Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
(This article is written by one of the School kids from
The siege on Mumbai left even the most experienced of us stunned. Even those who have become immune to grief and tragedy stopped for a second. The 48-hour encounter with these extremely sophisticated and trained terrorists left
However, we are not here to talk about the grief that these victims suffer. Nor do I wish to discuss the various and repeated intelligence failures and lackadaisical attempts of the government and its security agencies. We are here to figure out what exactly is wrong with us, because it is evident that there is something horribly amiss in this country and it's people.
People are not born terrorists. Teenagers do not get up one fine day with the conviction that violence is the path of their lives. The terrorist that battled with NSG in the Taj hotel for over 24 hours was not more that 25 years old. Can any of you imagine the kind of courage and determination that this young boy exemplified in accomplishing such a feat. He is a terrorist, a terrorist who is responsible for the death of over 150 people. He is also a mere boy. A boy whom we have forced into becoming the man he died as. The IM consists of young boys from the
Every kind of terrorism stems from extremism; and extremism is the most obvious ramification of discrimination. Discrimination is sadly practiced in every nook and corner of our country. We think it's insignificant, we think that it's just the way people are. But it is discrimination and if only we were brave enough to face it.
It is discrimination when the age-old story of Hindu parents refusing to marry their daughter into a Muslim family repeats itself. It is discrimination when parents of Muslim children refuse to sing Hindu bhajans. It is discrimination when Christians refuse to participate in Hindu and Muslim festivals. All of this is discrimination. And every form of terrorism and extremism finds it's roots in this kind of discrimination, which is practiced in each and every one of our homes. That is why we need to look at our homes and our thinking before we cry out in rage and protest against the government and security forces.
Last night you had emotional and angry Mumbai mobs screaming out anti Pakistani slogans. That is the beginning of terrorism. Have we all gone mad? What does the normal Pakistani family who is probably in their own way praying for the Mumbai victims have anything to do with this? This is the quintessential problem that we are facing. When will we realize that by blaming each other the problem will only intensify?
The Hindus destroyed the Babri masjid. The Muslims blew up a Hindu coach. The Hindus killed a city full of Muslims. Wave after wave of madness. Stop! How long can we go on like this? An eye for an eye has never been the answer and it should not take us a thousand years to accept the truth of this statement.
You had Raj Thackarey chasing out the north Indians and Biharis from
In another 60 years we'll have Bihari terrorists attacking
Today you have every news channel proudly acclaiming the army, NSG and Marine commandos as heroes. People in Mumbai are running out on the streets to congratulate them. These heroes weren't born today. They have been here all this while. Where were these people of
You want to know what the problem with
I'll give you a small and perfect example of what is wrong with us. We all complain about this country's dirty roads. We love holidaying in
We have enough and more to say about Manmohan Singh, Advani and every other useless politician and rightly so. But the fact is that in all honesty we couldn't care less. The best of us don't vote, don't contest in elections and don't even help out N.G.O.s When we can't do anything for our country how dare we, I repeat, how dare we expect anyone else to do anything.
We can go on talking about stepping up security, straightening out our coast guards and eradicating terrorism. But the problem lies not in our security system but in us. It lies in our Madrasas, in our temples, in our schools, in our homes and in our minds. And until we realize our role, until we open our eyes to this truth, not a thing will change.
Everyone talks about this new
Don't tell me that we won't be able to reach out to the people who need to hear what we have to say. These people live among us. There is no limit to what people can achieve when they set out to do something. You are talking about a country whose founding father won a war without raising a weapon, who have lived on stories of Subhash Chandra Bose calling out for blood and promising freedom. Well we've bled. Now it's time to get our freedom. Freedom from our own mindsets. Freedom from shackles we've placed on ourselves.
These last two days have been the worst attack that
How many more people have to die before we respond to
Monday, December 22, 2008
Why I wish to record it today i.e. Dec 22nd 2008, I wish to acknowledge the short length of the day today, see the sun set on this interesting year and allow myself the graceful view of an early sun rise next year. I eagerly await to see calmness, for this turbulence is disturbing me beyond description.
