17 August, 2011
24 April, 2009
Changes to the Existing Education system: some ideas
I don't know if there is anyone on this forum who can influence the educational system in India, but if there are, I would be glad if they can take a look at my suggestion and see if they are any good. The following ideas are based on my own experience of studying in this country, and what I felt I missed out on.
I would like to suggest 2 extra formal subjects of study between class 5-12 in India:
1) India today. Current affairs.
News. Political/scientific/economics/any other topic which catches the fancy of the child. Each child is expected to bring in a piece of news to class and talk about it and state his opinion on it. Later a discussion about this topic can take place with the whole class.
- Encourages child to develop reading skill
- Developes his GK
- Ability to think and have an opinion with reasons
- Ability to reason with others and draw conclusions
- Increases awareness of different things going on around the child
- Encourages the child to understand his area of interest from a younger age
The teacher of this subject should also be able to help the child correlate their findings with similar situations in the past, so that the child is able to look at history as a feedback to the making of the future.
The child should be marked on:- Correctness of the news- His/her grasp or understanding of the topic- Ability to defend his point of view
2) Class of invention and innovation:
This class should encourage the child to think out of the box. To do something new. To come up with new ideas. To create something. It can be made into a fun class where each child is expected to come up with
a) A new word (with reasons ofcourse, so that they can dig up roots of word and stuff)
b) A new device (and how they plan to design it)
c) A new strategy
d) A new art form
Basically anything original, which has not been done before.Some of the lessons could be extempore (in the class topics, and make the children come with new ways of designing/doing/executing/planning it.)
The child can be marked on -originality of the idea, -it's usefulness, -it's appeal/popularity with other children in the class, -the effort taken in the development of the idea (how well thought out is the idea)
Another subject which could be better dealt with is Mathematics. The following are the modifications I would like to make to it
1) Should make the subject more visual. Sometimes we have a problem with mathematics, because it is difficult to visualise things like complex numbers, calculus etc.
2) Should give a good idea about the application and usefulness of the different mathematical tools from everyday life.
3) Should encourage use of different computer tools like matlab/mathcad and I am sure there are cheaper ones as well, which make it fun and simple for students to grasp the subject.
4) teachers should take extra effort and come up with different teaching aids to help children think of (any subject, not just) maths as a fun, easy to learn and useful subject.
And finally, the marking system should also be revised. Yes it is a competitive world and we want our next generation to be prepared for it, but at what cost? Do we want them to be little robo-lets, who spend the most important part of their lives, their childhood, memorising facts? I hope not!Why don't we have a more unbiased system which gives importance to sports and arts? Why does the student who never plays a single game, or sketches or sings or dances come first in class because he did well in his theoretical subjects? Whereas an athlete who does exceptionally well in sports, comes last in class only because he didn't score as much in other subjects? Why not make it difficult to come first as well as last in class? why not make tuition classes a thing of the past, by making learning in school easy and fun?
15 February, 2009
To my mind, though, this is just another form of terrorism. The cock-a-snook-at-civil-liberties approach by rabid interest groups driving an agenda that by no means reflects the views of the majority. Confident in the belief that a spineless government in an election year will be freely subject to manipulation, and the judicial system can either be bought, subverted through political pressures, is ineffective, or - in the best case - tortuously slow even when it delivers.
True, Muthalik was behind bars as a precautionary measure on V-Day. I laud the administration that took this step. But he will be free soon, and presumably unremorseful. After all, Raj Thackeray has set a precedent demonstrating that a gaggle of goondas can dictate the course of action and the tone of employment profiling for a whole state.
This is the time for each of us to start identifying those who should - if we can help it - never be elected again. The CMs of Karnataka and Maharashtra will be on my list unless clear, specific and decisive action is taken by them on those who seek to set an extra-constitutional agenda. With either tacit support or bystander-silence from those we have elected to represent us constitutionally.
07 December, 2008
the true minority
04 December, 2008
The Problem with Islamic Terrorism- cross posted from my blog.
I am an atheist, so I have no special love for people who follow the religion of Islam- nor indeed for the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Bahai's, the Christians, the Taoists- nor the Buddhists and followers of any of the other faiths that might be there. But this lack of love is mostly for their idealogy. I do not subscribe to any and indeed the idea that people need an invisible being or beings or promises of hereafters to keep them on the straight and narrow is all very silly for me. But as human beings, I have no problems with any of them. As long as their particular blind belief is not shoved into my face and we can all live in peace and harmony and whatnot. I also find it horrible that I need to put in this disclaimer here- before I vent my feelings here.
