Blog Entry by the Executive Director - Dr. Samuel N. Mathew
We had VVIP visitors yesterday on campus. Shri. Tawar Chand Gehlot is the Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment. He visited NISH along with Shri. Luv Varma, IAS Secretary and Shri. Awanish Kumar Awasthi, IAS Jt. Secretary of his ministry.
Mr. Gehlot is a seasoned politician of many years who has held numerous government positions. He has keen interest in social justice and upliftment and that makes his leadership a good fit for the ministry. This ministry has two major wings – Department of Social Justice and Empowerment and Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Shri. Varma, IAS is the Secretary and Shri. Awasthi, IAS is Jt. Secretary in DEPwD.
The visit was initiated by the Ministry and we were pleased that he took the time to come and visit our students and staff. Being the only program in Trivandrum, this was the highlight of his visit to Kerala yesterday. He spent time with the children, went around the departments and spent time asking questions. He addressed the NISH family at a meeting in the new Auditorium. The government of Kerala was represented by Shri. A. Shajahan, IAS, Secretary for Department of Social Justice. The meeting itself was informal. In fact, we got the auditorium ready for his meeting. This was the first meeting in the new building.
Two children – one from the Early Intervention Program for the Deaf and the other from the Autism Intervention Program – performed. For them to do that in front of the audience was a challenge. For a few minutes we just held our breath as the child from AIP stood quietly. For a minute I thought we should call it off, if the child is not able to handle the big crowd staring at her. But suddenly she recouped and recited a Malayalam poem beautifully. The Minister was quick to react, and gave two bouquets of flowers to the children.
The other highlight was the portrait done by one of our students, Bobbin. He presented it to the Minister. Another beautiful painting done by Bala was also presented. As the meeting progressed, Arun Gopal, a faculty in the BFA department drew the caricature of the three visitors and presented them at the end of the meeting. A pleasant surprise for all of them. They were clearly overjoyed to look at their own caricature done in real time!
The Minister and his party went on for a meeting with the Chief Minister at his official residence – Cliff House. Officials from other organizations were also present. The CM had a very positive approach and the discussions were very open. He offered all sorts of help for the Central Schemes that provides help for the marginalized population. At the end of the talks he invited all of us for lunch in his house. As I understand that is quite unusual considering his busy schedule. He almost spent 2 hours with the Central team. A good rapport was seen between the two leaders – although they belong to totally opposing political parties. I think this is what is required – the ability to come together for the wellbeing of the people despite political differences.
The minister declared the amounts to be allocated for NISH – mostly based on the DPR. Impressive figures. Right now we will focus on the immediate needs. We hope to create a facility that will be a model campus with a culture that will spell excellence. A culture of inclusion and celebration of diversity. Culture transcends generations and that is what we hope for – an institutional culture that will be taken through the coming generations, even after we are all gone!