Geeta Dharmarajan
Born
Geeta Krishnaswamy

(1948-09-19) 19 September 1948 (age 74)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Other namesK. Geeta
AwardsPadma Shri: 2012

Millinnium Alliance Innovator. Instituted by USAID, Government of India and FICCI, 2013[1]

Stockholm Challenge:[2] 2001
Websitewww.katha.org

Geeta Dharmarajan (born 19 September 1948) is an Indian writer, educator and social activist. She is known as the founder of Katha, a "profit for all"  social organization  and as the Editor in Chief of Katha Press, one of the 10 Top Children's Book Publishers in India in 2022 Katha is also known as a publisher for children in Hindi Her books include Thangam of Mehargarh,  Days with Thathu. I am Najar-am-Radh. She is the editor of Katha Prize Stories

Geeta is the founding Executive Director of Katha, a nonprofit organisation that she started in 1988. Today, she is the President/ Chairman of the Katha Board. Her work over the last 33 years has focussed on quality publishing and sustainable education, especially of children from poor families.

Katha[3][4] is a registered non-profit and non-governmental organisation based in Delhi and Chennai. Learning from how children and communities learn, her I Love Reading Initiative won the Millennium Alliance Award in 2012, from the Governments of India and the USA, and Dharmarajan was dubbed Frugal Innovator.

Charles Landry says in his book, "The Art of City Making": "Katha stands as an exemplar for all the creative projects around the world that grapple with ordinary and dramatic misery in cities.”

Katha's 300 Million Citizens' Challenge takes the challenge of the 300 million children in schools in India today, of which more than 50% cannot read well through a portal that works through partnerships.

She heads the Katha Adivasi and Dalit Learning (kadl) Labs that work in association with the Tamil Nadu Government, to improve learning outcomes for children from some of India's most oppressed/ suppressed communities. The Unpress is a small imprint of Katha, that makes learning fun and relevant for such rural government school children.

Dharmarajan's professional experience started in 1977 when she was Honorary Director of the Women's Voluntary Service (WVS) of The Nilgiris District in Tamil Nadu. With over 45 years of experience, her editorial experience that began with Target, a children's magazine, continued with The Pennsylvania Gazette, the award-winning alumni magazine of the University of Pennsylvania. Geeta's published works include more than 50 children's books and over 450 individual pieces in magazines and newspapers.

Geeta is the recipient of, inter alia, two Lifetime Achievement Awards, two Rotary Awards, the Yatra Award for Translation (Rupa&Co., 1998), the Millennium Alliance Frugal Innovator Award (2014) from the Governments of India and the USA; the Business Standard Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2018), and the Sat Paul Mittal Award (2020). She served as the Chairperson of the National Bal Bhavan ( 2011-2013) a dream project of India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, for children.

The Government of India awarded her the 4th highest civilian honour, the Padma Shri in 2012.[5] for her work in literature and education.

Personal life

Geeta Dharmarajan was born in Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in 1948. She was introduced early to the diversity of India through the work of her father, N. Krishnaswamy[6] a doctor and allergist. Her mother is Kalyani Krishnaswamy,[7] a poet and composer of classical Carnatic padams.[8]

She started learning classical Bharatanatyam and Carnatic music when she was seven years old. This led to a lifelong engagement with the Bharata's Natya Shastra. And led to her ideating Katha’s unique curriculum, or StoryPedagogy which has been the underlying credo of Katha Books and in Katha learning centres since 1992. The principles of StoryPedagogy are based on India’s traditional storytelling practices and on the 2,000-year-old treatise -- Bharata’s Natya Shastra.

She was educated in Holy Angels' High School where she represented the school in dance and netball. She was elected Head Girl of the school and led the south Indian contingent to the Bharat Girl Guides Jamboree in her final year. She graduated from Stella Maris College in English Literature, standing fourth in the State of Tamil Nadu. She has audit courses at the University of Pennsylvania when she was working there (1983-85). And studied at Harvard University's Business School Executive Education programme, in 2000.

Katha Books

Geeta is the editor in chief of Katha's list which includes the Katha Prize Stories.[9] She has edited stories from more than 300 of India's best literary talents, writing in 21 Indian languages. Katha Books are a showcase of contemporary Indian fiction for adults and children.[10] Katha introduced an array of writings from India's many oral and written traditions to children, ages 0 – 17. Classy productions, child friendly layouts and illustrations go in tandem with excellent writing.[11][10] Her major activities include the institution of the Katha Awards for Literary Excellence,[12] and curating the Katha Festivals and utsavs that bring literature to the public. These create meeting places for writers, translators, scholars, critics, storytellers and contemporary artists and community activists.[13] Geeta led the writers workshop initiative for the central Board of Secondary Education,[14] with partnerships established in 500 schools in India [15]

Katha Schools

The Katha Lab School (KLS) was started in 1990 with five children, by Geeta Dharmarajan.[16] She started the Katha School of Entrepreneurship in 1995. And the Katha Infotech and Ecom School (kites) in 2001. And ideated the StoryPedagogy in 2001. She continued to mentor and work with the teachers till 2016.

The Katha Lab School is a centre of creativity, with its unique StoryPedagogy, stories by established and emerging writers and illustrators that make reading a pleasure for children from nonliterate, underserved families; a relevant education for all round development programme and "No textbooks" classrooms, since 1990, had inspired children in k-12, to become reader-leaders, starting early.

The Katha School Leaving Certificate is a triple-braided recognition. KLS awards an "O level" in Entrepreneurship and Computers at the 10th grade, along with the national exam students take. And "A level" certificates in Entrepreneurship and Computers with the 12th grade government national exam.

KLS stands as an achievement for the slum cluster it is situated in, producing professionals every year who become entrepreneurs who support their families, or go on to higher studies. Over the last decade, Katha graduates earn 100 times what the family once did, with more than 80% of Katha's children going to tertiary education and college.

It was recently visited by The Prince of Wales.[17][18]

References

  1. ^ "U.S. and India Announce Innovation, Science, and Technology Awards". usaid.gov. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  2. ^ Stockholm Challenge Stockholm Challenge Archived 3 March 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Katha, Official website". Katha. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  4. ^ Sharma, Aditya (4 January 2007). "A Katha of success". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  5. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 October 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "Dr KS Sanjivi Awards 2011 Presented". ciosa.org.in. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  7. ^ 11 VIRUTAM composition of Smt. Kalyani Krishnaswamy. YouTube. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  8. ^ "Naad Anunaad - RadioWeb Carnatic". radioweb.in. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  9. ^ Katha. "Katha Prize Stories". kathaprizestories.blogspot.in. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  10. ^ a b Katha Books For Children
  11. ^ "Amazon.com: Geeta Dharmarajan: Books". amazon.com. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Publishing legend Katha celebrates its 10th year : YOUR WEEK - India Today". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
  13. ^ Barooah Pisharoty, Sangeeta (13 September 2013). "A Beautiful Story". The Hindu. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  14. ^ (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20131210192608/http://www.cbseacademic.in/web_material/Circulars/2013/45_katha.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 20 April 2014. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Hansika Chopra (26 August 2013). "Budding writers". The Hindu. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Teaching in the Asian century". unimelb.edu.au. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  17. ^ British Asian Trust President, HRH The Prince of Wales, visits ...
  18. ^ "Prince Charles at the Katha Lab school in New Delhi - Prince Charles & Camilla Parker during nine-day visit to India - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 15 August 2015.