As a part of its tie up with FDCI, Pearl Academy hosted its first Masterclass, with the husband wife designer duo – Pankaj & Nidhi. We had a little tete-a-tete with them, where they took us through their journey, reminiscing about their early days struggle. The duo also conducted an interactive activity with the students to test their creativity. The bunch of students were handed with mystery box with embellishments. The students were supposed to use these embellishments and white T-shirts to create their own design and style. The day was filled with sky-rocketing energies, splendid creativity and interaction that inspired many young and aspiring designers.
On asking about their journey and about Pearl Academy, this is what they had to say –
Watch out as we progress with this alliance and interact with other celebrated designers like Rina Singh Eka, Amit Aggarwal, Nida Mahmood Nida Mahmood and Anju Modi Clothing in coming months.
“At the stroke of today’s midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”
– Jawahar Lal Nehru (15th August 1947)
“Freedom”, what does Freedom actually mean?
As we are nearing our 69th yearly celebration of Indian independence, the School of Creative Business at Pearl Academy took the opportunity to paint the picture of freedom of today’s India, through creative installations. Before I proceed to dig deeper into some of these installations, I can safely highlight the fact that these installations are made by young India. The part of India that is shaping itself in today’s global scenario.
Even after almost seven decades of the so-called independence, is the country still truly free? Is the country still free of social stigmas and taboos? Freedom is when no one is victimized. Everyone is free to nurture opinions and thoughts. Freedom is when societal frame is free from coercion of religion, caste, gender or economic background, and most importantly freedom of speech and expression.
Women are the derivation of any society. They are the nurturing source of our great nation at the base level but are they safe and liberated? Youth of this nation senses the demeaned condition of our country’s women. Our sorrows of Nirbhaya chapter in the capital city of this nation have barely lessened. The nation lost a daughter and its pride. A victimized woman has to go through levels of torture in order to get justice. Our independent India has its women tied in shackles of desolation and menace.
Surely our women are fighting for their liberation and brave men have joined this cause. Self-governing nation of India needs to be prompt towards elevating its code of law that can grant swift and adequate justice.
Students also created installations depicting social stigma of honor killings that bounds the youth of this nation. Caste based divide that prevails in India, has recently jolted our society and the youth of this country after Rohit Vermula (a Dalit student of Hyderbad University) committed suicide because of the obstacles he was going through in caste-ridden India. Our country is known for unity in diversity and yet we find growls of caste and fresh wrecks of religious outfits distressing the very fabric of our heritage. People are ready to slay each other on basis of their religion and I am not referring to Jalliawala Bagh massacre when Britishers annihilated us in enslaved India but in today’s free India when we witness Mandal Commission, Delhi, Gujarat, Muzzafarnagar Riots. Our unity in diversity is at doubt and so is our sovereignty.
Our youth’s horizon of love has also expanded and they want liberation from the captivity of law in matters of love. Love is a freedom of expression and is an emotion that can only be felt. Love doesn’t have any room for classifications and ‘dos & donts’ on the basis of caste or gender. Love doesn’t know taboo and taboo can’t sustain love. Why is India so afraid of homosexuality, why are same gender marriages unacceptable? Whereas world in the west have progressed to it. Ancient India knew no such boundaries in love or intimacy. Our society’s hypocrisy regarding trans-genders in India is rather an accepted problem. We have a word for transwomen (male to female), and they have an eternal commission of blessing us in exchange of money. They are treated as less than second-class citizens.
In one such installation, students of Pearl Academy expressed intensely the state of freedom of LGBT community in India.
Pearl Academy is known for its revolutionary thinking and radical outlook. Students are taught to speak their minds and follow their instincts. School of Creative Business at Pearl Academy grooms its business students for the challenges of tomorrow. Students are sensitized towards trends of the business world like Sustainability and Impact Entrepreneurship. Nurturing Youth is the core philosophy at Pearl Academy. The youth of our nation today is sensitive towards environmental issues, societal waves, children welfare, and women empowerment. If young India wants to expand its wings then the boundaries of suppression will fade, cages of traditions would break, and the shackles of narrow thinking would break open. India is not only a nation but an idea, a philosophy, a lifestyle and so it can’t have boundaries. It’s bound to be free. Jai Hind.
