Auckland academic wins global award for a soulful poem

From graduates to grassroots: Dr Aruna Shekar (Photo Supplied)

Venkat Raman
Auckland, February 3, 2023

A former Massey University Senior Lecturer has been named winner of an International Award by Katha, one of the largest publishing houses in India.

The New Delhi-based organisation, dedicated to the welfare of children, ranked Dr Aruna Shekar of Auckland seventh in the Final List of its ‘Search for Excellence’ worldwide contest.

She won the Award for her poem ‘Digoo and Kitoo, Friends Forever,’ narrating the eternal bond of love that two stray pets have for each other and a source of endearment for everyone else.

In Dr Shekar’s world of maternal ebullience, Digoo is a dog from Dehradun in North India and Kitoo is a cat from Calicut in the South.

As she explained, the furry pals are in search of food and a home where they can feel safe.

This poem gives readers an insight into the lives of stray animals and their need for human kindness and care.

Dr Shekar has captured the mutual love and affection of Digoo and Kitoo in a mood of entertainment and emotion.

“Do they find a home?” we asked.

“Read the poem to find out what happens,” was her reply.

A Polished Gem

Early on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, Dr Shekar was delighted to receive an email from the Directors of Katha saying, “It is charming, evocative, has a clear storyline, speaks of a theme very close to our hearts, minds and spirits, rhymes without a false note – and fits in with the Katha philosophy. Given the very large number of submissions that come, it is extremely rare that a polished gem arrives, which we immediately loved. Your entry is one of those rare gems.”

The innovative spirit is almost an inborn quality in Dr Shekar who was until recently a Senior Lecturer at the Albany (Auckland) Campus of the Massey University School of Engineering and Advance Technology. She won a Gold Medal along with her postgraduate degree and taught New Engineering and Innovation Management Degree for more than 30 years. It was no surprise that her imaginative and resourceful method of teaching saw her students winning international awards four times in succession.

New techniques of teaching and learning: Dr Aruna Shekar with her students in 2016 (INL File Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proclivity towards children

While her career at the University was successful, Dr Shekar found herself drawn more towards the education and entertainment of children.

“I am pursuing a new hobby of writing books for children on kindness, inclusiveness and nature. The manuscripts are entertaining, uplifting and unique. My mission is to expose children to the joy of reading books. Reading is essential for a child’s development,”  she told us three years ago.

Her colleagues and friends across communities encouraged her initiative, saying that her studies in Psychology and Product Innovation, complemented by her teaching experience, extensive travel and pursuit of excellence will enrich her writing.

“She has lived and worked with children in India, Australia and New Zealand for many years.
Her books are a great resource for parents, teachers and librarians to encourage discussions among children and look at things differently and from different perspectives. She is passionate about creativity and problem-solving and a strong proponent of lifelong learning. As an educator and writer, she enjoys seeing students learn and do well,” they said.

Her books- One of a Kind and Pet Pals are testimony to her success in the world of children.

Dr Aruna Shekar launched the ‘Product Development Benchmark Study’ for SMEs in partnership with the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) of USA in 2004 and established a PDMA Chapter in New Zealand in 2007 (INL File Photo)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of a Kind is a ‘Wonderful Activity’ (Colouring, Counting, searching and Finding) picture book with rhyming clues to read and guess which animal is one of a kind on each page. The book, written for children in the three to seven age group is available on Amazon and can be delivered anywhere in India. Link: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B0B6FD885Q

Pet Pals is a children’s story about pets and kindness.

It can be purchased at https://www.storyjumper.com/book/read/119377702

Dr Shekar said that many other stories written by her are scheduled to be published by Tulika (Chennai) and Katha.

About Katha

Katha was established in 1988 as a magazine for children by Geeta Dharmarajan, an inspirational writer, editor, social entrepreneur, and educationist.

An award-winning writer for children and adults, she has to her credit 48 books and more than 450 articles and features published in leading newspapers and magazines.

She brought to her role as Founder-President of Katha decades of professional experience at the India Today Group of Companies, The University of Pennsylvania and the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (Tamil Nadu).

It began as a contribution to the under-served communities and graduated from literacy to literature continuum. Seamlessly connecting grassroots work in education and urban resurgence, Katha brought impoverished children into reading and quality education.

Katha has thus far helped more than a million children help themselves out of poverty.

The Organisation has several programmes to check poverty across the country. These include the Katha Lab School, Katha’s Slum Resurgence Initiative, Katha English Academy, and Katha School of Entrepreneurship, each providing holistic learning.

‘I love Reading’ is a popular campaign of the organisation.

Katha is a recipient of many honours, including the Millennium Alliance Award (2013), the ICICI India Inclusive Award (2012) and the North India Winner of India NGO Awards (2009).

It has also been nominated for the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011 and from 2013 to 2016. Its ‘I Love Reading Programme’ received the Millennium Alliance Award in 2013 from USAID and the government of India.

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