“Whenever I perform on stage, I feel detached from the material world and aspire to be one with the Supreme Being, the “PARMATMA “,SAYS SHALLU JINDAL ,CHAIRPERSON NATIONAL BAL BHAVAN AND EMINENT KUCHIPUDI DANCER  AND MUCH MORE IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH OUR EDITOR TARUN SHARMA



Editor: Please tell us about your current role as Chairperson of National Bal Bhawan?

S.J: The National Bal Bhavan (NBB) is a pioneering children’s institution which since 1956 has provided the children of the country with knowledge, space to expand their creativity and lots of fond memories. The NBB continues to provide children with opportunities for development that may not be available to them otherwise. As a mother and as someone with a global perspective “I believe that their development and enrichment should be the foundation of our society”. And therefore my mission, as the chairperson, at the NBB is to add further value to the activities and opportunities already provided here and to turn it into a state of the art children’s institution which is then emulated across the country. I want the National Bal Bhavan to be the benchmark in the country for children’s institutions in the country which is dynamic and in touch with the realities of today and providing children with opportunities to equip them for their future.

Editor: What has been the challenges before you in your current role?

S.J: The new job is not a cakewalk as I found on my first day itself. When I joined, I found opportunities for children are good but they were in an extremely dilapidated condition. The museums here, such as Science Museum, Discovery India, Hamara Bharat Museum, sports facilities, toy train have not been recreated since the 80’s. So, it is important to upgrade these facilities. “I aim to modernise them and make it the Bal Bhavan of the 21st century while keeping the history and legacy intact” .

Editor:What are the future aims regarding the welfare of members who join Bal Bhawan?

S.J: I have drawn out a Vision and Mission for the National Bal Bhawan:

Vision – Build a cadre of children and young people with opportunities to develop a scientific temper, preserve heritage, widen their global perspective and instill a sense of self-respect and human values and dignity.

Mission – “National Bal Bhavan’s mission is to provide opportunities to children for enhancing their creativity through spectrum of activities imparted by non-formal methodology in the areas of Creative Art, Creative Writing, Creative Performance, Physical Education, Scientific Innovations, Photography, Home Management and Museum techniques etc”. Bal Bhavan strives to achieve this mission through dissemination of Bal Bhavan philosophy, workshops, training programmes, recognition and nurturing of creativity and varied innovative publications.

To achieve the vision and objectives the following plan has been formulated:

Artistic painting of inside of the boundary wall: Showcasing all the different states of our country including their specific symbols.

Painting and up gradation of toy train Signage’s to be installed in the entire complex.

Renovation of the Aquarium Training of staff – teaching them values & importance of hygiene & cleanliness.

Building links and liaising with schools Pole mounted bins to teach children values of cleanliness.

Tools and measures of evaluation of Bal Bhavan Kendras Reviewing of Bal Bhavan Kendra’s in the country Inspirational children’s wall Phased infrastructural up-gradation of all the various facilities.

Humara Bharat museum refurbishment Computerization of systems and filing process Phased infrastructural up gradation Sun museum and environmental museum to be recreated and upgraded to an interactive science centre.

Amphitheater & Auditorium to be refurbished Evaluation of Bal Bhavan Kendra’s Setting up of zonal Bal Bhavan Kendra headquarters Additional Bal Bhavan Kendra’s to be set up Research – developing creativity and enhancing the knowledge of Bal Bhavan Children’s library to be updated to a state of art library encouraging children to read.

Setting up of Model Indian Village Independent monitoring section/department to be set up to review the working of Bal Bhavan and Kendra’s Reviewing of the objectives achieved of the current plan Initiating an informative website for the Bal Bhawan which talks about its activities that will be helpful for children in India as well as abroad.

Editor: You have been performing arts too apart from being the Chairperson of the organisation. How do you manage dual responsibilities?

S.J: Its only when we do what we love and enjoy that we won’t treat it as a job…and flourish. I love dance especially my forte which is Kuchipudi. It is like meditation for me. Its because of my dance that I am able to do so much more in my life and fulfil all other responsibilities. ‘A little bit everyday goes a long way in accomplishing things and it’s also very important what you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.’ I prioritize my roles which help in multi-tasking and achieving quality of action. I also believe that you live by choice, not by chance. It’s not what you do in life that matters, but how you do it. I believe that anything is possible and accept everyone for who they are. “Five Simple rules for a happy life:- 1) Have faith. 2) Keep trying. 3) Keep it simple. 4) Laugh at Problems. 5) Stay as youthful as a kid”.

Editor: Despite being the wife of an acclaimed politician Shri. Naveen Jindal, you still have carved a canvas of your own. What were the characteristics of abilities that helped you achieve your goal?

S.J: My perseverance, hard work and diligence has helped me achieve what I wanted to achieve in life. Destiny has also played a major role in shaping my life and its future course of action.

Editor: You are a renowned Kuchipudi dancer who have performed almost globally. What does dance means to you vis-à-vis to a naïve person who doesn’t understand dance?

