Fun is an essential part of learning at the NFLC. The third week, titled Governance and anchored by Pratim Roy, Founder Director of Keystone Foundation, proved to be just so. While governance might not be easily and directly associated with fun as a first thought, Pratim ensured that the learning path was through an enriching realm of experiences that helped to discover and explore the complex subject.
Through cross boundary exercises that involved learning about the different terms of governance and by reviewing who keeps order in a community and a society, the students were exposed to the crux of the matter from the very first day. In addition, Archana, along with Pratim, expanded the subject by engaging the class in an interactive session on mapping governance structures and identifying administrative units in their native countries.
Interaction was a key point of focus this week. Activities such as performing a short skit on governance enabled the students to interact with each other while other activities such as interviewing citizens of Kotagiri to understand the way in which the state and civic organisations affect their lives acquainted them with the local residents. The bus stop exercise was another kind of interaction which the students had in and around the three main hubs of Kotagiri — Ramchand, Johnstone Square and the Bus stand. The task was to observe the people, the architecture and anything else that caught one’s eye during the busiest hour of the day.
On Wednesday, excitement was thick in the air as the group geared up for a day in Coimbatore. The Keystone team at the Coimbatore office was the first to greet the NFLC group and take them through their work on the Tamil Nadu Urban Sanitation Support Programme (TNUSSP). A session with two officials of the IC Centre of Governance, Coimbatore run by Initiatives for Change, explored the future of the city in terms of effective ways of controlling pollution and improving the city on the whole. The reality of the issues of governance in India were aptly portrayed in a Tamil film Visaranai (The Interrogation) which lingered and marked some students strongly for the rest of the week.
The talk of Prof. K.C Malhotra, an erudite guest lecturer, also left its mark on the students, but in a different way with his views on indigenous people and forest governance and by sharing his passion and rich knowledge on the subject. Prof. John Kurien, a member of Keystone’s Board of Trustees, introduced relevant terms of governance and shed light on the different ‘rights’ that exist.
Working closely on rural development with the government of Tamil Nadu, Ms. Kavitha Singaravelu, DRDA PD, brought a different perspective to the table by elucidating the executive and legislative lines of distinction and points of convergence. Prof Steven Wolf, professor of Cornell University addressed ‘environmental governance’ and its mechanisms along with Polanyi’s double movement. T. Balachander, from Keystone, shared his knowledge on the importance of governance in NGOs.
With a perfect balance of indoor and outdoor learning, the week transitioned smoothly to show that fun was a luxury you could take for granted at the NFLC.