“Each time a woman stands up for herself, without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” – Maya Angelou
Artists often play a key role in bringing social changes across cultures and countries, raising voice against issues ranging from violence to sexism to child trafficking. Gifted with the expressive talent, artists challenge the existing narratives, highlight the gaps present in them and inspire solutions through art.
Our very talented faculty and students at Pearl Academy set out to do the same this year through actively supporting by UN’s Orange Label Project.
The Orange Label Project’, run and supported by the UN Trust Fund and London College of Fashion, UAL is a global initiative to End Violence against Women by engaging and connecting with new audiences, particularly young people, through a series of creative activities. To mark the 20th anniversary of UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF), fashion disciplines were brought together to club creative ideas to fight the violence against women. Students and faculty from fashion disciplines from around the world, and across disciplines, were invited to produce a piece of work incorporating the project colour orange. The United Nation has proclaimed 25th of every month as International “Orange Day”.
Pearl Academy has been actively supporting the cause by observing Orange Day every month through a series of initiatives which have gone a long way in sensitizing our students and faculty on the issue. Panel discussions were organized at our Delhi and Mumbai campuses with speakers from various fields such as media, fashion, arts and business to widen and take the discussion of women empowerment to all sections of the society.
Our students narrated various anecdotes and actively debated with the speakers on various facets of the subject to make these panel discussions more invigorating.
Education is considered to be one of the biggest sources of emancipation and at Pearl Academy, we are ensuring that our young fashion students incorporate the learnings from these initiatives not just in their collections, but also in their demeanour and attitude at their workplaces.
As a part of the Orange Label Project, Pearlites also participated in illustration, film, journalism and photography categories and created works of arts aimed at raising awareness of the core message, educating, informing and involving audiences worldwide. A positive message that ‘together we can eliminate this problem’ was sent out through these entries. On 25th November the winners were announced by the UNTF and our Pearlites gloriously won top laurels in four categories:
Sumedha Sekar from FMC Level 3 won the first prize of 500 pounds in Fashion Journalism category for her article “Breaking the Myth: Fallen Princess”. Sumedha in her award winning piece theorizes the works of Dina Goldstein, a visual artist whose work in editorial and documentary style photography is known for its connections to pop surrealism. Dina takes a feminist perspective on the most popular women from the history and re-writes their stories through her pictures.
Arshti Narang & Bhavnoor Minocha from FMC Level 1 too won first prize and 500 pounds under Fashion Illustration category. The duo challenges the global fashion magazines forillustrating and propagating physical and mental violence faced by women.
Abhineet Dang from Communication Design Level 3 won the second prize in Fashion Films category. Abhijeet shot a small video that highlights the violence against women and girls that is rooted in gender-based discrimination, social norms and gender stereotypes.
Our faculty too made us proud by winning the Second prize in Fashion Photography category. Shalini Gupta, Rohit Dhingra, Neha Dimri & Navaid Mehtab worked together on a series of images to change the perception of women being the weaker sex due to pre-programed gender expectations, hoping to curb the premise for violent behaviour against women.
Pearl Alumni show stoppers got Sunday brunchers to sit up and take notice of their cutting edge pret collections at the Pullman Hotel, Aerocity. 9 alumni spiced up the brunch with their collection. Below is the details on their brands and some action from the glamorous afternoon.
Watch out this space for more updates.
“If you are using your digital wallets, swiping cards left, right and centre, doing online transfers and feeling that everything is well around you then remember. This is what privilege feels like.”
It struck me hard how this Demonetization drive is going to cause inconveniences of varying degrees to the different sections of society. One could rationalize the move but there are certain challenges that are very difficult to comprehend since we are a country of colossal diversity.
Amidst this chaos I find myself a part of that miniscule section of people who are not really affected by anything that afflicts the common man. The ones who neither get affected by governance or lack of it. We are the minority of the entire Indian population. We are the opinion Makers, We are the employers, we are the Money Makers.
As queues swelled up outside banks and as panic grew all around my restlessness also grew. The desperation and frustration of being helpless started affecting me drastically and then it struck me. How could I contribute using my privilege? I am an Associate Professor in School of Creative Business, Pearl Academy in Delhi. An upmarket Institution that caters to the students of the privileged class. I take courses in Design Thinking, Innovation, Creativity and Leadership wherein I have been trying to build a sustainable and a joyful community. I shared my anxiety and anguish with my students. Hoping to find solutions to the predicament inspite of knowing that my plight might fall on Deaf ears considering how we are as a social class.
