Udgam students make their school proud


It has been rightly said, “Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends.” Udgam School students have once again proved their mettle by emerging as the National level finalists in the Indian National Cartographic Association (INCA) Map Quiz held recently. The quiz is conducted by INCA (supported by ISRO) across India to improve upon the map consciousness and awareness of students.

As many as nine students from Udgam School for Children qualified in the National Rounds. They were awarded certificates by INCA-Gujarat  Branch at a function held at CEPT University on 22nd January. The winners are Aatman Vakil, Divya Patel, Shaan Shah, Deepak Saha, Prajwal Chatterjee, Prem Harshe of Class X and Vashishth Doshi, Arjun Tahilramani and Avyansh Chaturvedi of Class IX. Aatman Vakil of Class X B gave a remarkable speech titled “ Maps and my life” which was appreciated by all. The Chief Guest of the program, Dr Karthikeyan from ISRO, SAC enlightened students on the various uses of GIS, Remote Sensing and Bhuvan, a software application of ISRO for development planning and management. The students had an enriching experience.

Kudos to all the winners for their outstanding achievement!

We would like to include the speech given by our student Aatman Vakil of Class X here-


Good Morning to one and all present here today. The experience of the INCA quiz has been surreal. Perhaps, out of the entire syllabus assigned to us, I found the maps- be they political, physical, cartographic or thematic- to be the most riveting. All those dots and symbols, those zig-zag lines- those flashes of green or yellow or white or blue or brown- to our amateur eyes these appeared to be just that- lines and dots on paper. But the study of these maps- the key to deciphering all those symbols- has been like learning a language.

From my childhood days, I enjoyed gazing at maps of India or maps of the world and figuring out which place goes where. In my naivety I believed that’s all what maps were meant for- to find places! Well, that is one of the many uses of maps- what on earth would we do without them! In school, our study of maps was intermingled with our study of History and Geography, mapping the ancient kingdoms and cities of legendary rulers like Asoka’s Pataliputra and his vast empire, going on to the Delhi Sultanate and Mughals right up to the British conquests of the various princely states. Geography involved the use of maps to locate our resources and deposits of minerals, industries, ports, airports, roadways, industrial hubs as well as power plants.

The map of India is unique and noble- diamond shaped or human figured with Kashmir forming the grand crown on the figure of Mother India, whose fingers in the form of Kutch to her right and Arunachal to her left, grasp the boundaries of Pakistan and Myanmar. Her feet, formed by the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, meet gracefully at Kanyakumari, with the Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep archipelagos scattered around there. She is truly a divine figure and is guarded by the seas and the mountains to her south and north. This map needs to be studied with devotion by every son or daughter of India.

In today’s global village, the internet has played a major role in the lives of all, including students. But this role also has a few cons- addiction and overdependence on the internet can retard the mental development of a child. It is really sad that our generation is losing its natural sense of orientation because there are so many gadgets to tell us where to go. How many of us can tell where North or West is without using our smartphones or the compass app? In a GPS world, map reading skill remains an important tool for building spatial- reasoning skills. In a 2013 report on Maps and Education , National Geographic concluded, “Spatial thinking is arguably one of the most important ways of thinking for a child to develop as he or she grows…a student who has acquired robust spatial thinking skills is at an advantage in our increasingly global and technical society.”  Looking back, I remember my jigsaw-puzzle map of the world and states-puzzle map of India, how in the former I looked up all those lines and colours to see where they met, and how for the latter I eagerly put in the pieces in the shape of the states of India into their respective places. Another interesting tool to teach maps would be 3-d maps- relief maps, i.e. maps in which places with high altitudes are raised slightly and valleys and oceans are slightly depressed. Truly, maps can be made fun and enthralling and puzzling to children of all ages- right from the little toddlers as they learn the alphabet up to high school students like us.

To conclude, I would like to thank INCA for giving us this wonderful opportunity. It has been, as I said, surreal and I’ll never look at Geography in the same way again, thanks to the fun I had giving the quiz.