April, May, June 2020
In times of quarantine, the meanings of words have alteredwork, security, home, isolation, space, touch. The polis has seemingly been erased out of existence. What does it mean for politics and rights when the polis exists only in the virtual?
You've got mail!

Dear Readers,

We have a lot for you this newsletter! First off, we'd like to share that we've decided to make Weekly Readings@Seagull digital to keep us connected and reading together through this lockdown.

In times when our primary link to the world is formed by successors to the radio, we bring you from the archives a short history of the Indian Commercial Radio by legendary announcer Ameen Sayani.

Looking for out-of-the-box ways to address neglected areas in school learning? We bring you three resources we've developed that look at citizenship, forgotten histories of women revolutionaries and nurturing critical thinking through films!

About to brave untested waters with your debut digital class? Not a teacher but looking for ways to get your child engaged in meaningful learning? The world has opened up a treasure trove of resources to get us all through this pandemicwe've compiled a list of our favourites for you.

Take a look at how we've been talking genocides, identity and human rights with high school students in Calcutta through our latest batches of the Human Rights Defenders programme this year.

Lastly, an account of how the second chapter of The Idea of the Indian Constitution unfolded in Pune earlier this year.

Still with us? Keep scrolling!

The Strange and Amusing History of Indian Commercial Radio : Ameen Sayani
On June 16, 1938, AIR Madras station on Marshall’s Road, Egmore, was inaugurated by C. Rajagopalachari, then premier of Madras Presidency, Lionel Fielden, controller of broadcasting, and Sir Andrew Clow, member of communication in the Viceroy’s Executive Council. Photo: The Hindu Archives. Source: http://goo.gl/k1nSNd
'Did you know that, until the dawn of the 1950s, All India Radio (later also called “Akashwani”) was one of the finest broadcasting organizations in the world?

Patterned on the lines of the BBC, AIR carried out its mandate of "Education, Information, Entertainment" with great skill and magnificent impactwith the full participation of the nation’s finest writers, speakers, performers, presenters and producers [. . .]

[. . .] Although the Partition in 1947 had resulted in a number of great broadcasters opting for Pakistan, India still retained enough talent, flair and expertise in the field of communications to keep AIR’s flag flying proud and high.

But then, three things happened that began to clip AIR’s wings on the one hand and, on the other, led to Indian Commercial Radio being born [. . .]'
Weekly Readings @ Seagull go virtual!
Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash

Sometimes, picking up that book and getting down to reading it *now*, can seem like a daunting task.

We are shifting Weekly Readings@Seagull to the virtual so you don't have to do this solo. We welcome all readersthe ones that breeze through pages, the ones who linger on phrases, the non-readers, the young, the oldanyone with a persistent love of words and language wanting to share a space with those like and unlike you. Let's read, listen, think through this pandemic, together. For related details and updates, join the History for Peace group on Facebook.

Each of the sessions will be moderated by our team. Here's the list of themes for our first month of digital readings:

10.4.2020 | Disease and Suffering | Amreeta
17.4.2020 | Diary writing, Memoirs and Letters | Diptarko
24.4.2020| Friendships as literature records and history remembers| Rajosmita, Ranita
1.5.2020 | Rivers, Bays, Straits and Seas | Diven
Fresh teaching/learning resources!
We, the Students
a citizenship awareness campaign
The Idea

With the final list of the Assam NRC released, lakhs of people affected and then the anti-CAA agitations raging through the country, ideas of citizenship and belonging have been tossed into disorder on a scale perhaps unprecedented in India in recent times. This February, inspired by a session Modern High School undertook with their class 11 students, we developed a citizenship awareness campaign to take to high school students across the city, with our fantastic team of volunteers.

What do we propose? To engage students critically in an exercise loosely modeled along the lines of a debate, that will enable them to seek the answers to these questions themselves. If not answers, students will at the very least have moved on to newer, different questions. Read about the process here.
The Content

Key terms and definitions, a basic history of immigration laws in independent India, varied aspects of the CAA and NRC including legal arguments in favour of and against the CAAhere is the primer we put together, all sources cited, for our citizenship awareness campaign.
Before schools were assailed by board exam season, and then the world by Covid - 19, we had the chance to take this initiative to two schools in the city: Chowringhee High School where we worked with class 9 students, and Akshar, where we modelled this into an intensive workshop/discussion for the teaching faculty. To read how this panned out in practice, in the words of two of our volunteers, click on the button below.
Women's role in the freedom struggle
Remember those chapters in the history textbook, the ones with the exciting accounts of daring exploits against colonizers by women in colonial India?

Well, us neither.

So we thought of doing something about it to help you modify the tenor of your history classes. We decided to look back at some of the women who occupied that eternal murky category of revolutionary/terrorist, women who fought shackles both domestic and foreign, private and public, to legitimize their voices in the choir of anti-colonial struggles. To share a window into histories of women involved in the anti colonial freedom struggles of what became the Indian nation, beyond the occasional image of the warrior Rani Lakshmibai on horseback, child in tow, or Sarojini Naidu.

Not a History/ Social Science teacher? Read on anyway and tell us what you think!
Here's an excerpt from the Introduction:

'The freedom struggle like any other critical juncture in history has been conventionally read as the grand story of men’s supreme leadership and their sacrifice at both levelsthat of the larger political picture, as also the smaller personal experiences in bringing independence to the country from the colonizer.

