Updated: Jul 27
In Conversation with Padma Shri Awardee Skydiver Shital Mahajan
O's third episode of the Verse Series is with Shital Mahajan, a skydiver who holds eight world records in the sport. Shital was honoured by the Indian government with the Padma Shri in the year 2011 by the then President Pratibha Patil. In 2018 she was awarded the Fédération aéronautique internationale's (FAI) Sabiha Gökçen Medal. Shital, as a sports personality, is concerned about the attitude towards sports, especially, adventure sports in India, particularly, in early learning and school curriculums. Shital takes skydiving as a serious sport and in 2012 she founded Phoenix Skydiving Academy to train and create young skydivers in India, and she hopes to have a national team to represent India at the FAI World Air Games.
For the Verse Series, Shital is being interviewed by independent journalist Bilal Zaidi. To know more about the interviewer, please access this link:
Gender equality is a distant dream despite all the efforts to bridge the rather wide gap, and Shital Mahajan, as a woman, has had her fair share of troubles in her young life, in her journey towards achieving her dreams. Shital dreamed for herself when she set out to become a skydiver, but today as a successful skydiver, Shital dreams for India, for other women, for the future generations, and she shares with O all of her dreams and briefly about her journey thus far, including how she insisted on marrying someone who has done skydiving and then on tying the knot in a hot air balloon. Shital, in all manner ways, is adventure personified!
This interview series is an effort at communicating to our viewers about the importance of art and sports disciplines in our life and of the need to challenge academic imperialism, especially for young learners' through meaningful and effective discussions and talks.
As a token of thanks to Shital Mahajan for taking the time out to speak with us from her busy schedule, we chose Sooraj's work:
Here's a bit about the artist Sooraj: https://www.o-o-o.org/craft-corner
O was set up a year ago to build bridges. It wasn’t a matter of identifying gaps for we know they are there and that the gaps are widening and so it is a matter of addressing these gaps and committing to work towards building bridges. The discussion of decolonising the curriculums isn’t new. In the precolonial India art and science subjects weren’t disconnected. In the post colonial India they are taught to students as two disconnected disciplines. That separation is an outcome of colonisation. Decolonising academia would in that case be the marrying of art and science subjects and not in the scant inclusion of English writers including William Shakespeare in English Language Teaching. West’s limited understanding of the East and the tendency to often assume a moral and academic high-ground to the point of academic imperialism is a definite cause of concern. It is in O’s interest to overcome these barriers in learning and to evolve a level-playing field for all. And at O we emphasise on verse and we begin with young learners.