I wish to know more, build on what I am now, to create that difference for myself, to seek the dividing gap with strength, and courage to fill it in...I hope!
Happy New Year 2009!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I am writing to you to acknowledge the fact that you create many questions. It is up to us, whether or not we wish to answer them. It is interesting to note that these questions form the basis to divisions and inequality within oneself. When we tend to understand the reason behind the need and the necessity for an action, we normally ignore the rules of judgment which we use to judge others. It is important to see how susceptible we are to this logical fallacy, and help ourselves in such a scenario.
It might interest you to know the reason I wanted to acknowledge your role with the questions. Even this question will remain unanswered as many others which remain the same since a long time. But, it is equally necessary to appreciate the effort which I put into attempting an answer. If at all, we could answer all the questions we face, it will be a pleasant world sans complexity...but then, what fun it is to live in simplicity, and feel the lack of complexity?
Lastly, I wish to express my sincere feeling of gratitude for the role you have played in shaping my understanding of self, and the opportunities you have given me to explore this world, and contribute my bit to its complexity.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Information moves from various sources to us through various channels, with few vital facets lost in the way, which might be reconstructed by us for our own convenience, or are neglected. Similar to Chinese Whisper, it seems we need to understand that all that we possess is not all that it truly is. When one can respect this, I am sure we can understand our own limitations and be a better person.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
The interesting feature of a diya is when we ignite it, we tend to protect it, give the needed care for a while and then we set it on its own. Then, we see the flame flicker in the gentle breeze, slowly settling into an isolated existence. After a while, if we try to push ourselves to protect it, we probably will be the reason for it to die down, or it will die a natural death. The reason I wanted to discuss this observation was to highlight the analogy between a diya and any emotion we share with our family or friends. We tend to appreciate and nurture the emotion at the start, and when we slowly expose it, the emotion flickers, like a flame seeking our attention to understand its gentle existence. If we choose to ignore it, and let it glow on its own strength, then it is reason enough for it to reach a stage of survival without attention dying a natural death. If we wish to protect the flame at a later stage, we carry a risk of putting it to rest ourselves. It is important that we understand this subtle reality and appreciate every emotion we share, no matter how strong it is... because its important to realize that there is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small flame, lets value it!
Sunday, November 09, 2008
For the benefit of the uninitiated, A sari is a strip of un-stitched cloth, ranging from four to nine meters in length that is draped over the body in various styles. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder. Now, let us understand how a saree, can influence our lives. Besides the obvious needs it addresses like providing warmth (as a part of clothing), social dignity; it also plays a vital role in structuring mindsets, and thus opinions and relationships. Considering the impact this piece of cloth can have, I wanted to spend sometime understanding it, and this post is an attempt to record few of my observations regarding the same.
Elaborating on my first point, Saree plays a leading role in influencing our minds regarding the attitude and outlook of the person. The reason I say this is pretty obvious, our clothing is an index of what we wish others to perceive us to be, ranging from rich linen to poor raw-cloth, our choice of cloth, design and the way we carry it off indicate our true self, and also define an image about us. This brings us to my second point, of creating an opinion, images of a person are a primary source of inspiration in framing an opinion about that person. Ranging from socially active to someone who prefers to be by himself/herself, an image of our dressing creates an opinion about us. Opinions make our social life, which is a pretty straight forward remark that can be easily seen. This connect between Sarees and our relationships has a secondary link as well, it is important to throw some light on how clothing enhances our image. Picking the right clothing, helps us to create a positive vibe, that can help bring people closer. In this regard, Saree I feel has the essentials to influence and create that needed vibe. I take this opportunity, to acknowledge my sincere appreciation for the creators of Saree...for it did, and will continue to influence our lives!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
In the past, I have made repeated attempts to understand what loneliness truly speaks of, and whereof it arises from. In this post, I wish to speak about my recent (and allow me to say, “ …the closest I could get to what truly it is” ) attempt in this endeavor. Before I proceed to speak about it, I wish to speak about few interesting, yet incomplete observations of such ambitious excursions in the past, seeking a better understanding of loneliness.
