Clouds’ be on the world map soon? IGNOU and its team think so. The farmers of the Garo, Khasi and Jaintia hills firmly believe so.


A class of the Certificate Programme in Housekeeping Operation underway at the IGNOU Regional Centre, Bhopal.

Ready to Serve SPOTLIGHT IGNOU’s Certificate courses in the tourism and hospitality sector in Madhya Pradesh are helping rural youth get lucrative offers at top-notch city hotels and restaurants. Now, other states are queueing up to be a part of the success story


hankar Kajania never thought he would make it so fast, and so good. An arts graduate from Jalaun, a mofussil town in Uttar Pradesh, he came to Bhopal and began his career in the housekeeping department of the city’s prestigious Amer Palace Hotel. Few days into his first job and Kajania realised this was not going to take him to the pinnacle of his chosen career. The key to beat the ordinary, he understood, was to acquire some specialised knowledge in the field of hospitality. That was when he turned to IGNOU. He got himself admission to the University’s six-month Certificate Programme in Housekeeping Operation. The intensive training he underwent — focused on teaching hospitality etiquette and unraveling housekeeping secrets — changed his destiny. Witnessing the sea change in Kajania’s attitude and approach towards


his job, the hotel management decided to promote him to their well-known highway restaurant, Amer Green, with a paycheck nearly doubled! Kajania is not alone. There are several IGNOU students who received lucrative offers after completing the Certificate courses in the tourism and hospitality sector, run in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC). And the buzz has spread to other states too. At the moment, IGNOU is in talks with the tourism boards of three states — Assam, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim — to begin similar tourism courses there. The first batches of students enrolled in three six-month certificate programmes — Front Office Operation, Housekeeping Operation and Food & Beverages Service Operation — attended their valedictory ceremony in Bhopal on January 4.


Learners going through various training sessions. The IGNOU programme covers all aspects of hotel housekeeping, front office and food & beverages operations.

Corporation (MPSTDC) Ltd, is fully aware According to Dr Harkirat Bains, of the potential in the tourism sector. “In Director, School of Tourism and the next few years, the Indian tourism Hospitality Services Management, more industry will require at least 20 lakh that 70 percent of the learners have trained professionals. In IGNOU courses, either got jobs or have set up their even higher-secondary pass students own businesses. “To begin with, we can get enrolled and benefit,” he says. assist students in attaining a basic Agrees Dr Bains: “The knowledge of English — the programmes are designed in foremost requirement in this such a professional way that sector. Then the core training once a learner completes the begins. In the housekeeping course of his choice, he will find programme, we cover all it easy to connect to the aspects of hotel housekeeping mainstream.” operations — department Take the case of Devshri structure, planning, staffing, Khare, who had a Graduate inventory and equipment Degree in Tourism. Why then management, housekeeping “ The Front did she opt for a certificate supplies, laundry room management, cleaning, Office Operation course from IGNOU? “Whatever knowledge I personnel administration, Certificate gained was plain theory. The adminis-trative controls and course has Front Office Operation risk management, etc.,” says Dr Bains. instilled in me Certificate course has The MPTDC helps a much-needed instilled much-needed confidence in me. Now, I find learners get an eight-week, confidence. Now, myself at par with other on-the-job training at hotels that come under its I find myself at professionals,” she stresses. Similar is the story of jurisdiction. The tourism par with other Tripti Ratnoday, a B.Com. board also gives students professionals.” graduate. She is flooded Rs 1,000 as stipend. —Devshri Khare, with offers from some of the The Indian hospitality Learner finest hotels in the country sector is pegged at after completing the Front Rs 10,252 crore, out of Office Operation Programme. “These six which hotels constitute 75 percent of the months have been the best as far as my total market size. The hotel segment is educational journey is concerned,” she projected to double in size by 2018, says notes. Technopak, a retail consultancy firm. And none other than her classmate B.M. Namdeo, chief general manager, Manisha Khale, an M.Com. graduate, can MP State Tourism Development

 19 percent is the growth in employment generation in the hospitality sector (October-January 2009-10)  Rs 10,252 crore is the size of the Indian hospitality sector  75 percent of the total hospitality market size is constituted by hotels  Rs 5,347 crore to be invested in the hospitality sector in next five years  40 international hotel brands to come to India in next two years  4 crore, the number of jobs India will create in the next 10 years in the travel and tourism sector  7.7 percent is the rate at which India’s travel and tourism economy is expected to grow by 2019

