Sagarika Ganeshyam was the happy-go-lucky sort with a whole lot of interests. A graduate in psychology, she also trained in dance, jazz and hip-hop. However, at a retreat organised by her institute, she discovered there was more to life. Not only did the Exploring Life Roles and Identities (ELRI)
course make her understand herself and “somehow realise her full potential,” she says, it also enabled her to understand others, not judge them by what they seem to be and not buy into stereotypes.
“Maybe somebody is what he seems to be because of something you can’t even fathom…There’s more to people,” says Ganeshyam, a PGDM student of communication with majors in film and TV at FLAME (Foundation for Liberal and Management Education), Pune. She took part in the ELRI programme in 2011 at a Jain monastery near Pune.
As part of the programme, students are taken to the retreat where they are divided into groups, each headed by a facilitator (faculty or visiting professional). Ganeshyam’s group of about 10 students was headed by FLAME president Indira J Parikh, whose specialisation is organisation development and design, and institution building.
A session kicks off with confidential sessions among each group in which members introduce themselves. “Facilitators use methods to help people open up,” says Ganeshyam, now captain of the FLAME School of Communication and of FLAME (equivalent to president of the students’ union). “They help you leave any baggage behind, reach your full potential.”
Students would be asked, for example, to draw a graph of their lives, says Ganeshyam. Or they would be asked what they could ‘give’ to others in the room — for example, one might wish to ‘give’ someone a sense of self-esteem or the strength to cry.
Delhi-based psychiatrist Jitendra Nagpal says self-awareness is the first step to self-development and eventually to be a happy, responsible and empowered citizen. “Be aware of your potential. Every human being has infinite potential which needs to be unleashed by doing a self-appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses…Do the self-appraisal periodically yourself or ask close family or friends to do an objective analysis of you,” says Nagpal.
The next step is responsibility. It involves developing oneself and “giving myself in the service of the environment...and working towards strengthening vulnerable groups, including senior citizens, women and children. Only by making others happy can you create happiness for yourself,” says Nagpal.
The third is empowerment, he says. “Once I become aware, I am looking at empowering myself and others. Any citizen has to grow to be an empowered individual.” This is about helping oneself take control of our lives — with critical and creative thinking and the ability to cope with stress. One should also have empathy for environmental development,” says Nagpal.