Two successive summers (2006 and 2007), I was in
My recent tryst with loneliness, is an interesting experience, I understood loneliness is felt when we are deserted by our own soul within. It is more to do with how we feel disconnected with our own self, than anything else. When one is not in complete harmony with his/her inner self (being poles apart), it will create a vacuum of confusion, and the need to meet the other end and come to amicable terms is not supported. This leads to further deepening of the divide, pushing us to feel left out, lonely seeking support to connect us with our self within, to establish the missing link…This makes one vulnerable to external influences, which might be good or bad. The decisive ability takes a back seat with the immediate need to establish the connection, which spirals into a bigger problem of losing further control over self.
This post is an attempt to record my understanding of loneliness, which I wish to further explore, to understand the need of the vulnerable. Comments are highly solicited.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
We tend to create an impression that destiny seems to be play a role only in the future prospects of an issue, but what I wish to talk about in this post is how destiny plays a leading role in connecting all the past links to create an understanding of our present. Allow me to elaborate my point with the help of an example, let us speak of a situation, we normally lose contact with people from your previous work area, or any such experience which involves a social networking aspect. It is interesting to see, how things to be get connected ( in other words, how small this world seems to be) when you come across them. Now, let us see how destiny plays a leading role in this example. We need to understand how we move away from the social circle and our efforts to remain in touch with few people is always proportional to the closeness we enjoy with them. But, destiny plays a different game of completing the circle...starting as acquaintances (or complete strangers) at present (or back then) and then moving into a closer friends circle at a later point in our life.
We normally discount the factor of destiny at present, and lack the understanding of its role in shaping the bigger picture for us. I hope I can appreciate its role, in not only shaping my future, but also in connecting our past to the present.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
In developed countries, poverty results in wandering homeless people and poor suburbs and ghettos. In these cases we talk about relative poverty (in contrast to absolute poverty), which is measured by comparing one group’s situation to the situations of those who are more advantaged.
The causes of poverty vary: lack of education, war, natural disasters, political corruption, mental illness, and disability are among the most common causes.
Eliminating poverty in developing countries is the goal of international development initiatives and the many international organizations working in the field. Strategies on how to eradicate poverty are, however, as numerous as the causes of poverty itself. The World Bank’s anti-poverty strategy, for example, depends heavily on reducing poverty though the promotion of economic growth.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are part of the Millennium Declaration, signed by the member states of the United Nations at the Millennium Summit in 2000, regard the elimination of extreme poverty as a much more complex task. Empowering women, combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases and ensuring sustainable development are among the goals and are all seen as necessary if extreme poverty is to be alleviated.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Monday, October 06, 2008
This line reminded me of the song I have posted here...I wanted to record this observation, and I wish to think more about the existence of a connect between the song and the line...
Overall, a memorable experience!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I never use to realize how important is the role of glimpse… it gives the necessity need to look forward for something. More so, we tend to start appreciate the act much before the actually act is done. This understanding is not only applicable for us in terms of understanding our emotions but also the sales promotions, lets talk about movies for example, these days it has become a necessity for most of the movies to work on its pre-launch publicity, promos, rushes trailers with actors and actresses speaking about their experience acting in the movie, funny bits in the movies which might have been subject to editor’s or censor board’s cut are discussed, more so it is the needed fodder for most of the gossip magazines to keep themselves afloat..
