On the 28th of March the UK went into a nationwide lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic bringing normal life to a standstill and marking the beginning of a period of huge uncertainty. In addition to causing enormous change to daily life, the lockdown resulted in the closing of Shakhas all over the UK as well as the cancellation of some of the most anticipated events of the Sangh calendar such as SSV and the Khel competition while also disrupting numerous festivals such as Guru Purnima and Raksha Bandhan that would usually be celebrated with great fervour. Despite all of these setbacks, we developed new and innovative methods to connect; for example multiple Shakhas began running ZOOM calls; arranging “E-Shakhas” and host quiz nights as well as using social media to stay in touch with each other. The gradual drift towards virtual resources during this time of uncertainty and disruption highlighted the growing effectiveness and value of online platforms. Yet soon a problem emerged, “E-Shakhas” were useful to an extent but limited in their variety without the use of engagement tools and were becoming increasingly dry.

This problem led to the creation of our project, “Interactive Platforms”; the aim was to create content that was easy to access by all ages to increase interaction and knowledge in the digital world. This also involved ensuring that content used is accurate for public use and the communication of these tools is strong. Initially we began researching and evaluating the usage of several online platforms that offered the opportunity to convey information in an enjoyable and lively method such as Kahoot, Prezi, Survey Monkey and Mentimeter to name a few. After this initial research we decided to begin creating a vast array of engaging Kahoot quizzes covering different topics on the HSS_UK account so that they were available for everyone to use. During this time we were also creating video tutorials and guides on how to use each of these platforms. Then we moved onto making “Utsav Packs” to provide quizzes, presentations and online resources to allow people to learn and teach others online about each of our festivals. Essentially by providing such templates, video tutorials and guides we aimed to empower swayamsevaks and sevikas to create their own content for their Shakhas and then to be able to pass on that knowledge to others. We were thus driving to not solely create resources for others but also teach them on how they can continue to make use of online platforms even after the lockdown.

Throughout this project however, I realised that despite ending up with a great product, the greater result of this project was the skills it helped me and many others to develop. For perhaps the first time I had been involved in a project in which all communication and sharing of ideas had been done virtually. I steadily became more confident in delivering ideas and communicating with my team. It also made me realise the adaptability and versatility of Sangh; despite being unable to attend SSV I became part of a project that greatly helped me develop myself, one that kept me engaged and committed to work that would benefit a large number of people. In essence it tapped into the core values and the ethos of HSS; unity, hard work, good morals and selfless work.

“Sangathan mein Shakti hain” = In unity there is strength

Thus for me the journey has been more valuable and enjoyable that the destination itself. I learned that the blending of individual skill forms a strong team that is capable of achieving great things, as reflected by all 12 of the Tarun(i) summer projects. Despite altering normal life, the lockdown has presented the unexpected opportunity to make positive changes to our lives and society, it has highlighted that the best skill development occurs though action.

“Upkaarah paro dharmah pratanto daivatam param, sushilataa paraa nitih, kaaryam samghaatmakam param” = “Service is the greatest virtue. Effort is the highest fortune. Noble character is the ultimate wisdom and the greatest work is of the organisation of the society.”

Jaimin Pankaj Chauhan