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Ali – The Banjara

Born six decades ago, he has spent his life wandering, exploring, learning, and thinking outside-the-box.  He shares only what he has learnt from others, from the wisest and most respected Masters to the urchins and street dogs.  He talks or trains only when invited to do so, as he has all the time in the world, and no commercial interest.  He enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and learning while he teaches.

He writes books and columns, he speaks when asked to, and tries to be as honest and genuine as possible in whatever he conveys.  He listens and counsels, only because he feels that every human being should be given a chance to improve his quality of life.  His aim is to help develop innumerable competent people, so that he can become redundant and go back to making paper boats for the rain water.

A Montessorian, an engineering graduate of IIT Bombay, MIE, MIIM, with a Ph.D in behavioral sciences — he has always carved out his own path and been a free-lancer, ensuring that work is joy every day.

He enjoys teaching classes at the academy and ensures that he meets all the students every class not only imparting his insights on the subject but also with an earnestness to learn something new from the students.

He is the author of 30 books and nearly 80 booklets. He is regularly invited by many prestigious and reputed Schools, Colleges, Universities, NGOs, Corporates and various other institutions for lectures, talks and workshops.

A graduate in law with a Masters in Management, she started her career with a reputed business house of Mumbai known for its integrity and ethics. Working closely with the top management, she acquired the skills of handling different types of people and maintaining a pleasant and harmonious atmosphere wherever she was given responsibility. Moving to Bangalore she took a major decision to keep away from the corporate rat race and armed herself with a Diploma in Counselling Skills while pursuing her Masters in Psycho-therapy. Subsequently she took the plunge to become a full time counselor, trainer, coordinator and mentor to those who either seek emotional support or wish to become part of the counseling and life skills world.

Purnima Ganesh

Coordinator and Director

Having had a varied successful stint as an entrepreneur Indu decided to commit herself to meaningful work and was one of the founders of Banjara Academy when it was in its infancy a quarter century ago, and she also armed herself with a Diploma in Counselling Skills. She has smoothly taken over the functions of administration, personnel, finance, and ensures that the institution runs efficiently despite the financial constraints of not having business income. She ensures that there is a right balance of work, philanthropy and services to the needy by keeping a check on the overall functioning.

Indu Kamal

Director Administration

A qualified Advocate, she realized early in life that her calling lies in helping children improve their quality of life and their future. She underwent extensive training not only in counseling but also in child development, assessments and special education. Her passion made her commit full-time to Banjara’s Gurukul, of which she is the founder and driving force. She oversees a wonderful team of highly committed, compassionate and humane teachers, therapists and counselors who are willing to take up the cause of any child with any types of special needs or emotional support.

Sonal Patel

Director and Chief Counsellor of Gurukul

Transitioned from a very successful technical career in the IT sector, rising up to very responsible positions in MNCs in India, USA and the Middle East – to the human world of Counselling one decade ago, He found his calling as he was genuinely interested in understanding human beings and reaching out to them for their emotional needs. He used to identify the need for raising awareness of EQ, especially among the youngsters who were joining the corporate mainstream right after college. After completing his Certification in Life Skills and Diploma in Counselling Skills at Banjara, he decided to follow his passion for social work and chose to join his alma mater as a counselor, mentor and faculty member. He also completed his BA in Psychology and M.Sc. in Counseling and Family Therapy

Sridhar Srinivasan

Counsellor & Coordinator

Mr.Ramaswamy is always available to anyone who is undergoing trauma. He is a living legend among highly specialized doctors as he looks after each individual patient, guides and leads him or her to the best possible treatment. Without any formal qualification in medicine or psychiatry, he armed himself with qualifications in counseling, was trained At Banjara, in NIMHANS and other prestigious institutions, and since the past twenty odd years he has been giving his free services for people in emotional, medical or mental distress. Retiring from a very senior position in an aviation public sector unit, Mr. Ramaswamy was offered very lucrative positions due to his expertise as a design engineer. But he chose to move on to a path less travelled and has created a path where none existed.

Ramaswamy Natampally

Crisis Manager

This year has been exceptionally bad for many students in terms of exams.

Board exams for lower classes were announced, cancelled, held again, and then results have been withheld.  Those appearing for regular Board exams were told that they can appear three time to improve their scores – but many are feeling the stress of preparing and appearing multiple times for these Boards. Students have been complaining of pressure from their parents, and sometimes even teachers, to continue attempts on the hope that they will get better marks. Students who appeared for K-CET came out very distraught from the examination hall because they found many questions were not from the syllabus, and even now we are getting many phone calls of students who feel they may not score well enough to get into a good college.

The basic degree is only a stepping stone to lifelong learning & growth.  Rather than preparing only for exams, those who have a positive mindset, sharpen soft skills, and learn beyond the curriculum will succeed in the long run. They can sharpen the 10 Life Skills enunciated by United Nations, i.e.  Self-awareness Decision-making, Problem solving, creative and critical thinking, communication skills, interpersonal relationship skills, and empathy.

Learn to Enjoy Stress - By Dr. Ali Khwaja

I can communicate to you for any of the following purposes:

  • To inform
  • To entertain
  • To educate
  • To convince
  • To motivate & inspire
  • To gain control
  • To seek emotional support or catharsis
  • To manipulate

It takes courage and a lot of will-power to go against the tide.  You have taken the first step in the direction of true learning and understanding of children by plunging into CCAD.  Now, as you continue your journey, ask yourself a basic question – what is the purpose of your communication with anyone any time, particularly with children? We have tried to make this a true learning exercise i.e. empowering you to start your journey of further enriching lives.  The effect will seep in slowly, but surely.  No miracles promised or delivered.  But the slow miracle of CCAD will come like the seed hidden below the ground sprouts one fine day, and then goes on growing …. and growing.  But do remember that you need constant practice, like the plant needs watering. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the exercises and activities your Mentor is giving you, just give it your best shot – ali

Ali’s Notes:

There are so many people who you interact with regularly, some on a daily basis.  A few we give great importance to, and many others we take for granted.

If you are a middle-class person you may be having part/full time domestic help at home. Either you are lucky to have reliable continuous employees, or perhaps you have had to change them from time to time.  Either way, how much significance have you given to them as individuals, as humans?

Their experiences, and hence their priorities in life, are so different from ours. Even when we get exasperated sometimes with their behaviour, we need to understand certain issues from their perspective.  Do take time to do that and see if you can understand them better individually.  This will help you too.

We did a survey to understand them, and I presented it on Fb Live which is available on YouTube later also if you wish to watch.