CHENNAI: Now, parents of school-going children, (from pre-school to Class 12), have an exclusive magazine to look forward to. The idea of Parent Circle germinated when its editor and publisher Nalina Ramalakshmi (daughter of Ramco’s Chairman P R Ramasubramaneya Rajha), returned to Chennai to settle down, after living in the US for over 20 years.
“There, I was bringing up my kids with a lot of help from parenting magazines, which were a storehouse of information,” she said recalling her experience. “But after coming to Chennai, I found myself helpless with no resources to rely on for information on the city, and what it had for children. That is when I felt the need to bring out a magazine that focused on these aspects and covered everything that parents needed to bring up their children better,” she added.
Parent Circle was in the ideation stage for two years, during which Nalina and her team carried out informal surveys in different socio-economic segments to understand what the parents in the city looked out for. “The magazine is now targeted at the urban crowd and is hence in English. But later, if we decide to go to the masses, we will be looking at a vernacular medium. An online version of the magazine will also come about soon,” informed Nalina.
Also addressing the gathering at the Taj Ballroom, Nalina’s father Ramasubramaneya Rajha recalled his own upbringing.
“At a time when ours was the only family that owned a car and had all the means to a better education, my father decided to enroll me in a Tamil medium school, to which I walked for 3 kms. Later, when I could have gone to London for my higher studies, my father insisted that I join the company as a labourer. It is from there that I worked upwards. While I resented it then, today, I think that was the best way to learn and come up in life,” he said. But today’s children live in a borderless world, he added. “My advice to Nalina was that she bring out something that could give back to the society.”
The presidential address was delivered by Kumarani Dr Meena Muthiah, Founder of the Chettinad Vidhyashram. She started off by stressing that a child needed the parents’ presence more than any gifts. “I have worked towards educating children for three decades, and till date, I believe that education with values is the only way to evolve a good citizen,” she said. Sighting the musings of Kahlil Gibran on children, Kumarani said that this magazine would educate parents on making the right sacrifices and bringing up their children by being role models for them.
The first copy of the magazine was released by Dr YG Parthasarathy, founder, PSBB Schools and received by Muthu Ramalingam of the Velammal Educational Trust. “The magazine should aim at accountability, integrity and responsibility. A child is very sensitive to criticism and snubbing. Parents should ensure that they don’t do that. In Denmark, they have a system wherein parents are educated for two hours after school. I think such a system here will help parents understand their wards much better. After all, what a child needs is unconditional love,” she said.
“In the first print, we are going to have 15,000 copies, which are now being sold to schools and activity centres in the city. We as parents are the most important teachers; all we need to do is listen and connect with the child,” Nalina said. The magazine will try to bring a community of parents, experts and educators together.
The launch was followed by a session on ‘building emotional strength and nurturing intelligence in children’. This engrossing and informative session was delivered by G Balasubramaniam, former director of academics — CBSE.
Back home to the roots
What made you come back to Chennai after over 20 years in the US?
I wanted to be with my Ramco family and my son, who was in Class 9 when we returned, needed to come back to his roots. I wanted him to experience India before he moved on with his higher studies abroad. I wanted my children to know that though they have been in America for so long, we are all Indians at heart.
How has your own upbringing been?
I basically come from a traditional family where we wouldn’t question much, and the ‘respect’ factor for elders was paramount. Values and spirituality were important parts of growing up. Having said that, I grew up in a hostel and used to come home for vacations; so they’re all fun and loving memories.
What are the differences you came across between Chennai and the US?
I was basically in the bay area, where there were a lot of people from other countries as well. Here my thirteen-year-old daughter goes to the American International School, so education isn’t a problem. Back in the US, information was readily available. There were a lot more activities like museum visits, science exploration centres, etc; but these options are limited here. But I see many innovative summer camps being organised here. One of the things that surprised me here was how an organisation made an effort to organise tree walks, distribute free saplings, tell children to plants more trees and have heritage awareness programs in schools. People here are trying to be creative in different ways.
What is the most you miss about your life there?
If there is one thing that we miss at all, it is the outdoors. My daughter wants to go roller skating and biking — activities she could do there at all times. Weekend options are very few here, so we keep wondering what we can do for our children.