By E Kukreja, Student of Professional Diploma in PR & Events
While the whole lot of our generation is obsessed with traveling and travel photography, there are very few who can inspire many with their stories and experiences. Shekhar Rawat, a freelance photographer from Delhi, recently shared his adventures with the world through photographs that captured the nuances of his experience as well demonstrated the mastery of his skill.
Shekhar with his team climbed up the Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri Glacier, one of the most challenging climbing routes across the world. The trek wasn’t only literally challenging but also denoted the challenges and trials faced by Shekhar in his career. But the climb up at the top also became one of the top defining moments in Shekhar’s life. His enthusiasm for the story and pictures he made while on the trek soon transformed into the feeling of elation and achievement as the story found its place in the National Geographic Magazine. The story named as ‘Fleeting Beauty’ featured in the 50th-anniversary edition of National Geographic Travel India Magazine which came out in August and has already reached a wide audience.
Ecstatic at the turn of the events, Shekhar said, “The Best Way to predict the future is to create it”. Reminiscing on his journey, Shekhar talks about his Professional Photography Diploma from Pearl Academy. He acknowledges the guidance of his teachers with a special mention of Rohit Dhingra who helped him in learning the precision and vision required by photographers.
Gaurav Mandal, Faculty – Delhi NCR (East) Centre, has made us proud by winning 2 national awards from Indian Handloom Brand Contest by Ministry of Textiles Government of India. He bagged the first prize in Indian Men’s wear and Indo western women wear. Gaurav emerged winner amongst some serious competition, 1500 Designers who participated in 1st round out of which 450 were selected for 2nd round. Gaurav Mandal won ‘Best Design’ in both the categories.
Commenting on this achievement, Gaurav said “This is a tribute to our national treasure- handloom. The holistic look, including accessories have been rendered with handloom fabrics sourced from different states of India. With a titillate color palate of Black red and white, the look was created by combination of modern silhouettes with Indian classical drapes.
The journey of making this collection had been very enriching. Sourcing, travelling and connecting with artisans to infuse the core of this Indian handloom in myself. From beautiful weaver cluster of Mahesh wari, Madhya Pradesh to the very artistic tailor community in Pili hit district, Uttar Pradesh.”
A lot has happened post panel discussion. I seem to be having a lot of conversations with myself trying to understand what is it that makes violence against women happen in the first place, how can we stop it?
Pearl Academy has extended its support to United Nations’ “Orange Label Project” by hosting a panel discussion, I was invited by school of fashion, styling and textiles to moderate the panel on “Fashion says NO to Violence against women” at Mumbai campus on 26th July 2016. I thought as a modern, progressive and educated woman I knew most about an act of violence and how to curb it. Somewhere at the back of my mind I was also in denial about the harsh realities as I believe I live in a secured environment where “something like this” will not happen to me, an illusion which most of us carry, this illusion was broken very soon for most of us when Pearl Academy alumna Pragya Prasun Singh’s (acid attack victim and founder of NGO Atijeevan) recorded interview was played for all of us to hear her story. Twelve days after her marriage on her way to campus interview, Pragya thought she had her life sorted. Her dreams came shattering down when a suitor ten years her senior whom she had said no to for marriage threw acid on her. He got ONLY FOUR YEARS of imprisonment, while Pragya is scarred for life!
Violence against women takes many forms, from domestic abuse to rape, sexual abuse and harmful cultural practices ranging from genital mutilation and honor crimes to premature marriage. It is not only the most widespread example of a human rights violation, but probably the least evident, going largely unpunished or like in Pragya’s case getting back to their normal life after minimum punishment. I wonder if increasing the duration of punishment to life time and help it become the toughest punishment will help reduce crime rate?
