Lavasa near Pune is a slice of Italy right here in India. A Workshop for Journalists on Envisioning Media in Policy Making organized by the Centre for Civil Society landed me here to enrich my mind and spirit at the same time. The International Convention Centre in Lavasa’s Dasve city was right next to the lake with the mountain ranges all around. What could be more delightful and enjoyable to meet and share with fellow journalists and also soak in the beauty of a smart city in India.

It took us two hours to drive from the airport to the privately-owned Lavasa city, built stylistically in the same architectural grandeur of the Italian town of Portofino. The 25,000 acers of Lavasa city being developed by HCC is still under construction with only one town in the area, Dasve being visited by tourists.

This is a model town with a University, hospital, shops, cinema halls, activity centers, houses, and hotels, all within the Lavasa city embedded in the Mulshi Valley of the Western Ghats. Even the drive through the hills all the way to Lavasa was a picturesque one. The entry to the gate is managed privately and once into the city there is internal security to take care of the residents and visitors. The architects have taken great care to design the township after the Italian town bringing in all the elements of style and living space. It is an ideal place to hold conferences and meetings and we sure were in for a treat.

We discussed and debated Welfare and Public Service delivery, Reforming Governance, Media and Education Policy, importance of Data in Policy Making, analyzing the Right to Education Act with Geeta Gandhi Kingdon from the University College London, Parth J. Shah from Centre For Civil Society and Shankkar Aiyar - journalist, analyst and author among others.

In between the numerous sessions we spent time on Lavasa’s waterfront admiring the natural beauty and taking peaceful strolls on the promenade, stopping by to shop, munch, and click. We noticed families who had come to stay and enjoy the water sports, cycling, walking, sitting by and spending time relaxing here. The privately owned houses in the hills were all lit up during the weekend and the town was bustling with activity.

The Centre for Civil Society ( envisions that each individual leads a life of choice in personal, economic and political spheres and every institution is accountable. CSS works in the area of education, livelihood and policy training to promote choice and accountability across private and public sectors. To translate policy into practice CSS engages with policy and opinion leaders through research, pilot projects and advocacy. During the workshop Manasi Bose and Shefali Mishra from Centre for Civil Society seamlessly took us through the program set for the day.

Besides all the learning, networking and sharing our views with others was extremely enriching. Making new friends and being in a beautiful place helped with the bonding process. The only thing which I missed out on was the speed boat motoring that caught my attention, but unfortunately had time run out. Besides the refreshing time at the workshop we did not miss the opportunity of visiting the Malpro store right beside the Lavasa Convention Center to take back Kokum Crush, mixed fruit sweets, chocolates and other goodies for friends and relatives back home as mementoes of our wonderful stay at this resort town.

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