FLAME’s vision is to create a learning environment which is relevant and meaningful to students. To instill a sense of pride in students and help them grow into respectful family members and contribute to the nation. The institution focuses not only on learning but also on well being through performing-arts, good health, sports and sensitivity towards psychological damages. Our institution is known for generating self-worth and bringing a sense of pride for the real heritage.
Rise of FLAME University
Starting an institution by an individual or group of individuals is easy, but to make it grow into an institution to reckon with, there needs to be contribution of each and everyone including the employee who prepares and cleans the classroom and looks after technology. So, institutions are created by contributions of everyone. One person can initiate but contributionmatters.One of the best compliments I received about FLAME was from visitors who said “All your people are smiling and each one is ready to guide us whereverwe want to go.” This is an institutional culture that has a pioneering spirit and then each member joining the institution is individually a pioneer.
FLAME initiated a holistic learning approach. It integrated all the students to learn science, humanities, social science, global studies, sports, and performing arts. It also initiated Discover India Program, and Social Developmental Program. Institutionally, the focus is on faculty governance and as such it was a very inclusive and participative culture for the faculty. They are part of the decision making and direction giving process and as such feel empowered to contribute.
The most important aspect of education is to ask the question the purpose and meaning of education in a society and the world. I would like that globally all nation conclave reorganises this so that each nation can share and state the purpose and philosophy of education, and how to translate that into different design of structure. Thus, global sharing will provide a huge canvas with rainbow of meanings and each nation can share and learn from each other.
Change in Higher Education
Indian Education systemcreates a comparative frame in the minds of citizens. We lack self-worth this is due to the borrowings of an education system and its processes which are not from within our own cultural context. This was the handiwork of colonisers and the international NGOs.
Unless we become self-reflective, we cannot find relevant answers to our education system which will create innovators, inventors and creators. These need to be tempered with morality, ethics and spirituality. This was the strength of our country which needs to have this learning and educating process needs to start from the family and reinforced in the primary and then higher education and then in life in general.
Your success & experience
Success and achievements are part of the eco-system which is beyond the family and relationships. For me, success meant to teach in IIMA education and joined IIMA to teach. I later got assignments in the industry which acted as a breakthrough. From Indian Oil to State Bank of India that supported me to do programs for probationary officers; I specially recall Mr SubirRahawas then the Director Personnel who gave me an opportunity to work with their Training. Beginning 1982, I started getting many international assignments which people began to notice.
Meanwhile, in this entire journey, I also discovered that it is not the society, culture and men who are always inhibiting. While, there may be some men and some processes which are inhibiting; I found so many men in the industry and academia who opened doors of opportunity for me. What is important is that I have seen the support, accepted it and delivered what I was supposed. It is again what you receive and how you deliver. If I am bitter then it does not make sense. As an Indian woman there is a need to be graceful and have dignity in accepting the support. I have found the men also believe in the philosophy of giving respect and opportunities to women. Once I accept this then all the issues of comparison, discrimination and deprivation go away. Healthy relationships get developed and there are opportunities of success and recognition.
As a teenager, I read all the Gujarati and Bengali classics of Kaniyalal Munshi, Pannalal Patel, Uma Shankar Joshi and MeghChand Jhaveri. I read all the translations of Ravindranath Tagore and Sharad Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. I went to theUS in 1961 and was introduced by an elderly professor’s wife to Laura Giles Wilder who wrote about the early settlers and their life. I realised that I was really interested in historical deliberations in the story form.
Also, I have been influenced bythe Ramayana and
Mahabharata. Both the scriptures explain the importance of context in life. A context creates events to occur where individuals play roles and become heroes or villains. This helps a society to learn and distinguish between the right and the wrong.
It changes from time to time. As a child it was my aunt — my father’s elder sister. Everyone would get up when she entered the room and all treated her with immense reference, including my uncle whom just about everyone was afraid of. My aunt was a PhD in Sanskrit. Her writing was like a pearl and her needle work was just beautiful. She was a school principal of a Giriraj Boarding School in Gujarat where I was a student for few months. She taught me the significance of time and learnt to read a watch because of her. I know she has contributed in shaping my dreams to be respected like her and be considered immensely important and be educated and learned like her. The seeds of setting up a happy institution of learning were sown as part of my growing up.
Best moment of your life
Since childhood I enjoyed reading and listening to the ancient wisdom. When I submitted my certificates to the University of Rochester for admission which included matriculation certificate written in Hindi from Allahabad University as a private candidate, two years certificate from Ranchi University, an incomplete certificate from Calcutta University, some credits of courses from University of Chicago and then a year of completion of several courses from Copenhagen University, the authorities said it is not in English. They said they did not know what to do.
After six weeks they said just because you are determined we have worked out a plan so you can enrol in an undergraduate program. It was a Liberal Education Program and I was intrigued by this model. That is how one can start to study anywhere and following the pre-requisites onecan get an acceptance from institution. The instance of my acceptance at Rochester was thebest moment.
Change you wish for the society
The one change I would like to see is the change in the education system. There is so much wisdom in the world and especially in our country that education needs to be a learning experience and a happy exciting experience. And not a cumbersome burden. A child can explore the universe and havemultiplicity and diversity. A school where a child can discover the experience of freedom and values to live a life and knowledge to experience confidence and pride in the belonging of the nation, family and an ability to make a difference. An education which imparts the wisdom of centuries with a process of spirit of inquiry and awe at the richness and depth of what is to learn. A spirit of self-reflectivity for the purpose and meaning of life and entry into this world and the respect and harmony with nature.
Your message for youth
We have forgotten a very essential aspect. Our ancient culture promoted about Indian people, food habits, education, morality of what is right and wrong, dharma and spirituality. Today, we do not learn anything about our own health, about the kind of food we eat and what we drink and what we know about spirituality and the purpose and meaning of life. We have completely forgotten about self-reflective processes as the whole world is so caught up with what is visible outside of us.
Today, instant gratification has become so important that we do not think of long term consequences on our life space. What young generation needs to think about is if they want a long and healthy life where they can enjoy life then they need to do things which would contribute to that. The parents are not aware, the education system does not provide that and nor the higher education has time. Or it is only focuses on getting their students employed. No one really thinks of life space or the purpose of life and meaning of life. If only we think of these questions. The choices we make for ourselves will be different.