Audrey D’Mello, Project director at Majlis said,” every woman knows when she is subjected to violence; emotional, physical or psychological but she chooses to ignore or accept this violence for various reasons, in most cases the reasons are responsibility of children and no financial support”.
We as outsider viewing the plight of a violence victim normally sympathize with her as “poor weak woman”, weak woman? The one who musters all this courage to let violence happen to her because she has responsibility of a child? Her “kanyadaan” has been done by her parents with an advice that now you will leave your husband’s home only on “chaar kandha” (after death for last rites). The next question framed itself in my mind, “Is our social system capable of supporting women in such situations, if the system did support will there be more women saying no to these acts of violence”?
Ummul Ranalvi, a social activist whose initiative WWIN is working hard to curb violence against women, was on the panel too. She as founding member of the platform “Speak out on FGM” works especially in the area of female genital mutilation (FGM). Ummul aims at stopping this practice, still prevalent in certain communities but is surprised at the mindset of community’s complete denial of this practice as an act of violence. This revelation on her part ran a sharp shiver down my spine and popped the next question, “Is the act of violence against a woman and outcome or a process (spanning generations) by itself”?
The panel discussion which was originally scheduled to last one hour went on for next three hours with various facts about what is happening around us and why “violence against women is not only a challenge for us in India but all across the globe”. I sat there amazed at the knowledge that came pouring out, the passion filled speeches and the one mantra each of these women on the panel kept repeating, “You are the change maker”. In the audience we had our young students, girls and boys equally in awe of these five women; Audrey D’Mello-Project director-Majlis, Ummul Ranalvi, social activist and founding member-speak out on FGM, Indira Satyanarayan, social activist and a freelance journalist, Insia Dariwala; Award winning film-maker and reformist and also an activist working against FGM and Nicole D’Lima, young dynamic professional who through her current portfolio at EdelGive foundation focuses on identifying opportunities and connecting grant makers with recipient NGOs.
These powerful change makers had no inhibition about sharing their stories, realities, flaws in our societies and changes required but what stuck a deep chord was that each one believed that the change needs to start at an individual level and in homes-inside homes because that is where the first form of violence starts. Victims and culprits are a result of violence which usually starts at home. Audrey shared that 80% of the rapes are by someone in the family of the victim. My next questions, “As a society are we doing something right or something really wrong”?
Ms Indira Satyanarayan, the award winning journalist and our panelist brought to notice an astonishing hard fact; a study conducted by the UN World Health Organization (WHO) revealed that nearly 35 per cent of women across the globe have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. This instantly took my thoughts back to Nirbhaya incident which had shaken the world with horrific reality of rising sexual aggression among youth-On a December evening in 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was beaten and brutally raped by five men and a youth in an off-duty bus in the Indian capital, New Delhi. The injuries she sustained were so severe that she succumbed to them 13 days later, setting off protests in India and around the world for ending the scourge of violence against women.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) was among the many voices that called for immediate reform of the sexual harassment laws in India, where a study conducted by the agency and the Government showed that nearly 54 per cent of women and 69 per cent of men who see women getting harassed prefer not to get involved. (Reference: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52775#.V5hhKfl97rc)
My question is, “why do we not prefer to get involved, is it the fear of being out casted from the community or the fear of some harm coming to us or is it total lack of trust in law, social systems and community support”?
Insia Dariwala, director of Candy Man and Cock-Tale stated that if a victim speaks up and shares her story many others too will be motivated to speak up and this helps form a strong chain and change starts, initially through small actions which later become movements. She shared her experience of how sharing of her own story as a victim of violence made her help women to come out and talk to her about their stories. Her movement is truly inspiring and I wonder if each of us could spend some time off from our busy digital lives to talk and share our stories, maybe we can make a more dependable support system.
Nicole D’Lima from EdelGive foundation added that from her experience of working with various NGO and women help group she has realized that most of the women especially in rural environment do not have the scope of sharing their plight with anyone due to the stigma of being blamed for the violence by family, elders and community.
I close on yet another question, “How do we map the intensity of violence, is there a clarity on the definition of violence and who decides what the violence is”?