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Archive for the ‘Leadership Forum @ TFI’ Category

The Teach For India initiative is the catalyst for a new movement to bridge the education gap in India, with its volunteers serving as the spark to inspire children to become successful.

US Secretary of State,Hillary Clinton

Any program working towards improving performance levels of students, particularly from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds, needs to be encouraged, especially in a country like India. Teach For India aims to do just this…the concept is exemplary.While I am sure the learning levels of students will improve, teaching students from underprivileged backgrounds can be a life altering experience.  What can be more motivating than knowing you are playing a key role in transforming their entire future.

– Anand Mahindra, MD, Mahindra & Mahindra Limited

Teach For India will be driven by young people who through their contribution to inclusive growth will also develop a sense of social responsibility and sensitivity when they become the leaders of tomorrow. Besides improving the quality of education it would most importantly also enhance their own leadership and communications skills.

– Dr Nachiket Mor, President, ICICI Foundation for Inclusive Growth

Teach For India has the potential to transform the process of K 12 learning in our country and create a whole generation of motivated youth.

– Ganesh Natarajan, Chairman Nasscom / Global CEO, Zensar

I strongly endorse the Teach For India campaign. I am confident that  the young people who participate in this program will themselves benefit immensely from this noble activity.

– Ajit Rangnekar, Dean Indian School of Business

Teachers are real heroes.

Amir Khan, Brand Ambassador Teach For India & Bollywood Superstar.

At Thermax, we want our Trainees to have sensitivity towards all stakeholders and concern for the society in which we live. I am confident Teach For India will develop all these qualities and I fully endorse it.

– Anu Aga, Former Executive Chairperson, Thermax Group


The bright young minds that join this movement are going to harness their learnings and experiences and combine to form a collective force of leaders who will make the difference.

– Rajat Gupta, Senior Partner Emeritus, Mckinsey and Company

The Indian adaptation of the proven TFA model of selecting the best graduates from leading Indian colleges, and training and mentoring them as they spend 2 years in government and poor private schools – where they impart fresh ideas within schools, help children measurably improve their learning levels and themselves become capable leaders – appeals to us.

– Barun Mohanty, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

When an individual can look around and see a connection between a man that has too much bread and the man that has too little, then it becomes his/her obligation to take action. Teaching was my way of taking action.

– Mariyam Farooq, Teach For America Alumni

In the US, Teach For America alumni serve as school system superintendents, school principals, acclaimed teachers, policy advisers and social entrepreneurs. Teach For India has the potential to have a possibly greater impact in providing all of your country’s children with the opportunities they deserve.

– Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder, Teach For America


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Teach For India Fellows are set to meet Gurchuran Das on Saturday, Dec 12th in Pune . Mr. Das will interact with  Fellows  for an hour, and then has invited them  for the launch of his new book  “The Difficulty of Being Good” .

Gurcharan Das is the author of The Difficulty of Being Good: On the subtle art of dharma which interrogates the epic, Mahabharata, in order to answer the question, ‘why be good?’ His international bestseller, India Unbound, is a narrative account of India from Independence to the global information age, and has been published in 17 languages and filmed by BBC. He writes a regular column on Sundays for the Times of India, Dainik Bhaskar, Eenadu, Sakal and other papers and periodic guest columns for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, and Newsweek. Gurcharan Das graduated with honors from Harvard University in Philosophy and Sanskrit. He later attended Harvard Business School (AMP)He was CEO of Procter & Gamble India and later Managing Director, Procter & Gamble Worldwide (Strategic Planning). In 1995, he took early retirement to become a full time writer. He is currently on the boards of a number of companies and is a regular speaker to the top managements of the world’s largest corporations. His other literary works include a novel, India Unbound, A Fine Family, a book of essays, The Elephant Paradigm, and an anthology, Three English Plays.