Glimpses… a short introduction to the actually act.. gives us the needed thrill to look for it and assimilate it when we really indulge ourselves in doing it. My trips home these days for a period of day or two have been such glimpses to understand and appreciate what makes a place or house…a home . This huge, yet sometimes untouched line of difference between home and house is an interesting way of how we react to situations…. Why do we call some place our home while we cannot attribute the same even when we have our family with us at some other place.. say like vacation… the emotion of security, emotion of belonging goes beyond the attachment with people, sometimes I personally think the effect of place can grow on you .. and can actually make you do crazy stuff … From personal experience again, I love and always look forward to going back to Hyderabad whenever I get time to do so, not only because I belong to that place, my family still stays there, but it is because I have a sense of pride for being a 'Hyderabadi' ... the essence of living is all about defining yourself..how one tends to do it , is actually one’s own effort in understanding the surroundings, in this regard we have a lot to learn from the effect of glimpse...it drives us to seek more and then we are all by ourselves to understand why we want to do it in the first place... so to understand if we truly miss someone or something..probably subjecting ourselves and the emotion to 'Test of Glimpses' might help...
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"...so I had to realize that while it was important to have a fantastic time, that I should at the same time not let myself get too drawn in… to remember that this was only temporary – to keep a little bit of an emotional distance..."
In this blog post, I make an attempt to speak about the moderation of attachment towards various emotions... There is a key parameter that I wish to speak about, which influences our point of view... just a glimpse of emotion or attachment holds us onto it and is not easy to let go. Considering this point, I personally agree that we need to be detach ourselves to any such worldly emotion.
I have an observation which I wanted to share, when we are talking about the emotion of a person, considering what I just said, we probably need to make a choice of whether or not that person holds an eminent place in our life i.e. who composes our emotional makeup ... there is always variation in the degree of attachment... detaching ourselves from those people who do not hold such a place.. this helps us in many ways, prioritizing life, we know whom we really care about and it is easy to let go because we know that this emotion is not in our chart and then we are moderate in our attachment quotient and glimpses of that emotion wont really influence us ...It is about this choice that we make that is an important learning from these lines...
And then from what I firmly believe in, for people whom we really care, we will enjoy the emotion and do our best to nurture, protect it. Again this sense of attachment should not be seen as an obsessive attachment... At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy... one will be happy when he/she is with people they understand and care for, that sense of trust and understanding should not be seen as a sense of dependency but rather it is a sense of independent existence.. that you are free to experiment with life.. do what you enjoy the most because there is someone with you always who will take care..whom you can fall back on ... just in case...
This is a reminder for myself ...not to live life with self-imposed moderation, rather I wish to experience life ...
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Its an amazing feeling today, the fact that I am now flying back home! It is an interesting transition to understand how things seem to be pleasant when you head home after a long time! The feeling which seeks no further explanation, it is that sensation which I wont do justice to, if I attempt to describe it in words..perhaps it is because this feeling is beyond words of human comprehension...
Friday, September 12, 2008
The flakes of ash made my ivy…
Consumed by its mundaneness,
I lived a tale of privy.
You brought the rain…
Washed away in its gentleness,
I now, live a life sans pain.
Led by an artificial finger…
Who would I have become,
for the dual shadow did linger?
You brought through the silk breeze…
Lost in its curved hold,
my happiness shall never again freeze.
Is it the Kismat Konnection that did the tie?
With me, this emotion shall lie,
Until the last star in the sky shall die.
Monday, September 08, 2008
On a different note, it is interesting that people do not realize that any relationship is not time bound, rather it is a constant change of weights in an equation you share with the other person. You can never really withdraw yourself from the equation ... an image of a person is always in the phase of transformation, constantly improving as you gain a better understanding of the person and the relationship you share with him/her. You tend to share the weight, when you start appreciating the relationship, while you tend to throw more weight against each other when you want to move away from it.. but you can never really avoid it...
