Independence and Interdependence

Independence and Interdependence

A little over a year ago, I experienced my first Independence Day celebrations here at Woodstock. In different times, it is the first major event of the school year, as we come together to mark both Indian Independence and the liberation of Korea, and those whose struggles brought freedom to both nations.

Looking back to last year, I remember a vibrant day, with the whole community looking amazing in traditional dress from across India and around the world. Alongside remembrance and giving thanks, there was music, dance and glorious food. Hundreds of voices shouting ‘Jai Hind’ resonated around the Win Mumby Gymnasium.

This Independence Day, like everything else this during this anomalous year, it was a very different picture. Instead we celebrated independently, certainly for the first time in memory, and perhaps the only time since 1947. We have a tradition where the student with an Indian passport who has been at Woodstock the longest raises the flag on Independence Day. Through a happy coincidence, Warris from the Class of 2021, happens to be resident here in Landour, so the convention remains unbroken. The flag was unfurled, perhaps without the usual cheers of many, but adapted and adjusted, the tradition continues.

It is collectively our responsibility to learn from this scenario. The pandemic is the great challenge facing the world today, but it will not be the only one we must rise to. Now is the time to change our habits and build a more equitable, resilient and sustainable global society.

The global pandemic has thrust a new level of independent living upon us. Not independence in the sense won in India and Korea, due to the juxtaposition of the loss of freedom that has come with it, but instead, people around the world have learned to live without much of the support and infrastructure we’ve taken for granted. They’ve adapted, learning new skills from baking to navigating the plethora of virtual communication tools out there. Students have risen to the challenge of taking greater responsibility for managing their time and workload, and adjusted to the reality of learning without their peers sitting beside them. This experience will stand them in good stead for the future, as well as creating a generation of children who really, really appreciate being at school.

In parallel, Covid-19 has demonstrated just how interdependent the world is today. Globalisation enabled the disease to spread to all corners of the world, and international collaboration is the best route we have to finding a solution for stopping the spread of the virus. It has reminded us that even if we don’t know our neighbours, our lives are interwoven in very tangible ways. In an interconnected world, ultimately our neighbourhood can extend far beyond the immediate. The ripple effect of our actions can travel across oceans almost as easily as they can cross the street.

It is collectively our responsibility to learn from this scenario. The pandemic is the great challenge facing the world today, but it will not be the only one we must rise to. Now is the time to change our habits and build a more equitable, resilient and sustainable global society.

Earlier in the pandemic, His Holiness the Dalai Lama called for a collaborative approach which recognises our interdependence in Time Magazine: “In this time of great fear, it is important that we think of the long-term challenges – and possibilities – of the entire globe. Photographs of our world from space clearly show that there are no real boundaries on our blue planet. Therefore, all of us must take care of it and work to prevent climate change and other destructive forces. This pandemic serves as a warning that only by coming together with a coordinated, global response will we meet the unprecedented magnitude of the challenges we face.”

The lockdown provided some respite to the environment, with startling improvements in air quality in cities the world over. But a recent study published by the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds, UK, has found that even if lockdowns continue until the end of next year, it will only have a negligible impact on holding down global temperature change. The report, co-authored by Professor Piers Forster and his daughter, Harriet, who worked on the research after her A-Levels were cancelled, did however provide hope for the future, if we embrace positive change. It showed that the current situation provides a unique opportunity to implement a structural economic change, including greening transport and switching investment from carbon-based to renewable energy, that could help us move towards a more resilient, net-zero emissions future. Making simple changes now could halve the expected warming under current policies, which Prof Foster says, “could mean the difference between success and failure when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate change”.

The situation brings to mind the long-standing debate between the theories of Thomas Malthus and Julian Simon. In 1798 Malthus argued that without strict limits on reproduction, food production will fail to keep up with population growth, until famine, disease and conflict restore the natural balance. Simon on the other hand had a less doomsaying approach to economic demographics. Writing in 1981, he had the benefit of history, which had demonstrated that time and again that when faced with challenges, humankind would always come up with resilient and innovative approaches to address them. He argued that, no matter how huge the problem or threat before it, human ingenuity, “the ultimate resource”, would always find a way.

As we educate our students at Woodstock, while we acknowledge the need for action against the very real threats facing us, we come at it from a perspective that Julian Simon might share. That is, if we understand the complexity of the issues before us, we don’t need to despair but can meet these challenges with aplomb and creativity in the spirit of human ingenuity. The pandemic, like many scenarios before it, has demonstrated that humanity has the ability to act radically and comprehensively if the situation warrants it. There will be challenges, but each presents the chance to rise to the occasion; opportunities to reimagine the ways we do things and reinvent our society for the better. As individuals in an interdependent world, we need to take each new step alongside one another, with shared determination, collaboration, imagination and intellect, and together we will overcome.

Dr Craig Cook, Principal


  • Aman
    Posted at 19:50h, 02 September Reply

    One of the leading schools in India holding it’s culture and brand. Keep going

  • Gopal Chandra Barik
    Posted at 20:32h, 14 September Reply

    Happy Independence Day Dr. Craig Cook sir (Principal) and all d Teaching staff with Non Teaching staff………

  • Gopal Chandra Barik
    Posted at 20:36h, 14 September Reply

    I was trying last 1 year i want join ur school but how z it possible i don’t understand my dream school………..

  • Gopal Chandra Barik
    Posted at 20:37h, 14 September Reply

    i have already sending 2 times my resume no reply

    • Will Ferguson
      Posted at 09:15h, 15 September Reply

      Hi Gopal, Sorry to hear that. Have you submitted your CV through our careers portal? You can register your interest or apply for any open positions. Most opportunities are advertised towards the end of the year. Please read the job descriptions to check your skills and experience are appropriate for the positions.

  • Gopal Chandra Barik
    Posted at 21:21h, 19 September Reply

    Good Evening sir I have already registered sir and I am a Non teaching staff sir and My current Designation is Computer Operator cum Designer with all ERP Work with Examination Head.

    • Will Ferguson
      Posted at 17:37h, 21 September Reply

      Hi Gopal, Good to hear you’re registered. Due to the pandemic we are doing very little recruitment this year, but should something suitable come up, our Human Resources team have your details.

  • Gopal Chandra Barik
    Posted at 12:14h, 24 September Reply

    Thank u sir i eagerly waiting ur ph, call with mail. kindly please give me once chance Then i can show u my talent. My. No. 9777979520, 7978020543, These Two my personal No. and 8685012121 Dis is my Office no. Give once chance sir.

  • gopal chandra barik
    Posted at 12:32h, 07 February Reply

    Good afternoon sir i am waiting your mail sir.

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