THEPROGRAMMES Programmes: Front Office Operation, Housekeeping Operation and Food and Beverages Services Operation Duration: Six-month each Seats: 40 each Fee: From Rs 2,900 to Rs. 10,000 Stipend: Rs 1,000 (during on-the-job training) Admission: Twice a year (No entrance)

understand the true meaning of these words. Having completed the Programme in Food and Beverages Services Operation, she was busy sifting through the offers made to her and, by that time you finish reading this, she might be busy greeting customers, escorting them to their seats and serving them. Narendra Dubey has got a break with Palash Residency in Bhopal. He is happy that he will be able to send some money back home and take care of his aging parents. “The IGNOU course has done wonders for students like me. I must thank the University for giving students from the rural background an opportunity to work with the crème de la crème of the society,” Dubey says. For Kajaria, the journey to the top has just begun. Next on his menu: to get a break with a five-star hotel. The dream just got bigger.■



‘Harmony still alive in your country’ e arrived, he laughed and he conquered. At IGNOU, on April 16, as he delivered the 3rd Mother Teresa Memorial Lecture to mark the Mother’s 100th Birth Anniversary, IGNOU students, faculty, administrative staff and many enthusiastic outsiders got to see for themselves what keeps His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, so motivated, so driven and so healthy at this age. Describing Mother Teresa’s spirit of service to the people, he commented that one compassionate individual could bring about change to the society. Even after her demise, that spirit was still alive in Kolkata. Speaking about tolerance and harmony, he said India had a rich tradition of multiculturalism. “Your country has had different philosophies. For example, Charvaka said there was no God. Now these are completely different views. You can criticise the person, but respect him. All traditions have the same potential, to bring about inner strength… Therefore in your country, harmony is still alive.” He was firm about taking religion seriously, because of its ability to give one inner values and strength. But he was quick to add, “It should not be just a few Shlokas.” Advocating a combination of modern knowledge and old traditions, he said: “When I develop a dialogue with scientists, people say that it’s Western science that is the killer of religion. No,


The Dalai Lama delivering the Third Mother Teresa Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on April 16.

Western science is also seeking the Truth.” He noted that the Buddha had made it clear, ‘Do not follow my teachings out of devotion but through investigation’. The lecture was followed by a lively Q&A session, with questions ranging from conflict-resolution in a multi-faith world to his palace memories. The key to living harmoniously in a multi-faith world, said His Holiness, was “Faith in your own religion, respect to all religions.” The event is organised each year since 2008 by the CBCI Chair of IGNOU, with the aim of creating awareness on issues of

national and international interest. The First Annual Mother Teresa Memorial Lecture had been delivered in 2008 by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, and the Second Lecture by Navin Chawla. This year, the other eminent speakers who addressed the gathering were Dominic Jala, Archbishop, Shillong, Sister Marina, Principal, Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi, Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, ViceChancellor, IGNOU, and Prof Gracious Thomas, Director, School of Social Work. A film on Mother Teresa was shown on the occasion.■

Respect the ‘Other’, shun prejudices: Das ctor-activist Nandita Das feels she can become the “voice” of common women in India because of her female identity. Das was delivering a lecture on ‘Identity and the Notion of the ‘Other’’ as part of IGNOU’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. Das explored the prejudices and identities around the ‘other’ in terms of gender, religion and nationality during the lecture. “In India, the question of identity becomes even more complex because of the vast diversity of groups that one belongs to. This political exploitation of identities is dangerous not only because it suppresses multiple identities and creates an artificial homogenous ‘group



Nandita Das at the IGNOU campus.

identity’ but also because it thrives on demonising the ‘other’. If we learn more about the ‘other’, we would be less prejudiced and evoke more empathy,” she

said. Das said she had been asked several times how she felt to be a female director in a male-dominated arena. “Just as there is a male gaze, there must be a female gaze, but it’s an inherent quality and not a deliberate attempt,” she noted. While talking on the ‘other’ identity that largely remains a hush-hush affair in India, Das shared her experience while working in Fire. “The debate over Fire raised many questions: who are the custodians of Indian culture? Can a work of art that reflects reality be subjected to unconstitutional censorship? Is freedom of expression not a human right? My pursuit of answers to such questions has been an interesting journey,” she said.■