Back to what I wanted to talk about in this post, it is an interesting lead, at least to gain a better response to our behavior . Most of us, at some point in our life realize that we as a person need to give one of the relationships that additional push... its mostly because when we start off, we tend to create an obtuse angle in our efforts to understand the person...investing into the relationship. As we move further in regard to relationship and time, it is likely that this angle of our effort starts moving into the acute angle space, where we tend to get less particular about details which might have interested us earlier ...It is always essential that we maintain a constant angle...the critical angle which needs to be established so that you not only strike a right balance between necessary effort for the relationship but also allow yourself the needed space to portray your individuality...To be successful in sustaining a relationship, and also to cherish it, it is essential to understand where this critical angle lies and try our best to maintain it in our efforts ...I strongly believe, if we can analyze any issue that is bothering any of the relationships we share with others... it is not about the distances, but this angle about our sense of attachment for that person ....which is creating the difference or helping us fight it!
Friday, September 05, 2008
My initial feeling was that most of the works on display were probably not the best pieces to showcase the genius in Picasso and that the gallery in Paris had a better collection... but my opinion had to change... I came across this picture which impressed me immensely, and probably stands as a perfect sample to testify Picasso's view about painting...
'For me, doing a painting consists of performing a dramatic act in the course of which reality is torn apart!'
It is also interesting to note that a piece of art influences everyone in a personalized way and one can take away a completely different meaning from what the piece was suppose to portray... This painting is a depiction of sexual aggression, understandably so, it stands out as a notable piece of work from a person who suffered from narcissistic personality disorder and an intense interest in women...
What interested me in this painting though, is how people are always anxious, not able to see the bigger picture. Everyone of us leads an anxious existence, followed by a conventional practice of surrender... it is always essential to grow over this feeling before we are taken in by its destructive fury...having a certain degree of concern for our future is always essential, but it should not become our only concern, guiding our present... one needs to learn...to see present as it is, rather than seeing it as a driving pilot for the future...
Monday, September 01, 2008
As Children, we all were great observers of our parents' behaviors, paying close attention to their actions and were more likely to follow that lead rather than follow the words our parents use...
Life is a collection of experiences, and you keep learning new (and sometimes varied) practices, which are indeed strong exhibits of culture... culture again being strongly influenced by religion...we tend to pick up ideas, thoughts from various places and nurture them to be our own... thus moving into a space of inter-faith existence.
It is interesting that we do not normally realize the influence, which is normally overshadowed by the faith we subscribe to...but thinking over it a little will help us understand how we move through our lives thinking that we definitely know what kind of an idealogy we subscribe to, but in practice what we follow is a fusion of what we gather from our everyday experiences...
For me, faith is less a religion than a philosophy, an ethical and psychological way of awakening. It is a way of life, a path of enlightened living...it is not merely about beliefs but about practice of spirituality (definition of which is always one's own).
Thinking over this...I am reminded of a dialogue in a hindi movie 'Border' which I trust is apt for this context "Hum hi hum hai, tho kya hum hai ....tum hi tum ho, tho kya tum ho"
Friday, August 29, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Now, I am thinking over issues which must have been addressed long ago... lethargy in channelizing the emotion is as equally wrong as lethargy in its expression...It is important to board the train when the time is right (either when you wish to travel together or when you want to go your own way) rather than to remain on the tracks to create an environment of parallel existence..close enough to seek a better understanding...yet so far, for the train of communication is long gone!
P.S.: This post is an outcome of my effort to understand self... an interesting experience in Dubai....I wanted to record the memory of this effort... dated August 18, 2008.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This post is a reminder for myself to make an attempt to truly understand what we are and try to be true to our emotions.. for I strongly believe, only when we respect our emotions.. emotions will respect us!
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I wanted to write this post .. as a reminder for myself to seek passion over fear...passion is what needs to feel our hearts.. and focus to achieve what we are passionate about should fill our mind... I reckon I will be able to do so... for its all in the mind.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
You with that unearthly sparkle like drops of water on a lotus leaf, fascinate me to understand myself better ... in my quest to understand you better... You.. wrap me with a feeling of unknown warmth that allows me to sleep through every night...waiting for you to come the next day.. bringing in more warmth and light into my life...I love to welcome you today...and every day for rest of my life!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
"...The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think... "
For most of the men, women are beautiful indeed. But they grow beyond being mere beauties like the sympathetic characters in a play, to present themselves as an appealing and a memorable personality when they pose a challenge to the men's intellect... The feeling of understanding someone can only be achieved when one transcends the boundary of 'physical appeal' into 'appeal to the senses' i.e. when we see her as an innate challenge offering the intoxicating mix of appeal and intellect... I expect most of the readers might have a different view which might be either complementary or supplementary to that of mine.. comments are highly solicited...
