From:

Dr. Surinder M Bhardwaj
Professor Emeritus, Geography
Kent State University
Kent, OH (USA)

To:

Dr. Chandra Balachandran, Founder and Director
The Institute of Geographical Studies (TIGS)

21 June 2020 

It is of great pleasure for me to know that there has been sustained cooperation between Dr. Chandra Balachandran, Founder and Director of The Institute of Geographical Studies (TIGS), Bengaluru, India, Ms. Vidya Shankar, Founder and Director of Cascade Family Learning Service (CFLS) and her colleague Mr. J. Murali Krishnan.

This confluence of the cutting- edge geography education of TIGS and the time-tested Montessori philosophy of CFLS, is now ready to collectively nurture the spirit of India’s promising youth. It is my heartfelt prayer that 30 June 2020, be a blessed day for the start of an auspicious partnership between the two Institutions and their respective founders with complementary pedagogies.

This is also a new day, an auspicious day, for geography in India.

An important step toward the growing partnership between TIGS and CFLS is now being taken by the formal launching of an innovative 3-year certificate course, “The Power of Place (TPoP),” for children (10/11 year age and above) receiving their education at CFLS in the academic environment of Montessori pedagogy.

This course is designed to convey the core paradigm of geography as the science of place. Grounded in the everyday experience of the youth, geography is not presented as a rote memorizing of the names of state capitals, rivers, and mountains. Instead, geography education is made an integral part of our life, as multidimensional and ever changing as life itself. Dr. Balachandran has dedicated his energy and intellect in developing ways of teaching geography, imaginatively illustrated in his Geography, Everywhere!. As a geographer and as the step-in academic advisor of Dr. Balachandran, our paths converged for a while at Kent State University, there to transform into lifelong friendship. Many discussions with Chandra, became an exciting medium of learning for me as a cultural geographer, a positive ‘side effect’ of the privilege of teaching graduate students!

It is now my distinct privilege and honor to send my best wishes to Dr Balachandran/TIGS and Ms Vidya Shankar/ CFLS, for creating an inter-institutional program in which geography as a discipline has a distinct place. My wife Vinay and I send our profound blessings to the success of TIGS, CFLS and their Founders for recognizing, that nothing short of the best will do for our children.

To the children who will benefit from TPoP;

 “Of all the blessings we know [there is] none greater than … children endowed with intelligence,” observed the great saint Thiruvalluvar (Kural 61).

You are those children.

You are our blessings. Our precious children, just close your eyes for thirty seconds and imagine: what will you be ten or fifteen years from now?  You are our world’s future leaders-in-the-making (architects, scientists, teachers, AI specialists, business executives, farmers, engineers, doctors, nurses, soldiers, pastors, astronauts….).

In just a few years, you will be in decision-making positions to create a better world. You will begin to fulfill your, and your parents’ dreams. However, to fulfil your dreams, you have to get excellent education in institutions like CFLS, and take courses such as The Power of Place (TPoP), that fire your imagination.

You have to learn, and learn to use, critical thinking as your problem-solving toolbox. No matter what profession you choose later, you will greatly benefit from TPoP. You will learn to fully realize some years later how much CFLS and TIGS prepared you for tomorrow’s world.

Today, my wife Vinay and I, from the United States, join your parents, teachers, and loved ones, and pray for Divine Blessings and best wishes for your success. On your hard work and success depends India’s success. In the ancient times in India, when the student went to the Guru’s ashrama for receiving education, the student and the teacher together made a prayerful promise to each other.

ॐ सह नाववतु
सह नौ भुनक्तु
सहवीर्यं करवावहै
तेजस्विनावधीतमस्तु
मा विद्विषावहै
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ||

“Om saha naavavatu, Saha naubhunaktu, Saha veeryam karavaavahai.
Tejasvi naavadheetamastu. Maa vidvisaavahai. Om Saantih, Saantih, Saantih ( Swami Sarvaananda: Kenopanisad)
(Tr. Modified from Swami Sarvaananda)

We pray to the Supreme Being to protect and nourish us both. May both of us work with great energy and enthusiasm. Thorough and fruitful be our learning, in an environment of mutual respect. Om peace, peace, peace!

 With best wishes for a fruitful, synergistic, academic journey,

Surinder M Bhardwaj, PhD
Professor Emeritus, Geography
President’s Medalist, Kent State University
Kent, OH 44242 USA

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