IGNOU forays into the wellness segment GNOU has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the VLCC Institute of Beauty, Health and Management to launch vocational training courses in nutrition and cosmetology. According to the MoU, signed in New Delhi on May 3, the institute will offer a one-year Diploma Programme in Nutrition and Health Education (DNHE) and a six-month Certificate Programme in Cosmetology (CICOS), Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof D.N. Choudhry said. “The wellness market is estimated to be around Rs. 11,000 crore and is growing at the rate of 35 percent, leading to a high demand-supply gap of health and beauty professional in this segment,” said VLCC business head Narinder Kumar, who signed the MoU with the University’s Registrar Uday Singh Tolia. “Vocational courses like these will train students more practically and contribute to the wellness market which faces shortage of skilled professionals,” he added.


VLCC business head Narinder Kumar with Pro-VC Prof D.N. Choudhry with the MoU.

According to VLCC operations head Monica Bahl, the fee for both the courses will be Rs. 45,000 and can be paid by students on a tri-semester basis — divided into installments paid once every three months. “Students who opt for the DNHE course will have an additional three-month

internship programme at the nearest VLCC centre. The cosmetology course will give in-depth knowledge on skin, hair and make-up technicalities,” Bahl added. For the Certificate Programme in Cosmetology, VLCC will conduct the programme in face–to-face mode at the VLCC campus.■

Different themes win at disability film fest ncouraging braille music, not giving up despite losing both limbs, a cerebral palsy patient eager to live life — films dealing with such subjects were the prize winners at the 7th International ‘We Care Film Festival on Disability Issues 2010’ at the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre in New Delhi on May 3. The festival was co-organised by IGNOU, the Brotherhood, an NGO, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the National Trust, the Asian Academy of Film and Television (AAFT), Sparsh and Mother’s Pride.



Satish Kumar, the festival director, at the ‘We Care Film Festival’ in New Delhi.

The awards were given by Mukul Wasnik, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. “Films can be a powerful tool to sensitise general public... these films do away with the confusion and prejudices in the mind,” said Satish Kapoor, the festival director. Films like ‘Inclusive Education’, ‘Feel The Music’ about encouraging braille music and ‘Ruk Jana Nahin’ about a differently-abled psychologist won in the One-Minute section. While films like ‘Waiting For You’ ‘Saksham Lok’ and ‘Virtue’ won in the Five-Minute section, in the 30 and 60-Minute sections, foreign films walked away with the honours.■

IGNOU, in collaboration with the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC), has introduced a specialised Degree Programme in 3D Animation and Visual Effects. IGNOU OPEN LETTER | MAY 15, 2010 11


Army men receive Associate Degrees total of 308 Personnel Below Officers’ Rank (PBOR) of the Indian Army were awarded Associate Degrees, Diplomas and Certificates by IGNOU in different courses of telecommunications and computers, at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) headquarters in New Delhi on April 21. The PBORs were from the Army’s Corps of Signals in Jabalpur. The ceremonial function took place under project Gyan Deep, the IGNOUArmy Community College scheme launched last year. “The aim of the project is to confer educational certification to PBORs by according recognition to in-service training carried out by individuals during the span of their service career,” an Army spokesman said. “We want to empower all PBORs by arming them with a Diploma and Degree so as to facilitate a second career, post-retirement. This programme has the potential to transform the post-retirement life of soldiers by equipping them with a formal qualification and preparing them for competitive job avenues,” he added.■


(Photo Right) VC Prof Rajasekharan Pillai lighting the traditional lamp to inaugurate the Convocation Ceremony in New Delhi on April 21. Others, from left, are Lt. Gen. Mukesh Sabharwal and Lt. Gen. V.K. Chaturvedi. (Photo Below) VC Prof Pillai handing over a degree to an Army jawan.

Army Personnel Below Officers’ Rank at the Convocation Ceremony.

(Photo Above) Lt. Gen. Mukesh Sabharwal meets with Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Latha Pillai at the Ceremony.



