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In me lies a piece of gold

12 April 2012, Kenya
A new vocational training program for disadvantaged youth was launched at Amrita Watoto Boma, care home in Athi River, Nairobi. For a period of three months, 90 youth will receive training in IT, electrical engineering, hospitality and garment making. The initiative is a joint venture between CAPs-Youth Empowerment Institute and MAM Charitable Trust Kenya.

 
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During the launching ceremony, Viktor Mwendwa, 22, one of the new electrical students, said: “I believe that in me lies a piece of gold – if I explore myself and accept what I get through this vocational training course I will become the best I can be. You can never make it in life if you have a low self-esteem. But if you look at yourself as a winner, if you believe in yourself, you can make it in life. All of my fellow students should have the same spirit – it is such a privilege to be trainees here in Athi River. This is a second chance that we get to prove ourselves. I would like to tell the representatives from the industries around here that we are going to make a difference in this nation. I don’t know how many “Thank You’s” I can say, how I can pass on this gratitude to you. This is the best that we can get.”

– Das

When Science meets Spirituality

Dr. R. Chidambaram, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India met with Amma during his visit to Amrita University for the International Conference on Wireless Technologies for Humanitarian Relief (ACWR2011) at Amritapuri on 19 December 2011. Along with Dr. Chidambaram, his colleague S. Chatterjee and Dr M.H. Mehta, Chairman of the National Bioshield Society also participated in the discussion.

 

Dr. Chidambaram, who is a renowned nuclear scientist and metallurgist, mentioned to Amma that his focus at the conference was to combine wired and wireless networks. He felt that Amrita University’s haptic technologies project had a lot of potential. Dr. Chidambaram was very much impressed by the landslide detection system developed by Amrita University and requested Amma to bring this technology to the Himalayan region of Uttarkashi where landslides are a regular phenomena. Amrita University had designed, built and deployed a real-time landslide warning system in the hills of Idukki district of Kerala and was even able to issue warnings on time.

Amma said that this system is designed to work in the Kerala mountains. She started by talking about the necessity of simulations before actual deployment and how mini-models need to be implemented for testing. Amma went on to talk about ‘pore pressure’ due to a large quantity of wide-spread rainfall on a hill. She outlined that each hill or mountain may have different types of soil every 10-20 feet and that this variety may yield more questions to study. She said that we need to consider the weather conditions and the soil/mountain quality before deploying in Northern regions. Upon hearing Amma pointing out these scientific matters in such detail, Dr. Chidambaram was indeed surprised.

Amma then began talking about mobile communication towers, “Because of the radiation of huge cell phone towers many small birds are not able to build nests and are disappearing. If we produce devices that are smaller in size and keep them in individual houses, connected to one another, such problems can be solved.”

Amma also mentioned that her motivation to pursue research at Amrita University originated from her seeing the suffering around – poverty, starvation, sickness, environmental pollution and contamination. She stated that multinational companies abroad give importance to research, but not so in India. Now the situation is changing. Amma also mentioned that other countries must grow and become happy. Another problem of India is the so-called ‘brain drain’. To this, Dr. Chidambaram replied by telling Amma that she had attracted a lot of talented people from abroad, which even the government finds hard to do.

Amma continued saying that the level of respect society shows for scientists should increase. When science is respected the motivation to serve and find cures for cancer and other diseases will automatically arise within, while the desire to make quick money will decrease.

Amma said “Nature is God’s form. In creation, nothing is insignificant. Everything is important. Creation and creator are not two, but one. The ocean and its waves are not different but the same. Gold and gold ornaments are the same. Clay and clay pots are of the same essence. That is what science tells us too. Everything (matter) is energy” Amma talked about seva (selfless service), science and education and how they benefit both the individual and society as a whole. She also mentioned about the need of quality education and the essence of values.

As the meeting was coming to an end, Amma asked how the attendees became interested in spirituality. Dr. Chidambaram talked of how science has its limits. He said that for any scientific law questions like ‘Why that law?’ ‘Will that law stand true in the future?’ still cannot be explained. The laws that connect living and non-living matter and determine the interaction between atoms are still a puzzle. Parabrahmam (Consciousness that pervades all matter) could be the explanation, he added.

