Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Workshop.

We're at the Foundation, on the dot, at 9. And after collecting the staff and the essential stuff, we'd made a beeline to the Hilton Garden Inn, where the Intel was sponsoring the event. The ballroom that we'd seen the last evening in a club format, with numerous round tables with clusters of four chairs around each, had been converted into an auditorium format for seating a little over 200 people.

To my query that PN Panicker was known to lead a spartan life and as to how the public would view an activity of the Foundation being conducted in the environs of a five star hotel, my Maman's answer was interesting and had two salient points which were:-

   (a) The panchayat leadership drawn from every layer of the society must also get a taste of the
         luxuries affordable by the rich and
   (b) The Intel who was a partner in our e-literacy campaign was providing us with the venue.

The workshop's theme was, "Empowering Graam Panchayats Through Total Digital Literacy." We wanted to have a brainstorming of the targets achieved by each of the 100 panchayats, the problems that had cropped up that prevented the smooth roll of the project with respect to the panchayats and the difficulties that were faced by the other stakeholders while dealing with the panchayats.

The public meeting had begun at 11, with Dr. MK Muneer, the minister of Panchayats, and the other distinguished guests, on the podium, lighting the traditional lamp in front of a large photograph of PN Panicker. It was very sporting of the minister and showed his liberal thinking, to light the lamp despite a loose diktat of his party that its members must refrain from such activity consequent to the controversy on the last Vaayana Dinam of 19 Jun 2015! After the meeting, the deliberations had begun in right earnest with Maman taking on the queries and problems with elan, ably supported by the reps of Keltron and Intel(Regarding the glitches on the tabs, which seemed to be a one-too-many) and the Deputy Director of Panchayats who'd taken on the financial queries regarding objections from the local auditors in the manner they'd spent the money allotted for the project. And finally, the gathering came to the unanimous agreement that the date for the attainment of cent percent e-literacy in all the 100 panchayats would be 31 Mar.   

My job, as one of the backroom boys, was over and I left for Guruvayur by the Intercity Express to at 1730h.


(a) A short nice trip and I was glad that I could contribute my mite towards the smooth conduct of the event. This will be followed by a yatra, connecting the 100 panchayats - to ensure the smooth transition on the ground of the decisions reached thus far - which we hope to do sometime in early Feb.

(b) Did I see the media reps leaving the venue, soon after the meeting? Perhaps, Muneer lighting the lamp would be the photograph that will accompany the news item in the newspapers tomorrow! As John Britas, the CEO of the Kairali channel, had accepted in the last 'weekend discussions' at the Foundation that the media hankered for TRPs and only controversies could fetch them that. Period!   

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