Monday, July 21, 2008
'Like repels like' is probably valid beyond the scientific boundary, and is valid in other domains of human understanding. What I wish to talk about in this post is how we can celebrate the difference. Before I proceed, I wish to elaborate a little on how people react to an occurrence of difference.. of opinion or understanding of an issue or self. The only solution which is normally subscribed to is a compromise... settling down in options presented to us.
I wish to urge everyone to seek the difference and enjoy it, view it as an opportunity to excel rather than dwell in an isolated 'compromised' space. It is interesting to note the basics of object manipulation i.e. 'juggling' . What is needed is the skill-set not to lose contact of any ball, rather than reducing the number of balls in the game. The potential use of what one wants to do should motivate us to achieve the 'balancing act' between passion to create a difference and responsibilities...
Ladies and Gentlemen...Go for it!
Friday, July 11, 2008
Like a pilot view, every policy needs to be followed by the politicians themselves before it can be even discussed, since most of our politicians lack first hand experience. Nation's Growth lies in using our strengths to the best of our abilities and working on our weaknesses rather than relying totally on our strengths, thus leading to burn out. Growing beyond party lines in the interest of the Nation is something which is not seen these days, rather all that the politicians worry about these days is various ways of saving their seat.
India needs an understanding dictator who is well learnt and sees what this Nation needs, and also is equipped with enough understanding to see it through. Oh Lord! We need our Mahatma Gandhi again to drive some sense and spirit of understanding the effects of our actions. The Indian population is missing the courage of standing against this pseudo Colonial rule by our own countrymen. There are signs of a civil uprising, which needs to tackled with enough caution. All that we need to change the present scenario and lead us to a positive tomorrow is a single person... sound, energetic, learnt and understanding .. So, Why are you sleeping?
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Today IITs are considered excellent educational institutions. There is a countrywide scramble to get into these with many students spending the best part of their teen years in preparing for its entrance examinations. This should not be confused with ranking of universities where just a couple of IITs make it in the top 500. These rankings deal primarily with the research output and not with the quality of undergraduate education. I can confidently say that any ranking of quality of undergraduate engineers produced would put IITs in the top 20 worldwide if not in the top 10. And it is this achievement that is going to be hard to maintain with the proposed reservations policy. Before we go any further, it would be best to examine how this excellence has been achieved.
The fundamental contribution that the Central Government has made to these institutions is in generous funding (by Indian, not global standards) combined with unmatched autonomy. The main point of engagement between the Government and these Institutions has been through the appointment of Directors. Except for a brief period during the last administration, the Governments had refrained from any major politicking in these appointments. They have by and large appointed the best available applicant Professor from the same or another IIT for the job. These venerable people had themselves a great pride in these Institutions and have ran the Institutes with the best of their abilities (maybe not always efficiently but always fairly) without major vested interest.
For someone outside IITs to understand the power of this position is not easy. The Director virtually appoints the complete senior administration including the deputy directors and deans, chairs all the faculty selections including that for the Professors, is the chairman of the senate and thus the academic head, is the financial head and also the administrative head. For most people living in the campus, which includes 90% of faculty and students, he is also the chairman of the local municipality (all major complaints on water, electricity, sewage etc. would reach him). This ensures that the buck almost always stops with him and thus decision making is unavoidable. This autonomy that has been the hallmark of these institutions is being eroded. There were attempts in the last Government (fortunately not vigorously pursued) to tell IITs what to teach. The present decision would strike at the fundamentals of IITs as the Government no longer feels whom to teach and how many to teach is best decided by these Institutions themselves. This in my opinion is the most dangerous fallout as it strikes at the very core of the success of these Institutions. Once the lines of control get blurred, there would be no stopping, as today's political functioning is clearly not dictated by long term vision. Soon we could have reservations in faculty and create a caste based patronage system which has destroyed many of the once excellent state universities.
