Meet our Atithis
I am not a teacher,
but an awakener.
As part of our SMILE, Together We Can Initiative, we wanted to extend the warm, open and inspiring world of thought leaders, artists, story tellers, experts, environmentalists and many more who could motivate, ignite and enthuse our SMILE community. These are our ‘atithis’, – our treasured guest teachers who walked into our hearts, the ones who shared their stories of perseverance and innovation, their skills, their insights, their songs, their art – and gave a gift of their time and learning.
An engineer, educationist, innovator and environmentalist, he is a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2018 and the founder of Student’s Educational & Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL).
An accomplished flautist, he is the recipient of the Guru Shishya Award in 2011, IWAP-Pandit Jasraj Sangeet Ratna Award in 2013 and the Pannalal Ghosh Puraskar, 2013.
A conceptual artist engaged with art in its participatory, interactive and public dimensions for over two decades, she has had her work exhibited in leading international institutions and museums and participated in biennales across the world.
A children book author and co-founder of Duckbill Books, she has formerly served as an editor for Tara Books and Scholastic India.
Winner of a million-dollar TED Prize in 2013, Professor Emeritus at NIIT University, former Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University and Visiting Professor at MIT Media Lab (2012), he is known for his Self Organised Learning Environments and ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments.
Dr. Amit Sen
A Child and adolescent psychiatrist, he is the director and co-founder of Children First and founder-head of the Mental Health Team at Salaam Baalak Trust.
Shillong Chamber Choir
A multi-genre choir founded in 2001 by Neil Nongkynrih, recipient of the Forbes Persons of the Year 2010- 11and CNN-IBN Indian of the Year 2010 -11 and known for its diverse and vast repertoire of choral songs.
An Ashoka and Schwab Fellow for entrepreneurship and founder of Goonj, he is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the 2015 Ramon Magsaysay award, World Bank’s Development Marketplace award, Changemakers Innovation award and Jamnalal Bajaj award for Fair Business Practices.
A leading Kathak dancer, a maverick choreographer critically acclaimed in major dance festivals across the world, she is a recipient of the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award and Sanjukta Panigrahi Award.
A versatile Hindustani classical singer and composer, she is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Padma Shri for the year 2000, the Gold Plaque Award for Special Achievement in Music at the 34th Chicago International Film Festival (1998), and the Yash Bharati Samman from the Government of Uttar Pradesh in 2015.
Drum Cafe India, one of the world’s top-rated Interactive Drumming companies, has performed at more than 25000 corporate events across 28 countries worldwide, including at FIFA, 2010, IPL, ISL, and Beijing Olympics.
Major General Vikram Dev Dogra , AVSM
Major General Vikram Dev Dogra is a distinguished soldier, a ‘Sword of Honour’, a committed adventure sportsman and a motivational and TEDx speaker. In 2018 he did ‘Ironman Austria’ at the age of 58, in 14 hours and 21 minutes to become the first Serving Indian Army officer and the only General in the world to do so. He then beat his own record at the gruelling Triathlon event—an endurance multisport race in Germany by 41 minutes in his second appearance.
The Koonathara Troupe
The “Koonathara Troupe” from Kerala brings alive “The Kamba Ramayana” in an exquisite art form ‘Tholpavakoothu’. This troupe belongs to the only surviving puppetry community in Kerala to preserve this unique art form, which uses leather puppets to create a stunning shadow play in the ‘Koothumadam’, a specially constructed oblong play house on the premises of a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali.
Be the Change – One Step Greener
One Step Greener is an NGO which strives for a zero waste future and aims to combat pollution by working on Waste Management, Recycling and Tree Plantations and has been founded by two brothers, Vihaan (16) and Nav Agarwal (13). They are the only Asians and Indians to have won the prestigious Children’s Climate Prize 2019 in Sweden and the Global Social Leaders Awards, UK and have also been awarded by EcoHero Award (USA), Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, Diana Roll of Honour, Ashoka Youth Venturer, Zee Media NYS Award.
Malavath Poorna – Be the Change
Malavath Poorna was just 13 years and 11 months when she became the youngest girl in the world to scale Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. With her strong determination, perseverance, and focus, she has conquered six summits in Asia, Africa, South America, Antarctica, Europe and Oceania.
Alisha Collins is a designer and educator interested in integrating storytelling, craft, wellness, play and new technologies to create participatory learning practices. A graduate from the MIT Media Lab, Ms. Collins has interacted with diverse schools for over twelve years, developing curricula and leading professional development workshops in around the world. She is the co-author of the book StartMaking, founder of SEEDS StudioLab and co-founder of Duct Tape Network.
Anirudh Sharma, founder of the MIT spinoff lab, Graviky that captures carbon emissions and turns them into advanced consumer and industrial materials, has been the recipient of the ‘MIT Technology Review 35 under 35’, ‘Innovator of the Year’ Award, a ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ award, etc. for tech-driven ventures.
After spending many years at MIT, his passion for design-led innovation brought him back to India, where he led the MIT Media Lab India Initiative with the goal of perpetuating self-organized design innovation into the country’s grassroots.
Born to a farming family in the Western Ghats of Karnataka, Arunkumar H.G completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Fine Art, with a specialization in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts M.S. University of Baroda. An artist of eminent repute, he has had several solo shows, and has participated in several national and international residencies and group exhibitions. In 2014, he founded SARA (Sustainable Alternatives for Rural Accord), an NGO in the Western Ghats, to serve as a platform to share ideas for better living with the locals – farmers, students and teachers.
Major General Ian Cardozo (Retd.), AVSM, SM
Major General Ian Cardozo – a hero, a warrior, a poet is a veteran of the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the Indo-Pak war of 1965. He was a young major heading a Gurkha unit when he was dropped behind enemy lines in East Pakistan in the Indian Army’s first heliborne operation in the 1971 war. In the fighting that followed, he stepped on a landmine, which tore off his foot. Worried that he would get gangrene, he hacked off his own foot with a khukri and spent nearly a year in hospital. He later went on to become the first war-disabled officer to command a battalion, then a brigade and a division in operational areas.
Roopa Pai is one of India’s best-known authors for children who has written over twenty-five books, including India’s first sci-fi fantasy fiction series ‘Taranauts’, the award-winning ‘The Gita For Children’, and the very popular ‘So You Want To Know About Economics’. Her latest book ‘From Leeches To Slug Glue – 25 Explosive Ideas That Made Modern Medicine’ was released in September this year.