Background

Hariharan Balagopal's tryst with Education started sometime in the early 90's when computer education was the order of the day and numerous computer training institutes had mushroomed all over the country. Balagopal set out to market a computer Education initiative, and positioned it as an institution ahead of its times. The small set up was soon to become an Engineering college of high repute churning out hundreds of Computer Professionals. Soon after, ET&T, a struggling government of India enterprise retained Balagopal as the strategic marketing consultant and Balagopal successfully combined it with his passion for Chess to bring both Chess and ET&T back into reckoning . The event somehow firmly established the compatibility of the brain-game with computers, and soon triggering off a trend of sorts. While several grandmasters and International Masters were to emerge out of the First ET & T Open chess Championship, the event was also heralded as a game changer in the history of Chess in Delhi . Present Railway Minister, Mr. Suresh Prabhu, in an overwhelming show of appreciation graced both the inaugural ceremony and the closing ceremony as the Chief Guest and pledged unconditional life-time support for Balagopal's educationally and socially relevant initiatives in his address. That he volunteered to be at the closing event added much more value to the event.

Suresh Prabhu addressing the audience at ET& T Event

NIIT event in DPS RK Puram

Mr Suresh Prabhu also lived by his word in the NIIT International Rating Championship Organised by Balagopal at DPS R.K.Puram soon after, which saw a record participation, gracing it as the Chief Guest again. While Balagopal had successfully brought chess to school education, several other avenues of School education lapped up Balagopal for his strategic involvement in the evolving education sector . Following an eventful association with DPS R.K. Puram, Balagopal's handholding with a multitude of DPS initiatives and the DPS Society was to trigger of a series of changes in the way education was being looked at in those evolving years. Soon to follow were several other chains of schools inculdng the highly acclaimed K R Mangalam Group that retained Balagopal for launch of their school initiatives. His belief that every school should have its own unique personality has found favour with those who took the Business of school education seriously.

Ramayana in school education with Arun Govil

Today Hariharan Balagopal provides complete Management solutions to a multitude of schools . On turnkey assignments Balagopal extends direction in all areas of work ranging from curriculum management , technology , teacher's training and students workshops, and from internal management to external affiliations and exchange programmes. Another vertical initiated by Balagopal extends the much needed media connect to schools, and encourages scholastic and co-scholastic talent among school children.

RNS World School, Jhansi

RNS Pre-Primary School, Jhansi

H. Balagopal with Cricketer Maninder Singh

Among the initiatives that he has co-founded, Balagopal rates the RNS World School in Jhansi, a place which he calls historically significant, politically underrated and educationally deprived . Balagopal's advent in the historical town , that had not yet evolved into a city, was to change the education map of the Bundhelkhand region totally. Where education itself was a novelty in some regions, educating the girl child was a distant dream . Several of teachers in some of the schools that thrived before RNS happened along, which was just six years ago , were teachers for a paltry sum of Rs.1500 and Rs 2000/- per month, whereas the corresponding remuneration in delhi for the same levels of teachers exceeded 20000/-. While the cost of living and standard of living in the region too did not match Delhi's lifestyle, Rs. 2000 was a bit too low a motivation in Balagopal's estimate. RNS ushered-in an era of investment on resources, and soon the other schools were forced to follow suit. Today, i.e. five years later, every school in the region is buzzing with activity , with the dynamics of education totally changed, each teacher motivated, and the old passive schools looking up with reasonably good gender-ratio, and more importantly , new dynamic school brands and venturing into Jhansi for a slice of the education pie, that all of a sudden had become attractive. Rapid strides in education in Jhansi, in turn has led to the focus of multinational companies on the region, and employment opportunities in otherwise dry granite land has grown manifold. Several experiments initiated by Balagopal worked well the first and foremost being the implementation of the concept of building as learning aids with the first RNS junior school at Jhansi the likes of which the historical township had never seen before.

Sharda Sinha recording at B&B studios

Kaavalam Srikumar recording at B&B studios

Mukesh Khanna at a video shoot

Balagopal practices a philosophy of learning by playing It is his firm belief that happiness quotient is more important of all the quotients , and for a child nothing can give more happiness than playing in a secure environment. He also believes that a child learns more happily by playing than by making an effort to learn . It is hence that Balagopal advocates a policy of converting all curriculum into gaming modules. Balagopal with a panel of eminent teachers , is presently working on converting the most boring of theory lessons and subjects to interesting gaming modules with practical learning tools so that the interest of children and retention of the topic learnt is sustained over a longer period of time . He cherishes a viewpoint from a wiseman from a village who told him once, that children who grow with their yearning for food and play met in childhood, grow up to be happy and confident adults . 'Bachhon ki niyat bharni chahiye' the illiterate-wiseman had said. No amount of the same in later years would ever compensate for what has been missed in childhood . In every initiative Balagopal ensures that teachers think from children's perspective and provide for the basics and also play-areas befitting the situation. Right to education can not be at the cost of the right to childhood . Imposing a grammar on how children should act and react and what they should play and what not, is a sin according to Balagopal.

In framing the policies of the school too, Balagopal adheres more to a policy of elimination than selection. What not to do according to him is more important than what to do. Narrowing down possibilities helps creating specialists and having many of them creates generals. Today's world is of specialists and nor generals. But so called teachers with a B.Ed from several of the colleges thriving in our country are far from being even teachers, rather they can permanently damage the foundation of early education. Particularly at foundation levels Balagopal would rather have compassionate mothers as matrons rather than technically qualified teachers, except for those coming from well structured established institutions of training. While there is no dearth of resource persons and renowned educators in the country, it is a practical approach and strategic combination of multiple solutions that has helped Balagopal create a niche for himself in the education sector. It is always a package, the order of which does not necessarily have to be pre-defined , feels Balagopal. Rather , customised case-specific solutions to a situation, even without precedence, is more effective in tackling issues. It is the responsibility of every stake holder in children's upbringing including parents and family, to create an environment for growing without the ills of any kind of fear, and stringent rules and conditions, and being older by age in an eco-system does not give anyone the right to bully and tame children by might. Affection always begets affection and children handled with affection rather than force, grow up to be better human beings than others, as numerous studies have shown.

First Prize winning Tableaux for Delhi Government 2011

With a passion for art and cultural heritage of the country , Balagopal created another vertical with dedicated artists to work on a very specialised area of Tableaux for Republic day Parade. The intent was again to provide an interface for school children with Cultural heritage of the country and connect them with the biggest national stage, that brought performing arts and fine arts together. Working closely with the Delhi Government ,with the then Chief Minister Smt Shiela Dixit , the tableaux for Delhi in 2011 on religious and cultural harmony went on to win the First prize for best theme and concepts for the first ever time in the history of Republic Day events. In over eight years of the initiative, the vertical has won several more awards for theme and display at various forums, particularly at the India International Trade Fair and Republic Day Events. Balagopal ensures the use of salvage of the tableaux created by this team as learning tools by installing and maintaining them in different schools, and murals and figures from the tableaux and exhibitions adorn several schools. A state- of-the- art sound studio complementing the entire vertical, also extends numerous opportunities to school children with passion for music and voice recording.

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