Science can explain ‘how’ things are happening, but not ‘why’ they are happening. That’s where one turns to spirituality for the answers.
–Sakshi

Free Tuition Program

Amma’s 58th Birthday celebrations

27 Sep 2011, Amritapuri

Free Tuition Program was launched by MAM, to provide free online tuition to All-India college students. Through this program many students can benefit from a few good teachers. Program will be available to all college students free of cost.

This was inaugurated by Sri. Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Honorable Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences during Amma’s 58th birthday celebrations.

Sri. Vilasrao Deshmukh recalled his first meeting with Amma, in 2007 in Mumbai, when he was chief minister of Maharashtra, whereupon he sought Amma’s help with the farmer-suicide epidemic that was ravishing his state. Reflecting upon the impact of Amma’s subsequent farmer-oriented welfare programs, he said, “Amma has created new hope in the farmers.” He also acknowledged the exceptional work done by MAM following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, saying, “Amma’s house construction is much better than the construction of the government. In Andaman, the people would say, “We want houses from Amma, not from the government. Furthermore, Amma is there to look after the interests of the disadvantaged in any part of the world.” I am impressed with the sprawling network of Amrita professional institutions especially in many specialty areas, and the government would be only glad to help such institutions.”

The pilot programme will be launched first in Kerala and later will be extended to other States. Initial market survey conducted at colleges in Kerala found that students are highly interested in learning career opportunities in their respective fields and enhancing their soft skills. On that basis, to begin with, Amrita University has decided to start off free tuition program covering career awareness. Subsequently, other subjects will be added.

The online program is supported by the Ministry of Human Resources Development’s (MHRD) National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) initiative.

This free tuition programme will be transmitted through Amrita University’s award winning E-Learning platform, A-VIEW (Amrita Virtual Interactive E-Learning World).

visit www.onlinegurukul.in/

– Tulasi

One Million to Japan tsunami children’s education fund

16 September 2011, Sendai, Japan

Embracing the World (ETW), the international organization of Mata Amritanandamayi Math, formally presented its donation of US $1,000,000 to Yoshihiro Murai, the Governor of Miyagi, Japan. This money will be used for Miagi children’s education fund. The donation is part of Ashram’s Japan Tsunami relief and rehabilitation work. Amma had announced this amount during her visit to Japan in the month of July {news}.

ETW was represented by its Indian General Secretary, Swami Purnamritananda, as well as the Country Director of ETW Japan, Br. Shantamrita Chaitanya handed over the money to the Governor.

Mentioning the potential for various relief measures, ETW’s representatives expressed their ongoing commitment to the reconstruction work in the region. Governor Murai responded by saying, “We are deeply grateful for your support… Embracing the World is a world-renowned NGO. Thus I hope that you will use your international network to keep people all over the world informed of the disaster conditions here, so they will remember in the future.”

Also in attendance was Indian Embassy Tokyo’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Sanjay Panda along with the other ETW volunteers.

Just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in March, ETW dispatched a team of volunteers to Miyagi to determine the scope of the disaster and distribute relief supplies. Food and relief supplies were distributed at Kotodai Park. The volunteers have continued to return to the area to provide aid and help with the relief work in Ishinomaki and Kesennuma.

Since 1990, Amma has been coming to Japan every year to conduct programs in cities such as Tokyo, Kobe, Osaka, and Sapporo. Swami Purnamritananda has been visiting Sendai for the last ten years, offering bhajan and spiritual talks.

– Kalidas

Amritas A-View to connect universities and colleges

Coimbatore

Amrita Virtual Interactive e-Learning World (A-View), the e-learning platform, of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, will be used to connect all universities and colleges of the country free of cost.

The platform will be used for education dissemination, particularly in the distance education mode. It will focus on the courses being offered under the aegis of the National Mission on Education through Information Communications Technology of the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

This was announced by Kamal Bijlani, Head, e-Learning Research Laboratory of the university, at the recently concluded Vice-Chancellors’ Meet in New Delhi.

The platform is seen as an important tool in making education more accessible in the context of on-going discussions on policies and strategies being planned for higher education in the XII Five Year Plan.