I am beginning to have a real problem with the way, just after a terrorist strike- (the Mumbai siege is the closest one), mocking articles with "Religion of peace Strikes", or "Islamic terrorism" or even other pieces asking "moderate Muslims to speak out" begin to appear. It is irritating to hear of religious peace dialog and analysis on religious mindsets of people perpetrating these crimes. I am beginning to really get angry at how the whole issue of terrorism quickly gets sidelined in the invective poured out against "them" invisible, but at the same times acquiring the shapes of the minorities that one fears.
Because religion is not really a scary or dangerous thing. It is like a Kalashnikov- or a bomb. Basically harmless, unless used the wrong way. Maybe that analogy is not apt- religion is like nuclear power. A force that can be unleashed for good and also for evil- a force that needs to be understood. I know the evils that religious people are capable of. The misogyny, the child abuse, the abuse of power, the fleecing people of money, the creation of horror- but these are people who do these things. Not their holy books. Not their idols or prayer mats or shawls. And it is another set of people who very religiously follow the dictates of their faiths and their devotions to their invisible sky fairies and dedicate their lives to the service of their fellow beings. Again it is not the faith, but the person.
And the person is shaped by the place they are in. Buffeted by the mighty politic-cultural-economic-social winds, abraded by circumstance, molded by the pressure of the seen and unseen, felt and unfelt. Above all governed by their free will. Because the decision to pull a trigger or drop a bomb is only that- personal. Choice. Determined solely by the person alone. Exacerbated by tensions, by breeding, by education or lack of it, but in the end very personal. And rationalized in the name of religion.
Because that is what people do- try to find a nobler cause for evil doing. Religion, tradition, custom all make wonderful scapegoats. Formulated in the bronze ages in a very strange time, they have wonderfully archaic ideas- a veritable treasure trove for those who would like a roadmap for their evil. Religion on the whole is a stupid thing. And it has even stupider followers. Who do their best to justify their stupidity. And in all honesty separated from that particular religion or sect or group, these people would still be the same- in most cases. It is never the fault of that particular identity. It is the fault of the way that identity is manipulated, the way they are molded to behave in a particular way.
The problem with terrorism is that its victims are faceless and usually always innocents. The other problem is that the terrorists who perpetrate the acts are tools. The real masterminds rarely ever get caught in the line of fire. And the manipulation is done by a mere stirring up of discontent. Discontent against a group, a culture, a religion even a national identity.
And in exactly this way "Islamic terror" becomes manipulated to give rise to Hindu or Buddhist or Christian or maybe Jewish terror. Create walls, raise boundaries and break down bridges. "Terrorist rights" are scoffed at- forgotten is that at the core they are human rights. Totalitarian ideas and regimes arise- all by sampling giving human shape to the deadliest terrors of uncertainty.
Because the labeling is silly- it can also be one of several identities- Male terror thee aren't as many women terrorists- or brown terror- how many white or black people with Kalashnikov's and belt bombs do you see- or better still human terror- after all no other species carts around RDX quite like this.
01 December, 2008
The Circling Vultures- cross posted from my blog
But of course these are always terrorist activities, unleashed to dampen the spirit of the Mumbaikars who set about rebuilding, as soon as one is over. And lately they have been joined by the Delhiites, the Hyderabadis, the citizens of Jaipur and wherever else. And in between when things have been peaceful for too long, the resilience is exercised by the communal and regional tensions that are incited in the name of an identity (which I would assume only someone very mediocre would want to associate with). And of course the outright “terrorist” activity, that of the hand grenades and bombs is put on Islamic terror, on Pakistan, on the foreign hand.
And it becomes an excellent photo-op for politicians. Because that is what they do. Attend photo-ops. Accompanied by relatives, sons, producers- after making embarrassing gaffes (though the statement, this is a ”minor” thing is not such a gaffe- considering the magnitude of what India is subject to- but I digress). With an incompetent (token woman) President- not that her predecessors have been particularly competent. And strangely shameless (what else can you call them) Home Ministers who resign probably because the foreign media starts to criticize them. And still the photo-ops continue. With regret expressing and “deepest condolences” to the families. It is an amazing tableau. And of late it has become more evident what a sham it really is.
Because the “citizen” reactions are of a very scary kind. “Those (insert religion/ region/ country here)”. “We are not buying anything from (insert country/ community/ region) because my husband said we should not support any of their business.” And so on. Just an excuse for everyone to vent out their ugliest prejudices and stereotypes in the guise of mourning the tragedy. And blame the “system”. Because Big Brother like it is omnipresent and yet, as anonymous. Also it is always “someone else’s fault” someone else’s problem- well maybe not.
What did we do to become thus. India shining, India growing, but India all the same? Why do we allow the circling vultures get closer, ever closer even as we struggle in the death throes of everything that modernity, sanity, normalcy would have us hold on to? And what did we do to deserve this?
30 November, 2008
29 November, 2008
Be Angry. Be Very Angry.
Not unless we take matters into our collective hands. And that means all Indians, as one. No divisions, no implicit partitions. Nothing that allows loopholes for terrorists to slip through.