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Nandita Das @ TFI

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‘When you wish upon a star…all the dreams that you dream come true.’  I had always dreamed of personally meeting Amir Khan—not so much for him being a film star but being the person that he is.  His role as a teacher in Taare Zameen Par, particularly, had a deep impact on how I perceive the ‘small world’ of children and the crucial role of a teacher in shaping young lives.  Sometimes, dreams come true unexpectedly sooner than we could ever imagine them to.  And so it happened this afternoon when Amir Khan stepped in a class full of Teach for India fellows like me–my dream had come true and it seemed unreal for a moment!  The two hours of friendly interaction that followed will continue to inspire me in my role as a teacher and as a human being.  Here is a brief attempt to capture what Amir had to say on education in India.

An average student in his school days, Amir did not know what to do with his life until when he developed an interest for dramatics and filmmaking.  Amir did not continue his ‘formal’ education after completing his class XII.  Being a stubborn and determined person that he is, he defied all the concerns that his family expressed about his ‘extra-ordinary’ decision.  He firmly told them, ‘I was only having a good time so far, my real education begins now!’

Amir has done an extensive amount of research on child psychology, children with special needs and the education system for his movie TZP. He spoke of the four basic emotional needs of every child and that of every human being: security, trust and faith, dignity and love.  Amir spoke at length about how each child is special, has his own pace of learning, abilities, areas of strengths and weaknesses.  He urged us (to-be teachers) not to force education upon a child and let the child be hisr own natural self and happy.  When asked about what he thinks as the purpose of an ideal education system, he responded with firm clarity—to enable and empower a child to deal with life in a happy manner, to be curious, to ask questions and to communicate confidently in whichever form suits him the best.  Once provided with right skills, tools and mindset, the child will be empowered to define and choose his own path in life.

Amir posed an intriguing question–why is it that if a child is not doing very well in sports, arts or music, it is considered okay, but when it comes to mathematics and science, everyone must master it all?  Referring to societal obsession with stardom and race towards the top, he mentioned how not everyone can be a filmstar or a cricketer, but there is a ‘hero’ hidden within every child, which needs careful nurturing and attention.  Amir values everday little successes of ordinary human beings more than the extraordinary success stories of a few.  ‘If you can cheer up the mood of a grumpy conductor on a bus, who might have had a bad day, you are successful!’.  Redefining the idea of ‘success’, Amir said that success depends upon one’s core being and happiness.

Not undermining the importance of a child’s academic progress, Amir endorsed and spoke highly about the need for ‘creative teaching’–by making learning an exciting process. He compared the role of a teacher to that of a film director.  Just as a director facilitates the process of filmmaking by trying to bring out the best in each character, a true good teacher facilitates the process of learning by bringing out the best in every child and inspiring every child to bloom.  Drawing example from his own self, and why he makes only a few films, he said ‘if only you have a story to tell, you will tell it well.’  Each day when the teacher enters the classroom he shall be so excited to ‘tell his story’ that he will put in fullest of  his energy, belief and patience to deliver knowledge.

Amir cautioned us not to be judgmental towards our students and make every child feel very special.  Building an emotional bond with each child is important.  Amir placed his emphasis on ‘creating good human beings’ at school level.  This will naturally result into a society that grows up to be a more responsible one, he believes.

Amir signed off by sharing his own dream—‘I have a dream that one day in this country the tide will turn—that parents, educators and society will move away from forcing competitive spirit on innocent young minds and start instilling in them the value of caring for others.’

This Article was published in Special Issue on Education- “Disha : the key to change”

Vipul Shaha

Fellow, Teach For India.

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Jaithirth (Jerry) Rao, Chairman and CEO of MphasiS. Mr. Rao founded MphasiS, an IT solutions and BPO company, one of the top 5 Indian BPO companies. Prior to founding MphasiS, Mr. Rao has held several positions at Citicorp. Mr. Rao is also the past-Chairman of NASSCOM and is now on the Board of Trustees of the NASSCOM Foundation. Mr. Rao is also on the board of trustees of four other not-for-profit foundations: Development Gateway Foundation, India Foundation for the Arts, IIM Ahmedabad Alumni Trust and Sujaya Foundation.

Mr. Rao is an extremely innovative and well-respected leader, with years of experience in the corporate and social sectors. We are delighted to have him with us in October.

Leadership Forum: 3 Oct. 2009

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