S.J: “Dance means different things to different people”. It is a blend of Nritta, Nritya and Natya. It is a poetic expression which tells stories to people, a subtle interfusion of drama in an otherwise classical pattern. ‘ Whenever I perform on stage, I feel detached from the material world and aspire to be one with the Supreme Being, the PARMATMA ‘. Dance has balanced me as a person and it serves as a direct connect with the ALMIGHTY! I have become more spiritual and I feel much closer to GOD because of dance. It has changed my life in many ways – made me more focused and brought better discipline and positive energy. I can cherish every moment of my life because of dance.

Editor: You appear to be a calm and composed person in your appearance. What is it that makes you maintain this composure in this stressful atmosphere?

S.J: I believe a lot in karma. One has to work towards realizing one’s ambitions. Your actions make your future. I also believe that God helps those who help themselves. I also believe that whoever does what they ought to do in life, not caring for the Fruit / result of action….such actions are perfect – Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

Editor: What will be the major developments National Bal Bhawan is going through under your able guidance?

S.J: To achieve the vision to upgrade the National Bal Bhawan, my plan is as follows:

Artistic painting of the inside of the boundary wall: Currently, the boundary wall is in a dilapidated state with no recent painting having been completed and the area near the wall being not maintained.

Painting and up gradation of toy train: The current toy train was received in 2010 and has been giving train rides to numerous children and adults thus providing them with a lot of enjoyment. The toy train runs parallel to the boundary wall.

Renovation of the Aquarium: The aquarium is currently in a small room, in a poor state infrastructurally with very limited variety of sea life. The information provided to the children regarding sea life is also very little.

Promotion of sports: Currently, the NBB provides a wide variety of sporting facilities such as skating rink, judo centre, gym, cricket training etc. However a number of children are not aware of the wide variety of facilities provided here and thus these are not taken up.

Values board: Currently, the children who attend the NBB often misbehave, do not follow rules and maintain discipline. They tend to litter around the BB and leave it in a poor state.

Science, Sun Museum and Planetarium: Currently, the sun museum aims to provide the children with in depth knowledge of the solar system in general and the sun and its effects in particular. There is however a need for its infrastructure to be improved and for a planetarium to be constructed alongside

Creation of additional Bal Bhavan Kendras: Currently the distribution of Bal Bhavan Kendras in the country is very lop sided and there is no review on their functioning or affiliation.

Setting up of a Model Indian Village: – The modern Indian village will have mock set-ups of a Kitchen, Courtyard, Common well, traditional play area, Workshops (for various occupations) and similar settings along with a conventional exhibition with interactive AV panels that will show videos on various topics, conduct quizzes and games. Along with the exhibits, issues of sustainability are also going to be discussed. For example, we will host a bio-gas plant in the kitchen set-up, a rain-water harvesting system and a vermicomposting system in the common-area set-up. AV panels will have games that highlight the importance of using natural manure in agriculture and the planning techniques. They will be educated on the importance of sustainable living in a simple and easy manner. The modern Indian village will impart knowledge in such a way that they will be able to relate to their lives.

Editor:Don’t you think that there is great work that needs to be done in India regarding talent whether it is music, dance or any other art form. Indian talent is deprived of appreciation on its homesoil?

S.J:” I sometimes get alarmed thinking about the future of Indian classical arts”. Its decline is not only affecting the popularity and preservation of such a national treasure, but is also impacting all those whose bread and butter it is. Declining popularity is also resulting in a decrease in the organisation of festivals of dance and music. This is affecting the lives of scores of musicians, dancers and those interested in taking up classical arts as a career option. It is time this declining trend is arrested and we take steps to bring back the lost glory of classical dance and music in India. We can’t just talk or write about it. We as individuals need to do much more than just sitting in our drawing rooms lamenting about it. We need to go out in the world and start making a difference. Being a classical dancer, I am planning to set up academies for performing arts in Delhi and Angul, Odisha. While the Delhi institute will focus on classical performing arts as well as western dance and music forms along with creative arts, the Jindal Centre for Arts in Odisha will focus not only on classical dance and music but will also incorporate Odisha’s arts and crafts. It will be more on the lines of the guru-shishya parampara like Shantiniketan and will be spread on 10 acres of land with residential facilities also for the students and teachers. The academies will even offer scholarships to underprivileged students so as to enable them to take classical arts as a profession. However, I feel that difference can only be made if the Government steps in and starts programmes that promote these art forms. Government agencies have to work in tandem with individuals and corporates and chalk out a strategy which involves all stakeholders and benefits the preservation and propagation of classical arts. Opening up training academies in various parts of the country is just one way in which we can popularise classical arts. However,” the more important step would be for the Government to increase the remuneration for artists. Less remuneration is a big reason for youngsters not taking up classical arts as a profession”. The decrease in the number and popularity of dance and music festivals and art shows is also one reason why the fee for artists has not kept pace with time. Since television has become such a popular medium of entertainment today, it is essential that leading channels come up with reality shows in classical arts as well.

Editor:What support you seek from the Government in power to upgrade the system you are heading as a chairperson?

S.J: ‘The only help I seek from the Government is to financially support initiatives to upgrade the National Bal Bhawan ‘,so as to provide facilities that children not only in India but also abroad can make use of and enjoy when they visit.