Best Practice -1
- Title: Art and Cultural Awareness Programmes
To acquaint the students and the public about the folk art forms of Central Kerala those are retreating to oblivion.
Education in general and language and literature studies in particular is very much related to the cultural scenario of the times. But the present trend in society and education is something that forgets the cultural heritage and traditional value of folk arts. When students and younger generation run after popular culture and art forms, the rich cultural heritage of folk art forms get marginalized. Without a revisit and reinforcement to these important elements of our culture, they may become extinct. In this context, under the initiative of the Malayalam department of the college a series of such programmes were conducted during the assessment period.
- The Practice:
The practice was envisaged as a series of programmes that could stage important yet usually unfamiliar folk art forms in the campus and to familiarise the students and local community with its specific features so that a new interest is kindled in rediscovering and appreciating the sidelined art forms. First among the series of performance was a staging of ‘Mlaveli’(Chithra pattu Vayana) by Peedikakudi Narayanan, the one and only practitioner of the art form in Kerala today. It is a sort of storytelling based on the pictures. Folk tales are interestingly presented before the audience. The programme as conducted on 20/11/2019. Even though the art form is rarely talked about in the academic and popular field, it provided a great exposure and unforgettable memory to the audience. The same evening witnessed the staging of ‘Mudiyettu’in the campus. Though the name is quite familiar the spectacle of the same was a completely different experience. A demonstration and class by Keezhillam Unnikrishnan on the art enlightened the spectators in advance and prepared them for the real show. The performance was a drive back to the agricultural roots of folk arts and related to the age old fertility myths. It was enough to awaken the agricultural and cultural roots that lay in the collective subconscious. Another important event in the series was the class and demonstration of ‘Nokkupava kali’ by the Padma shri winning artist Pankajakshi Amma. As an art that needs immense concentration, dedication and constant training to achieve perfection and balance it is not everyone’s choice. But students were very much eager to converse with the veteran artist and know about this rare and sublime art form. Last significant event was’ Nangyarkooth’ performance by Indu G. She performed a part of ‘Kamsavadham’and another famous artist Margi Madhu gave the illustration. The programme was conducted on 15 February 2020. It was also an eye opener for the new generation students about the richness and variety of the not so popular arts.
- Evidence of Success:
The Programme was a huge success because the student, teacher and local community showed unprecedented interest in the activities. The initial response to the programmes were just average, but after the staging the main organizers and the college community as a whole received overwhelming support and appreciation. After the success of the first event, the events in the series got better initial reaction too. It was felt like a community feeling of togetherness and same cultural roots became more evident for the spectators from different generations and various fields of interest. 6. Challenges encountered Organising marginal art forms in a campus was a challenging initiative. Scarcity of groups and artists who perform the arts was the first hurdle to overcome. Finding common convenient time for the performers and audience was another problem. ‘Mudiyettu’ had to be convened after the regular working hours and close to nightfall. This unconventional practice was also a revolutionary step to be taken. Unavailability of young artists is the most striking and significant challenge that were to be faced in the staging of ‘Mlaveli’ and ‘Nokkupava kali’. It proves that they can soon become extinct if new generation and informed academic circle does not take initiative for their rediscovery and revival. 7. Remarks, if any
Best Practice -2
- Title of the Practice:
Organic Farming, setting up of herbal garden and protection of indigenous plant species
- Goal of the Practice:
The goal of the practice is to promote organic farming among the local people, students, and staff members. They are to be made aware of the consequences of chemical and inorganic farming and the need for self sufficiency in vegetable cultivation. Another objective is to inculcate an interest in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine among the students who are the future managers. The practice also aims to protect highly productive varieties of indigenous plant species peculiar to Kerala which face the threat of extinction.
- The Context:
Green Revolution which started in India during 1960s involves intensive farming of plants and its hybrid varieties using fertilizers and pesticides. As a result, it enhanced the productivity. For a developing country like India, the move was benevolent as it fed millions for more than half a century. However, the intensive and extensive farming with the aid of modern technology had many adverse effects too. Soil fertility declined due to soil erosion, salinity increased, as a result, productivity was on the decrease. Overuse of poisonous pesticides adversely affected man and the flora and fauna. In Kerala, the use of hybrid varieties of many plants caused the extinction or near extinction of their indigenous counterparts. Therefore, promoting organic farming, recognizing the importance of medicinal plants and protecting highly productive varieties of indigenous plants is the need of the present century for the sustenance of lives on the earth.
- The Practice
4.1 Organic farming
The IQAC in association with NSS unit, NCC and Bhoo Mithra Sena Club of the college organized awareness programmes for local people, students, and staff about the need for organic farming, use of manures and organic fertilizers. The NSS volunteers conducted the ‘jaivam’ survey in the houses at Kadaplamattom grama Panchayath in Kottayam District in order to promote organic farming. The volunteers interacted with the people in the area to adopt ethical organic practices to enrich the soil and preserve the environment while ensuring their own health. Recycling of organic waste into manure and using the same for producing vegetables for the household was the focal point of the programme.
4.2 Herbal Garden
The staff and students are active in maintaining a herbal garden in front of the main block of the college. The garden contains varieties of medicinal plants and trees. The garden is nourished entirely through organic and natural methods. Besides, the Bhoo Mithra Sena club collects trees from Agroforestry department and medicinal plants from the Forest Department of which a portion is distributed among staff and students to plant them in their homesteads. The remaining plants were planted and maintained in the campus.
4.3 Flower Garden BhooMithraSena club of the college has created a flower garden containing locally available flowering plant species. Plants are grown in grow pots prepared by students. This is entirely a student initiative venture.
4.4 ‘Surabhi’: Protection and promotion of Indigenous Plant Species It is an exclusive programme of the Department of Economics that aims to protect high yielding indigenous varieties of plant species which are under the threat of extinction. The programme also aims to propagate indigenous knowledge which will enable the plant species to propagate. Under the programme, the department has identified local mango varieties, jackfruit, vegetable items, wetland arrowroot varieties, shoal forest vegetation and several other tropical rainforest plants. Mango saplings of attanaari and thenmavu were distributed among local households and were also planted in the college premises. The Department has sought the help from the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources for genetic mapping of indigenous species. The department has also initiated a digital library to provide knowledge on indigenous species.
- Evidence of Success
A good number of local households have started organic farming in their homesteads. They were interested in further information about organic farming practices as they recognized the need for organic farming. Students and staff started organic vegetable farming in their homesteads. Many students planted medicinal plants as well as trees from Agroforestry Department in their homesteads.
- Problems Encountered and Resources Required While implementing the programme the major hurdle was the initial indifference of people to attend the awareness programmes. They believed that their effort will not make a radical change in the farming practices all over Kerala. However, soon they recognized the importance of self sufficiency in producing vegetables and how it will improve their health. Organising this kind of a programme is expensive, time consuming and requires technical expertise. As the students are coming from far off places, it was difficult to obtain the participation of a good number of students who were really interested in the venture. As it is a government college, arranging finance for the programme was difficult. The programme got financial assistance from college PTA and Krishibhavan Koothattukulam.