Amrita – IIT partnership to empower teachers nation wide

20 Dec 2010
In a historic partnership, IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) Bombay and Amrita University have come together to deliver a nationwide teacher empowerment program delivered online via India’s emerging high speed educational network. The goals of this program are to improve the quality of teachers in professional colleges to world class levels.

Over 1000 college teachers from around 500 professional institutions gathered at 32 nodal centers across the country to attended a 2-week online workshop on “Database Management Systems” from the 13th to the 22nd of December 2010. The session was led by Dr. Sudarshan, IIT Bombay Professor and the renowned author of the standard international textbook on Database Systems. These 32 remote centers used the A-VIEW (Amrita Virtual Interactive E-Learning World) system developed by Amrita University, to connect and communicate.

These online workshops for improving the quality of teachers are the brainchild of Prof. D.B. Phatak, Subrao M. Nilekani Chair Professor, IIT Bombay, who said, “It is gratifying to see that my dream to empower thousands of college teachers in core engineering courses has been realized.” National Knowledge Commission in its findings has concluded that the low quality of higher education is one of the key factors affecting India’s economic growth.

Mr. S. Ramadorai, Tata Consultancy Services vice-chairman and software industry pioneer, while addressing the participants today said, “India’s future depends on the capabilities and expertise of its human capital. It is the academic community that can play a transformation role in building this future. This ‘first of its kind’ online national teacher empowerment program is a bold step towards building excellence amongst the teaching community. This unique operation should be scaled for much wider usage in coming years, spanning all dimensions of Indian education including schools.”

IIT Bombay Director Prof. Devang Khakhar in his address said that IIT Bombay is committed to make a difference to education and research in Indian academia through several outreach programs.

UB conferred doctorate to Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

amma-doctorate_0325 May 2010 — Buffalo, New York

The State University of New York (SUNY) presented Amma with an honorary doctorate in humane letters at a special ceremony held on May 25 at Lippes Concert Hall in Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus.

Dr. John B. Simpson, the President of State University of New York at Buffalo, addressed the gathering, which included a mix of SUNY Buffalo faculty and students, as well as faculties from Amrita University.

amma-doctorate_06“Through this conferral, we pay tribute to the far-reaching contributions of a distinguished educational leader, prominent humanitarian and esteemed spiritual leader. Through her leadership of Amrita University as well as through her humanitarian work, Chancellor Amma exemplifies the value of international dialogue and dedicated public service in the global arena. These are values at the core of the University at Buffalo’s mission as an internationalized public university seeking to prepare our students to contribute meaningfully to the global world,” he said.

Just prior to the actual conferral of the degree, President Simpson said, “In great appreciation of [Amma’s] extraordinary humanitarian service and commitment to expanding educational opportunities and international cooperation throughout the world, the University at Buffalo is privileged to confer upon her the State University of New York Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. State University of New York honorary degrees—proposed by our campus and approved by the State University Board of Trustees—represent the highest form of recognition accorded by the State University. These degrees are conferred upon individuals of exceptional distinction, whose achievements and contributions serve as inspiring examples to the university’s students.”

amma-doctorate_04SUNY Trustee Eunice Lewin then said, “By virtue of the authority vested in me, the faculty of the State University of New York concurring, I confer upon Chancellor [of Amrita University] Mata Amritanandamayi Devi the degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa.  In token thereof, I hand you this diploma and hood appropriate to the degree.”

President Simpson and SUNY Lewin then placed the ceremonial cowl over Amma’s shoulders to thunderous applause. Amma is the first Indian to receive this honour.

Amma then delivered an address on education, in which she discussed the importance of including universal spiritual values in core curricula, the role of meditation in developing and gaining control over the mind, and the complimentary relationship of scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom, among other topics.

photo by Nancy J. Parisiamma-doctorate_05Amma said, “It is Amma’s prayer that we develop the expansive-mindedness to embrace both scientific knowledge and spiritual wisdom. We can no longer afford to see these two streams of knowledge as flowing in opposite directions. In truth, they compliment one another. If we merge these streams, we will find that we are able to create a mighty river—a river whose waters can remove suffering and spread life to all of humanity.

