The fluid movements were mesmerising. The audience sat hypnotised by Astad Deboo, who has so brilliantly amalgamated Indian classical and Western dance to create a unique contemporary style.

Deboo, who has done miracles with the street children of Delhi’s Salaam Balak Trust, was performing at the Bridging the Gap session at Samvad, sponsored by Ford India, at the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival last week. In India, Ford has been involved in projects related to the education, nutrition and general wellbeing of children, including a project focussed on the girl child.

Through the Samvad platform, workshops were held on writing, photography, dance and other activities for children.

Ford philosophy

Announcing its Happy Schools project, Vinay Piparsania, Ford India’s Executive Director for Marketing, Sales and Service, recalled Henry Ford’s words: “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business, and we at Ford embrace this philosophy.”

In 2012, Ford India, in association with Ford Motor Company Fund, had announced Operation Better World, an endeavour to address issues related to education, sustainability and auto safety. Some of the key projects under this initiative include improving the infrastructure of schools close to the Ford India plant in Chennai, and preventing girls from dropping out.

Going further

Ford’s CSR initiatives in India, meant to reflect its ‘Go Further’ journey in the country, couldn’t have found a better partner than Deboo to illustrate the spectacular beauty of motion. Dressed in a flowing black kurta and churidar, Deboo showed how and why he is master of movement, and an acclaimed innovator.

He related the story of his endeavour to learn Kathak from the age of six, and then making a voyage to the west on a cargo ship, getting stuck in Europe while waiting for a US visa and making the best of the situation by soaking in various classical and contemporary dance forms in the Continent before moving on.

He made the most difficult and intricate dance moves look so easy, that a middle-aged woman in the audience made bold to pipe up, “Can anybody dance?”

Came the crushing reply: “No, you need a certain type of body to learn these movements.”

And an aging body was the first negative when it came to beginning this journey.

(The writer was in Jaipur at the invitation of Ford India.)