‘Elitisation’ harms inclusive growth hen higher education is left to the market forces, it results in ‘elitisation’ of a basic need; it puts higher education firmly out of the reach of the millions of underprivileged of our country who dream of going to university one day. The idea of inclusiveness of education should not be forgotten while aiming for a higher Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), said K. Sankaranarayanan, Maharashtra Governor while delivering the Silver Jubilee Lecture titled ‘Inclusive Education and Sustainable Growth’ at the IGNOU campus in New Delhi on May 4. “Churning out degree holders with little or no employable skills will create an army of unemployed youth in the country, leading to a host of socio-economic problems with wider consequences.” “On the other hand, vocational education, skill-based training should become an integral part of our higher education strategy. Market-oriented reforms to rejuvenate the higher education sector without adequate safeguards for the underprivileged could


“Inclusive education must include marginalised sections of society, particulary Dalits, tribals and women.” Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan delivering the Silver Jubilee Lecture in New Delhi.

further create an imbalance of inclusiveness,” the Maharashtra Governor told the audience. “We need to tread the path of such reforms with caution and, at the same time, infuse an element of vibrancy and dynamism in the public higher education system”, he added.

“The open universities have helped bridge the demand-supply gap. I am happy that IGNOU has been the torchbearer in providing convenient and affordable higher education to millions who could not get access to traditional university education for one reason or the other,” the Governor remarked.■

Learn French in Hindi, using ODL mode GNOU, in collaboration with the French Embassy, has launched a unique programme where you can learn French in your national language using the distance education mode. The programme will help students in far-flung areas who are either weak in English or can’t come to the cities to join classes at Frenchlearning centres like Alliances Françaises (AF), a non-profit organisation that runs centres in 133 countries. The Embassy has placed a French language tutor at IGNOU for a year, who will assist in the programme. In addition,



French Ambassador Jerôme Bonnafont launching the Programme in New Delhi.

the Embassy, with help from AF, has facilitated the University with online French-learning manuals. The programme was launched by Ambassador of France, Jerôme Bonnafont, and Vice Chancellor Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, at the French Embassy in New Delhi on April 30. The Embassy also awarded three French teachers with “Ordre des Palmes Académiques” (Order of Academic Palms) for their valuable contribution in promoting French language among Indian students.■

IGNOU Saudi Arabia organised its fourth convocation at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh. Forty-eight students received Degrees from the Chief Guest, Indian Ambassador Talmiz Ahmad. IGNOU OPEN LETTER | MAY 15, 2010 13


‘Preserve water, biodiversity first’ f we are talking about food security, we must look at the physical, social and economic access to a balanced diet, which includes micro-nutrients, vitamins, clean drinking water and primary health care. “The accepted method for calculating the number of people living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) is how many kilocalories of food such a person is able to consume. However, this method is being questioned now. Experts feel that data on housing, education should also be included,” said noted agricultural scientist Prof M.S. Swaminathan. An Honorary Chair for Sustainable Development at IGNOU, Prof Swaminathan was speaking at the launch of his book, titled ‘Science and Sustainable Food Security’, during a book-release function organised by the IGNOU Chair for Sustainable Development at its campus in New Delhi on April 21. Prof Swaminathan also announced the launch of eight new programmes under the Chair for Sustainable Development at the event. The new programmes will cover areas like Sustainability Science, Climate Change, Population and Sustainable Development, Biodiversity, Wetland Management, Sustainable Management


Prof M.S. Swaminathan delivering a lecture during the launch of his book, in New Delhi.

of the River Ganges, Himalayan Ecosystem and Sustainability Audit. “We can’t even think of sustainable development without preserving our water, climate and biodiversity. Scientists have a great role to play here, especially in the use of appropriate technology for enhancing the environment,” he said. “The country needs to focus on nutrition, food security and education,

the rest of the things will automatically fall into place. This was the rationale for starting the Chair for Sustainable Development in 2007,” said Vice Chancellor Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai. Dedicated to Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, the World Food Prize Founder and 1970 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the book gives a roadmap for achieving sustainable agricultural and food security.■

NEWSSCAN Admission date extended he last date for submitting applications for admissions to programmes in IGNOU’s July 2010 session has been extended beyond May 31. The applications will now be accepted with a late fee of Rs. 200 till June 15. Earlier, the last date for submission of applications for admissions to IGNOU was April 30, and with late fee, it was May 31. Students awaiting Class 10th and 12th results can also apply, subject to fulfilment of eligibility criteria. An electronic version of the prospectus is available at Application forms can also be submitted online through the University website, except for programmes that require an entrance test.■