Other dignitaries to address the gathering included Dr. Satish K. Tripathi, Provost of University at Buffalo, and Dr. Stephen Dunnett, University at Buffalo, Vice-Provost for International Education.

“Because of Chancellor Amma’s vision, thoughtful leadership and commitment to academic excellence, the University at Buffalo and Amrita University faculty and students have benefitted from an ambitious educational and research partnership,” said UB Provost Satish K. Tripathi.

“As the UB/Amrita partnership has grown, I know it has been largely due to Amma’s behind-the-scenes role in nurturing and encouraging our institutional relationship. From the beginning, she has seen the potential of this partnership for the benefit of our respective universities and our faculty and students.

“Moreover, in these challenging times, it is heartening to know that our students’ worldview and life approach are expanded and enriched through their appreciation of the transformational impact of global humanitarian work which is modeled exquisitely by Chancellor Amma.”

The ceremony was exquisitely arranged with performances of both classical music both from India and the West, including organ performances by University at Buffalo faculty Roland E. Martin and students of the Natya School of Indican Classical Dance in Buffalo, directed by Tejaswini Rao.

-Kannadi

MA Centre, Germany receives UN Award

On 17 March, 2010, Cologne, Germany
The National Committee of the UN-Decade “Education for Sustainable Development” awarded M.A. Center Germany as an official UNESCO Decade Project.

The award is given to institutions and communities that provide a positive example to the local community by operating according to the principles of sustainable living.

M.A.Center Germany received the award for its holistic approach to sustainability in all areas of life.

The centre uses primarily organic and regional foods, and further seeks self-sufficiency in the use of energy and water. Cisterns are already in use and other eco-friendly technologies like photovoltaic, solar-heating and wood-chip-heating systems are scheduled.

For the conversion and construction of buildings, ecological materials are used and the principles of a passive house are implemented, which means that due to advanced insulation no additional heating is required, even during the cold winters.

The centre offers retreats on conscious living, meditation, organic cultivation of vegetable and herbs as well as yoga and art workshops.

Since 2006, the centre has been organizing Youth Retreats to convey the principles of sustainability to the younger generation. These retreats are sponsored by the European Union’s “Youth in Action” program.

During the award ceremony, Prof. Gerhard de Haan, chairman of the National Committee for the Implementation of the UN Decade in Germany said: “The Decade projects do good work. They impart knowledge and skills of sustainable development to our society; teach the idea of sustainability to a larger range of people.”

The UN Decade on Education of Sustainable Development is an international education initiative. The states of the United Nations have committed themselves to learn in the years 2005 to 2014 the concept of “sustainability”. The German Commission of the UNESCO coordinates the activities of the UN Decade in Germany together with the Federal Ministry of Education.

– Dev

NABH accreditation for Amrita Institute

Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences has been granted NABH (National Accreditation Board of Hospitals & Health Care Providers) accreditation. Amrita is the first university teaching hospital to get NABH accreditation in the country.

National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) is a constituent board of Quality Council of India, (http://www.qcin.org/) set up to establish and operate accreditation programme for healthcare organizations and to set benchmarks for progress of health industry.

Amrita Telemedicine connects to PAN-African network

The Telemedicine network at Amrita Institute of Medical Science has begun extending its services beyond India’s borders. On May 4, 2009, it became part of the India’s PAN-African telemedicine network.

Though this telemedicne network, Amrita will provide e-health services to Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Seychelles. Medical consultation in various medical specialties will be made available to care centers and hospitals in these rural areas. Through a satellite and fiber optic network, it will be able to reach out to remote and rural areas in need.

The inaugural telecast was that of a CME (Continuing Medical Education) session, for doctors in the rural centers of Africa. The topic — Infectious Diseases, Prevention and Control. Dr. Girish, General Medicine interacted with doctors in 13 countries on the African continent as he shared his insights and knowledge from Amrita. “We have long aspired to this goal –Digital health to every doorstep– ” he stated. “I am happy that after Amma’s visit, we are now able to serve the African people in yet another manner.”

PAN-African e-network is a Government of India initiative. The network’s main aim is to provide adequate educational facilities and affordable healthcare eventually in all 53 nations of the African Union. This idea was proposed by the President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, at the inaugural session of the PAN-African parliament held at Johannesburg in 2004.