“History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and give up their unjust posture; but … groups are more immoral than individuals.” – Martin Luther King
I asked a simple question to my students. “How can we help?” and what happened after that was something out of a Utopian world. Some of my students shared the same anguish and helplessness, Some of them seemed skeptical and some of them couldn’t be bothered enough. I then shared with them How when history summons us and asks of us what were we doing when such colossal crisis was going on, I want to be on the right side. I think that resonated with the students and what happened next was a miracle. Almost everyone in unison said that we must help out the people who are struggling in those queues. I couldn’t agree more. But How? I asked? Since this was end of semester and there was a huge pressure of final submissions and exams. I said, “Maybe we can distribute water, tea and refreshments to people who were in those long lines.”
The next two days saw about 150 students doing their best to reach out to the suffering people outside the banks with Water, tea and refreshments. One had to be there to believe it. the positivity and sense of empowerment that these young students of age group 17-23 experienced seemed surreal and very heartening. I am sharing below some of the messages i received from the students while they were doing this and each message overwhelmed me with joy, love and immense hope that comes with the passion of the young.
“I have always underestimated the power of kindness. More like I have always been indifferent towards other people’s pain until & unless they were not affecting me in some manner. Thanks to you sir , Ive realized that being selflessly compassionate can be the most empowering feeling. When we first arrived at the banks , there were long never ending queues of people who not only looked impatient & distressed but also really tired of standing in this scorching heat. When we approached the queue with Frooti packets , we were welcomed with expressions of surprise mixed with relief. It looked like they could really use something to drink and feel slightly energized. Everybody accepted it with a wide smile & that smile & that look of relief on their face is something that has been etched in my mind for good. There were some asking for a second serving and we all couldn’t be happier to see that our small effort turned out to be worthwhile.
I have never felt more content in my life , how small of a gesture it was , but it still made some people smile and helped them in a very small but significant way.”
“McDonalds, our hostel and sagar ratna helped up with 15 litres water each. Dr. Kukreja donated 200/-. Poorva and I bought chai ka samaan for almost 800. Manjeet paaji from Naraina Gurudwara also helped in tea and getting us discount and stuff. I am so glad this circle is increasing.”
“The feeling of bringing smile to someone who is almost approaching the crying phase is a feeling which gives you joy and inner peace. Today I not only brought smile on different faces but I also had a talk with my inner soul that what is it we are living for, it is helping each other out in tough times. When a man of my grandfather’s age gives me a smile and says “thank you beta, good work” while standing in that scorching heat is a moment which I will cherish throughout my life and is a feeling which cannot be replicated in any other form whatsoever.
I am truly honored to be a part of such a great initiative and all I can say is “Together we can.”
“Helping needy people assures me that I am moving in a right direction. Talking to people who were standing in queues makes me wonder how privileged I am! They might have not needed the little contributions we were making but it definitely made them smile. It was emotional watching people smile because of you. They were blessing us for the little support we showed. It felt great talking to them and listening their side of stories.”
“That day I went outside the bank where there was huge queue, I went around 4 in the evening. When I asked few people they told they were standing from 8 in the morning and till now they have not got any money exchanged. I had water with me and I served it to people. While Doing this thing I had an immense pleasure and a smile that came from inside. Old people too were standing in the line and one man among them called me and hugged me saying, “boht punya ka kaam kar rahe ho beta, hamesha khush raho (you are doing a very noble job my son, always be happy)” . That made my day and maybe it was one true blessing I had got from a stranger. I walked home with a smile and I can proudly say when someone may ask me that where were you when the entire nation was suffering from this problem that I was serving people!”
“The step that the government has taken has affected a lot of lives. People are sitting in front of banks for an entire day only I be disappointed. So we took an initiative to help those people even if by little. I decided to distribute water bottles. The feeling of doing all that was very nice and cannot be described easily. The blessings I got can never be compared to any amount of shopping I will ever do.”
“It was a very beautiful experience .Early in the morning, slightly hot, people waiting outside the banks , with hope in their eyes , that this time we will get the money .With bag of biscuits, I started distributing the packets , as I kept on moving forward, there was excitement increasing among people.People were really happy .They gave me blessings ,while I was doing the activity.It was a billion dollar feeling.If one person can do it all of us can make a change.”
This beautiful organic campaign has reiterated my long held belief that there is inherent kindness and a beautiful sense of justice in all of us despite our sociological differences and everyone is looking to get inspired. All it takes is a conversation. All it takes for us opinion makers is to increase our circle of influence by having genuine conversations with people around us. Conversations without any ulterior motive but only to increase equity in thoughts. Rest people take care of. Our students have inspired so many people around them with this small gesture that strangers have taken over the mantle and are spreading joy in their circles. What more can we ask for. Small steps make large movements. All it needs is a conversation.