Five new law programmes Corporate Governance he School of Law (SOL) has launched five new Programmes in Law, beginning this academic session. The programmes are: PG Diploma in Environmental Law with WWF, India; PG Diploma in Criminal Justice; Certificate in International Humanitarian Law with International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC); Certificate in Anti-Human Trafficking, in collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes and (UNODC); and Certificate in Cooperation, Cooperative Law and Business Laws. The last date for submission of applications is June 30. For prospectus and other details, see For information on PG Diploma in Environment Law, visit■


GNOU, in collaboration with the Institute of Corporate Secretaries of India (ICSI), is offering a Post-Graduate Programme in Corporate Governance (PGDICG) from the July 2010 session. The programme focuses on regulatory requirements and framework of corporate governance, providing opportunities of work for the corporate sector. Eligibility for the programme is a Bachelor’s degree with five years of relevant experience. The prospectus and application forms can be downloaded from These are also available at the IGNOU headquarters, as well as at the Regional Centres. The last date for submission of application forms, without any late fee, is May 31.■




Kochi RC gets a facelift hat an open university means just a correspondence institute is now an old conception. Of late, the definition of an Open University has changed to one that is open to ideas, strategies and people. “Distance education is just one of the tools employed in the University,” said Vice Chancellor Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai at the inauguration of the second phase of the building complex of the IGNOU Regional Centre at Kaloor, Kochi. The Chief Guest at the event, K.V. Thomas, Union Minister of State for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, said that even though our nation has advanced much in terms of education when compared to others, this has not actually


reflected in the overall development of the country. The existing building of IGNOU at Kaloor was constructed in 2002. The expanded structure houses two additional floors. A Gyan Vani FM station, a library, computer laboratory, Edusat-teaching studio, research faculty block, seminar halls and class rooms will function from the renovated building. Among others who present were Dr Latha Pillai, Pro Vice-Chancellor; Dominic Presentation, MLA; C.G. Krishnadas Nair, managing director, Cochin International Airport Limited; A. Aundeeswaran, superintending engineer, CPWD; and K.S.D. Nair, Regional Director, Kochi.■

The renovated and expanded building of the Kochi Regional Centre at Kaloor.

SOA stall second at Pusa Mela he Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, recently organised ‘Pusa Krishi Vigyan Mela 2010’ at Pusa Institute in New Delhi. The theme was ‘Agricultural Technologies for National Prosperity’. IGNOU’s School of



Agriculture (SOA) participated in the exhibition and displayed activities and programmes being offered. The SOA stall was adjudged second in the public sector category. Prof. B.S. Hansra was the Guest of Honour at the event.

Kochi RC and the Rajagiri Educational & Charitable Trust have launched 2 specialised M.Tech. courses in Embedded Systems Design and Information Security System from this year.

VC Prof Pillai hands over a Certificate of Commendation to Himanshu Kumar.

IGNOU learner clears IAS o join the ranks of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS), what you need to do is to put in the right kind of effort and set goals for such big league examinations right from the beginning, says 24-year-old Himanshu Kumar. A second-year student of the M.A. Programme in Public Administration at IGNOU, Himanshu has cleared the Civil Services Examination 2009. Ranked 141 in the merit list, Himanshu salutes IGNOU for its enriching and enlightening learning process. “I have benefited immensely from the book authored by the team of scholars at IGNOU and I express my sincerest gratitude to their efforts,” he says. Himanshu, 24, did his schooling from the Sainik School in Goalpara, Assam, and Delhi Public School (DPS) R.K. Puram, New Delhi, before pursuing a B.A. in Journalism from Delhi University. “I wish all the best to the IAS aspirants who are enrolled in various IGNOU Programmes,” says Himanshu. In 2008, two railway employees, both IGNOU graduates, cleared the IAS exam achieving commendable ranks. While Keshvendra Kumar, a railway booking clerk in West Bengal, secured 45th rank, Kumar Ravikant Singh, also a railway clerk in West Bengal, managed the 77th rank in the prestigious examination.