In IITs, the faculty selected and promoted solely based on merit has maintained a high standard of ethical behavior, have taken their teaching and research seriously, refrained from politicking themselves and supported the Institute in many ways to fulfill its commitments. Who are these faculty members? A large number are our own alumni (undergraduates as well as postgraduates), majority of them have studied or conducted research in the west and almost all of them have had opportunities of pursuing financially much more lucrative careers in India and abroad. Thus each faculty member is here by choice and he/she has exercised that choice with one major attraction - opportunity to teach, interact and work with extremely bright students perhaps unmatched anywhere. It is this attraction that is being tampered with. In a situation where all IITs are short of faculty and desperately trying to innovate to attract faculty under the constraints of the pay commission dictated salaries (while competing with Sensex based salaries), this is not a pleasant development.
IITs have had reservations for SC/STs for decades. Why would this be different? Aren't these students likely to be better prepared than the students admitted under the existing reserved category? Here I would like to share some of the facts with the readers. IITs have been admitting SC/ST students for years under two modes. From the general category, a significantly lower JEE cutoff is decided and reserved category students scoring above this cutoff are admitted directly to the UG programmes. Another still lower cutoff is decided and reserved category students from this set are admitted to a one year preparatory course conducted by IITs themselves. After passing this course, they can join the programmes without having to appear in JEE again. Even this exercise collectively yields less than 15% in IIT Delhi though the quota amounts to nearly 22.5%. Half of the reserved category students manage to clear courses comfortably while the other half struggle on the margins. What would be called a good performance (cumulative grade point average or CGPA of 8 and above) and is achieved by nearly forty percent of general category students, is rare and occurs once in many years among the reserved category students. It is not that all general category students do well. There is nearly a 5% "dropout" rate even among them which is a cause of concern but mainly attributed to the burnout due to JEE preparation phase. The "dropout" students have no effect on teaching as they neither are regular nor make their presence felt in classes. The remaining part of weak students is too small and at present hardly any instructor would pitch his / her course at that level. On the other hand, the present policy may introduce a large band of weak students which no instructor can ignore. This would definitely result in drop in the quality of education. It is the hypocrisy of the highest order that on one hand the reservation for SC/STs is considered a success and quoted for extension to OBCs, and on the other hand, no hard data on the performance of these students is available in the public domain. Some administrators I talked to consider this data as sensitive! Analysis of where the reserved category students go after graduation would be enlightening. I do not have the sensitive data but my experience shows that most of them either go to services like IAS/IES or to the public sector companies. Normally this choice of careers by IIT graduates should be a matter of satisfaction except that both these entries are again using the reservation quota. Is it empowerment or crutches for life?
In this whole episode, the most stunning news for me was when the Hon'ble minister announced increase in intake to compensate for the reservations. This would amount to nearly 56% overall increase in undergraduate intake in the IITs. This showed complete ignorance of what makes IIT undergraduate education tick. There are few Institutions in the world where undergraduate students get to interact one to one and so freely with such high-caliber faculty. Students are advised on courses in small groups, interact over hostel dinners, go on industrial trips and finally carry out a well supervised project. Every undergraduate student does an intensive "novel" project either individually or in groups of two and he/she is effectively "supervised" by a faculty member. Many of them result in publications. This system evolved when the student-faculty ratio was 6:1 and is getting strained at the seams when it has reached 12:1. In some disciplines like Computer Sciences and Electrical Engineering where market competition is heavy, it has already gone to 20:1 and above. Though currently producing excellent results, it is a highly non-scalable mechanism. Intake increase on this scale, when effectively faculty strengths in key areas are decreasing could sound a death-knell tone of our few international brand names.
