PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter board and volunteers have signed on a mission to foster 21st century skills among the rural youth, focusing primarily on leadership, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. As a part of this mission, the chapter recently organized a student leadership conference titled Gyan-Lahari.

The event theme was “#Gyan-Lahari - 2018 – India meets Bharat,” that focused on bridging the gap between urban and rural India. The event was hosted by a rural school, Sane Guruji Vidyalaya, in village Kharapudi, 50 km from Pune. Students and teachers from five other schools from nearby villages attended the event.

Dr. Girish Kelkar, advisory board member, PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter, and a philanthropist, was the chief guest. The conference had three tracks — Gyan Sagar, Gyan Tej, and Gyan Deep.

Gyan Sagar was an educational track with keynotes, panel discussions, and games for students. Here, around 120 students from five schools got an opportunity to gain knowledge from experts in defense, manufacturing, IT, and the social sector.

After an introductory speech by advocate Prakash Choudhari from the school executive committee, Dr. Kelkar spoke about discipline and hard work. Harish Honwad, independent consultant, explained the concept of Gyan-Lahari to the students and conducted games through which students learned about the importance of teamwork and creativity. Jay Dholakia, chapter CEO, spoke about digital transformation, and Mita Banerjee from Eco Warriors conducted a workshop on recycling of plastic. Dr. Yogesh Kulkarni of Vigyan Aashram introduced the concept of frugal innovation and entrepreneurship.

The last session was a panel discussion on opportunities in the defense services. The panel included veterans from all the three forces – Col. (Retd.) Bharat Haladi from the Indian Army, Cdr (Retd.) Yogesh Choudhari from the Indian Navy, and Wing Commander (Retd.) Anup Banerjee from the Indian Air Force. The discussion was moderated by Amol Patil from the chapter. They spoke about their lives as soldiers, how to become officers in the services, and the role of female officers. Volunteers Dipti Kshirsagar and Sandeep Bhavsar hosted the event.

Under Gyan Tej, there was an exhibition-cumsale of articles made by the students. The exhibition had 17 stalls on which around 55 students had worked for over a month. PMI volunteers Prajakta Bhoite and Shashank Shinde provided guidance in the form of project management principles to students and their guide teachers. The students earned around Rs. 80,000 from this sale.

There were two special attractions – customized bikes and a robotic arm. Kiran Rao, founder, Kirrex Motors, and his team demonstrated their customized bikes, while Swapnil More, senior engineer, Integrity Robotics, displayed their robotic arm – Dobot.

PMI volunteers graded the stalls and the winners were felicitated. In the third track – Gyan Deep – leaders from PMI and the industry addressed parents and teachers. These were open discussions without an agenda. Anagha Dhara – VP - finance, PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter, Meeta Banerjee from Eco Warriors, Sunita Jagtap from Koregaon Education Society, and Dr. Shruti Choudhari from Sane Guruji Vidyalaya spoke to the mothers of students about parenting and other issues. Jay Dholakia and Makarand Hardas, VP - academic & social outreach, addressed the teachers and the fathers of students. They were supported by Cdr Yogesh Choudhari and Wing Commander Anup Banerjee.

A team of around 18 volunteers of the PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter worked tirelessly to make this event successful. It was planned and coordinated by chapter members Vidya Chavan, Makarand Hardas, Prajakta Bhoite and Amol Kshirsagar.

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