This is a call for action. All educators and thought leaders must inspire people around them to do their bit, no matter how small. Something as small as a reassuring smile at a frustrated person will go a long way and multiply manifolds. We at Pearl Academy are doing our bit. Are you?
Here are some glimpses captured by our students. Its not a photo-op but a way to reach to the others who are desperate for inspiration and are willing to do their bit but don’t know how.
The inadequacies and insecurities dusky people often face in India.
In India, one’s skin colour is a major cause for concern. Some Indians don’t like dark skin, dusky skin or even wheatish skin and it’s no secret that Indians have a huge obsession with a lighter skin tone. The lighter your skin is, the prettier you are considered. As you grow older, the lighter your skin, the easier it is to get a spouse. Women bear most of the brunt of India’s obsession with fair skin.
The fear of dark skin conquers a small girl who is not going out to play because someone told her: she will get darker and darker is not pretty. So she will sit at the window and look at the sun shining but won’t be able to bask in the sunlight. In the popular fairytale Snow White, her step mother is jealous and insecure over not being the fairest or prettiest of them all. Fairytales and romance novels depict dark, handsome men being besotted by fair maidens.
A friend of mine, when she was still a young girl, had to learn the truth, the hard way, when she went to give an audition for a school production of Cinderella. She had taken her best friend along with her as company. She was dusky, her friend was on the fairer side. The dark one had practised all her lines, the fair one fumbled through them but ultimately the fair girl got the part. This baffled my dusky friend as she knew that she had performed way better than her friend. She wanted to feel happy for her friend, but she couldn’t, it was not fair. She was brave enough to ask one of the judges about their decision, to which they replied, “Nobody would like to see a dark Cinderella.” This sparked a terrible realisation within her. Suddenly, she understood that her skin colour will aways come in the way of what she wants to achieve in the world.
You often hear a well-meaning relative or a friend offer you tips and suggest some home remedies to lighten your complexion. Unbeknownst to them, hearing this can cause our self-esteem levels to plummet to dangerous levels. How do you get over a mother telling her child, “It won’t be easy for you to find a spouse because you are dark? Don’t you want a good partner?” To think that it is so ingrained in our culture that having a fairer spouse is better than one having a caring and intelligent one.
The cosmetics and fairness products industry thrives on dark skin inadequacy, making thousands of crores of rupees each year. Celebrities with huge fan followings are promoting fairer skin as the path to success.
All insecurities in this world are learnt. You don’t come from your mother’s womb crying over your dark skin, crying over not being pretty enough, crying over not being fair enough. As hard as it is to say this, almost all of insecurities have been taught to us by our family, our society, our world.
It’s not always about genius ideas sometimes it’s about making that passionate good idea a reality.
On 9th November, Wednesday we had a guest lecture with Ms. Sara Elizabeth Chawla, co-founder of thewildcity.com, an online journal for alternative culture and contemporary music news from India and South Asia. Truly speaking, this wasn’t even just another guest lecture but was a live interview like ‘The Oprah Winfrey’ Show. Our course leader Rachna Imam ensured to craft all relevant and interesting questions.
Ms. Sarah gave us some quality insights on what it takes to be an entrepreneur and start a business particularly in creative field right from the scratch. She shared her journey so far of thewildcity.com with us. We were mesmerized by the spark she had in her eyes while narrating her memories of initial days of the venture. She started this online music journal 5 years ago along with her husband Mr. Munbir Chawla.
She also talked about their yearly flagship event Magnetic fields Music Festival. Popularly known as “mag fest” among its guests who are ardent fans on this festival, is also the most awaited event by PR & Events students of Pearl Academy. In this festival students of PR & Events of Pearl Academy are sent to gain quality on-ground experience. She also shared with us the USP of Mag Fest comparatively against the other prominent festivals of India.
In this session Ms. Sarah spoke about various topics related to Event Management, Creative Business and Personal Development. Our takeout was not only insights regarding all these topics but it also inspired us to try our hands at everything that comes our way and that way, eventually we students can figure out what we really want to do in our lives ahead.
School of Creative Business at pearl Academy has always organised such sessions by inviting conspicuous professionals from industry to guide us. Constantly we are reminded by our faculties to be an idea blooming entities, and such sessions only are a level-up for us from not only thinking of ideas but also to give it a shape.