Monday, January 29, 2018
Memories Asia Plateau: A Canadian reflects on 50 years of friendship

My husband Richard and I have been invited to return this coming January for the 50th anniversary conference of Asia Plateau, IofC’s magnificent leadership training centre in Panchgani, India where countless men and women from India and across the globe have given their time and energy to make this place a beacon of hope for Asia and beyond.

It is with great joy, excitement and gratitude that I will be returning there— for the first time since my first visit 51 years ago.

I was there for the official opening of Asia Plateau on January 20, 1968 —a memorable occasion. The first building was completed, and I was helping in the dining room and with the housekeeping teams.

I remember being at a meeting where John Bocock spoke to local farmers about the reconciliation between him and his brother on their farm.

Inspired by his example, two Indian brothers, Maruthi and Narayan Rao made similar apologies to each other for the hatred between them that had caused suffering in their community. Their reconciliation had a profound effect on their entire farming area

Canadian support

For many years, Canadians have contributed funds for the upkeep of the Margie Miller Manson dining room, named for the Montrealer who worked tirelessly for MRA’s program in India.

Others have also contributed countless hours of volunteer work to the centre. These included the Bocock family from Alberta who supplied an irrigation system and shared their farming expertise, and Phyllis Bocock who helped run the kitchens. Engineer Tom Babcock, nurse Gwen McLean, and teachers Jean Twiss and Peter Heyes, along with many other Canadians have generously given their time, and shared their skills.  

I feel privileged to be taking part in the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Ros Weeks, Ottawa

 

Alberta’s John Bocock remembers Asia Plateau’s role in improving lives

I was one of several farmers who attended the opening of Asia Plateau 50 years ago. We had some difficulty convincing local farmers that we were serious about wanting to do some physical work on their farms. Finally, an invitation came to help plant tomatoes. Passers by stopped to stare at white men working with their hands in a field, as this was never done in colonial India!

Another Canadian at the Asia Plateau opening was Phyllis Ellett. She volunteered with MRA in India for five years prior to her marriage to my brother Bill. In her cook's apron she exercised considerable influence in the kitchen! Some of her ashes are buried at Asia Plateau, with a tree planted in her memory nearby. 

After the opening, Garfield Hayes and I visited New Delhi to help expedite the pioneering import of Jersey dairy cattle from New Zealand to Asia Plateau.

When Bill visited Asia Plateau, the Jersey cattle had arrived. Professor M.S. Swaminathan, father of the” Green Revolution” in India, visited at the same time. He had found ways of increasing yields of rice and wheat, saving millions from starvation. He shared his knowledge with local farmers.

The changing of lives continues to be the prime role of Asia Plateau. Changing the ecology and agriculture of that beautiful valley also calls for celebration.

John Bocock, St. Albert, Alberta