Ashoka Fellow
India
Fellow Since 2008

Parag has been working on building his dream - the RealLives Platform - a gamified simulation to promote global empathy & related socio-emotional skills. As a result of his efforts, RealLives (even in its pre-platform avatar) has managed to be listed in the top 5 simulation games on CNET (out of about 1200 other games).

Having attained a cult following in the academic as well as the gaming world, the vision of the RealLives platform is to create an entire global generation of young adults who are trained in empathy, sustainable development and changemaking. Through RealLives, Parag hopes to intervene in the current STEM pedagogies by adding the components of Empathy and Sustainability - to create eSTEeM as a more rounded model of pedagogy for a new world.

Being a data-driven simulation (with data drawn from over a 100 reputed sources), RealLives is currently being scaled globally, as per the vision of reaching every single student across the world. After having upgrading to the cloud platform, RealLives is now touching more schools and colleges - currently being in the process of achieving higher linguistic diversity. Even the corporate sector is now being reached to enable employees to attain a healthy cross-cultural understanding.

Through RealLives, students are given exposure to how other human beings live across the world in different cultures and socio-economic categories, how global challenges (taught through the framework of the UN’s SDGs) are affecting lives, and the need to approach all such problems in an empathetic manner. As a gamified simulation, RealLives is successful in speaking the language of the young generation - engaging them in a manner that appeals to them by adopting contemporary digital pedagogies.

Dr. Parag Mankeekar has previously worked in the medical domain - helping to set up multiple hospitals in India with unique affordability models in a bid to challenge unhealthy erstwhile medico-social practices. In the course of his work, Parag has tackled many health and social challenges such as disaster management during his involvement in developing multi-disciplinary hospitals and social enterprises. He has also worked in understanding terrorism both in India and Afghanistan. In recognition of his work, Parag was awarded the Ashoka fellowship in 2008.

As part of his current work at Neeti Solutions, Parag spearheads purposeful gaming for social purposes, such as livelihood and financial literacy training, disaster management & risk reduction training, climate change and other social, environmental and civic issues etc. reaching out to echo-screens of young and youth.

    This description of Parag Mankeekar's work was prepared when Parag Mankeekar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
    Introduction
    In a nation where natural disasters strike often and with devastating effects, Dr. Parag Mankeekar is helping India’s children master disaster preparation and response planning. Parag’s training camps and computer games create simulations that teach children how to be effective first responders for their families and communities following a disaster. Moved to action by the Gujarat earthquake in 2001 in which thousands of children died, Parag looks forward to spreading his approach through coordination with government first responders and schools across India.
    The New Idea
    The Problem
    The Strategy
    The Person

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