I have a poser for Prof. Jayati Ghosh, my well renowned colleague from JNU and a member of the knowledge commission. She has justified reservations in IITs based on the poor ranking of IITs internationally. Her argument is anyway these Institutions are not great, why they should crib about the quality of intake. She nowhere states that any of the 400+ odd Institutions worldwide which are ranked above IITs have achieved their status through reservations. In that case all Tamil Nadu Engineering Colleges with 69% reservation for decades (openly defying the Supreme Court suggested norm of 50%) now should be at the top.
Finally, I would like to seek opinion on the composition of our next Olympics team. We have admittedly done much poorer in sports than education. Should our next Olympics team be chosen on caste basis or perhaps with adequate representation to athletes aged 40+ who are at present completely unrepresented? After all we do not have much to lose as we only win one bronze medal in alternate Olympics. I would no longer be surprised if some future Sports Minister considers caste based quotas for our national cricket team. After all that would be worth a few votes and the nation would have been well prepared by then to cheer only for its own caste brethren!
Friday, June 13, 2008
The struggle to win the battle of understanding our needs, our aspirations starts with gathering courage to understand and challenge the authority of hope in our life. It is then, only then if I may say, that we start to have a realistic picture of what is within our reach and what is beyond at present. The next stage involves in understanding the kinds of efforts which appear as demands from the nature to achieve the needs and aspirations we have set for ourselves. This again speaks of how 'hopeful' we are, and what aspirations (within our reach or beyond our reach at present) we are aiming at.
Realization of our aspirations again invites 'hope' to be a partner in our continuous struggle to work towards our goals. So all along, it is the hope that defines the vital link and pushes us to work to our or beyond our limits to achieve the desirable. What I gather from my own experience and the reason for me writing this post is, hope is the only element that lasts for ever...
Sunday, June 08, 2008
extend an invite to festoon one’s visage.
Seldom does the surface know,
the utility of moss through old age.
Let this darkness,
resolve the need for juxtaposition.
A dime still encourages men,
to seek beyond reason or position.
Let this coldness,
sweep the continent till the sunrise.
Only when one values the fall,
there is joy in the effort to rise.
Let this consciousness,
be my chief, helping in translation.
I walk alone to fathom,
this poem: my life with systems of scansion.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
A study demonstrated the parallels between the historical pattern of the decline in child labor in the United States and situations today in developing countries. It is understood that the greater the extent of poverty in a country, the greater the amount of child labor, the relationship holding within a country over time as well as across countries at a given point in time. Though poverty may be a determinant of child labor, it cannot be examined in the absence of cultural and social factors, such as education, culture, and urbanization. Another Study points that child labor is deeply rooted in poverty and social customs. Thus, one reason for such high labor force participation is that working children are from impoverished families. There are several social and cultural explanations for widespread child labor in developing countries.
The effect of being sold into slave labor has the obvious physical scars from the constant beatings the children receive, their inhumane living conditions, and the practical starvation that the employers impose on them. However, the effects of slavery do not merely affect the physical well-being of the children. They also suffer from emotional scars. In addition to the risks that they face, there are also many negative side effects of exposing children to the excessive demands of adult labor. These side effects not only manifest themselves in the children’s health and growth, but also in their access to education. In fact, it is rare to find children who, over a prolonged period of time, manage to balance their studies with their daily chores. More than half of children laborers have never attended school, and those who have rarely finish the first cycle of elementary school. As researchers have noted, boycotting exports of goods produced by children may actually worsen the welfare and well-being of those children and their families, first by lowering their living standards and second by pushing children into dangerous work endeavors, such as begging and prostitution. This speaks of the need for a sustainable development plan to include the marginalized sections of the society to best tackle the growing numbers of child abuse.
If we can understand the dynamics of poverty, education, and child labor, we may be in a position to create more effective ways of eliminating child labor through education and economic development efforts. The problem of child labour, being inextricably linked with poverty and illiteracy, cannot be solved by legislation alone and a concerted effort to tackle this problem will bring in the desired sustainable growth.