2nd July 2017 when I started from the Holy City to the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie it was the mix of childlike joy and excitement and solemnity and serenity of my age that I carried along the rain soaked terrain. Memories of my father who had nurtured the dream of his daughters becoming leaders, his exhortations for officer-like-qualities and his handing over of this vision of training as an IAS at LBSNAA, Mussoorie; the childhood reminisces of my mother accompanying my eldest sister Neelam Kataria to this place in 1974; the blurred black and white images of this place with beautifully written letters by our mentor sis to us-all this was choking me when suddenly the cool whiff from queen of hills startled me the moment I opened the window of the car and my heart leaped with gratitude to Him when I entered precincts of LBSNAA.
From the time of registration when room key was handed with the rucksack containing first of the four weeks schedule from 3rd July 2017, one thing got engraved instantaneously that there wasn't going to be anything casual or routine and the tough regime that we were briefed to follow seemed at the outset unpalatable. But the touch of professionalism in first 24 hours laid bare the nuances (the word favourite of Mr Mansoor H. Khan, the Course Coordinator!) of Induction training as a serious business which called for no lackadaisical approach! Naturally, the 'fear' (real real) of lest- I-sleep-in-class or hope- I -wake -up -at 5 am -dot gripped initially. All the 62 colleagues who had gathered from 18 States and UTs of the country had served their respective states in varied capacities from 15 to 25 years were all surprisingly smartly inclined to follow the tough schedule in letter and spirit!
It felt strangely (and unbelievably) elating in the beginning being amidst the beautiful natural cool surroundings, refreshing breeze and mesmerizing monsoon rains in the hills away from the din of work place call bells and incessant buzz of phones. Naturally, when the Yoga instructor exhorted to repeat with him: 'Thank you, God I am healthy positive and perfect', the choral thanks exuded spontaneity and honest gratitude.
The methodical approach, the meticulous planning of academic and group activities, the immense variety of experience sharing by the seasoned speakers and the richness of their content made me marvel at my blessedness to be recipient and listener of the best quality oratory and knowledge sharing. There is so much to learn and do and use in our day to day working in order to realize Tagore's dream of a country 'where the world is not broken into narrow domestic walls/where knowledge is free/ where head is held high and mind without fear' and also to pledge ourselves renewedly to realize 'the tryst with destiny' as Nehru pointed out in his maiden speech when India gained independence 70 years ago. The pioneer training institution LBSNAA is definitely the best in the country During the course of training I often wondered as to why the State Training institutions not design their course contents as professionally and qualitatively as LBSNAA. Is it dearth of money? Manpower? Will? Zeal and enthusiasm to emulate ? Or is it plain indifference and lethargic unprofessionalism?
The sensitivity with which the activities apart from intellectual inputs were planned bespoke of LBSNAA forte to take care of trainees' cultural and partying needs. The full- throated singing by the band during welcome dinner didn't let anyone hold back from the dancing floor! Who can forget the bliss of soulful sufi singing followed by a walk along the beautifully lit LBSNAA campus lanes? The engrossing performance by Zuber Hashmi was the treat we would always cherish.
The shuffling of groups' seating and engagement through experiential learning modules on leadership, gender sensitization, negotiation ensured all participants' interaction with the co -trainees. The hard work and diligence of long hours and days in planning of the Induction course was evident. Salute to the training Coordinator! The mentors do not always need to speak or express their views but their invisible presence and watchfulness also imparts immense learning- true of the magnificent personality of the Director Ms Upma Chawdhry. I must confess that the scheduled exam caused a lot of restlessness and many of us missed dinner on eve of the final test for sincere and serious preparation.
The Bharat Darshan and Foreign Study Tour to Seoul, South Korea call for separate sharing being out of world (while being in thick of it!) experience.
On the eve of Valedictory, the informal get together which witnessed unprovoked expression of singing, dancing, mimicry ('of whom' is anybody's guess!) talent of the ‘dynamic eight’ put forth the curious mix of Tamil, Maharashtrian, Haryanvi,Hindi and Punjabi tidbits which lured laughter that was pure and the joy that was common!
Thank you, LBSNAA, for everything.