[. . .] Just as the politics of remembering and commemoration is being increasingly analysed, it is equally important to study the politics of forgetting. Navigating through the silences of any periodpast or present, can be most revealing for unpacking what is hidden from the everyday discourse [ . . . ]'
Thinking with Films
Have teenagers at home? Internet access? We have just the thing for you!

While we designed this resource to be adopted by teachers in the classroom space, it lends itself perfectly for home use in these pandemic times.

Was Satyajit Ray being an objective narrator in Two? Is impulse beyond justice and morality? Can it be political? What could the relation between the Vietnam War and the length of Norman Mclaren's Neighbours be?

Drawing from a selection of short films and film clips freely available in the public domain, this resource encourages its users to connect the dots, engage with issues that concern humanity, and paraphrasing Ritwik Ghatak's unforgettable words—to 'practise thinking'.
Want to explore ways of bringing historical thinking into your classroom?

We have a plethora of freely available, carefully researched resources and lesson ideas for you to explore on our website. Browse through them and tell us what you think! You can email us at peaceworks@seagullindia.com
This & That
Teaching and Learning in Lockdown
Illustration by Devika Dave, 'What should we teach in schools now?'. Shared with artist's permission.

For the teaching community, the pandemic has thrown up some fundamental challenges: what becomes of teaching and learning processes in the absence of a shared physical space? What is the role of a teacher in a virtual learning space? Third, and to go to the very basics as the title of Devika Dave's illustration asks, 'what should we teach in schools now?'

While you ponder these questions, here's a compilation we've made of some incredible teaching and learning resources that have been made freely accessible to help sustain the world through this pandemic.
Need to take classes or plan assignments in Covid-19 times? Bookwidgets has put together this very helpful list of digital tools for a collaborative classroom. Use it to guide your way through the virtual classroom!


For excellent resources from the global teaching community, explore: Merlot,


Concerned your child's school learning will be affected in a lockdown? Here are three recommendations from a homeschooling parent to get you out of this fix: Brainpop, Outschool, Khan Academy.


What constitutes learning? If you think there's more to it than the traditional classroom, look up Creative Bug and get those young ones to start making with their hands!


Got young ones with incessant questions about everything under the sun? Consider subscribing (paid) to Curiosity Stream for their pool of documentaries!


Looking for something more topical? Bunk History came up with this incredible gallery of stories about the ways Americans have understood and responded to the ravages of epidemic disease, starting from the 'Columbian exchange' in the 15th century down to the ongoing Corona pandemic. Perfect for learners and teachers, irrespective of age!
Ever wanted to touch historical documents and texts enclosed in glass cases in museums and library collections? Well, now you can colour them!

Launched by The New York Academy of Medicine Library in 2016, #ColorOurCollections is an annual coloring festival on social media during which libraries, museums, archives and other cultural institutions around the world share free coloring content featuring images from their collections. Click here to tumble into this delightful rabbit hole.
Learning to Live with Difference
The PeaceWorks Human Rights Defenders Programme
An attempt to understand what actually happened in Nazi Germany, in Australia, in Turkey, in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in Sudan, in Gujarat . . . so that, hopefully, we can begin to inspire our young to think about how to fight it.

In 2015, PeaceWorks, as India partner for The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, developed a resource on human rights stemming from the Anne Frank: A History for Today travelling exhibition. The resource, 'Learning to Live with Difference' moves from an understanding of rights and identity to looking at genocides from across the world, acknowledged and otherwise, using the arts to question and explore the mindsets that ultimately become apathetic to, or even support genocidal violence. You can access the resource here.

ccccAnd so we launched our Human Rights Defenders programme, taking this resource to high school students and engaging them over a sustained period in (primarily) volunteer-run classes designed based on the module. 2020 saw us beginning a new batch in Chowringhee High School and in South City International School, soon to begin in Akshar.

ccccWith every new batch of this programme, the resource comes to life differently, guided as it is by the volunteers' subjective ideas and responses to the content. Interested in how improvisations in the classroom have gone?
The Idea of the Indian Constitution
chapter II
'Apoorvaanand began the conference by saying it is not a coincidence that we have got together to talk about the Constitution. And right he is. It is not a coincidence indeed. It has become an urgent need. And that perhaps is the reason for Takshila Education Society to invite us to take the conference that had originally taken place in Calcutta in 2019, to Pune. And so, from 7 – 9 February 2020 60 teachers from across the country came together to attend The Idea of the Indian Constitution – Chapter II in Pune.'

Apoorvanand's analysis of the role and function of the Constitution as a transformative text was followed by Anuj Bhuwania's inspection of the politics of increasing emphasis on fundamental duties over fundamental rights, exploring the question 'are rights a result of performance of duty or does an emphasis on duties dilute rights'? Arun Thiruvengadam began the second day of the conference tracing India's evolution from colony to dominion to independent nation, closely looking at the drafting process of the Constitution in its context of the partition, while Achyut Chetan took the audience on a fascinating journey through the lives and largely unrecognized work of the 12 'mothers of the Constitution'.

ccccThree parallel workshops were conducted twice for different batches to ensure maximum reach among the participating teachers: Sunita Biswas's 'Critical Understanding of the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression' in light of the communication blockade in Kashmir applied since August 2019, Sathish Jayarajan on how to develop a constitutional sensibility in high school students through critical engagement with the text of the Constitution, and activists Pawan Dhall and Rafiquel Haq Dowjah on Article 377 and bringing gender rights into the classroom.