10th Learners’ Day 10th Convocation Ceremony held March, 1999: The 10th IGNOU Convocation Ceremony is held. Noted Hindi litterateur Mahasweta Devi is conferred ‘Doctor of Letters, honoris causa’.

Prof G. Ram Reddy Memorial Lecture

The School of Humanities organised plays based on two famous stories by noted Hindi writer Jaishankar Prasad — Puraskar and Akashdeep — at IGNOU’s Convention Centre in New Delhi on April 15. Artistes from the National School of Drama presented the plays, directed by Prof Devendra Raj Ankur. VC Prof V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai was the Chief Guest.

Prof Rege delivers Dr B.R. Ambedkar Lecture writings as feminist classics,” rof Sharmila Rege, a leading said Prof. Rege. feminist sociologist, delivered a She dwelt on a few chapters lecture titled ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar: from Ambedkar’s work as feminist Towards a Feminist Reclamation’, classics. “The feminist discourse, organised by IGNOU’s Dr B.R. at large, has remained ignorant Ambedkar Chair on Social Change of the rich and complex and Development recently. interpretations of caste and “There is an urgent need for Prof. Sharmila gender as conceptualised by feminist discourse to turn to Dr Rege. Dr Ambedkar,” noted Prof Rege, Ambedkar. It is time not to talk head of Department of Gender Studies, about gender in isolation but to include University of Pune, who has written class, caste and other factors. Therefore, extensively on gender and sociology.■ there is a need to reclaim Dr. Ambedkar’s


HIGHLIGHTS TUESDAY May 18 07:30: NCERT/CIET: Teachers Prog: Satat Mulyankan, Puppet Dwara Sikshan Dosti 11:30: North East Kaleidoscope/Women Empowerment: Phir Ek Khamoshi 18:30: NIOS: Vocational: Fundamentals of Computer; Physics: Surface Tension 21:00: IGNOU-SOSS: Privatisation in India

THURSDAY May 20 08:00: NITTTR: Women in Management 08:30: IGNOU-SOE: Biological Evolution And Speciation 13:30: IGNOU-Urdu Programme: Khwateen aur unke masail; 1980 Ke Baad Ki Urdu Ghazal 18:30: NIOS: Social Science: Cultural Heritage of India


SUNDAY May 23 08:00: NITTTR: Talk Show on Environment Education 11:00: UGC/CEC: Udaan — Yatra Prabhandhan, Ways of Hope — Photography 20:00: UGC/CEC: The Art of Screen Printing, Shaktiheen Power Loom, Astronomical Photography 22:00: IGNOU/Culture: Theatre of Manipur


TUESDAY May 25 11:00: UGC/CEC: Human Genome Project — II, Metabolism — II 13:00: Science: Limits — A Glance Through History Part 22:00: IGNOU/Culture: Weaving Hands

July, 1999: Prof Ian Mugridge, former director (Programmes), the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), delivers the ‘Fourth Prof G. Ram Reddy Memorial Lecture’ on the theme titled ‘Quality Assurance in Open and Distance Education’.

Mahatma Gandhi Vidyalaya inaugurated August, 1999: The Mahatma Gandhi Vidyalaya is established at the University’s main campus. The Vidyalaya is inaugurated by Vibha Parthasarathy, chairperson, National Commission for Women. School of Management Studies, under the aegis of AIMS-CCMS-CIDA, organises a workshop on ‘Empowering Women though Enterprise’.

Satellite Earth Station established September, 1999: Maharaj Krishen Kaw, Education Secretary, HRD Ministry, inaugurates the Satellite Earth Station.

UNESCO training course November, 1999: School of Sciences organises the ‘UNESCO Regional Training Course in University Science Teaching’.

Not to be




now more about the scope and importance of education in the area of environment — in an age where climate change is the talk of the town. Watch the Talk Show on Environment Education on Sunday (May 23).

THURSDAY May 27 08:30: IGNOU-SOS: Physics Lab: Technician — Know Your Job 18:30: NIOS: Social Science: We Govern Ourselves; Science: Changes Around Us

MONDAY May 31 11:00: UGC/CEC: ANN: Hydrological Modeling 14:30: NITTTR: Money Concepts and Functions 14:30: NIOS: Mushroom Production

Open Letter - May Edition  
Open Letter - May Edition  

Open Letter - May Edition