First, demand accountability. File your RTI applications, petition your elected representatives. Make a nuisance of yourself until you get an answer, even if it be "I don't know" or "Nahin batayenge."
Second, use the power of the web. Communiate - thoughts, doubts, questions, ideas. Let's build a consensus on what works.
Third, fight corruption. Especially black money and processes that link to black money. That's what funds terrorists - and their accomplices who make our borders and coasts porous, our cities vulnerable, our loved ones defenceless, our brave soldiers martyrs.
Fourth, fight discrimination. Stand up and make yourself heard unless you support the new Hitlers who seek to create disunited, disjointed Us and Them sub-Indias, Hindus and Muslims, Domiciled and Inter-state Migrants, Gujjars and Meenas, Haves and Have-nots. The latter become prime targets for terrorist recruitment, and mutual distrust between groups creates grey zones in space and time that militants freely exploit.
Finally, vote. Make a choice, even if a sub-optimal one.
To fight terrorism, we must first fight corruption, communalism and casteism. Else there will always be loopholes for terrorists to slither through.
Empowerment is never given, it is always taken. Someone took our Bombay; we must now take back our India.
Another Attack, aimed at our heart
12 November, 2008
sarva dharma sama bhava
sarva dharma samabhava
03 November, 2008
The Supply Chain for Terrorists
Terrorists need 5 ingredients for creating mayhem - Madness, Machines, Method, Money and Manpower.The first starts the process; the next two can be readily obtained thanks to the power of the internet. This means that all we can influence, as citizens with fundamental and constitutional rights, are Money and Manpower.
Where Money is concerned, every individual who participates in Corruption is a contributor to terror funds. Cash paid or received in property deals and off-market stock trades pushes up property prices; it allows terror financiers to invest and cycle their profits quickly. Tax evasion usually connects to investments in property, gold and high-end capital goods, and again it is usually the underworld that benefits. How many people take a "black component" for granted when buying or selling property? Why must we? Something as simple as insisting a tax invoice when buying goods at your neighbourhood store can help check evasion. How many of us do that?
Similarly, any documents that can serve as identity or address proof obtained "through extraneous financial considerations" - such as passports, ration cards, driving licences... (the list goes on) allows and encourages loopholes in the system that a terrorist can exploit equally well, if not better.
Come next to Manpower. Every action that divides the people of the country and creates special privileges for someone will make someone else feel disadvantaged and deprived - and eventually a candidate for the recruitment machinery of the terrorists.Whether such actions be attacks on Churches, explicit and implicit Untouchability, fragmentation of society through reservations, pogroms against other citizens of India who have exercised their fundamental right to cross into and work in other states. All who perpetrate the paradigm of "Us and Them" are feeding, clothing and sheltering terror cadres. All who fail to speak up against such divisive forces are allowing new terrorists to breed, much like what happens when one fails to stamp out a solitary cockroach that can eventually be the ancestor of teeming hordes.
In a democracy, there is only one overarching way to act positively. Seek constitutional accountability and redressal. Demand clear positions from your candidates on issues. Use your vote - even if it means choosing the lesser of evils on a ballot paper.
Use the power of boycott - take positions against brands and corporates that support those who support terror. Attend shareholder meetings and ask what each company that you part-own has done to fight corruption.
Publicly - at least through blogs and petitions - question any injustice that you notice - whether the denial of a ration card to an old man in West Bengal because he is not a party member, or the unwillingness of the state machinery to decisively arrest and prosecute those who inflame passions against peaceful people having out-of-state origins.
Use the Central Vigilance Commission whistleblower option or write to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to take action against those that seek to subvert your rights and hold them to financial ransom.
At the very least, stop participating in casual conversations that place special interest groups of any sort above India as a unified entity. Else you will be partitioning India over and over and over again through your words and actions. The ripple effect of that could drive another deprived young man or abused teenage girl into the arms of insurgents. There are no Muslim terrorists, Hindu terrorists, Sikh terrorists. Terror knows no religion, yet we legitimize them by labelling them with the names of communities that were created in the name of love, peace and devotion... let's stop that right now.
By cutting corners in paying taxes, or going down the path of short term personal gains at the cost of the nation by participating in the black economy, or simply sowing the seeds of inter-group distinctions in impressionable minds, one could be facilitating the next bomb blast. Perhaps one that will strike one's own near and dear ones.
Are you a part of the terror supply chain development process, or will you stand up and pledge to fight it, starting now?
16 September, 2008
But eunuchs have all reasons to be upset with him since he has not revealed the fact publically till date. It is very difficult to find about sexuality of people in India and that too of a senior minister, it were his actions which gave away the secret.
However many experts on this matter do not agree to this report as they say whatever may be the personality traits of eunuchs they are assertive and not undecisive as the minister. They are deeply pained by their community members and take any act of violence against them very seriously, whereas Mr. Patil doesn't do anything except lipservice by condemning the blasts that take place regularly. If he was even a little bit concerned about lives of his countrymen there would not be serial blasts all over the country.
Few other experts say that Mr. Patil could be physically and mentally handicapped person since there is no hint of any action in whatever he does. (These experts went on to add that the fact that a mentally disabled person has reached such a top post shows that India is a disabled-friendly country.)
Whatever be the sexuality of Shivraj Patil he has won many 'nationalist' friends who call themselves fondly as 'Indian Mujahideen'. Their messages expressing love and respect for Mr. Patil can't be published here due to space constraint.
And not everyone is concerned with his sexuality as reporters in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi tell us that when they asked people about their opinion on this, they got same reply: "Shivraj Patil, fuck off!"
This is what Shivraj Patil spoke about Delhi blasts:
1) "Whether it is Rajasthan or Gujarat, we always have intelligence information about such attacks, but we never know where and at what time the attacks may take place. We always try to stop such things."
What he meant: India is a big country and anyone can attack anywhere. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING!
2) "Let us not play politics over this issue. I am not aware of what Advani has said. He is a responsible person. We are all responsible people and should behave responsibly."
What he meant: OK, he was a better home minister. So what I will speak some gobbledygook!
3) "We should not jump to conclusions. Stringent punishment would be given to whoever is responsible for this."
What he meant: We should not jump to silly conclusions like anybody will ever be caught!
(This post was written on the night of Delhi blasts. My deepest condolences with bereaved families.)
29 December, 2007
Martyred Benazir, Shattered Hopes
In total duration of tenure, she and Rajiv Gandhi each had just about 5 years to fire popular imagination - and both died at the hands of terrorists during election rallies.
Her courage in coming home to her destiny redeemed her erratic run as the first woman head of a Muslim state - a strong willed person who had a clear vision for a democratic but US-aligned military-focused Pakistan. For her, ends justified the means - a blind eye turned to corruption by her inner circle, India-bashing in domestic and international media, a mixed record on the economy and arguably not enough in terms of human rights either. But, to be fair, she was given little time - two short terms in the shadow of a dominant military and an avaricious coterie are enough to be noticed - but not nearly enough to impact a long-term future for 165 million people.
I believe Bhutto knew that she ran a very risk by returning to Pakistan... but was willing to trade the outcome of that for martyrdom in the mistaken belief that it her blood will fertilize the soil of a new civilian Pakistan. Au contraire, what she has achieved in death is either a strengthened military establishment, with or without Musharraf - else a swift spiral into anarchy. The arson and mob mania her supporters engaged in have partly robbed the PPP of the dignity that Benazir sought to endow it with; one can only hope sanity prevails.
My limited experience of Pakistan is of a country of warm, hospitable individuals who are no different in their need for peace than ourselves across the border. No country populated with people who have poetry in their soul and respect in their blood deserves the twin dark shadows of extremism and autocracy.
Yet it is abundantly clear that the monster of terrorism in Pakistan has wrenched itself convincingly free of the Frankensteinian state machinery that created it. The merchants of mayhem no longer need the ISI to support their activities; they have attained their own critical mass and found synergies with Al-Qaeda, ironically funded - most likely - by the same US cash flows that profess to be arming the so-called War on Terror.
If there is one person who needs to rise to the occasion now, it is Mr Musharraf. What he says, does and demonstrates could make or break a nation. The world is watching.
For a more authoritative analysis of the situation, not necessarily congruent with my layman's view, please check out http://www.cfr.org/publication/15130/us_policy_after_bhutto.html?breadcrumb=%2Findex
11 September, 2007
Fluttering in the grey morning
The red white and blue
Outlined against the clouds
"A nation remembers"
And remember they do
Not despair of loss
But the fierceness of pride
Hope of setting things right.
"A political ploy to dictate the world"
Oft heard judgment passed.
Intellectuals who sneered
Went as far to say
"Good now they will know"
In a wave of the fashionable
Forgetting that this flag
Remembers its people
Remembers the hurt it felt
Remembers how hope surfaced
How humanity flourished.
A battle to be fought by all.
So a flag flies half- mast
Free and Brave in the wind.
18 May, 2007
Hyderabad Bomb Blast
Old Hyderabad is a Muslim dominated area dotted with Hindu population. Though police is not taking any chance, citizens of this part, mostly small businessmen, have shown a notable and worth emulating sense of communal harmony and not giving in to such divisive tactics.
Let's hope this time also, this incident is not allowed to take any political or communal overtones.
The phone numbers of Osmania Hospital where injured people have been admitted, are:
+(91) - (040) - 24600121, 24739549, 24600146, 24600122, 24600124